Prince Henry the Navigator

by Jim ~ April 22nd, 2010. Filed under: Chapter 12: Renaissance and Exploration.

I have always heard that Prince Henry was suppose to be a father-like figure to the European age of exploration. I have never heard too much about him besides the fact that he opened up a navigation school. So, I decided to find out more about the man.

Born on March 4th 1394 to his parents John I, King of Portugal and his mother Philppa of Lancaster. Not much is known about his early life. The first real major known event is when his father and brothers took the port of Ceuta in northern Morocco from the Moors. After this Henry traveled down the African coast and exploring the mysterious region. Unfortunately, in his younger days, Portugal, nor the rest of Europe, had ships that could travel that distance at a reasonable speed. So, he helped to design and build, the Caravel. It was more efficient and faster than its predecessor, the barge. The Caravel was not complete until around 1441. The first to sail in a Caravel, Nuno Tristao, was able to reach the Cape of Branco, which was much farther than anyone had gotten before,

A caravel.

He still ran into the funding problem. He, however, got lucky. He was given the position of Governor of the Order of Christ. This position came with cash, lots of cash. He set out in his new ship and discovered a new islands, Porto Santo and Maderia. His next goal was to navigate around Cape Bojador, which in the past, proved to be the wall for European explorers because it was hard to get around. 10 years and 15 attempts later someone was able to navigate around it, Gil Eannes. Henry paid for Gil to take another voyage, this time with Afonso Gonclaves Baldya, the Royal Cup-bearer.
Over the next five or so years, slowly but surely each expedition funded by Henry got a little farther than the last expedition.

It was in 1418 that he opened up his School of Navigation, which taught how to navigate and and map-making. Maps were a big income for Henry, since it was his order of Christ that had the original maps/the right to sell them to other explorers of other nations.

Henry set up a base of operations on an island explored by an expedition funded by Henry called, Sagres. He also set up a Observatory in Sarges.In 1454, the Pope declared that the parts of the African west coast that Portugal had explored belonged to Portugal. Any other nation exploring these areas had to pay Portugal a fee for being there. Henry was becoming very rich. Over the next half a down years, Henry funded many more lucrative expeditions. He died in the ear 1460, the same year that Diogo Gomes, whose ship went further than any other ship before him. He traveled around the Cape Palmas.

I always thought that he set up a Navigation school when he was older and spent along time exploring him self instead of funding expeditions.I found that to be very interesting more than anything else in the

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