Vasco de Gama, a Portuguese explorer, was the first European to sail to India. He succeeded where Christopher Columbus had failed, establishing a profitable link of sea trade. His two voyages to India were instrumental in making Portugal a world power in the 1500s.
Although Vasco de Gama's date of birth is unknown, historians believe it to be either 1460 or 1469. Historians find a date in 1560 more believable, since otherwise his explorations began in his twenties. His father was an explorer as well and was supposed to lead the voyage, but after many delays and his father's death, Vasco de Gama assumed leadership as a kind of lucky inheritance. He proved to be a great navigator and even used the seasonal monsoon winds to bring his expedition to India in a comparatively shorter time for the period.
Vasco de Gama's first voyage was a peaceful search for a prosperous trade route. However, at the behest of King Manuel of Portugal, his second voyage in 1502 saw him leading a heavily armed fleet of 20 ships in brutal raids against Muslim ports in East Africa. In 1524, the king named Vasco de Gama viceroy of India, but de Gama died on his way to assume his new position.