One of the pleasures of trip anticipation is reading. Blogs posts and travel sites for real time, boots on the ground information and insights, but also histories, biographies, and novels. I came across a bio of Vasco de Gama, who, in my hazy grade school memory, was a bold seafarer and explorer. Turns out he was also a vicious, bloodthirsty bastard. A man of appalling and horrifying acts of torture and vengeance. Take this example:
“After demanding the expulsion of Muslims from Calicut to the Zamorin Hindu, the latter sent the high priest Talappana Namboothiri (the very same person who conducted da Gama to the Zamorin’s chamber during his much celebrated first visit to Calicut in May 1498) for talks. Da Gama called him a spy, ordered the priests’ lips and ears to be cut off and after sewing a pair of dog’s ears to his head, sent him away.”
Ever hopeful, I turned to an audio book biography Isabella, Warrior Queen. More mayhem. I am all for strong female role models, but when I discover she invented the Inquisition, I’m outta there.
On the whole, I prefer the lives of the painters. Like, say, Diego Velasquez or Sofonisba Anguissola. Not that artists don’t get up to mischief, but it isn’t havoc on the grand scale that royalty and their sanctioned pirates tend to wreak.