The Info List - Henry The Navigator

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Infante D. Henrique of Portugal, Duke of Viseu
Duke of Viseu
(4 March 1394 – 13 November 1460), better known as Prince Henry the Navigator (Portuguese: Infante Dom Henrique, o Navegador), was a central figure in the early days of the Portuguese Empire
Portuguese Empire
and in the 15th-century European maritime discoveries and maritime expansion. Through his administrative direction, he is regarded as the main initiator of what would be known as the Age of Discovery. Henry was the third[1] child of the Portuguese king John I and responsible for the early development of Portuguese exploration and maritime trade with other continents through the systematic exploration of Western Africa, the islands of the Atlantic Ocean, and the search for new routes. King John I founded the House of Aviz. Henry encouraged his father to conquer Ceuta
(1415), the Muslim
port on the North African coast across the Straits of Gibraltar
Straits of Gibraltar
from the Iberian Peninsula. He learned of the opportunities offered by the Saharan trade routes that terminated there, and became fascinated with Africa
in general; he was most intrigued by the Christian legend of Prester John
Prester John
and the expansion of Portuguese trade. Henry is regarded as the patron of Portuguese exploration.


1 Life 2 Resources and income 3 Vila do Infante and Portuguese exploration 4 Henry's explorations

4.1 Madeira 4.2 The Azores 4.3 West African coast

5 Origin of the "Navigator" nickname 6 Fiction 7 Ancestry 8 See also 9 Footnotes 10 Sources


Frontispiece of Zurara's Crónicas dos Feitos de Guiné (Paris codex), with the phrase talent de bien faire ("the talent of doing well" or "Hunger for good deeds") and the pyramids, of Prince Henry's motto. It has been argued that the image inserted portrays his brother, King Duarte, rather than Henry. The empresa or divisa placed below is Henry's motto. According to Friar Luis de Sousa, based on papers of Henry`s contemporary chronicler Gomes Eanes de Zurara, and other 15th-century documents, Henry's pyramids represented the pyramids of Egypt, at Giza, and at the top of his pyramids was a golden sun.

Henry was the third surviving son of King John I and his wife Philippa,[2] sister of King Henry IV of England. He was baptized in Porto, and may have been born there, probably when the royal couple was living in the city's old mint, now called Casa do Infante (Prince's House), or in the region nearby. Another possibility is that he was born at the Monastery of Leça do Bailio, in Leça de Palmeira, during the same period of the royal couple's residence in the city of Porto. Henry was 21 when he and his father and brothers captured the Moorish port of Ceuta
in northern Morocco. Ceuta
had long been a base for Barbary pirates who raided the Portuguese coast, depopulating villages by capturing their inhabitants to be sold in the African slave trade. Following this success, Henry began to explore the coast of Africa, most of which was unknown to Europeans. His objectives included finding the source of the West African gold trade and the legendary Christian kingdom of Prester John, and stopping the pirate attacks on the Portuguese coast. At that time, the ships of the Mediterranean were too slow and too heavy to make these voyages. Under his direction, a new and much lighter ship was developed, the caravel, which could sail further and faster,[3] and, above all, was highly maneuverable and could sail much nearer the wind, or "into the wind". This made the caravel largely independent of the prevailing winds. With the caravel, Portuguese mariners explored rivers and shallow waters as well as the open ocean with wide autonomy. In 1419, Henry's father appointed him governor of the province of the Algarve. Resources and income On 25 May 1420, Henry gained appointment as the Grand Master of the Military Order of Christ, the Portuguese successor to the Knights Templar, which had its headquarters at Tomar, in central Portugal.[4] Henry held this position for the remainder of his life, and the Order was an important source of funds for Henry's ambitious plans, especially his persistent attempts to conquer the Canary Islands, which the Portuguese had claimed to have discovered before the year 1346. In 1425, his second brother the Infante Peter, Duke of Coimbra, made a tour of Europe. While largely a diplomatic mission, among his goals was to seek out geographic material for his brother Henry. Peter returned from Venice with a current world map drafted by a Venetian cartographer.[5] In 1431, he donated houses for the Estudo Geral
Estudo Geral
to reunite all the sciences—grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, music, and astronomy—into what would later become the University of Lisbon. For other subjects like medicine or philosophy, he ordered that each room should be decorated according to each subject that was being taught. Henry also had other resources. When John I died in 1433, Henry's eldest brother Edward of Portugal
Edward of Portugal
became king. He granted Henry all profits from trading within the areas he discovered as well as the sole right to authorize expeditions beyond Cape Bojador. Henry also held a monopoly on tuna fishing in the Algarve. When Edward died eight years later, Henry supported his brother Peter, Duke of Coimbra
Peter, Duke of Coimbra
for the regency during the minority of Edward's son Afonso V, and in return received a confirmation of this levy. Henry functioned as a primary organizer of the disastrous expedition to Tangier in 1437. Henry's younger brother Ferdinand was given as a hostage to guarantee that the Portuguese would fulfill the terms of the peace agreement that had been made with Çala Ben Çala. The Portuguese Cortes
Portuguese Cortes
refused to approve the return of Ceuta
in exchange for the Infante Ferdinand who remained in captivity until his death six years later. Prince Regent Peter had an important role and responsibility in the Portuguese maritime expansion in the Atlantic Ocean and Africa
during his administration. Henry promoted the colonization of the Azores during Peter's regency (1439–1448). For most of the latter part of his life, Henry concentrated on his maritime activities, or on Portuguese court politics. Vila do Infante and Portuguese exploration

