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Prince Henry the Navigator

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1 Prince Henry the Navigator
And his school of navigation at Sagres, Portugal By Deborah L. Hoeflinger

2 Prince Henry the Navigator
Prince Henry the Navigator (Dom Henrique) was the son of King João of Portugal, born in He is most famous for the voyages of discovery that he organized and financed, which eventually led to the rounding of Africa and the establishment of sea routes to the Indies. Henry was also a very devout man, and was Governor of the Order of Christ from 1420 until his death in 1460.

3 “the end of the world where the waters of the ocean boil at sunset“
“the end of the world where the waters of the ocean boil at sunset“. (Roman name for Sagres.)

4 Sagres, Portugal's Lands End.
This place, a promontory on the edge of the open ocean, had an otherworldly reputation, and had been called the Sacred Promontory by Marinus and Ptolomy (from which the name Sagres derives.)

5 Sagres The exact location of Henry's School of Navigation is not known. It is generally accepted that he sited his headquarters at Sagres and created a settlement on land granted by the crown. The settlement came to be known as Vila do Infante, or Prince's town. This is popularly believed to have been situated on the headland within the walls of the forteleza which were rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. The only building still surviving and thought to have been around in more or less its present form in Henry's day, is the starkly simple little church within the fortress

6 The Work at Sagres Here, the legend goes, Prince Henry made his base for sea exploration, making it a centre for cartography, navigation and shipbuilding. The Catalan Jew from Majorca, Jehuda Cresques, son of the cartographer Abraham Cresques, was brought to Sagres to supervise the collation of geographic facts brought back by Henry's explorers, who were encouraged and later required to keep detailed logs of their voyages. Muslims and Arabs, Italians from Genoa and Venice, Germans and Scandinavians came to Sagres.

7 Sagres—Lands End Under Henry's patronage, a community of brilliant scholars came here to teach and to study,  and  accumulated and correlated nautical knowledge as it was brought back by captains of successive voyages to hitherto unknown places. The scholars in turn instructed less experienced captains about Atlantic currents and wind systems and the latest navigational methods. Cartography was refined with the use of newly devised instruments. Maps were regularly updated and extended. A revolutionary type of vessel, the caravel, was designed.

8 Sagres Successes Navigational instruments,such as the quadrant, the astrolabe and new mathematical tables to aid in determining latitude. The local port of Lagos saw the development of a new type of ship, the caravel.

9 Voyages of Discovery During the two-year period from 1444 to 1446, Prince Henry intensified the exploration of Africa, sending between 30 and 40 of his ships on missions. The last voyage sponsored by Prince Henry sailed over 1,500 miles down the African coast. Although he never sailed on the expeditions, the voyages that he paid for in the mid-1400s helped launch Portugal into the front of the race to find a sea route to the Indies.

10 The Islands Henry's first success was the discovery of the small island of Porto Santo. Soon after, he went on to discover Madeira. Later, he discovered and colonized the Azores.










20 Sagres’ Importance The most southerly community in Portugal and the most south-westerly in continental Europe is at Sagres, overlooking the Bay of Sagres, which is itself flanked by two headlands: Atalaia Point and Sagres Point. It is only when you catch sight of the grey ramparts of the fortress blocking off the massive plateau of Sagres Point and cast your eye around the 10 km arc of sheer cliffs to the lighthouse at Cape St. Vincent that you get a real feeling for the tremendous historical importance of this place. It was at least as important during the Age of Discovery as Cape Canaveral was during the early years of space exploration. When the weather is fair, it can be a powerful sensation to sit quietly anywhere along the clifftops here and look out to sea and ponder the extraordinary adventurers who have passed this way.

















37 Henry’s Death Henry lived in the vicinity of Sagres for most of his life and this is where he died on November 13, 1460 at the age of 66. He had opened the way, but had not lived long enough to savour and share the successes of Bartolomeu Dias who rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, and Vasco da Gama who finally pushed through the sea route to India in 1498.


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