Topic:16th century explorers: Vasco da Gama and his first voyage
Source: Wikipedia, for starters
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Vasco da Gama and his first voyage<br />What really fascinates me about these guys; they had balls. They had incredible courage, persistence and arrogance. Vasco da Gama and his brother Paulo da Gama came from well to do families. They were connected. Da Gama could have stayed at home, enjoyed a tranquil life raising grapes and making wine. He could have lived the easy life. He could have spent his time making little da Gama’s and getting fat. Instead he chose to explore, to conquer. <br />And conquer the world they did. Make no mistake; these guys were out to take over new land, establish trade routes and secure new territories. They wanted control of the world, or at least as much as they could secure for themselves. The overland trade routes (the Silk Road) were controlled by the Venetians. Spices ruled the world. No refrigeration meant preservation by salt and spices. Everyone was looking for a new way to India and China to secure those new trade routes. <br />And they didn’t go unprotected. They took the latest technology in navigation, maps, arms and medicine. Portugal's most experienced navigators, Pero de Alenquer, Pedro Escobar, João de Coimbra, and Afonso Gonçalves guided the ships. Five years after Columbus and nine years after Bartolomeu Dias, da Gama left Lisbon for India. With no Suez Canal they had to sail around Africa and brave the passage of The Cape of Good Hope. <br />This voyage was longer than going around the equator, greater than 25000 miles. Discovered in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias and originally called the cape Cabo das Tormentas or "Cape of Tempests", “where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet at the point where the warm-water Agulhas current meets the cold-water Benguela current and turns back on itself – a point that fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point, about one kilometer east of the Cape of Good Hope”. It’s a bloody washing machine of death. <br />Just look at the pictures below. They tell the story of what a passage through the Cabo das Tormentas is like. And they didn’t know about scurvy yet. These guys found out the hard way. Fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, fresh meat, those things lasted a few weeks at best. The English invented GROG to keep the sailors docile and inline. The Portuguese hadn’t figured that out yet. <br />Medicine of the day didn’t know about germs, bacteria or general hygiene. They defecated at the Head of the Ship and used a knotted rope to clean themselves. Dr. Rush's Bilious Pills or Rush’s THUNDERCLAPPERS won’t be invented for three hundred years. Typhus, Diphtheria, Smallpox and Measles became inexplicably more common in the 16th century. I say inexplicably as a quote from January 1, 2010 by Manish Bhatia History of Medicine, but when you look at how they lived, I don’t find it inexplicable at all. <br />So with a fleet of four ships and a crew of 170 men, da Gama left Lisbon on the 8th of July, 1497. Only two ships and 55 crew members returned. That’s 32% of the crew returned, 68% perished, and those are not very good odds. What possibly could have motivated these people to embark on any of these voyages? <br />Certainly, the leaders of the expedition would receive fame and fortune for themselves and prestige for their families. But what about the ordinary sailors who toiled and died. What could they possibly have thought they would receive at voyages end that would have motivated them to take such a risk? They faced disease, drowning, starvation, injury, brutality and a thousand other threats to life and limb.<br />Today, we live in such a protected environment it’s difficult to understand how these people lived, how they thought. Their world is so alien to ours; we take for granted we’ll have a doctor and medicine when we get sick. We don’t expect to die when we go to work. We fly to the ends of the earth in a matter of hours when 16th century man seldom existed beyond 15 miles of his birth place. <br />I am captivated imaging what their lives were like, how they dealt with immense difficulties and survived such odds. <br />Dave Martin<br />History 140<br />Wikipedia:<br />
Vasco da Gama - First voyage
On 8 July 1497 Vasco da Gama led a fleet of four ships with a crew of 170 men from Lisbon. The distance traveled in the journey around Africa to India and back was greater than around the equator. The navigators included Portugal's most experienced, Pero de Alenquer, Pedro Escobar, João de Coimbra, and Afonso Gonçalves. It is not known for certain how many people were in each ship's crew but approximately 55 returned, and two ships were lost. Two of the vessels were as naus or newly built for the voyage, possibly a caravel and a supply boat. The four ships were:
The São Gabriel, commanded by Vasco da Gama; a carrack of 178 tons, length 27 m, width 8.5 m, draft 2.3 m, sails of 372 m² <br />The São Rafael, whose commander was his brother Paulo da Gama; similar dimensions to the São Gabriel <br />The caravel Berrio, slightly smaller than the former two (later re-named São Miguel), commanded by Nicolau Coelho <br />A storage ship of unknown name, commanded by Gonçalo Nunes, later lost near the Bay of São Brás, along the east coast of Africa <br />The Cape of Good Hope (Afrikaans: Kaap die Goeie Hoop, Dutch: Kaap de Goede Hoop ( HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Media_help" o "Wikipedia:Media help" help·info), Portuguese: Cabo da Boa Esperança) is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the southernmost point is Cape Agulhas, about 150 kilometres (90 mi) to the east-southeast. The Atlantic and Indian oceans meet at the point where the warm-water Agulhas current meets the cold-water Benguela current and turns back on itself – a point that fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point, about one kilometre east of the Cape of Good Hope.