Bartholomeu Dias

Sean Connor

Who is Bartholomeu Dias?

Dias (1450-1500) was a Portuguese Explorer commissioned by Portugal's King John II to find a new trade route to India, in wake of the destruction of Constantinople by Islamic Turks. Though not completing his task, he became the first European to sail to the southern tip of Africa.

Motivated by glory, he showed admiration to bring back the economic standards brought by Constantinople, and replace them with a daring path trough the Atlantic.

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Dias deported from Lisbon in southern Portugal on route to follow the coast of Africa. After months Dias and his fleet were stranded somewhere in the 29 south degrees. What they didn't know is that after the storms had swept them away and the water and air felt stagnant, they were traveling on the Brazilian and Bengulea currents.

Cape of Good Storms

After being whisked away by vigorous currents, Dias traveled east even under the fear of mutiny. Finding land not to long after moral was at an all time high and Dias claimed the land under God like any European would and declared the shore, "The Cape of Storms".

Once returning as fear of lacking supplies for the full journey, King John II reestablished the cape as, "Cape of Good Hope" as not to scare off the Europeans using the port as a stopping point between India and Europe.


Glory not being his only ambition for the journey, tales in Europe from the 13th century exclaim of a King of a humungous Christian Empire in eastern Africa ruled under a "Prester John" . No evidence was found and was quickly dismissed after other arrived in Somalia and Ethiopia.

Prester John's Kingdom

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Worth the Venture?

Dias may have failed in his prospects to create a direct trade route to India and may not have found that fantastical kingdom hidden in the bongo trees, but he paved the way for more adventurers and explorers to find India.

Dias died at the age of 50 of the coast of Cape of Good Hope, 1500.