Sample Essay on Prince Henry the navigator

Prince Henry the navigator

Prince Henry was known to be the patron of exploration because of the fascination that he had towards it enabling him to pave way for future explorers in Portugal and also across the world. Though he was nicknamed the navigator, studies have revealed that Prince Henry never sailed himself but rather encouraged majority of explorers across Portugal and beyond to go on various expeditions to discover different areas across the world (Russell 89). Therefore, his role as a navigator was to encourage, plan, and to sanction various expeditions while he himself never physically got involved in the process of navigation. Nevertheless, Prince Henry managed to transform the world of navigation and exploration of voyages across the world. Prince Henry is known as the navigator because of his administrative directions that enabled him to be known as the initiator of the age of discoveries.

Some of the great achievements that made Prince Henry to be known as the initiator is having found the first Oceanic Navigation School in the world. He is highly credited for setting up the astronomical observatory tools in this school that aided in exploration processes in Portugal. Majority of aspiring and enthusiastic voyagers together with explorers decided to undergo training in the Oceanic Navigation School where they learnt how to read their maps, discovered more about science, as well as navigation which are all involved in the sailing process. At the same time, in the year 1416, Henry managed to build School of Sagres which is an informal university though also a vocational school which was situated in Europe. He ensured that there were cartographers, instrument makers and astronomers who were responsible for teaching the new astronomers the arts of sailing. At this particular period, the aim of Prince Henry was to navigate through Africa to Asia with the main intention of meeting Christian Kingdom of Prester John who was a legendary in navigation.

Prince Henry is regarded as the father of navigation because of the influence and impact that he created on the lives of several young navigators. He was a source of influence to explorers such as Antao Goncalves who played an important role in commissioning slave trade through his voyages (HRF 1). Similarly, he influenced Nuno Tristao, an explorer who sailed through to Cabo Blanco. In addition, Prince Henry managed to convince the young Alivise de Cadamosto, also known as the Venetian navigator, during the fifteenth century to carry out two navigations with his voyages. Later, Cadamosto managed to explore Africa through the Gambia River reaching through to the Cape Verde Island (HRF 1). Lastly, Prince Henry influenced Diogo Gomes, whom he commissioned to sail through to Cape Palmas.

Apart from influencing other people, Prince Henry had a great ambition to conquer and own the Canary Island since the Portuguese made claims that they had discovered it in the year 1346. He decided to use personal funds to achieve his ambition. Through the help of his brother Peter, Duke of Coimbra, who managed to tour through Europe to help him, Prince Henry managed to obtain the map that was drawn by Venetian cartographer to help him in his exploration conquest (Bulliet 123). On the other hand, Prince Henry was known for his generous acts since there are several instances when he used his personal resources to support schools that taught the process of navigation.  For instance, he donated money to the University of Lisbon which is known for teaching astronomy, logic, arithmetic, and rhetoric which are important concepts in navigation.

However, not all his works turned out successful. For instance, Prince Henry also organized the expedition that took place in Tangier in the year 1437 that turned out to be disastrous. In the year 1415, Henry decided to send the first navigators to Canary Islands. However this mission was not successful since the island had already been claimed by the Spanish people. After three years, Prince Henry decided to send a second group down in Africa in the Guinea Coast; however, this mission too was not successful. The entire group was thrown off the coast instead they ended up discovering Maderia Islands (HRF 1). Though it was the wish of Henry for the crew to pass through Cape Bojador which is located below Canaries, this was not possible. The sailors believed in a myth that anyone who passed through Cape Bojador would turn into black, their boats would be eaten b sea monsters or they would not be in a position to return back home. Nonetheless, in the year 1423, one of his sailors, Gil Eannes managed to cross past this area where other sailors had feared and discovered that nothing happened to him.

In conclusion, Prince Henry was known as the great navigator due to his administrative directions that made him the initiator of age of discoveries. He got himself involved in the process of navigation by organizing and supporting various exploration processes. At the same time, Prince Henry was also a source of influence to many young explorers across the world. Prince Henry is, therefore acknowledged highly for his discovery process by ensuring that he did everything possible for the navigation process to turn out successful.

Works Cited

Bulliet, Richard W. The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History. Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. Retrieved from

HRF. “5 Major Accomplishments of Prince Henry the Navigator.”  Accessed 28 Mar, 2016.

Russell, Peter. Prince Henry “the Navigator”: a life. Yale University Press, 2000. p. 84