CHAPTER 2 2 TRANSOCEANIC ENCOUNTERS AND GLOBAL CONNECTIONS • • • July/1497 the Portuguese mariner Vasco da Gama led a small flee arme mefchant vessels with 170 crewmen out of the harbor at Lisbon s destin tier wa/India, which he planned to reach by sailing around the contine of Africa and through the Indian Ocean. He carried letters of introduction from e king of P gal, as well as cargoes of gold, pearls, wool textiles, bronzeware, irort-too , And other goods that he hoped to exchange for pepper and spices in India. Before there would be an opportunity to trade, however, da Gama and his crew had a prolonged voyage through two oceans. They sailed south from Portugal to the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa, where they took on water and fresh provisions. On 3 August they headed southeast into the Atlantic Ocean to take advan-tage of the prevailing winds. For the next ninety-five days, the fleet saw no land as it sailed through some six thousand nautical miles of open ocean. By October, da Gama had found westerly winds in the southern Atlantic, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and entered the Indian Ocean. The fleet slowly worked its way up the east coast of Africa, engaging in hostilities with local authorities at Mozambique and Mombasa, as far as Malindi, where da Gama secured the services of an Indian Muslim pilot to guide his ships across the Arabian Sea. On 20 May 1498—more than ten months after its departure from Lisbon—the fleet anchored at Calicut in southern India. In India the Portuguese fleet found a wealthy, cosmopolitan society. Upon its arrival local authorities in Calicut dispatched a pair of Tunisian merchants who spoke Spanish and Italian to serve as translators for the newly arrived party. The markets of Calicut offered not only pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and spices but also rubies, emer-alds, gold jewelry, and fine cotton textiles. Alas, apart from gold and some striped cloth, the goods that da Gama had brought attracted little interest among mer-chants at Calicut. Nevertheless, da Gama managed to exchange gold for a cargo of pepper and cinnamon that turned a handsome profit when the fleet returned to Por-tugal in August 1499. Da Gama's expedition opened the door to maritime trade be-tween European and Asian peoples and helped to establish permanent links between the world's various regions. A recently discovered portrait of James Cook painted by William Hodges about 1775 depicts a determined man. • National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London 535 •
536 PART V THE ORIGINS OF GLOBAL INTERDEPENDENCE, 1500-1800 Cross-cultural interactions have been a persistent feature of historical develop-ment. Even in ancient times mass migration, campaigns of imperial expansion, and long-distance trade deeply influenced societies throughout the world. As a result of these interactions, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity spread from their places of birth to the distant corners of the eastern hemisphere. Long before modern times arteries of long-distance trade served also as the principal conduits for exchanges of plants, animals, and diseases.