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The Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama (1460-1524), was the first European to sail from Portugal to India. Accolades for this achievement have long obscured the messianic motivation for the 1498 voyage, “to invade, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens (Muslims) and pagans and other enemies of Christ; to reduce them to perpetual slavery; to convert them to Christianity; [and] to acquire great wealth by force of arms from the Infidels,” as sanctified by various Papal Bulls, together called “the Doctrine of Discovery” (Dum Diversas, 1452; Romanus Pontifex, 1455; Inter Caetera, 1493). The other key motive in this enormous undertaking was to displace Arab control of the spice trade and establish, instead, Portuguese hegemony that eventually resulted in colonialism/imperialism. The main instrument in this effort was extreme violence, sanctioned by the Church, inflicted upon the natives, and predicated on the Portuguese Inquisition and earlier crusades. The paper concludes with some cautionary remarks about the current Islam-West clash environment.

Author Bio(s)

S. M. Ghazanfar is Emeritus-Professor/Chair (Economics), 1968-2008; Founding-Director, International Studies Program, 1988-1993; University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho. Author of four books and over 160 refereed articles/professional publications. Recipient of numerous honors/awards, including Distinguished Alumnus Achievement Award and Hall of Honors (both 2007), Washington State University; Idaho Treasure Award, 2009. Idaho Legislative Budget-Forecast Consultant, 1974-2000. Contributed as editor/advisor/author for several encyclopedic works; referee for journals; editorial-board of professional journals. Contributed, 2001 PBS 3-part series,“Islam: Empire of Faith.” Community-service activities, including Idaho’s Human Rights Commission, 2004-2013.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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