Henry the Navigator, Portuguese Patron - stock photo
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Henry the Navigator, Portuguese Patron

Henry the Navigator (March 4, 1394 - November 13, 1460) is regarded as the patron of Portuguese exploration and an important figure in the early days of the Portuguese Empire. He is most famous for the voyages of discovery that he organized and financed, which eventually led to the rounding of Africa and the establishment of sea routes to the Indies. He was Governor of the Order of Christ from 1420 until his death in 1460. Under his direction, a new and much lighter ship was developed, the caravel, which could sail further and faster. The first contacts with the African slave market were made by expeditions to ransom Portuguese subjects enslaved by pirate attacks on Portuguese ships or villages. Henry justified this on the grounds that he was converting these captives to Christianity. He died in 1460 at the age of 66.

Science Source / New York Public Library

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