Bartholomew Dias

A Portuguese Explorer

Dias' Voyage

Bartolomew Dias was sent by Portuguese King John II to explore the coast of Africa and find a way to the Indian Ocean. Dias departed circa August 1487, rounding the southernmost tip of Africa in January, 1488. They named this land Cape of Good Hope. In early January 1488, as Dias' two ships sailed off the coast of South Africa, storms blew them away from the coast. The crew spotted landfall on February 3, 1488, about 300 miles east of present-day Cape of Good Hope. They found a bay they called São Bras and the much warmer waters of the Indian Ocean. On the journey back, Dias observed the southernmost point of Africa, later called Cabo das Agulhas, or Cape of Needles. Dias named the rocky second cape Cabo das Tormentas or Cape of Storms for the tempestuous storms and strong Atlantic-Antarctic currents. In Lisbon, after 15 months at sea and a journey of nearly 16,000 miles, the returning mariners were met by triumphant crowds. The king forced Diasto explain his failure to meet up with Paiva and Covilhã. Despite his achievements, Dias was never put in a position of authority again.

Bartholomew Dias

Born in 1450, almost nothing is known about the life of Bartolomeu de Novaes Dias before 1487, except that he was at the court of João II, king of Portugal (1455-1495), and was a superintendent of the royal warehouses. He likely had much more sailing experience than his one recorded stint aboard the warship São Cristóvão. Dias was probably in his mid- to late 30s in 1486 when João appointed him to head an expedition in search of a sea route to India.
Bartholomew Diaz

Dias leaves for his voyage

Monday, Aug. 1st 1487 at 12pm

Angra do Salto, Portugal

Dias departed circa August 1487, rounding the southernmost tip of Africa in January, 1488.

The death of Bartholomew Dias

In 1500, Dias sailed as one of the captains in a large fleet headed by Pedro Alvares Cabral. Their destination was India, but they made a wide sweep into the South Atlantic and touched on the shores of Brazil. Then they headed southward and encountered huge storms. Four ships went down, and all on board, including Dias, were drowned.