Portrait believed to be the true likeness of Henry the Navigator. Detail from the fifth panel of the polyptych of St. Vincent by Nuno Gonçalves, c.1470

According to João de Barros, in the Algarve
he repopulated a village that he called Terçanabal (from terça nabal or tercena nabal).[6] This village was situated in a strategic position for his maritime enterprises and was later called Vila do Infante ("Estate or Town of the Prince"). It is traditionally suggested that Henry gathered at his villa on the Sagres peninsula a school of navigators and map-makers. However modern historians hold this to be a misconception. He did employ some cartographers to chart the coast of Mauritania
after the voyages he sent there, but there was no center of navigation science or observatory in the modern sense of the word, nor was there an organized navigational center.[7] Referring to Sagres, sixteenth-century Portuguese mathematician and cosmographer Pedro Nunes
Pedro Nunes
remarked, "from it our sailors went out well taught and provided with instruments and rules which all map makers and navigators should know."[8] The view that Henry's court rapidly grew into the technological base for exploration, with a naval arsenal and an observatory, etc., although repeated in popular culture, has never been established.[9][10][11] Henry did possess geographical curiosity, and employed cartographers. Jehuda Cresques, a noted cartographer, has been said to have accepted an invitation to come to Portugal to make maps for the infante. This last incident probably accounts for the legend of the School of Sagres, which is now discredited.[4] The first contacts with the African slave market were made by expeditions to ransom Portuguese subjects enslaved by pirate attacks on Portuguese ships or villages. As Sir Peter Russell remarks in his biography, "In Henryspeak, conversion and enslavement were interchangeable terms."[12] Henry's explorations

