This biography traces the dramatic life and career of Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer whose voyages played a pivotal role in expanding the Portuguese empire and creating an impressive Asian spice trade during the age of exploration in the 15th and 16th century. The titles in the Library of World Biography series make ideal supplements for World History survey courses or other courses in the history curriculum where figures in history are explored. Paperback, brief and inexpensive, each interpretative biography in this series focuses on a figure whose actions and ideas significantly influenced the course of World history. At the same time, each biography relates the life of its subject to the broader themes and developments of the times. Deified by some and vilified by others, Vasco Da Gama was born a minor noble who rose to a position of great wealth, prestige, and power during the golden age of Portuguese maritime exploration in the 15th and 16th century. He played a pivotal role in expanding the Portuguese Empire along the west coast of Africa, India, and eventually the entire Indian Ocean through his expeditions bringing back valuable spices from Asia. His epic first voyage to India from 1497-1499 was a seminal event in developing the beginnings of the global economy and society in which we live today. Da Gama was a new type of crusader who sought both riches and the conversion of those he encountered to Christianity. In his travels and in court life, da Gama demonstrated a single-minded zeal in navigating complex situations sometimes with brutal force. Many of the economic, political, and religious issues that confronted da Gama have contemporary relevance today.