About Henry the Navigator

 Henry the Navigator

Henry the Navigator

Infant Henry, Duke of Viseu (1394-1460), was the most influential person in the Age of Discoveries. In 1416, he founded the city of Sagres where he gathered prominent astronomers, geographers, cartographers and navigators creating the Sagres Academy.

Although not a formal school it became the most prominent place on the development of nautical technology of its time. The caravel that allowed the long voyages that helped develop the sea routes to India and America was developed there. Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan were directly influenced by the knowledge developed in the Sagres Academy.

At 21, Henry encouraged his father John I to capture Ceuta. Following this success, Henry started to explore the coast of Africa, most of which was unknown to Europeans. In 1419, Henry's father appointed him governor of the province of the Algarve.

In 1420 Infant Henry was named governor of the Order of Christ, the Portuguese successor to the Knights Templar.

When John I died his son Edward became King of Portugal. He granted Henry a 5% of all profits from trading within the areas he discovered as well as the sole right to approve expeditions beyond Cape Bojador.

After Edward's death, eight years later, Henry was appointed regent for his brother Peter and in return received a confirmation of this levy.


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