Henry's tomb in the Monastery of Batalha

Henry sponsored voyages, collecting a 20% tax (o quinto) on the profits made by naval expeditions, which was the usual practice in the Iberian states of that time. The nearby port of Lagos provided a convenient harbor from which these expeditions left. The voyages were made in very small ships, mostly the caravel, a light and maneuverable vessel. The caravel used the lateen sail, the prevailing rig in Christian Mediterranean navigation since late antiquity.[13] Most of the voyages sent out by Henry consisted of one or two ships that navigated by following the coast, stopping at night to tie up along some shore. During Prince Henry's time and after, the Portuguese navigators discovered and perfected the North Atlantic Volta do Mar
Volta do Mar
(the "turn of the sea" or "return from the sea"): the dependable pattern of trade winds blowing largely from the east near the equator and the returning westerlies in the mid-Atlantic. This was a major step in the history of navigation, when an understanding of oceanic wind patterns was crucial to Atlantic navigation, from Africa
and the open ocean to Europe, and enabled the main route between the New World
New World
and Europe in the North Atlantic in future voyages of discovery. Although the lateen sail allowed sailing upwind to some extent, it was worth even major extensions of course to have a faster and calmer following wind for most of a journey. Portuguese mariners who sailed south and southwest towards the Canary Islands
Canary Islands
and West Africa
would afterwards sail far to the northwest — that is, away from continental Portugal, and seemingly in the wrong direction—before turning northeast near the Azores
islands and finally east to Europe in order to have largely following winds for their full journey. Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
used this on his transatlantic voyages. Madeira The first explorations followed not long after the capture of Ceuta
in 1415. Henry was interested in locating the source of the caravans that brought gold to the city. During the reign of his father, John I, João Gonçalves Zarco
João Gonçalves Zarco
and Tristão Vaz Teixeira
Tristão Vaz Teixeira
were sent to explore along the African coast. Zarco, a knight in service to Prince Henry, had commanded the caravels guarding the coast of Algarve
from the incursions of the Moors. He had also been at Ceuta. In 1418, Zarco and Teixeira were blown off-course by a storm while making the volta do mar westward swing to return to Portugal. They found shelter at an island they named Porto
Santo. Henry directed that Porto
Santo be colonized. The move to claim the Madeiran islands was probably a response to Castile's efforts to claim the Canary Islands.[14] In 1420, settlers then moved to the nearby island of Madeira. The Azores A chart drawn by the Catalan cartographer, Gabriel de Vallseca
Gabriel de Vallseca
of Mallorca, has been interpreted to indicate that the Azores
were first discovered by Diogo de Silves in 1427. In 1431, Gonçalo Velho
Gonçalo Velho
was dispatched with orders to determine the location of "islands" first identified by de Silves. Velho apparently got a far as the Formigas, in the eastern archipelago, before having to return to Sagres, probably due to bad weather. By this time the Portuguese navigators had also reached the Sargasso Sea (western North Atlantic region), naming it after the Sargassum seaweed growing there (sargaço / sargasso in Portuguese).[15][16] West African coast Until Henry's time, Cape Bojador
Cape Bojador
remained the most southerly point known to Europeans on the desert coast of Africa. Superstitious seafarers held that beyond the cape lay sea monsters and the edge of the world. In 1434, Gil Eanes, the commander of one of Henry's expeditions, became the first European known to pass Cape Bojador.

Henry the Navigator bronze by Léon-Joseph Chavalliaud
Léon-Joseph Chavalliaud
(1899), outside the Palm House at Sefton Park, Liverpool
(in appearance similar to the sculpture of the beginning of the 16th century, in the Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon, possibly close to the true likeness of Prince Henry)

Using the new ship type, the expeditions then pushed onwards. Nuno Tristão and Antão Gonçalves reached Cape Blanco in 1441. The Portuguese sighted the Bay of Arguin
Bay of Arguin
in 1443 and built an important fort there around the year 1448. Dinis Dias soon came across the Senegal River
Senegal River
and rounded the peninsula of Cap-Vert
in 1444. By this stage the explorers had passed the southern boundary of the desert, and from then on Henry had one of his wishes fulfilled: the Portuguese had circumvented the Muslim
land-based trade routes across the western Sahara
Desert, and slaves and gold began arriving in Portugal. By 1452, the influx of gold permitted the minting of Portugal's first gold cruzado coins. A cruzado was equal to 400 reis at the time. From 1444 to 1446, as many as forty vessels sailed from Lagos on Henry's behalf, and the first private mercantile expeditions began. Alvise Cadamosto
Alvise Cadamosto
explored the Atlantic coast of Africa
and discovered several islands of the Cape Verde
Cape Verde
archipelago between 1455 and 1456. In his first voyage, which started on 22 March 1455, he visited the Madeira
Islands and the Canary Islands. On the second voyage, in 1456, Cadamosto became the first European to reach the Cape Verde
Cape Verde
Islands. António Noli later claimed the credit. By 1462, the Portuguese had explored the coast of Africa
as far as present-day Sierra Leone. Twenty-eight years later, Bartolomeu Dias
Bartolomeu Dias
proved that Africa
could be circumnavigated when he reached the southern tip of the continent, now known as the Cape of Good Hope. In 1498, Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
became the first European sailor to reach India by sea. Origin of the "Navigator" nickname No one used the nickname "Navigator" to refer to prince Henry during his lifetime or in the following three centuries. The term was coined by two nineteenth-century German historians: Heinrich Schaefer and Gustave de Veer. Later on it was made popular by two British authors who included it in the titles of their biographies of the prince: Henry Major in 1868 and Raymond Beazley in 1895.[7] In Portuguese, even in modern times, it is uncommon to call him by this epithet; the preferred use is "Infante D. Henrique".[citation needed] Fiction

