Prince Henry the Navigator

Prince Henry the navigator was an eminent figure in the early days of the Portuguese empire. He was the third son of John I of Portugal, the creator of the Aviz dynasty. And his mother Philippa of Lancaster was the daughter of John of Gaunt. He took stride in wars at a very early age of his life. He was just 21 when he accompanied his father and brothers to lay attack on the Muslim port of Ceuta in northern Morocco. Success in war motivated Henry to explore down the coast of Africa – an unknown domain for the Europeans at that point of time. This laid the foundations to the making of Prince Henry the navigator.

Henry, an adventurous explorer wanted to explore the southern parts of Morocco. At the same time he was also obsessed with slave raiding along the coast of Africa. It was only in 1419 that his father chose him Governor of the state of Algarve. Throwing light on his personal life, you will find that Prince Henry remained a bachelor. Conversely, he disregarded the company of women but enjoyed strong emotional connection with several men to say the least.

It was in 1420 Henry, the navigator was appointed as the Governor of the very rich Order of Christ. The Order was a vital source of funds for him and his explorations, which kept his dreams of conquering the Canary Islands alive. History says that in 1427, one of Henry’s navigators discovered the Azores, perhaps Gonçalo Velho and in 1430 the Portuguese colonized these islands. What’s more in 1434, Gil Eanes, a Chief of one of Henry’s expeditions was first amongst the Europeans to get ahead of Cape Bojador.

You will also know that Prince Henry the navigator functioned as a primary organizer of the Portuguese mission to Tangier in 1437. But this time it spelled disaster for him as his younger brother Fernando was seized. They demanded a peace agreement in return to which Henry refused. Fernando eventually died after eleven years in captivation. His expeditions stretched to Nuno Tristão and Antão Gonçalves finally reached Cape Blanco in 1441. If that wasn’t enough then note that 1444 to 1446, as much as forty vessels sailed from Lagos on Henry’s behalf, and this is how the first private mercantile expeditions began.

This is how Prince Henry the navigator will be remembered in history.