<br />When following the western side of the African coastline from the equator, however, the Cape of Good Hope marks the point where a ship begins to travel more eastward than southward. Thus the first rounding of the cape in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was a milestone in the attempts by the Portuguese to establish direct trade relations with the Far East. Dias called the cape Cabo das Tormentas. "Cape of Tempests" was the original name of the "Cape of Good Hope." (source: Englishwoman In America 1848 by Sarah Mytton Maury p. 33)<br />Benjamin Rush (January 4, 1746 [O.S. December 24, 1745] – April 19, 1813) was a Founding Father of the United States. Rush lived in the state of Pennsylvania and was a physician, writer, educator, humanitarian and a Universalist, as well as the founder of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.<br />Rush was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and attended the Continental Congress. He was also a staunch opponent of Gen. George Washington and worked tirelessly to have him removed as the Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army. Later in life, he became a professor of medical theory and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania. Despite having a wide influence on the development of American government, he is not as widely known as many of his American contemporaries. Rush was also an early opponent of slavery and capital punishment.<br />In 1803, Thomas Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis to Philadelphia to prepare for the Lewis and Clark Expedition under the tutelage of Rush, who taught Lewis about frontier illnesses and the performance of bloodletting. Rush provided the corps with a medical kit that included:<br />Turkish opium for nervousness <br />emetics to induce vomiting <br />medicinal wine <br />fifty dozen of Dr. Rush's Bilious Pills, laxatives containing more than 50% mercury, which the corps called "thunderclappers". Their meat-rich diet and lack of clean water during the expedition gave the men cause to use them frequently. Though their efficacy is questionable, their high mercury content provided an excellent tracer by which archaeologists have been able to track the corps' actual route to the Pacific. <br />Medicine in the 15th – 16th Century<br />http://hpathy.com/history-of-medicine/medicine-in-the-15th-16th-century/<br />January 1, 2010 by Manish Bhatia History of Medicine Print This Page | Leave a Comment <br />Other epidemic diseases became inexplicably more common in the sixteenth century, among them typhus, diphtheria, smallpox, and measles. In the north of Europe and among sailors, scurvy also increased in frequency, though neither cause nor cure was suggested.<br />Epidemic diseases of the sixteenth century were quite different from those of the preceding century. The sweating sickness, leprosy, and epidemic chorea had almost ceased to exist. Syphilis, though less virulent, continued to be common, and the favored treatment was with mercury or guaiac. Gonorrhea became even more common. These two venereal diseases were directly responsible for the suppression of communal baths, which had been especially popular in the German. In many areas this meant a loss of the only convenient means of personal hygiene, since adequate water was still generally unavailable to most of the population, at least in amounts sufficient for daily bathing or waste removal.<br />Hospitals continued to be established and supported by municipalities. As leprosy became increasingly rare, most of the thousands of leprosaria closed. In their place, however, institutions were increasingly built for the “lunatic” and the poor, who had been displaced from their feudal position without being made a part of the more urbanized society in which they lived. “Witch hunting” also grew by leaps and bounds.<br />Many new universities were founded in the sixteenth century, especially in Germany and in central and eastern Europe. In the medical schools, the mainstays remained Avicenna’s Canon, Galen’s Ars parva, the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, and the works of Dioscorides. In 1543, Giambattista da Monte, or Montanus, (1498-1552) revived the Hippocratic form of bedside teaching at Padua. Though this was to lapse after 1551, it was later revived by his students Albertinon Bottoni and Marco degli Oddi. But this change was minor relative to the revolutions going on in the study of botany and anatomy, changes so important in the later development of the history of medicine that the next chapter will be devoted to them.<br />The Methods in Practice<br />Though it was the age of reason, there was not much change in the practice of medicine. It was still believed that God implanted the soul in the embryo forty days after conception. The soul controlled growth and nutrition, sensation and motion, and all rational activity. There were other weird ideas like – the liver created blood, which was used by the brain to create invisible nervous spirits which flowed through the nervous system and were vectors of sensation and motion. Medical schools still taught the Canon of Medicine written by Avicenna, a Persian doctor, in 1030 AD and the works of Galen, a Greek physician whose views had been the standard for more than a thousand. Human health was believed to require equilibrium between the four main bodily fluids, or humors — blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. Each humor was built up from the four elements and displayed two of the four primary qualities: hot, cold, wet, and dry.<br />Doctors were reluctant to trust their own direct observations whenever they conflicted with ancient wisdom. Out of religious concern for the sanctity of the human body, dissections were still chiefly restricted to animals, and strict laws prohibited the practice. Dogs and pigs provided most of the raw material for study. By the mid 16th century, medical faculties were reluctantly beginning to adopt the study of corpses, mostly those of executed criminals. There were never enough, and bright medical students, undeterred by fear of punishment, often took matters into their own hands. By night those who could not afford the services of grave-robbers wielded a shovel themselves, digging up fresh corpses for clandestine study.