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Portugal's Contribution to Navigation and Discovery of the New World

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Abstract:

Even before the birth of Prince Henry the Navigator (1394) Portugal had displayed a maritime calling due to its 500-mile shore line and numerous natural bays. Inspired by the riches of India he saw during the Portuguese exploration along the coast of West Africa, Prince Henry set out methodically to collect information by bringing together Jews and Moors with geographical knowledge to found his School of Navigation. From 1415 until his death in 1460 he attracted to his school the foremost contemporary scholars in mathematics, astronomy, and cartography along with experts in knowledge of the compass, astrolabe, water currents, and the winds. This concentration of talent yielded the invention of the caravel, the most important navigational advancement of the time, crucial for long voyages across the high seas. Although the rest of Europe busied itself in political and religious wars, for 70 years (1415–1492) Portugal alone pursued the discovery of the Atlantic. "No nation in the 15th century exhibited so great a spirit of maritime enterprise as the Portuguese."

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2500/108854193778878628

Publication date: May 1, 1993

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