Calicut and the Discovery of Brazil
It was on the 13th of September 1500 CE, exactly 517 years ago that the first European trading factory was established in Calicut (Kozhikode), Kerala by the Portuguese. While that in itself marked a milestone, what is less well-known is how the journey to Calicut, led the expedition to another great discovery – that of Brazil! Before they got to the Indian Ocean, a wrong turn, en route to India, led the Portuguese fleet led by Captain Pedro Álvares Cabral (1467- 1520 CE), to discover Brazil!
For millennia, India had been trading with Europe. Indian commodities like spices and textiles were in great demand. However, this trade was dominated by the Arab traders from Oman and Yemen, who served as intermediaries between India and Europe. Arab traders would buy goods at Indian ports and transport them to Basra in present day Iraq and Constantinople (Istanbul) in the Byzantine Empire, where it would be sold to Venetian traders who would further transport it to Europe. However, the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman army in 1453 CE marked the end of the great empire of Byzantium and Europe was forced to find a new way, to come east.