Henry the Navigator

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Henry the Navigator,

1394–1460, prince of Portugal, patron of exploration. Because he fought with extraordinary valor in the Portuguese conquest of Ceuta (1415), he was created duke of Viseu by his father, John I, king of Portugal. The Moroccan campaign inspired Henry with a desire to extend his knowledge of Africa. In 1416 he established at Sagres in SW Portugal a base for explorations, later adding a naval arsenal and an observatory and a school for the study of geography and navigation. The nearby port of Lagos provided a convenient harbor. One of his navigators rediscovered the Madeira Islands (1418–20), and by degrees the west coast of Africa was explored. Cape Bojador was reached in 1434, Cape Blanco was passed in 1441, and the Bay of Arguim was discovered in 1443. When Henry's captains returned with slaves and gold, African exploration, long derided, became very popular; from 1444 to 1446 between 30 and 40 vessels sailed for the W African coast under the prince's authority. His navigators discovered the Senegal River and rounded Cape Verde (1444) and finally (1460) reached a point near the present Sierra Leone. The abuses of the slave trade caused Henry to forbid the kidnapping of blacks in 1455. Henry played an important political role in the minority of Alfonso V, establishing his brother Pedro as regent. His position as grand master of the wealthy and powerful Order of Christ (Portuguese successor to the Knights Templars) increased his influence, and much of the revenue for his ventures was derived from his ecclesiastical tithes. His military reputation, dimmed by a disastrous expedition (1437) against Tangier, was recovered by a subsequent Moroccan campaign (1458), and he was offered the command of several foreign armies. Henry's chief importance, however, lay in his notable contributions to the art of navigation and to the progress of exploration, which provided the groundwork for the development of Portugal's colonial empire and for the country's rise to international prominence in the 16th cent.


See biographies by E. D. S. Bradford (1960), R. H. Major (1967), C. R. Beazley (1895, repr. 1968), and E. Sanceau (1969).

Henry the Navigator


(Dom Enrique o Navegador). Born Mar. 4, 1394, in Oporto; died Nov. 13, 1460, in Sagres. Portuguese prince; organizer of naval expeditions to the islands of the central Atlantic Ocean and the shores of Africa, for which he received the sobriquet “navigator” in the 19th century, although he never actually sailed.

Henry used money from the Order of Christ, which he headed, to establish in Sagres (Portugal) an observatory and seafaring school. He supported the development of Portuguese shipbuilding, which began to produce predominantly caravels. The naval expeditions of G. V. Cabral, A. Cadamosto, and others led to the discovery of the Azores (1432-35), Cape Verde, the Senegal and Gambia rivers, and the Bijagos archipelago (1434-57), and the Cape Verde Islands (1456). On the initiative of Henry the Navigator, the importation of African slaves into Portugal was begun. Such captains as N. Tristāo, D. Dias, and A. Fernandes investigated and charted about 3,500 km of the west coast of Africa from the Western Sahara to the Gulf of Guinea while searching for gold and slaves between 1434 and 1460. The expeditions by Henry the Navigator laid the basis for Portuguese expansion in Africa.


Magidovich, I. P. Ocherki po istorii geograficheskikh otkrytii. Moscow, 1967.
Sanceau, E. Henry, The Navigator. New York, 1947.

Henry the Navigator

1394--1460, prince of Portugal, noted for his patronage of Portuguese voyages of exploration of the W coast of Africa
References in periodicals archive ?
Russell, Prince Henry the Navigator: the Rise and Fall of a Culture Hero (Oxford: Clarendon, 1984).
From the lagoon-like estuary of the Tagus, the first great European ocean sailors were sent out in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by Prince Henry the Navigator to explore the world.
The leader and guiding spirit of Portugal's oceanic explorations, Prince Henry the Navigator, began his career by overseeing the construction of a fleet and leading it on a crusade against the Muslim fortress and trading center of Ceuta on the African coast, across the Straits of Gibraltar.
But in 1421, Prince Henry the Navigator decided that he was curious, and he sent ships to explore the coast of Africa.
What Prince Henry the Navigator had begun (see 1418) was complete, nearly four decades after his death.
Lisbon basking in the sunshine 1 PADRAO DOS DESCOBRIMENTOS, Praca da Boa Esperanca, Avenida de Brasilia ERECTED in honour of Portugal's Prince Henry the Navigator in 1960, this dramatic monument has become synonymous with the city and is one of the most photographed sights Lisbon has to offer.
In the 14th century, Prince Henry the Navigator lived and died on the tip of the cape, where a lighthouse - one of the most powerful in Europe - now stands, together with a memorial in his honour.
This fortress owes its origins to Prince Henry the Navigator who is said to have established a nautical school there and from where brave seafarers set out to explore the unknown.
Belem is the little town on the north bank of the Tagus from which Prince Henry the Navigator's unbelievably brave sailors set out in tiny ships to discover what was in the world outside Europe.
What was the nationality of Prince Henry the Navigator, who was a patron of many 15th century voyages of exploration?
In the 14th century, Prince Henry the Navigator, the founder of a renowned centre devoted to exploration and maritime research, lived and died on the site where a lighthouse, one of the most powerful in Europe, now stands.
It created and named Port wine and was the birthplace of the legendary Prince Henry The Navigator - as well as the fictional Harry Potter, whose author JK Rowling was living in Porto when she started writing her first book.

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