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Prince Henry the Navigator Finding a Water Route to Asia

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Prince Henry the Navigator
Finding a Water Route to Asia
Pgs. 127-129
Marco Polo
The Race to Find a Water Route
• Portugal took the lead in the search to find
the first water route to Asia.
• Portugal decided to spend as much money
as was needed to reach the goal.
• The Portuguese were the first Europeans
to explore the unknown world, and they
were the first to sail around the southern
tip of Africa.
Prince Henry 1394-1460
• Prince Henry
established a school
for the study of
mapmaking, and
shipbuilding in 1420.
• His goal was to find a
route to the rich spice
trade of the Indies and
to explore the west
coast of Africa.
Designing New Ships
• The ships of the day were too slow and
too heavy to make long ocean voyages.
• Under Prince Henry’s direction, a new and
lighter ship was developed, the caravel,
which would allow sea captains to sail
further and faster.
• The caravel was an improvement on older
ships because it could sail very fast and
also sail well into the wind.
• Caravels had 2 or 3 masts with square
sails or triangular sails.
• They were up to about 65 feet long and
could carry roughly 130 tons of cargo.
Green Sea of Darkness
• According to legend, beyond the
equator was an area known as the
"Green Sea of Darkness," the sun
was so close to the Earth that a
person’s skin would burn black, the
sea boiled, ships caught on fire, and
monsters hid waiting to smash the
ships and eat the sailors.
Reaching the Equator
• It took fourteen voyages over a period of 12
years until a ship finally reached the equator.
Exploring the Coast of Africa
• During the two-year period from 1444
to 1446, Prince Henry intensified the
exploration of Africa, sending
between 30 and 40 of his ships on
• The last voyage sponsored by Prince
Henry sailed over 1,500 miles down
the African coast.
A Lasting Legacy
• Although Prince Henry never
sailed on the expeditions, the
voyages that he paid for in the
mid-1400s helped launch
Portugal into the front of the race
to find a sea route to the Indies.
Bartholomeu Dias 1487-1488
• Bartholomeu Dias became the first to sail
all the way around the southern tip of
Africa to the Cape of Good Hope.
• His ship was battered by fierce storms, his
sailors grew hungry, sick, and frightened.
• Dias wanted to sail to India, but his sailors
made him return to Portugal.
Vasco da Gama 1497-1499
• Almost 10 years after Dias reached the tip
of Africa, Vasco da Gama sailed around
the Cape of Good Hope to India.
• He took four ships and 170 men.
• He sailed back to Portugal with his ship full
of spices but only returned with 55 of his
• Da Gama finally found a sea route to Asia.
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