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Alvise Cadamosto

Born: 1432
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: 18-Jul-1488
Location of death: Venice, Italy
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Explorer

Nationality: Italy
Executive summary: Discovered Cape Verde islands

Venetian explorer, navigator and writer, celebrated for his voyages in the Portuguese service to West Africa. In 1454 he sailed from Venice for Flanders, and, being detained by contrary winds off Cape St. Vincent, was enlisted by Prince Henry the Navigator among his explorers, and given command of an expedition which sailed (22nd of March 1455) for the south. Visiting the Madeira group and the Canary Islands (of both which he gives an elaborate account, especially concerned with European colonization and native customs), and coasting the West Sahara (whose tribes, trade and trade-routes he likewise describes in detail), he arrived at the Senegal, whose lower course had already, as he tells us, been explored by the Portuguese 60 miles up. The negro lands and tribes south of the Senegal, and especially the country and people of Budomel, a friendly chief reigning about 50 miles beyond the river, are next treated with equal wealth of interesting detail, and from there Cadamosto proceeded towards the Gambia, which he ascended some distance (here also examining races, manners and customs with minute attention), but found the natives extremely hostile, and so returned direct to Portugal. Cadamosto expressly refers to the chart he kept of this voyage. At the mouth of the Gambia he records an observation of the "Southern Chariot" (Southern Cross). Next year (1456) he went out again under the patronage of Prince Henry. Doubling Cape Blanco he was driven out to sea by contrary winds, and thus made the first known discovery of the Cape Verde Islands. Having explored Boavista and Santiago, and found them uninhabited, he returned to the African mainland, and pushed on to the Gambia, Rio Grande and Geba. Returning to Portugal, he seems to have remained there until 1463, when he reappeared at Venice. He died in 1477.

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