Henry the Navigator, a 15th century Portuguese prince, aided usher in both the age 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 sailor nor a navigator, he funded a good deal of exploration along the west coastline of Africa. Under his patronage, Portuguese crews founded the country's first colonies and also visited regions formerly unknown come Europeans. Henry is regarded as an originator that the age of Discovery and the Atlantic enslaved world trade.

Early Influences

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

In 1415, Henry, his father and also his enlarge brothers led an attack on Ceuta, a town in Morocco along the Strait that Gibraltar. The assault succeeded, and Ceuta dropped under Portuguese control. Henry came to be fascinated with Africa, a continent about which the Portuguese knew little. He arisen a desire come learn about the Muslims who lived there, mainly in hopes of dominating them and also spreading Christianity. And also he became mindful of Africa’s numerous resources, i beg your pardon he hope to exploit for Portugal’s gain.

Significance in History

Henry is often credited with start the age of Discovery, the duration during which europe nations increased their with to Africa, Asia and also the Americas. Henry himself was neither a sailor nor a navigator, his name notwithstanding. The did, however, sponsor many exploratory sea voyages. In 1415, his ships got to the Canary Islands, i beg your pardon had already been claimed by Spain. In 1418, the Portuguese came upon the Madeira Islands and also established a swarm at Porto Santo.




When these explorations began, europeans knew practically nothing about the area past Cape Bojador top top the west coastline of Africa. Superstition had kept them from going farther. But under Henry’s orders, Portuguese sailors moved beyond Bojador. By 1436, they had actually traveled as much as the Rio de Oro.

In addition to sponsoring exploratory voyages, Henry is likewise credited v furthering understanding of geography, mapmaking and also navigation. He began a college for navigating in Sagres, at the southwestern reminder of Portugal, whereby he to work cartographers, shipbuilders and instrument makers. It was from Lagos, close to Sagres, that many of his sponsored trips began.

Enslaved world Trade

Henry has the dubious difference of being a founder that the Atlantic enslaved people trade. He funded Nuno Tristao’s exploration of the afri coast, and also Antao Goncalves’s hunting expedition there in 1441. The two men captured several Africans and also brought them ago to Portugal. One of the caught men, a chief, negotiated his own return come Africa, promise in exchange to provide the Portuguese with much more Africans. In ~ a couple of years, Portugal was deeply affiliated in the enslaved world trade.

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

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