Prince Henry "the Navigator": A Life by Peter E. RussellHenry the Navigator, fifteenth-century Portuguese prince and explorer, is a legendary, almost mythical figure in late medieval history. Considered along with Columbus to be one of the progenitors of modernity, Prince Henry challenged the scientific assumptions of his age and was responsible for liberating Europeans from geographical restraints that had bound them since the Roman Empire’s collapse. In this enthralling account of Henry’s life—the first biography of “The Navigator” in more than a century—Peter Russell reaps the harvest of a lifelong study of Prince Henry. Making full use of documentary evidence only recently available, Russell reevaluates Henry and his role in Portuguese and European history.
Examining the full range of Prince Henry’s activities, Russell discusses the explorer’s image as an imperialist and as a maritime, mathematical, and navigational pioneer. He considers Henry’s voyages of discovery in the African Atlantic, their economic and cultural consequences, and the difficult questions they generated regarding international law and papal jurisdiction. Russell demonstrates the degree to which Henry was motivated by the predictions of his astrologer—an aspect of his career little known until now—and explains how this innovator, though firmly rooted in medieval ways of thinking and behaving, set in motion a current of change that altered European history.
Profile of Prince Henry the Navigator
A s a supporter of some of the first European voyages of exploration, Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal added immeasurably to Westerners' knowledge of other lands—yet he never actually took part in any voyages. Committed to spreading the Christian faith to other lands, he was very much a man of the Middle Ages , yet he helped bring about changes that would usher in the modern era. Henry's father, John I, was the first king in the house of Aviz, which would rule Portugal for nearly two centuries beginning in A year later, Portugal signed a treaty with England, and to seal the agreement, Philippa of Lancaster, an English noblewoman, was married to King John. The couple had several sons, and the third one to survive—death in infancy or childhood was common in the Middle Ages —was Henry.
The Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator launched the first great European voyages of exploration. He sought new lands and sources of revenue for his kingdom and dynasty and searched for eastern Christian allies against Islam. He grew to maturity at a time when John I was bringing to a close a confused period of civil strife and war with Castile and securing Portugal's independence. The conflicts of this period had left the nobility decimated and impoverished and the monarchy's revenues greatly depreciated. Thus the ruling families began to look abroad for new worlds of wealth, land, and honors to conquer.
He acquired his name by beginning a school of navigation, funding many explorations along the coast of Africa and funding the building of a lighter, faster ship called a caravel that would allow explorers to go farther into the Atlantic than before.
i want to eat dirt so bad
The epithet Navigator, applied to him by the English though seldom by Portuguese writers , is a misnomer, as he himself never embarked on any exploratory voyages. Henry and his older brothers, the princes Duarte Edward and Pedro, were educated under the supervision of their parents. Henry emerged with pronounced tastes for chivalric romance and astrological literature, as well as with ambitions to take part in military campaigns and, if possible, win a kingdom for himself.
Portugal is a country that has no coast along the Mediterranean Sea, only the Atlantic Ocean, so the country's advances in worldwide exploration centuries ago may come as no surprise. That said, it was the passion and goals of one man who truly moved Portuguese exploration forward, the man known as Prince Henry the Navigator — Although Prince Henry never sailed on any of his expeditions and rarely left Portugal, he became known as Prince Henry the Navigator because of his patronage of explorers, who increased the world's known geographic information through the sharing of knowledge and by sending expeditions to places previously uncharted. At the age of 21, in , Prince Henry commanded a military force that captured the Muslim outpost of Ceuta, located on the south side of the Strait of Gibraltar, on the northern tip of the African continent and bordering Morocco. It became Portugal's first overseas territory.