Early American History
The Age of Exploration
Bartholomeu Dias, 1488
Cape of Good Hope
lateen sail
Prince Henry the Navigator
(died, 1460)
Key Concepts

Portugal took the lead in the search to find the first all-water route to Asia. Being able to control trade with the Asia was very important to Portugal. King John was willing to spend as much money as was needed to discover an all-water route to Asia. King John asked Prince Henry to take charge of the search.

Prince Henry set up the first school for training sailors in navigation. Navigation is the study of how to plan and control the course of a ship. Lessons taught in Prince Henry's school were kept secret. If a sailor
spoke about a lesson outside of the school, he was put to death.

Prince Henry became known as Prince Henry the Navigator because his school for navigation was so successful. He thought the most direct route to
Asia would be to sail south around Africa and then sail east to India. Prince Henry organized more than 50 voyages of exploration. But he himself never went on one voyage.

Portuguese sailors used a ship called a caravel. It had three masts and a
lateen, or triangular sail. The lateen sail allowed the caravel to sail against the wind. Exploring the coast of Africa brought new riches for Portugal. They found new markets where they could trade European goods for African nuts, gold, and slaves. There was a big market in Europe for selling African slaves as servants.

Finally, in 1488, Bartholomeu Dias was the first to sail around the southern tip of Africa. He wanted to sail all the way to India, but his frightened sailors made him return to Portugal. The Portuguese were hopeful they were close to discovering the water route to Asia. So, they named the southern tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope.

Ten years later, Vasco da Gama sailed around the Cape of Good Hope to India. Soon afterward, he sailed back to Portugal with his ship full of spices. For his accomplishment, the King of Portugal named hi the "Admiral of India." His voyage to India and back was the longest recorded sea voyage, up to that time. His first voyage to India began in 1497, five years after Columbus' first voyage to the Americas. Vasco Da Gama's discovery made Portugal very wealthy.
Portugal Leads the Way
Vasco DA Gama, 1498
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Additional Information

Asia - During the 15th Century, the people of Europe called China by the name of Cathay. In 1492, China was the most advanced civilization in the world. Its people had better food, clothing, housing and education than all the other peoples of the world. During the time of Columbus, most Chinese families lived on family farm villages. The Emperor was the head of state. Tax collecting and other government duties were done by civil servants. The civil servants had to pass test to get their job. Chinese technology was ahead of Europe. China had been printing books with moveable type for centuries. Chinese mathematics, astronomy, ship design, and navigation tools were ahead of Europe.

caravel - The caravel allowed sea captains to go out into the open ocean. With the lateen sails, the caravel could sail against the wind. With it's square sail, it could sail with the wind. Sailors were more willing to sail out of sight of land and to explore unknown places.

lessons - Portuguese mathematicians were able to accurately estimate the size of the earth. They calculated that the earth was much larger than
Columbus' map suggested.

Prince Henry - Prince Henry established a school for navigation in Lisbon, the Capital city of Portugal. Sailors, map makers, mathematicians, and scientists went to Lisbon to study. Prince Henry knew the Far East was much more advanced than Europe.










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