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" Conceito digao foi do ramo claro 
Do venturoso rei, que arou primeiro 
O mar, per ir deitar do niiibo caro 
morador de Abyla derradeiro. 
Este, por sua industria e iugenho rarn, 
N'um madeiro ajuntaudo outro madeiro, 
Descubrir pode a parte, que faz clara 
De Argos, da Hydra a luz, da Lebre e da Ara." 

Camoens. Os Ludadas, Canto viii. Stanza 71. 



















Preface. — Describing the early manuscript documents on which the princi]ial 
portions of the work are based, and containing an examination of a 
recently published manuscript, the first ever produced to establish 
the asserted priority of the French in discoveries on the coast of 
Guinea pp. \'ii — lii 


The Puhpose, — Prince Henry's object in devoting his life to Atlantic explo- 
ration. " A bold conception, which perseveringly followed out, led to the 
discovery of half the world ........ 1 — 3 


The Prince's Parentage. — Son of Joao I., King of Portugal, founder of the 
dj-nasty of Aviz, and of Philippa, daughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of 
Lancaster. The history of King Joao's elevation to the thi-one. Death 
of the Queen 4 — 25 


Ceuta. — Its capture in one day, being the first reiu'isals of the Christians on 
the Moors, and the fii'st step towards African exploration. 1415. 26 — 43 


Talext de Biex Faire. — Africa before Prince Henry's time. Sagrcs, the 
Prince's school of cartography and navigation. The Prince vindicated 
from falsely attributed praise. Progress of cartography. The astro- 
labe, quadi-ant and compass, mathematics, and astronomy before the 
Pi-ince's time. The Prince's brother, Dom Pedio. The first efforts in 
exploration .......... 44 — 65 

a 2 



Porto Santo and Madeira.— Authenticity of discovery In Uth century by 
the Englishman, ItoLert Machin, now first established from the evidence 
of early MSS. lie-discovery by Zarco and Tristam Vaz. Colonization. 
1418—1420 66—77 


Cape Boyador.— Death of King Joao, His eulogium. Gil Eannes succeeds 
in doubling Cape Boyador. 1434 — 1436 .... 78 — 85 


The Sea of Darkxesm. — Ancient voyages and explorations in the Atlantic. 
Hanno's voyage analysed. Claims to priority of discoveiy in the Middle 
Ages, on behalf of the Genoese, Catalans and Normans, examined and 
disproved ........... 86 — 133 


Glimpses op Light. — The Fortunate Islands, or Canaries, before the time of 
Pi-ince Henry. Discovered by the Phoenicians. Description by Statins 
Sebosus. King Juba's expedition and description of the islands. The 
Canaiies imknown to the Ai'abs. A'"isited by the Portuguese in the 
beginning of 14th century. Boccaccio's description of a voyage in 1341 
by Portuguese ships, in which were also Italians and Spaniards. Abor- 
tive project of the Prince of Fortune. Jean de Bethencourt. Porto 
Santo and Madeira now first shown to have been discovered in 
the beginning of 14th century by Poi'tuguese ships under Genoese 
captains ........... 134 — 152 


Tangier. — Siege of. Its unfortimate results. The fate of Dom Fernando, 
the Constant Prince. Death of Dom Duarte. Dom Pedro regent. 
Interruption in explorations. 1437 . . . . . 153 — 171 


The Azaneoues. — The expeditions to the coast of Africa as far as the Bay 
ofArguin. 1441—1444 172—178 


Tjie Si.avk Tumie.— I'rinco IL'nry freed from the imputation of liaving been 
the originator of the Slave Trade ...... 171) — 189 



Seneoambia. — Expeditions as fur as Eio Grande. 144o — 1448 , 190 — 225 


The Regent Dom Pedro. — The enmity of the Count de Barcellos. Alfan-o- 
beira. Death of the Regent. His character. 1439 — 1449. . 226 — 234 


The Azores. — Now first shown to have heen discovered in the beginning of 
the fourteenth century by Portuguese vessels under Genoese captains. 
Rectification of the dates and details of their discovery in Prince Henry's 
time. The claims of the Flemings disproved. 1431 — 1466 . 235 — 245 


Cadamosto. — His first voyage. The Gambia discovered. 1455 — 1456 246 — 276 


Cape Verde Islands. — Cadamosto's description of his second voyage sho^vn 
to be full of misrepresentations and misappropriations. Diogo Gomez now 
first shown to be the discoverer. Narrative of his voyages now first 
pi-inted in English. 1460 277—299 


Death of Prixce Henry. — Siege of Alcazar Seguer. Diogo Gomez' account 
of the Prince's death. Azurara's character of the Piince. 1457 — 
1460 300—316 


The Stormy Cape. — Expeditions to coasts of Guinea, Benin, and Congo. 
The Cape of Good Hope rounded by Barthoknieu Dias, 1487. The 
equatorial Nile lakes Victoria and Albert Nyanza, and Lake Tanganpka 
8ho^\-n to have been known to the Portuguese in 1587, but since forgotten 
until discovered by Burton, Speke, and Sir Samuel Baker. 1460— 
1487 317—346 


