Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese explorer who was the first European to reach India by sea. As the first person to sail directly from Europe to India, he linked Europe and Asia by ocean route, opening up vast trade and political opportunities for the Portuguese who no longer needed to traverse the dangerous and risky routes they previously used to. The discovery of the new sea route enabled the Portuguese to easily reach Asia and establish their colonial rule. Born as one of the sons of a wealthy knight, Vasco da Gama grew up to be a brave and curious young man. He is believed to have been educated in mathematics and navigation before joining the navy. He first proved his capabilities when King John II of Portugal sent him on a mission to the south of Lisbon and then to the Algarve region of the country to seize French ships in order to prove a political point to the French government which had disrupted Portugal shipping. The successful completion of this mission established him as a fearless sailor and earned him popularity. Later on when King Manuel ascended to the throne, he sent da Gama on a mission to find a maritime route to the East. The successful discovery of the direct sea route to India earned him much respect and he was made the Portuguese viceroy in India.