Prince Henry the navigator was born in 1394, in Porto Portugal. He was the third son of John the 1st. His mother was Philippa of Lancaster and was the sister of King Henry IV. Henry was a royal prince, soldier and explorer. He is most famous for the voyages of discovery that he organized and financed.
When Henry was 21 he attacked the Moslem port of Ceutha in north Morocco, with his father and two brothers. After the successful attack in 1915, Henry was inspired to explore Africa. He was determined to see Portuguese ships sail down the western coast of Africa and see the amazing churches and empires. He also sent his men to kill the African pirates that were attacking Portugal. The ships that the Portuguese were using were very slow and heavy. Henry came up with an idea to build a much lighter faster boat called the carnival.
In 1418 Prince Henry started the first school of oceanic navigation. In this school they learned navigation, map making, and science. The prince wanted to teach his students how to master exploration and the sea. Along with the school Henry established an observatory and a base for exploration.
In 1419 his father appointed his governor of the province of Algarve, in southern Portugal. Algarve is one of the sunniest parts of Portugal and is one of the only destinations with dry sandy beaches. When Henry’s brother John died, his other brother Edward became head of the Castles Council and appointed Henry a “Royal Flush” or total control of profits from trade for Portugal.
At the time no European ship had sailed past the extremely dangerous Cape Bojador. Many European ships have attempted to sail down the coast, but no ship had ever returned. Prince Henry sent 14 different expeditions along the coast of Africa and no one came back. He was losing hope until he found Gil Hannes. Gil Hannes was the first Portuguese explorer that crossed the dreaded Cape Bojador.
In 1437 Henry was sent on an expedition to fight Tangier with his younger brother Fernao. There were many mistakes mainly because of Henry and Fernao. Soon after Fernao was captured and was imprisoned in bad conditions. He was held hostage for the return of Ceutha the port that he and his father attacked earlier in his life. Portugal was debating giving up Ceutha, but it was too late Henry’s brother had died in captivity.
Henry started to lose a lot of money, he was sending out many fleets that were paid for out of his pocket. He was getting a lot of information from the trips to Africa, but he wasn’t finding anything really big. To make things worse soon after the expedition to Ceutha his brother Duarte died. People may have thought that Prince Henry was going to just quit, but he made one expedition that he found hard working African people. Henry learned a lot about them how they lived and what they ate.
Prince Henry died on November 13th, 1460, and was buried near his father in the Batalha cemetery. In 1839 there was a monument erected for his memory and was placed in Sagres. Prince Henry is very important to Portuguese’s history; he made many discoveries on his explorations. He may be one of the most famous Portuguese people I have every read about.
Henry the Navigator. Web. 18 Nov. 2009. http://www.thornr.demon.co.uk/kchrist/phenry.html