Essay on the Life of Prince Henry the Navigator

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He learned of the opportunities offered by the Saharan trade routes that terminated there, and became fascinated with Africa in general; he was most intrigued by the Christian legend of Prester John and the expansion of Portuguese trade. He is regarded as the patron of Portuguese exploration.

He was baptized in Porto , and may have been born there, probably when the royal couple was living in the city's old mint , now called Casa do Infante Prince's House , or in the region nearby. Henry was 21 when he and his father and brothers captured the Moorish port of Ceuta in northern Morocco.

Ceuta had long been a base for Barbary pirates who raided the Portuguese coast, depopulating villages by capturing their inhabitants to be sold in the African slave trade. Following this success, Henry began to explore the coast of Africa, most of which was unknown to Europeans. His objectives included finding the source of the West African gold trade and the legendary Christian kingdom of Prester John , and stopping the pirate attacks on the Portuguese coast. At that time, the ships of the Mediterranean were too slow and too heavy to make these voyages. Under his direction, a new and much lighter ship was developed, the caravel , which could sail further and faster, [3] and, above all, was highly maneuverable and could sail much nearer the wind, or " into the wind ".

This made the caravel largely independent of the prevailing winds. With the caravel, Portuguese mariners explored rivers and shallow waters as well as the open ocean with wide autonomy. In fact, the invention of the caravel was what made Portugal poised to take the lead in transoceanic exploration. In , Henry's father appointed him governor of the province of the Algarve. While largely a diplomatic mission, among his goals was to seek out geographic material for his brother Henry. Peter returned from Venice with a current world map drafted by a Venetian cartographer. In , he donated houses for the Estudo Geral to reunite all the sciences—grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, music, and astronomy—into what would later become the University of Lisbon.

For other subjects like medicine or philosophy, he ordered that each room should be decorated according to each subject that was being taught. Henry also had other resources. He granted Henry all profits from trading within the areas he discovered as well as the sole right to authorize expeditions beyond Cape Bojador. Henry also held a monopoly on tuna fishing in the Algarve.

When Edward died eight years later, Henry supported his brother Peter, Duke of Coimbra for the regency during the minority of Edward's son Afonso V , and in return received a confirmation of this levy. Henry functioned as a primary organizer of the disastrous expedition to Tangier in The Portuguese Cortes refused to approve the return of Ceuta in exchange for the Infante Ferdinand who remained in captivity until his death six years later. Prince Regent Peter had an important role and responsibility in the Portuguese maritime expansion in the Atlantic Ocean and Africa during his administration.

Henry promoted the colonization of the Azores during Peter's regency — For most of the latter part of his life, Henry concentrated on his maritime activities, or on Portuguese court politics. It is traditionally suggested that Henry gathered at his villa on the Sagres peninsula a school of navigators and map-makers. However modern historians hold this to be a misconception. He did employ some cartographers to chart the coast of Mauritania after the voyages he sent there, but there was no center of navigation science or observatory in the modern sense of the word, nor was there an organized navigational center.

Referring to Sagres, sixteenth-century Portuguese mathematician and cosmographer Pedro Nunes remarked, "from it our sailors went out well taught and provided with instruments and rules which all map makers and navigators should know. The view that Henry's court rapidly grew into the technological base for exploration, with a naval arsenal and an observatory, etc.


Jehuda Cresques , a noted cartographer , has been said to have accepted an invitation to come to Portugal to make maps for the infante. This last incident probably accounts for the legend of the School of Sagres, which is now discredited. The first contacts with the African slave market were made by expeditions to ransom Portuguese subjects enslaved by pirate attacks on Portuguese ships or villages.

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As Sir Peter Russell remarks in his biography, "In Henryspeak, conversion and enslavement were interchangeable terms. The nearby port of Lagos provided a convenient harbor from which these expeditions left. The voyages were made in very small ships, mostly the caravel , a light and maneuverable vessel. The caravel used the lateen sail , the prevailing rig in Christian Mediterranean navigation since late antiquity.

During Prince Henry's time and after, the Portuguese navigators discovered and perfected the North Atlantic Volta do Mar the "turn of the sea" or "return from the sea" : the dependable pattern of trade winds blowing largely from the east near the equator and the returning westerlies in the mid-Atlantic. This was a major step in the history of navigation , when an understanding of oceanic wind patterns was crucial to Atlantic navigation, from Africa and the open ocean to Europe, and enabled the main route between the New World and Europe in the North Atlantic in future voyages of discovery.

Although the lateen sail allowed sailing upwind to some extent, it was worth even major extensions of course to have a faster and calmer following wind for most of a journey. Portuguese mariners who sailed south and southwest towards the Canary Islands and West Africa would afterwards sail far to the northwest—that is, away from continental Portugal, and seemingly in the wrong direction—before turning northeast near the Azores islands and finally east to Europe in order to have largely following winds for their full journey.

Christopher Columbus used this on his transatlantic voyages.

Prince Henry & the Age of Exploration

The first explorations followed not long after the capture of Ceuta in Henry was interested in locating the source of the caravans that brought gold to the city. Zarco, a knight in service to Prince Henry, had commanded the caravels guarding the coast of Algarve from the incursions of the Moors. He had also been at Ceuta. In , Zarco and Teixeira were blown off-course by a storm while making the volta do mar westward swing to return to Portugal.

They found shelter at an island they named Porto Santo. Henry directed that Porto Santo be colonized. The move to claim the Madeiran islands was probably a response to Castile 's efforts to claim the Canary Islands.

Prince Henry the Navigator, the Hero of Portugal and of Modern Discovery - Audiobook Full - 1/6

A chart drawn by the Catalan cartographer, Gabriel de Vallseca of Mallorca , has been interpreted to indicate that the Azores were first discovered by Diogo de Silves in Velho apparently got a far as the Formigas , in the eastern archipelago, before having to return to Sagres, probably due to bad weather. Until Henry's time, Cape Bojador remained the most southerly point known to Europeans on the desert coast of Africa.

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Superstitious seafarers held that beyond the cape lay sea monsters and the edge of the world. In , Gil Eanes , the commander of one of Henry's expeditions, became the first European known to pass Cape Bojador. Using the new ship type, the expeditions then pushed onwards. Help Center. Exchange offer not applicable. New product price is lower than exchange product price. Exchange offer is not applicable with this product. Exchange Offer cannot be clubbed with Bajaj Finserv for this product. Please apply exchange offer again.

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    Henry The Navigator In The Age Of Exploration

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