Arkan Simaan, L'Écuyer d'Henri le Navigateur, Éditions l'Harmattan, Paris. Historical novel based on Zurara's chronicles, written in French. ISBN 978-2-296-03687-1


Ancestors of Henry the Navigator

16. Denis, King of Portugal

8. Afonso IV of Portugal

17. Elizabeth of Aragon

4. Peter I of Portugal

18. Sancho IV of Castile

9. Beatrice of Castile

19. María de Molina

2. John I of Portugal

20. Martim Lourenço

10. Lourenço Martins

5. Teresa Lourenço

11. Sancha Martins

1. Henry the Navigator

24. Edward II of England

12. Edward III of England

25. Isabella of France

6. John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster

26. William I, Count of Hainaut

13. Philippa of Hainault

27. Joan of Valois

3. Philippa of Lancaster

28. Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster

14. Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster

29. Maud Chaworth

7. Blanche of Lancaster

30. Henry de Beaumont, 4th Earl of Buchan

15. Isabel of Beaumont

31. Alice Comyn

See also

Prince Henry the Navigator
Prince Henry the Navigator


^ The traditional image of the Prince presented in this page, and coming from the Saint Vincent Panels, is still under dispute.

^ Bulliet, Richard W. The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. Print. ^ "Prince Henry the Navigator", The Mariners' Museum ^ Merson, John (1990). The Genius That Was China: East and West in the Making of the Modern World. Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press. p. 72. ISBN 0-87951-397-7A companion to the PBS Series The Genius That Was China  ^ a b Prestage, Edgar. "Prince Henry the Navigator." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 23 May 2015 ^ Rush, Timothy. " Prince Henry the Navigator
Prince Henry the Navigator
and the Apollo Project that Launched Columbus", 21st Century, summer, 1992 ^ Bluteau, Rafael (1721). Vocabulario portuguez & latino ... Lisbon: na officina de Pascoal da Sylva. p. 109.  ^ a b Randles, W.G.L. "The alleged nautical school founded in the fifteenth century at Sagres by Prince Henry of Portugal called the 'Navigator'". Imago Mundi, vol. 45 (1993), pp 20–28. ^ Mark, Hans. "Henry the Navigator and the Early Days of Exploration", American Association for the Advancement of Science, Annual meeting, February 1992 ^ Marques, Alfredo Pinheiro (2005). "Os Descobrimentos e o 'Atlas Miller'" (in Portuguese). Universidade de Coimbra. , p.52 ^ Rocha, Daniel (8 February 2009). "Brasil: historiador nega existência da Escola de Sagres". Público. Retrieved 16 October 2013.  ^ de Albuquerque, Luís (1990). Dúvidas e Certezas na História dos Descobrimentos Portugueses. Lisboa. pp. 15–27.  ^ Russell, P. E (2000-01-01). Prince Henry "the Navigator": a life. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 84. ISBN 0300082339.  ^ Castro et al. 2008, p. 2 ^ Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe. 1492: The Year Our World Began. ISBN 1-4088-0950-8 ^ http://www.bookdrum.com/books/wide-sargasso-sea/9780140818031/setting.html ^ "The Sargasso Sea". BBC – Homepage. BBC. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 


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Library resources about Prince Henry the Navigator

