When asked which nation contributed the most to sea exploration in the fifteenth century, the obvious answer is Spain. What if there were another nation, a nation whose contributions were far more than landing one continent? What if there was a nation that in only 100 years managed to sail in every ocean, every major sea, touched every continent except Antarctica and possibly Australia, and were the first Europeans to land in China, Korea, New Guinea, the Azores, Cape Verde and numerous other places. Well, there was such a nation, and it is Portugal. Portugal was the country that lead the greatest expansion of the known world in the history of the world. In only one hundred years they managed to be the first Europeans in nearly one half the globe, as well as be the first to push south. The accomplishments of the rest of Europe paled in comparison. The Portuguese exploration and expansion at this time is a huge subject. Here will be discussed only one of their voyages, that of Vasco da Gama's voyage to India, as he was the first European to sail to there. Prince Henry the Navigator was most definitely a driving force in this venture, while the King during the voyage, Manuel, was the one who ordered it. Bartolmeu Dias was the first to round the Cape of Good Hope, in his 1487-88 voyage, proving that it could be done, and breaking ground for da Gama.
Born in 1394, the Infante Enriques, known to the world as Prince Henry the Navigator, became the man who was most responsible for the maritime expansion of Portugal and of general marine science, as well, both of which led to the voyage to India. As a boy he was infatuated with accounts of the wild beasts, w...
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...bus and Spain tried to reach India by going West, some daring, risk taking Portuguese knew it could be reached by sailing east, and unlike Spain, actually acheived what they meant to do.
Hamilton, Genesta. In the Wake of Da Gama. London: Skeffington and Son Limited, 1951.
Hart, Henry. Sea Road to the Indies. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1950.
Jones, Vincent. Sail the Indian Sea. London: Gordon and Cremonesi Publishers, 1978.
Pearson, M. N. The New Cambridge History of India. pt. 1, vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. 8 vols.
Russell-Wood, A. J. R. A World on the Move: The Portuguese in Africa, Asia, and America 1415-1808. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.
Wallis, Helen. "England and Portugal 1386-1986; 'Things Hidden From Other Men'; the Portuguese Voyages of Discovery." History oday June 1986: 27-33.
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