The Last Crusade: The Epic Voyages of Vasco da Gama

The Last Crusade: The Epic Voyages of Vasco da Gama

Nigel Cliff

Language: English

Pages: 560

ISBN: 0061735132

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

HistorianNigel Cliff delivers a sweeping, radical reinterpretation of Vasco da Gama’spioneering voyages, revealing their significance as a decisive turning point inthe struggle between Christianity and Islam—a series of events which foreveraltered the relationship between East and West. Perfect for readers of Endurance:Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, Galileo’sDaughter, and Atlantic, this first-ever completeaccount of da Gama’s voyages includes new information from the recentlydiscovered diaries of his sailors and an extraordinary series of lettersbetween da Gama and the Zamorin, a king of modern-dayKerala, India. Cliff, the author of The Shakespeare Riots, draws uponhis own travels in da Gama’s footsteps to add detail, authenticity, and acontemporary perspective to this riveting, one-of-a-kind historical epic.



















we detained, as, on our return to Calicut, they might be useful to us in establishing friendly relations. We therefore set sail and left for Portugal, greatly rejoicing at our good fortune in having made so great a discovery.” No one could pretend that things had gone smoothly. The young commander had talked a good talk, but he had failed to cut a deal with the Zamorin. The longer he had stayed, the more humiliating the situation had become. After three months, the ships’ holds were almost

mix of pagans, Jews, and Christians. The legend of the Prophetess has been the focus of much arcane dispute; see Abdelmajid Hannoum, Post-Colonial Memories: The Legend of the Kahina, a North African Heroine (Westport, CT: Heinemann, 2001). 17 smashed a mountain in two: Geryon was said to live on the island of Erytheia, near modern Cadíz. In Apollodorus’s version, Hercules threw up the two mountains to commemorate his journey; Diodorus Siculus says he narrowed the existing strait to keep out the

over his archenemy as a hostage and refused to pay the tribute, in the hope that Gama would kill him; in the end the hostage came up with the money himself. When the deal was done, Gama graciously asked his new vassal if he had any enemies he could help him with; the emir, trying to salvage something from the situation, told him they greatly feared Christians in Mombasa—his main rival—and would no doubt shell out a handsome tribute if asked. 305 “on account of which I armed myself”: Letter

seemed to belong to another world. “But what is that terrible news recently reported about Constantinople?” the scholar Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini—later Pope Pius II—wrote to the then pope: Who can doubt that the Turks will vent their wrath upon the churches of God? I grieve that the world’s most famous temple, Hagia Sophia, will be destroyed or defiled. I grieve that countless basilicas of the saints, marvels of architecture, will fall in ruins or be subjected to the defilements of Mohammed.

What can I say about the books without number there which are not yet known in Italy? Alas, how many names of great men will now perish? This will be a second death to Homer and a second destruction of Plato. As it turned out, the books—if not most of the churches—were safe. A steady stream of scholars had fled before the Turks, mostly to Italy, where they arrived with armfuls of volumes containing the literature of ancient Greece and spurred on the gathering Renaissance. Mehmet the Conqueror,

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