Bartolomeu Dias – Portuguese explorer
Bartolomeu Dias was a Portuguese explorer who discovered the Cape of Good Hope and opened the sea route to the Indian Ocean. He was the first European to round the South Africa. He was one of the most important European explorers before Christopher Columbus.
Bartolomeu Dias de Novais (sometimes spelled Bartholomew Diaz) was born in about 1450 near Lisbon, Portugal. Very little is known about Dias’s early life. De Novais usually added to his name was first documented in 1571, when King Sebastian I appointed his grandson, Paulo Dias de Novais a governor of Angola.
In his youth, Dias studied mathematics and astronomy at the University of Lisbon.
In 1487 Bartolomeu Dias sailed from Portugal with orders from King John II to continue exploration of a landmark on the coast of South-West Africa. The King wanted Dias to discover a sea route to India and to seek information about the Christian empire of Abyssinia.
He led the first European expedition around the southern tip of Africa. This opened the way for sea trade between Europe and Asia. Upon rounding the tip of Africa, Dias named it the Cape of Storms because of the weather. It was later renamed the Cape of Good Hope. Dias returned to Europe in December 1488, after spending 16 months and 17 days sailing.
Until 1494 Dias helped administer the Guinea gold trade. In the same year King Manuel I appointed him to supervise the construction of two ships for Vasco da Gama’s expedition. Vasco da Gama continued along the same route and reached India.
In 1500 Dias commanded a ship in an expedition led by Pedro Alvares Cabral. He participated in the discovery of Brazil. However, Dias did not survive the journey. His ship sank in a storm on May 29, 1500 near the Cape of Good Hope.
Grandson of Bartolomeu, Paulo Dias de Novais, became the first governor of Angola and founded there the first European settlement – Luanda.