Prince Henry, The Navigator

When Henry, the Navigator, son of King John I and Duke of Viseu, started its holdings, began the Age of Discovery in the Vila do Infante for Sagres peninsula had no requirements for such  undertaking. There was little drinking water, agriculture was residual, there was a shortage of wood for shipbuilding, there was no deep water port, and the population was greatly reduced. The Prince repopulated a village called Terçanabal, that was deserted due to ongoing piracy attacks from  the sea. The village was situated in a strategic location for its maritime contracts and later called  Infante Village or Vila do Infante.

Prince Henry employed cartographers, such as Jehuda Cresques, who created Mauritania coast maps. Hired  Jaime de Mallorca, a well known cartographer so that the masters might have the best information and nautical equipment available. This led to the legend of the Naval School of Sagres (although a “school” means here a study group, not a building).

There has never been a center of navigation sciences or an observatory. The center of the expeditions was Lagos, further east. Only later would leave the shipping lanes of Bethlehem, west of Lisbon.

Plaque in honor of Prince Henry, offered by the US Navy and placed in the Sagres Fortress.

It was a time of important discoveries: the mapping was made more precise through new measure instruments with improved versions of the astrolabe and sundial, the maps were updated and improved also designed a revolutionary type of vessel, the caravel.

Prince Henry built a chapel near his home in 1459 for would be spending more time in or near Sagres the following years.

He died in Sagres on November 13, 1460.

The precise location of the navigation school of Prince Henry (in Lagos?) Is unknown (it’s a popular belief that was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755).

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