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Biography of Henry the Navigator


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Henry the Navigator (1394-1460), fifth son of King John of Portugal, was born at Oporto. To Prince Henry, whose ambition was the discovery of unknown parts of the world, is due much credit for establishing navigation on a really scientific basis. He encouraged the Portugese sailors whenever an exploring expedition was proposed, and it was through his inspiration that the shape of the African coast was discovered. At Sagres, Prince Henry founded a school of navigation. The Maderia Islands were reached by the Portugese in 1420, and the Azores in 1448. Brazil was reached and Africa circumnavigated, and Portugese empires were built in India and South America. The impulse that Prince Henry imparted to navigation resulted in 50 years' of steadily increasing wealth for the people of his land.