Prince Henry (Henrique) the Navigator was named so by the English, and was known as the Portuguese royal prince who enjoyed supporting the expeditions of explorers. It was because of Henry that many sailing adventures traveled down the west coast of Africa and to other locations about the world. While Henry was quite interested in the exploits of explorers, he did not accompany those who benefited from his financial assistance. In this article, you will learn more about Henry, as well as two other Portuguese explorers.
Henry the Navigator (1394-1460)
Because of the Prince’s generosity, Portuguese ships made trips to the Madeira Islands (in 1420), Cape Blanc (1441), Gambia River (1456), and Cape Palmas (1459-1460). With Henry’s help, European explorations took a turn into international waters and helped spread the recognition of the Portuguese Empire.
3 Facts About Henry the Navigator
1) Prince Henry was the third child of the founder of the Aviz Dynasty , King John I of Portugal.
2) Henry’s appointment to the position of governor of the wealthy Order of Christ in 1420 boosted his financial capabilities of funding his explorers. He would hold this position until his death, where he was known as the Portuguese successor to the Knights Templar.
3) Gil Eanes commanded one of Henry’s expeditions and later became the first European on record to pass Cape Bojador, which took place in 1434.
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo
While his nationality is not conclusive, many believe that Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was a Portuguese explorer that became the first European explorer to visit the Californian coast. Sailing from Acapulco to southern California, Cabrillo claimed California for King Charles I of Spain in 1542. During this time, he gave San Diego Bay and Santa Barbara the names they have today. Sadly, Cabrillo suffered a nasty broken leg that did not heal correctly , a consequence of fighting with the Native Americans. As a result, he died on San Miguel Island (which was located in the Santa Barbara Channel).
Pedro Alvares Cabral (1467-1520)
Who was the first European to lay their eyes on Brazil? It was Pedro Alvares Cabral , a Portuguese nobleman, known for exploration and navigation. Backed by King Manuel I of Portugal, Cabral was sent on a journey to India. On March 9th, 1500, 13 ships entrusted in Cabral’s care left the shores and followed a route associated with Vasco da Gama.
Nearly two months later, land was sighted. It turned out to be Brazil and Cabral claimed it for Portugal, giving it the name of “Island of the True Cross.” Afterwards, King Manuel renamed it ‘Holy Cross.’ This was not to be the last of names, as it was changed to ‘Brazil’ after a dyewood called pau-brasil was uncovered.
Cabral’s stay in Brazil lasted for only ten days, where he then continued on to India. He faced many shipwrecks, including one at the Cape of Good Hope. He also battled against Muslim traders in India. Following trades in India involving spices, Cabral set off for Portugal on June 23, 1501. When he arrived, he had only four of his 13 original vessels in tow.