Sagres and the Discoveries

The promontory of Sagres and the adjacent towns of São Vicente and Sagres, were given  to Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) on October  27th 1443 by his brother the Regent Pedro.

The village of Sagres that was abandoned and in ruins because of  pirates raids, was  rebuilt and repopulated.

This rebuilding, by the Infante, obeyed some essential dictates:

– the need that the vessels of the time had to take refuge from the winds in the neighboring coves, waiting for favorable winds for navigation.
– the logistics requirements (boats, groceries, sailors) of the first Age of Discovery  phase.
– the convenience of maritime traffic control, being right of passage of vessels crossing the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, and vice versa.
– security and isolation necessary for the processing of information collected at the beginning of the draft Portuguese expansion stretching across North Africa.
Fortification of the tip of the promontory was determined by its location and shape, enjoying the cliff as a natural defense in three of its four sides, closely linked to its excellent strategic possibilities that integrate with the aforementioned dictates.

Thus, Sagres the first half of the fourteenth century became the core of the Portuguese maritime expansion, receiving scholars and sailors of all nationalities, gathered around the infant in Sagres School. This story was challenged by Luis de Albuquerque, “Doubts and Certainties in the history of the Portuguese Discoveries” (Lisbon, 1990, pages 15-27), which demonstrated that it was a myth.

After the death of Prince Henry (1460),  the axis of expansion was moved to Lisbon, and Sangres lost importance. As a result the distance between the Vila do Infante and the Bishop’s Village, where celebrated religious services, King Manuel (1495-1521) created of the parish of Sagres and orderer the building of the local church (1512).

Later, in 1573, King Sebastian (1568-1578) created two bastions at the extremes of the existing wall, crucial elements in the military architecture after the advent of artillery, strategically placed to optimizes the crossfire.

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