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- European Background Of American History - 10/42 -

attention of the king of Portugal to more distant alliances, and the open western seaboard naturally suggested that these should be with maritime states. In 1294 a treaty of commerce was signed with England. A century later, 1386, a much closer alliance with that country was formed and a new treaty signed at Windsor. [Footnote: Rymer, Foedera, II., 667, VII., 515-523.] This was followed in the next year by a marriage between the king of Portugal and Philippa, daughter of the English John of Gaunt and first cousin of King Richard. This "Treaty of Windsor" was renewed again and again by succeeding English and Portuguese sovereigns and remained the foundation of their relationship until it was superseded long afterwards by still closer treaty arrangements. With Flanders, Portugal had frequent peaceful intercourse, both in trade and in diplomacy. A Venetian fleet also called from time to time at the harbor of Lisbon on the way to and from England and Flanders, and thus brought Portugal into contact with the great Italian republic, and may have aroused an interest in far Eastern trade products of which loaded the galleys.

The contract before referred to by which Emanuel Pesagno was made hereditary lord high admiral, in 1317, continued to be fulfilled by the descendants of the first great admiral through the whole fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and kept up a constant connection with Genoa. [Footnote: M. G. Canale, Storia del Commercio, Viaggi, &c., degl' Italiani, book II., chap. x., etc., quoted by Payne, New World, 96.] Thus the associations of Portugal were with a line of seaboard states extending from England to Italy. After 1263 the maritime interests of the Portuguese kings became more distinct by their conquest from the Moors of the kingdom of Algarves, giving them a southern as well as a western sea-coast. [Footnote: Stephens, Hist. of Portugal, 81.] It was at Sagres, on Cape St. Vincent, which juts out into the open Atlantic Ocean on the extreme southwest of this province, that Henry, the fifth son of John II. of Portugal, established his dwelling-place in 1419, and created a centre of maritime interest and a base of exploring effort which was of world-wide influence. Henry was duke of Viseu, lord of Cavailham, viceroy of Algarves, and grand master of the Order of Christ. He had no wife or children; his private estate was, therefore, available for the expenses of exploring voyages; and projects of geographical discovery became his chief occupation. Whatever other duties or services were required of him on account of his membership in the royal family, he always returned to Sagres and to his exploring expeditions. He possessed also the interest and support of his father and brother, who successively occupied the throne. After his death his work was carried on by his nephew, King Alfonso V. The work of Henry was, therefore, substantially the concern of the whole royal family of Portugal for three generations. [Footnote: Major, Prince Henry the Navigator, chaps. iv., vi., xiii., xviii.]

Prince Henry "the Navigator," as he has come to be called, gathered around him a body of men trained as sailors; he learned the use of charts and instruments, taught these arts to his captains, and ultimately made the neighboring port of Lagos the most famous point in the world for the departure and return of exploring expeditions. [Footnote: Nordenskiold, Periplus, 121 A. For discussion of divergent views of Prince Henry's "school of navigation," see Beazley.] During forty years expedition after expedition was equipped almost yearly and sent down along the west coast of Africa, in the effort to solve its mystery and, if possible, to sail around its southern extremity.

In the process of exploration Prince Henry was governed by some of the strongest of human impulses. The crusading spirit was hot within him, and he hoped to continue in Africa the old struggle of the Portuguese Christians against the Moorish infidels. Gentler missionary ideals caused him to plan to spread Christianity into new lands, and to make connection with Prester John, the Christian ruler of the India which lay to the eastward of Africa. [Footnote: Hakluyt Soc., Publications, 1899, cvi.-cxii. Murara, Discovery of Guinea, chaps, vii., xvi.] His interest in trade was equally strong; he was familiar with the internal trade of Africa, and he lost no opportunity of developing traffic along the sea-coast. [Footnote: Azurara, Discovery of Guinea, chap. vii]

Yet it was the instinct of the explorer that inspired Prince Henry with the steady devotion to his life work. The fine curiosity which placed geographical discovery above all material gain, and rewarded his captains, not in proportion to what they had accomplished, but in proportion to the efforts they had made to carry the boundaries of knowledge farther, kept him and them intent on the work of exploration. [Footnote: Bourne, "Prince Henry the Navigator," in Essays in Historical Criticism, 173-189.] Henry possessed, at the beginning of his explorations, little more than the traditional geographical conceptions of the later Middle Ages. Besides some twelve or fourteen extant fourteenth-century maps drawn by Italian draughtsmen, which were probably all known to Henry, his brother Pedro gave him one which has since disappeared, which had been constructed at Venice, and which "had all the parts of the world and earth described." [Footnote: Major, Prince Henry, 62.] He was probably also familiar with the classical tales of the circumnavigation of Africa.

Besides this he had some important personal knowledge. During a Portuguese invasion of the Barbary states of Africa in 1415, in which Prince Henry served with his father and brothers, and later when he was himself in command, he found that there were caravan routes whose termini were at Ceuta and other Mediterranean towns. From the Sahara and the Soudan, across the desert, came caravans to the Mediterranean coast bringing gold, wine, and slaves, and news of trading routes far to the southward.

