Elizabethan Era 1558 - 1603

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Famous Portuguese Explorers

The Portuguese mariners used caravels, relatively long and narrow vessels with triangular lateen sails, for their North Atlantic explorations in the 16th century.
From Henry C. Murphy.

The Voyage of Verrazzano

A Chapter in the Early History of Maritime Discovery in America. New York: 1875.

Explorers from Portugal began their voyages to different parts of the world in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was Henry the Navigator who prompted them to break the Moorish hold on the African and Asian trade routes. Henry the Navigator was born in 1394 as the son of King John I of Portugal. The Portuguese, it is said, were the first Europeans to explore the unknown world. And Portugal was the first country to sail around the southern tip of Africa.

Famous Portuguese Explorers

Henry The Navigator though famous as the 'navigator' did not actually sail on any of the voyages. He did not actually lead any voyage other than sponsoring them. However, his contribution was that he developed a new and lighter ship, the caravel, which would allow sea captains to sail further and faster. This was important because the ships sailing the Mediterranean were very slow and heavy.

The place beyond Cape Bojodor off the west coast of Africa was known as the 'Green Sea of Darkness. This was an area where the sun was so close to the Earth that a person's skin would burn black, the sea boiled and the ships caught on fire that out of several ships, rarely any reached the equated.

Famous Portuguese Explorers

The most famous of all Portugese explorers was indeed, Vasco Da Gama. n 1497 his expedition sailed from the coast of Portugal in the São Gabriel, the São Rafael, the Bérrio, and a provision vessel, in an attempt to reach by sea the land we know as India. In calicut, the fleet arrived in Kappadu on 20 May 1498.

The King of Calicut, the Samudiri (Zamorin), who was at that time staying in his second capital at Ponnani, returned to Calicut on hearing the news of the foreign fleets's arrival. He died in Cochin, India in 1524. Gama's expedition was successful beyond all reasonable expectation, bringing in cargo that was worth sixty times the cost of the expedition. Gama however, on the pretext of trading with India had the intention of taking away the spices and resources in the country.

Portuguese Discoveries

Ferdinand Magellan is famous as the first person to lead a voyage around the world. Bartholomeu Dias, Pedro Alvares Cabral, the first from Europe to discover the country of Brazil, Gaspar and Miguel Corte Real. Bartholomeu Dias' epic discovery voyage around the Cape of Good Hope took place in 1487-88.

Gil Eanes has in Portugal various streets and places named in tribute to him. Cabral was commissioned in 1500 by King Manuel I he departed on the 9th of March from Lisbon to lead an expedition of 13 ships with the orders to establish trade with India. Hentry the navigator was inspired from his voyages. He was born in 1468 and died in 1520.

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