<br />The Importance of Excreta<br />Most physicians rarely touched a patient, save for taking a pulse or checking a fever, relying instead upon the examination of excreta in order to render a diagnosis and prescribe treatment. Samples were probed for consistency, odor, and shade. Urine was swirled, sniffed, and held up to the light. An accomplished physician could identify more than a score of different colors and densities, and describe the significance of each. There were five shades of yellow, four of red, and five of green (from pistachio to rainbow to verdigris to emerald to leek). There were two shades near black; one translucent; and another the white of milk or parchment, each shade carrying a specific implication. There were infinite subtleties. Urine might smell fetid, sweet, or putrid, and display variations due to sex, age, and mental state. The liquid might be oleaginous, or ruddy, or resemble raw meat washings. It might remind one of poor wine or chick-pea water. It might be thick or thin, turbid or clear, musty or semen-like. Even the sediment could be broken into ten distinct types, from flaky to fleshy to mucoid. To the seasoned eye and nose, such nuances might indicate dispersion of vitality, the presence of an atrabilious humour, deficient digestive power, or—when white or slightly reddish—even herald the advent of dropsy.<br />Humors and Vapors<br />Doctors consulted not only medical texts but also books on astrology and numbers–and, of course, the Bible. Hippocrates’ Epidemics was essential in interpreting the length of time between significant stages of disease, which could help predict the outcome. Every effort would be dedicated to striking the proper balance between the all-important humors—hot and dry, cold and moist—that kept the body well, or, when out of balance, made it ill.<br />After making a diagnosis, the doctor would prescribe medication, diet, or surgery. Patients were cautioned not to eat fruit after salad, the mixture of which could overload one’s humours with deadly results. Strenuous sex must be avoided, for it might induce seizures. Apothecaries prepared purgatives for syphilis, emetics for poison, and tinctures of lead and mercury to cure the vapors, those exhalations of the liver and stomach that produced hysteria and depression.<br />Surgery<br />Clinical surgery during the Renaissance also owed much to France, though almost entirely because of a single person. Ambroise Pare (1510-90) came from unusual circumstances for one who was to be so influential in the history of medicine. From the countryside, he was first apprenticed to a barber and later a wound-dresser at the Hotel-Dieu in Paris. Snubbed by the College de St. Come, in 1537 he joined the army, where he was to achieve his fame. Giovanni da Vigo (1460-1525) had written in his Practica copiosa in arte chirurgica (1514) that gunshot wounds were poisonous, and from the pseudo-Hippocratic doctrine that “wounds which are not curable by iron are curable by fire”, Vigo and others concluded that gunshot wounds should be first dressed with boiling oil. As Pare later related (in French, for he knew no Latin) in The Method of Treatment for Wounds Caused by Firearms (1545), one night after treating many gunshot wounds with boiling oil he ran out of oil although many wounded remained uncared for. With trepidation, he merely cleansed their wounds and dressed them. The following day, he rushed to see how poorly those not treated with oil had done. To his amazement, they were sleeping comfortably and their wounds were healing well. In marked contrast, the soldiers treated with boiling oil were feverish and in much pain, and their wounds were inflamed. As Pare’s fame grew and this story was made common knowledge, boiling oil was no longer used on the battlefield.<br />During later campaigns, Pare reintroduced the ancient method of stopping hemorrhage by using ligatures and abandoned the cauterizing irons. In 1554 Henri II made him a master surgeon (in spite of his poor education), and in 1561 he published his magnificent treatise A Universal Surgery, wherein many novel procedures and types of apparatus were presented.<br />Anesthesia<br />Anesthesia was primitive and most often not used at all. A surgeon’s ability was measured by the time he took to operate. A patient’s hands and feet were bound to the table while amputations or other procedures were performed. Various methods were tried. The hammer stroke involved encasing the patient’s head in a leather helmet that guided the surgeon as he delivered a solid blow to the skull with a wooden hammer, rendering the patient either unconscious or dead. Narcotic sponges were soaked in mandrake and belladonna and pressed over the mouth of the patient, who sucked the solution and either fell into a deep sleep or died. Shock and sepsis killed most of those who survived the blade.<br />Treatments<br />Dried ground boar penis was supposed to cure pleurisy, while pigeon dung was helpful for eye irritations. Grease was applied to burns, and verbena was prescribed for the bite of a rabid dog.<br />Blood-letting was the most common treatment for alleviating symptoms of disease and for releasing malignant humors. One palette of blood—precisely three ounces—was let for pleurisy, and was drawn from the elbow of the arm opposite the affected side. Two to four palettes were drawn from the chest to cure peripneumonia. The basilic vein was bled for difficulties of the liver or spleen, while the temporal vein was tapped for melancholy or migraine. Every malady had its vein, and every vein its malady.<br />Wounds were cleaned and washed with salted water as a first aid measure. Splinting and traction were employed in the treatment of fractures. Broken skull bones were treated by elevation of the depressed fragments, while trephining (drilling a hole in skull) was resorted to when necessary. Wounds involving soft tissues were sutured & severed blood vessels were ligatured as the tying up of bleeding arteries & veins had begun to replace the cautery as haemostatic. The wound was then dressed with tow or wool. In injuries of the mouth which rendered the intake of food difficult or impossible, nourishment administered by means of nutrient enemas.<br />