Moreover, these routes extended to rivers and seacoasts unknown to Europeans, which must, nevertheless, be connected with the open Atlantic Ocean, and might well be on the southern shore of that continent. "He got news of the passage of merchants from the coast of Tunis to Timbuctoo and to Cantor on the Gambia, which inspired him to seek those lands by way of the sea." [Footnote: Diego Gomez, quoted in Beazley, Introduction to Azurara's Chronicle (Hakluyt Soc., Publications, 1899).] "The tawny Moors, his prisoners, told him of certain tall palms growing at the mouth of the Senegal or western Nile, by which he was able to guide the caravels which he sent out to find that river." [Footnote: Ibid.]

The first decade of Henry's efforts, from 1420 to 1430, resulted in little in the way of new discovery. The Madeira and Azores islands were rediscovered and their full exploration and permanent colonization begun. Every year saw one or more caravels sent from Lagos southward to follow the coast of the main-land; but they skirted no shores that were not desert, and turned back baffled by their own fears. Cape Boyador long remained a barrier whose imaginary dangers of reef and shoal served as an excuse for the still more unreal horrors of the "Sea of Darkness."

The next decade saw better results. In 1434 Gil Eannes, one of the boldest of the captains who were growing up in Prince Henry's service, when he reached Boyador, sailed far out to sea, doubled the cape, and, returning to the coast, landed and gathered "St. Mary's roses," and took them home to the prince as a memento of the "farthest South." [Footnote: Azurara, Discovery of Guinea, chap. ix.] The greatest barrier had been passed, that of superstitious dread, and almost every voyage now brought its result of progress farther southward. Soon the boundaries of Islam were passed, for natives were found on the coast who were not Mohammedans.

The third decade saw still further advance. In 1441 Nuno Tristam discovered Cape Blanco, the "White Cape," glistening with the white sand of the Sahara. In 1445 Dinis Diaz, of Lisbon, sailed at last beyond the desert and reached Cape Verd, the "Green Cape," [Footnote: Ibid., chap. xxxi.] fifteen hundred miles down the African coast, and as far from Gibraltar south as Constantinople was east. By this time the captains of Prince Henry had reached the fertile and populous shores where the western Soudan borders on the Atlantic Ocean, and a new obstacle to further exploration revealed itself in the attraction and the profit of the slave-trade.

The first "Moors" or negroes were some ten or twelve captured and brought home in the year 1441 by Antam Goncalvez, to satisfy the curiosity of the prince and to obtain information useful for the further prosecution of the voyages. Others were soon brought for other purposes. Of the two hundred and thirty-five Moors who made up the first full cargo of human freight, the prince gave away the fifty-six which fell to his share as one-fifth, although it is recorded with the somewhat grotesque piety of the fifteenth century that "he reflected with great pleasure on the salvation of their souls that before were lost." [Footnote: Azurara, Discovery of Guinea, chap. xxv.]

There is no reason to believe that Henry planned or wished the development of a trade in slaves; [Footnote: The statement to the contrary in the Cambridge Modern Hist., I., 10, is not deducible from any contemporary evidence.] but labor was scarce on the great estates of southern Portugal, slaves were in demand, and very different desires from those of the prince might be gratified by capturing and bringing to the slave-market of Lagos the unfortunate natives of the newly discovered coasts. Hence one expedition after another, sent out for purposes of discovery, returned, bringing tales of failure to reach farther points on the coast, but laden with human booty to be sold. Private adventurers sought and obtained the prince's permission to send out caravels, and these also brought home cargoes of slaves. Only the most vigorous pressure, exercised on the choicest spirits among the Portuguese captains, served now to carry discoveries farther.

Nevertheless, a basis of interest in distant voyages had been found which had not existed before; and the further exploration of the African coast was certain, even in default of the personal enlightenment and enthusiasm of the Navigator. The expeditions sent by the prince and private voyages made familiar to the mariners of Portugal two thousand miles of coast instead of six hundred as of old. Guinea was eventually reached.

In 1455 the Venetian Cadamosto entered into Henry's service; and, followed closely by Diego Gomez, discovered the Cape Verd Islands and passed so far around the shoulder of northwestern Africa as not only to reach the ends of the caravan routes from Morocco, and to open up trade in gold, ivory, and the products of the Guinea coast, but to suggest that there was open sea now all the way eastward to India. The temporary disappointment of finding that this was not true was left to the successors of Prince Henry, for his death occurred in 1460. But the work was still carried on by his nephew, Alfonso V., and by the next king of Portugal, John II.

A series of bold pilots now passed beyond the whole Guinea coast, crossed the equator, and made their way down almost two thousand miles more of the African coast. The belief became assured that "ships which sailed down the coast of Guinea might be sure to reach the end of the land by persisting to the south"; and stone pillars six feet high were ordered to be erected at landing-places to indicate possession and mark the stages of the route to the Indies.

Finally, in 1486, Bartholomew Diaz, the third member of his family to take part in the discoveries of Prince Henry, with two vessels sailed the remaining distance on the coast, and passed so far to the eastward that his sailors mutinied and refused to go farther. Diaz then suddenly realized that, notwithstanding the necessity for his return, he had at last found the passage-way to India dreamed of through so many ages and sought for at such heavy cost.

European Background Of American History - 10/42

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