Henry the Navigator, a 15th century Portuguese prince, aided usher in both the period of Discovery and the Atlantic slave trade.

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Who was Prince Henry the Navigator?

Although Prince Henry the Navigator to be neither a seafarer nor a navigator, he sponsored a great deal of expedition along the west shore of Africa. Under his patronage, Portuguese crews started the country's first colonies and also visited regions formerly unknown come Europeans. Henry is related to as one originator of the age of Discovery and also the Atlantic enslaved world trade.

Early Influences

Henry the Navigator was born in 1394 in Porto, Portugal. He to be the third surviving child of King man I and Philippa that Lancaster.

In 1415, Henry, his father and his larger brothers led an attack on Ceuta, a town in Morocco along the Strait that Gibraltar. The strike succeeded, and also Ceuta dropped under Portuguese control. Henry ended up being fascinated v Africa, a continent around which the Portuguese knew little. He emerged a desire to learn around the Muslims who lived there, mainly in really hopes of overcoming them and spreading Christianity. And he became conscious of Africa’s many resources, which he hoped to manipulate for Portugal’s gain.

Significance in History

Henry is often attributed with start the period of Discovery, the duration during which european nations expanded their reach to Africa, Asia and also the Americas. Henry self was neither a sailor nor a navigator, his name notwithstanding. The did, however, sponsor plenty of exploratory sea voyages. In 1415, his ships reached the Canary Islands, which had currently been claimed by Spain. In 1418, the Portuguese come upon the Madeira Islands and established a swarm at Porto Santo.




When these explorations began, europeans knew basically nothing about the area past Cape Bojador on the west shore of Africa. Superstition had kept them native going farther. However under Henry’s orders, Portuguese sailors moved past Bojador. By 1436, they had actually traveled as far as the Rio de Oro.

In addition to sponsoring exploratory voyages, Henry is also credited through furthering knowledge of geography, mapmaking and also navigation. He started a college for navigating in Sagres, in ~ the southwestern tip of Portugal, wherein he to work cartographers, shipbuilders and instrument makers. It to be from Lagos, near Sagres, that many of his funded trips began.

Enslaved world Trade

Henry has actually the dubious difference of gift a founder the the Atlantic enslaved civilization trade. He sponsored Nuno Tristao’s expedition of the afri coast, and also Antao Goncalves’s hunting expedition there in 1441. The two men captured several Africans and also brought them back to Portugal. Among the caught men, a chief, negotiated his own return come Africa, promising in exchange to provide the Portuguese with more Africans. Within a few years, Portugal to be deeply connected in the enslaved world trade.

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Henry died in 1460 in Sagres, Portugal. By the moment of his death, Portuguese explorers and also traders had advanced as far as the region of contemporary Sierra Leone. It would certainly be another 28 years prior to Vasco de Gama, under the Portuguese flag, would certainly sail clear about Africa and also complete an exploration to India. 

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