WHO WAS PRINCE HENRY THE NAVIGATOR?
Henry was born in 1394 in Portu, Portugal, and he was the 3rd surviving son of King John (João) I with Queen Philippa. He is better known as Henry the Navigator. He earned his title although he hasn´t been on many expeditions himself, but he helped with the design of new ships, maps, and some navigational instruments.
The Portuguese explorer Prince Henry the Navigator was the first European who explored Africa. Before his time, the European exploration of Africa was limited, because there was not a focus of the trip.
Henry transformed the navigation for the western world
Photo: Jerónimos Monastery. Belém, Lisbon.
With the support of his father and his older brothers, he helped in the development of the technology needed to find a way on the open ocean. Due to his help, the explorers more easily found the Atlantic Islands, they explored the west coast of Africa, and later searched for a southeastern passage to India.
Henry was neither a sailor nor a navigator, but he sponsored the exploration along the west coast of Africa. Under Henry´s command, the Portuguese founded this country’s first colonies and they visited some regions that were previously unknown to the Europeans.
Henry is the originator of the Age of Discovery
His goal was to unite Christians all around the globe under his banner. To do this, he wanted to join forces with King Prester John, who supposedly lived somewhere in Central America.
Photo: Tomb of Infante D. Henrique. André Luís. Adapted under license (CC BY 2.0)