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C O U R S E 
A History of the World since 1300
Jeremy Adelman, Princeton University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Da Gama, Pepper and World History
Notes taken on October 4, 2013 by Edward Tanguay
pepper, from preciosity to necessity
the way we use pepper today:
from berry, harvested green
left to ferment to allow the skin to flake off, so the insides can darken and shrivel
crucial for masalas in India and grilled meats in the Arab world, and Romans loved their pepper
Vasco da Gama (1469-1524)
Portuguese explorer
commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India
one of the most successful explorers
first European to reach India by sea
1480 exploring coast of Africa
lured westward and southward in pursuit of African gold
1497 first to skirt the southern tip of Africa (Cape of Storms, later called Cape of Good Hope)
they were avoiding the Muslim blockade of North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean
from the beginning played by his own rules
in Mozambique, attacked ships which contained supplies that would nourish his crew
entered Mombasa, Kenya, got into a shootout
then into Malindi, Kenya and did the same thing
what did he want as he made his way up the coast of Africa?
he needed help to get to India
he had figured out that he had crossed into the Indian ocean which no one before him had done
he found he had "gotten in through the back door" so to say
now he needed some local expertise to navigate to India
but he had nothing to offer, only his brute strength
Ahman Ibn Majid (1421-1500)
raised with a family famous for seafaring
became famous in the West as the navigator who helped Vasco da Gama find his way from Africa to India
author of nearly forty works of poetry and prose
some called him a Christian, some a Muslim, some a Gujarati (Indian ethnic group)
important role as a broker
enabled Europeans to navigate
similar to Doña Marina for Cortez
King Zamorin
allowed da Gama to take pepper and drugs on board
in Portugal, these goods were later computed at sixty times the cost of the entire expedition
1498 took da Gama 23 days to cross the Indian Ocean
entered port of Calicut
three beaten up vessels, rather small, but different to vessels in India
heavy, rounded plank hulls
high super-structures, three mastered and square rigs
cannons protruding
he wanted something lucrative, his journey had to pay off
he knew that that Calicut was a great pepper entrepôt
all he had to offer were some hats, metal cookware, old coats, butter, honey, not much for a great king, courtiers laughed at him
eventually forged a contract
leaving, didn't pay exit tax, and took four hostages from Calicut in case they would be pursued
Calicut glad to be rid of this impoverish, Portuguese bully
da Gama had no pilot, headed into monsoons, one ship lost
slinked back into Lisbon, only two vessels
this cargo of pepper issued a rip tide of news throughout Europe
can explain the long-term decline of the Venetian economy, as it slowly lost its special, strategic location in the Mediterranean
Arab merchants in Alexandria also worried about being circumnavigated
1490s: exploration, trade and religion became intimately entwined
1496: King of Portugal died
Manuel I of Portugal (1469-1521)
1495-1521 reigned
fervent believer that there was something redemptive in what Iberians were doing in their explorations and imagined himself the last world emperor fighting a crusade against the Antichrist
prone to the same kind of fantasies that Isabelle had with Columbus
Queen Isabella of Portugal (1451-1503)
husband Ferdinand II of Aragon
brought stability to kingdoms of Portugal and Spain