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Explorers and Merchants
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Bartolomeu Dias & the Cape of Good Hope
For three weeks a great storm raged along the Cape coast in January 1488. Bartolomeu Dias was on his latest expedition to chart the coast of Africa and find a way to the East (more..)

He had last sighted land on the 6th January, a range he called 'the Mountains of Three Magi Kings' (today, the Cederberg). Then the violent storm engulfed his two 50 ton Caravels and carried them in its fervour, south and east.

When they finally escaped, Dias swung north in search of land, and on the third of February entered a bay 170 miles east of the Cape (Mossel Bay). They could see men ashore herding cattle, and called the bay 'Angra dos Vaqueiros'. Dias continued along the coast as far as Algoa Bay (Port Elizabeth) but turned back for the sake of his terrified crew.

On his return, in clear weather, he saw the Cape Peninsula for the first time and entered 'the Gulf Within Mountains' (False Bay). He erected a cross near Cape Point and spent a month at anchor drawing maps.

He returned to Lisbon with news of his discovery of the 'Cabo Tormentoso' (Cape of Storms). But for his princely sponsor, Henry the Navigator, had a better name - it was a 'Cape of Good Hope' for it promised a sea route to the riches of Asia. The discovery had been eagerly anticipated.

Ten years later Vasco de Gama followed the route via the Cape all the way to India and opened a sea route for the spice trade. The Cape would never be the same again (more..)

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In this period of Cape History:


Portuguese Explorers

Merchants Sailors

The Dutch and British

A New Base

Bibliography & Contacts


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