How Did The Cape Of Good Hope Get Its Name?

As one of the primary routes between Europe and Asia along with the Suez Canal, the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa is the critical point where a ship begins to travel east and thus has a particular significance to sailors.

Over the past few months, we have seen the Cape of Good Hope be used as a vital alternative route for a shipping agent to use if the Suez Canal is not an option, but how the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula got its name is a battle of warring superstitions in the Age of Sail.

Whilst the Cape of Good Hope has been known about as early as Ancient Greece, the first European to reach the cape by boat was Bartolomeu Dias, an explorer from Portugal who established the route to begin with.

He actually found the cape on the return journey, after the expedition was abandoned due to the infamously choppy waters and rough conditions of the lower Atlantic Ocean destroying the morale of the expedition party.

He named it Cabo das Tormentas, the Cape of Storms due to the conditions on his surprisingly muted return.

However, this name would not last, as King John II of Portugal renamed it the Cabo da Boa Esperança, the Cape of Good Hope.

The reason for this was less about the fortunes of the millions of sailors who would eventually take the route, and more about the optimistic view discovering the cape would have regarding discovering India and East Asia.

As it turns out, Mr Dias’ discovery was one of the most important in shipping history, although it would take years before he would finally receive credit for his achievements.