Henry the Navigator and his World

The world he lived in was Portugal, the world in his imagination was limitless.  At the end of the fourteenth century, when Prince Henry was born, Portugal was a small country, only recently independent from Castile. By the time he died, 64 years later, Portugal was a player on the international stage, opening up new trade routes and discovering lands on an unprecedented scale. And yet he himself never accompanied any of the expeditions and lived in monk-like conditions at Sagres, the far south-western point of Portugal.

Religion ruled his life, yet he would have no truck with superstition. He insisted that his commanders overcame their fears of boiling seas and the edge of the world to find more and more new lands and he gave them the tools to do the job: under his guidance better charts, equipment and boats were developed. Under his guidance too, the slave trade erupted onto the European stage.