Online books Resources in your library Resources in other libraries

Beazley, C. Raymond (1894). Prince Henry the Navigator, the Hero of Portugal and of Modern Discovery, 1394–1460 A.D.: With an Account of Geographical Progress Throughout the Middle Ages As the Preparation for His Work. London: G. P. Putnam's Sons.  Boxer, Charles (1991). The Portuguese Seaborne Empire, 1415–1825 (2nd rev. ed.). Carcanet Press. ISBN 978-0-85635-962-0.  Castro, F.; Fonseca, N.; Vacas, T.; Ciciliot, F. (2008), "A Quantitative Look at Mediterranean Lateen- and Square-Rigged Ships (Part 1)", The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 37 (2), pp. 347–359, doi:10.1111/j.1095-9270.2008.00183.x  Diffie, Bailey; George D. Winius (1977). Foundations of the Portuguese empire, 1415–1580. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-0782-2.  Fernández-Armesto, Felipe (1987). Before Columbus: Exploration and Colonisation from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, 1229–1492. London: MacMillan Education. ISBN 0-333-40383-5.  Major, Richard Henry (1877). The discoveries of Prince Henry, the Navigator, and their results. London: Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington. OCLC 84044057.  Martins, J. P. Oliveira (1914). The golden age of Prince Henry the Navigator. London: Chapman and Hall.  Russell, Peter E. (2000). Prince Henry "the Navigator": a life. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-08233-9. OCLC 42708239.  Zurara, Gomes Eanes de, trans. Edgar Prestage (1896). Chronica do Descobrimento e Conquista da Guiné, vol. 1 (The chronicle of discovery and conquest of Guinea). Hakluyt Society. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) Zurara, Gomes Eanes de, trans. Edgar Prestage (1896). Chronica do Descobrimento e Conquista da Guiné, vol. 2. Printed for the Hakluyt Society. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)

Henry the Navigator House of Aviz Cadet branch of the House of Burgundy Born: 4 March 1394 Died: 13 November 1460

Portuguese royalty

New title Duke of Viseu 1415–1460 Succeeded by Ferdinand

Military offices

Preceded by Nuno Rodrigues Grand Master of the Order of Christ 1420–1460 Vacant Title next held by Ferdinand

v t e

Infantes of Portugal

The generations indicate descent from Afonso I, and continues through the House of Aviz, the House of Habsburg
House of Habsburg
through Infanta Isabel, Holy Roman Empress and Queen of Spain, and the House of Braganza
House of Braganza
through Infanta Catarina, Duchess of Braganza.

1st generation

Infante Henrique Sancho I Infante João

2nd generation

Afonso II Infante Raimundo Infante Pedro, Count of Urgell Infante Fernando, Count of Flanders Infante Henrique

3rd generation

Sancho II Afonso III Infante Fernando, Lord of Serpa

4th generation

Infante Fernando Dinis I Infante Afonso, Lord of Portalegre Infante Vicente

5th generation

Afonso IV Infante Afonso, Lord of Leiria

6th generation

Infante Afonso Infante Dinis Pedro I Infante João

7th generation

Infante Luís Fernando I Infante Afonso Infante João, Duke of Valencia de Campos Infante Dinis, Lord of Cifuentes

8th generation

Infante Pedro Infante Afonso (1382) Infante Afonso (1390–1400) Duarte I Infante Pedro, Duke of Coimbra Infante Henrique, Duke of Viseu Infante João, Constable of Portugal Infante Fernando

9th generation

Infante João Afonso V Infante Fernando, Duke of Viseu Infante Duarte Infante Pedro, Constable of Portugal Infante João, Prince of Antioch Cardinal-Infante Jaime of Coimbra Infante Diogo, Constable of Portugal

10th generation

João, Prince of Portugal João II Infante João, Duke of Viseu Infante Diogo, Duke of Viseu Infante Duarte of Viseu Infante Dinis of Viseu Infante Simão of Viseu Infante Afonso of Viseu Manuel I

11th generation

Afonso, Prince of Portugal Infante João Miguel da Paz, Prince of Portugal
Miguel da Paz, Prince of Portugal
and Asturias* João III Infante Luís, Duke of Beja Infante Fernando, Duke of Guarda Cardinal-Infante Afonso Henrique I (The Cardinal-King) Infante Duarte, Duke of Guimarães Infante António Infante Carlos

