The expedition had failed to secure a commercial treaty with Calicut, but the spices brought back on the remaining two ships returned a significant profit to the crown, and while the voyage had only completed what others had begun Manuel was undoubtedly grateful, anticipating further more substantial returns from future ventures to the Indies.

Manuel awarded da Gama his hometown of as a hereditary fief, though that turned out to be a complicated matter since Sines belonged to the Order of Santiago, of which da Gama was a member. But the master of the order refused to hand it over, fearful of setting a precedent that might see the king donate other properties belonging to the Order to other individuals. Da Gama's attempts to claim his reward estranged him from the Order, and he switched to the rival Order of Christ in 1507.

In the meantime, while he might not have his hometown, da Gama had a substantial pension and the hereditary title of Dom (Lord) for himself and his descendants. As Admiral of the Seas of Arabia, Persia, India and all the Orient he had the right to intervene in matters relating to any India-bound fleet, and had married into the powerful Almeida clan. His wife was a first cousin of Dom Francisco de Almeida.

Several points were evident in the wake of da Gama's successful return. For a start, future voyages needed to work around the Indian Ocean's weather patterns. That, in turn, meant that the Portuguese needed to secure outposts on Africa's eastern coast where crews could repair their vessels, recuperate from the almost inevitable outbreak of scurvy, collect fresh water and provisions and wait out unfavourable weather.

It was also apparent that the yearly Portuguese Armadas sent to exploit da Gama’s achievement would need to be substantial collections of vessels. The first of them, the Second India Armada, which departed in March 1500 under the command of Pedro Álvares Cabral, numbered thirteen ships. 

Following up

© Ian Hughes 2017