Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) was the 5th son of king João I and Philippa of Lancaster and the one who gathers greater notoriety after 5 centuries. Henrique’s great contribution to history was to have conceived the oceans as the highways that would connect the continents.
The first public act of great visibility took place in 1415 with his participation in the conquest of Ceuta, in Morocco. Chronicles say that Prince Henry was one of the most courageous on the Portuguese side, which earned him the knighthood on the sands of North Africa, the day after the conquest of Ceuta.
In 1418 and 1419, the crews financed by the prince made known the islands of Madeira and the Azores and the beginning of their occupation.
In 1420, Henry was appointed administrator of the Order of Christ, the heir in Portugal to the tradition and heritage of the Knights Templar. The enormous resources placed at his disposal allowed him to finance maritime exploration until the end of his life.
Year after year, new expeditions were sent along the coast of Africa. Crews mapped the coastline, placed a stone marker in a prominent location, and returned. The process was repeated so that, by the time of the prince’s death, the entire coast of Africa had been recognized up to the latitude where Sierra Leone is located.
In a country that has always been averse to planning, prince Henry was the exception. He devised a plan and carried it out rigorously throughout his life. 40 years after his death, Vasco da Gama finally arrived in India, fulfilling the cycle started by Henry.
Henry helped to shape the world by bringing the continents together and he helped to shape Lisbon by selecting the mouth of the Tagus River, in the place currently known as Belem, as the departure and arrival point for the expeditions he financed.
The prince found eternal rest in the royal pantheon of the Batalha monastery, as did all the monarchs and princes of the Avis dynasty, up to king Manuel.