12th generation

Afonso, Prince of Portugal Manuel, Prince of Portugal Filipe, Prince of Portugal Infante Dinis João Manuel, Prince of Portugal Infante António Infante Duarte, Duke of Guimarães

13th generation

Sebastião I Carlos, Prince of Asturias§# Diogo, Prince of Portugal and Asturias§# Filipe II§# Manuel, Hereditary Prince of Portugalƒ

14th generation

Filipe III§# Infante Carlos§# Cardinal-Infante Fernando§# Infante Alfonso Mauricio§#

15th generation

Baltasar Carlos, Prince of Portugal and Asturias§# Infante Francisco Fernando§# Teodósio, Prince of Brazil Afonso VI Pedro II

16th generation

João, Prince of Brazil João V Infante Francisco, Duke of Beja Infante António Infante Manuel, Count of Ourém

17th generation

Pedro, Prince of Brazil José I Infante Carlos Pedro III Infante Alexandre

18th generation


19th generation

José, Prince of Brazil Infante João (1762) Infante João Francisco João VI

20th generation

Francisco António, Prince of Beira Pedro I of Brazil
Pedro I of Brazil
& IV of Portugal Miguel I Infante Pedro Carlos§

21st generation

Miguel, Prince of Beira João Carlos, Prince of Beira Infante Miguel, Duke of Braganza Infante Sebastião§

22nd generation

Pedro V¶ Luís I¶ Infante João, Duke of Beja¶ Infante Fernando¶ Infante Augusto, Duke of Coimbra¶ Infante Leopoldo¶ Infante Eugénio¶ Infante Miguel, Duke of Viseu Infante Francisco José Infante Duarte Nuno, Duke of Braganza

23rd generation

Carlos I¶ Infante Afonso, Duke of Porto¶ Infante Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza Infante Miguel, Duke of Viseu Infante Henrique, Duke of Coimbra

24th generation

Luís Filipe, Prince Royal¶ Manuel II¶ Afonso, Prince of Beira Infante Dinis, Duke of Porto

* also an infante of Castile and León, Aragon, Sicily and Naples,  § also an infante of Spain,  # also an archduke of Austria,  ‡ also an imperial prince of Brazil,  ¶ also a prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke in Saxony  ƒ claimant infante

v t e

House of Aviz

João I (1385–1433)


Philippa of Lancaster


Duarte I Peter, Duke of Coimbra Henry the Navigator Isabella, Duchess of Burgundy John, Constable of Portugal Ferdinand the Holy Prince

Duarte I (1433–1438)


Eleanor of Aragon


Afonso V Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu Eleanor, Holy Roman Empress Catherine Joan, Queen of Castile

Afonso V (1438–1481)


Isabel of Coimbra Joanna la Beltraneja


John, Prince of Portugal Joanna João II

João II (1481–1495)


Eleanor of Viseu


Afonso, Prince of Portugal

Manuel I (1495–1521)


Isabella of Aragon Maria of Aragon Eleanor of Austria


Miguel da Paz, Prince of Portugal João III Isabella, Holy Roman Empress Beatrice, Duchess of Savoy Louis, Duke of Beja Ferdinand, Duke of Guarda Cardinal-Infante Afonso Henrique I Edward, Duke of Guimarães Maria, Duchess of Viseu

João III (1521–1557)


Catherine of Austria


Afonso, Prince of Portugal Maria Manuela, Princess of Asturias Manuel, Prince of Portugal Filipe, Prince of Portugal João Manuel, Prince of Portugal

Sebastião I (1557–1578)

Henrique I (1578–1580)

Notes The House of Aviz
House of Aviz
is a cadet branch of the House of Burgundy and was succeeded by the House of Habsburg

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 57888930 LCCN: n79061324 ISNI: 0000 0001 2134 6367 GND: 118548247 SELIBR: 211970 SUDOC: 027934489 BNF: cb11987029x (data) NDL: 00620