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 JMA_DISCOVERIES

Historical figures important for the Portuguese discoveries like Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral and others follow Prince Henry the Navigator. He is standing at the prow holding a small vessel in hand. Discoveries Monument in Lisbon, Portugal (see map).

The monument was built on the north bank of the Tagus River in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. It is a tribute to all those who were engaged in Portuguese discoveries of new worlds.

Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) or to be precise Infante Henrique of Portugal, Duke of Viseu was a son of a Portuguese king. The nickname Navigator was given to him centuries after his death to underline his leading role for the European Age of Discoveries. But in fact, he was never a sailor. He was an enthusiast of discovering new territories and new trade routes skilled enough to organise and finance the explorations. He paid cartographers from Italian cities that already traded with the Middle East and Asia (using land routes) to draw the most actual world maps (for that time of course), and even found an academy that trained sailors. He helped to claim new territories for the Portuguese crown and promoted trade with Africa and India. First the funds for explorations came mainly from the Military Order of Christ (the successors of Templars in Portugal, with the seat in Tomar >>>), but later his elderly brother, the king of Portugal granted him share in trade profits, which he used for funding new undertakings. The discoveries, although detrimental for the native populations in newly claimed territories brought for years welfare to the Portuguese crown.

Vasco da Gama was the first  European to reach India by sea using the eastward route. Ferdinand Magellan was the first in circumventing the globe by sea using the westward route. Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered South America landing at the Brazilian coast.

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