Results Westward. — Columbus. M. Margrj-'s assertion that Cohmibus 
discovered America under French inspiration answered. The history of 
the naming of America at St. Die in LoiTaine. Vespucci. 1470 — 
1507 347—388 



Results Eastwabd.— Death of Joao II. King Manoel. Rectification of 
dates in Vasco da Gama's voyage round the Cape. French claims to 
priority in the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope disproved. First 
voyages to India and the Moluccas. First entry into Abyssinia or Country 
of Prester John. Discovery of coast of China in 1517. French claims 
to firit discovery of China disproved. 1487—1517. . . 389—419 


Results Southward. — MagaUiaens' voyage and death. The Moluccas 
reached by the west. The world circumnavigated. Australia shown to 
have been discovered about 1530. First auihenticated discovery of 
Australia by the Portuguese m 1601. 1519— 1530 . . . 420—454 


Page 57, line 5, for " Utensilitus " read " Utensilibus." 

64, „ 1,/or " 1320 "rm(/« 1306." 

89, „ ] 2, /or " coast " read " east." 
105, „ 12, /or "navigation" ?'ertfZ "migration." 
121, „ 3 from bottom, /or " Deschelier" r«af? " Desceliers." 
139, „ 20, for " Alphonso fourth " read " Alphonso IV." 
144, „ 7, /or " summits" ?•«((£ "summit." 
156, „ 9, " and " omitted at beginning. 
159, „ 9, for " Ferdinand " read " Fernando." 
165, „ 32, /or " prince" ?Yafi "Prince." 
186, „ 30,' /or IX. read XI. 
197, last line but two, /or "consists" j-eati "consisted;" last line, /or 

" are " read " were." 
211, „ 9,/or " Giliancz Datiiyde " read " Gonsalvez de Atayde." 
25(), „ 6, " a " omitted. 
260, „ 28, /or " beside" rc(ifrf "besides." 
305, „ 2, in note, /or "JSeile" read "Neale." 

32.^' " 30 1/'"'"'^"^""'''''^'^" Joao." 

350, last lino, for " writen " read " written." 

368, „ 2, /or " Alonza " read " Alonzo." 

391, „ 20, for " preceding chapter" read " last chapter but one." 

393, „ 1, in note,/or " IS'eile " read " Noale." 

401, ill pagination, /or " 410 " read " 401." 

4(),s, hist liiii', /or " inipretor" read " interpreter." 

4M, „ l(i, /or " do " rt'oi/ " de." 

417, in running title, /or " Westward" read " Eastward," 

424, „ 8, for " order" read "orders." 

441, line 7,/or " 1572 " read " 1571." 


It may perhaps be foirly rogardcd as a matter of surprise 
that no Englishman has hitherto attempted to prepare a 
monograph of the life of Prince Henry the Navigator. If a 
phenomenon without example in the world's history, result- 
ing from the thought and perseverance of one man, might 
be supposed of interest enough to tempt the pen of the 
biographer, assuredly that inducement was not wanting. 
When we see the small population of a narrow strip of the 
Spanish Peninsula, limited both in means and men, become, 
in an incredibly short space of time, a mighty maritime 
nation, not only conquering the islands and Western Coasts 
of Africa and rounding its Southern Cape, but creating 
empires and founding capital cities at a distance of two thou- 
sand leagues from their own homesteads, we are tempted to 
suppose that such results must have been brought about by 
some freak of fortune, some happy stroke of luck. Not so : 
they were the effects of the patience, wisdom, intellectual 
labour, and example of one man, backed by the pluck of a race 
of sailors who, when we consider the means at their disposal, 
have been unsurpassed as adventurers in any country or in 
any age. Doubtless, the geographical position of Portugal, 
at the extremity of the European continent, had much to 
do with the suggestion of its glorious mission ; but what else 


besides danfrer and death could the formidable waves of the 
Atlantic have suggested to her mariners, had it not been for 
the conrageons conception and untiinching zeal of one who, 
during forty long years of even limited success, knew how 
to blend patience with enthusiasm, and conquer disappoint- 
ment by devoted persistence in what he had prescribed to 
himself as a duty. The story of the life of such an one can 
surely not be deemed an uninteresting or unimportant 

Till a comparatively recent date, it is true, the materials 
for anything approaching to a satisfactory biography had 
not been brought within the reach of the historical student. 
The Livy of Portugal, as he has been called, Joao de Barros, 
had handed down to us some incomplete details from the 
scattered papers of a contemporaneous historian whose 
collected work has, as we shall presently see, recently been 
made public property. 

Two centuries after Barros, an elegant Portuguese writer, 
Jose Freire, better known by the name of" Candido Lusitano" 
(his pseudonym as a member of the Academy of the 
Arcades), produced in 1758, at Lisbon, in 4to., a life of 
the Prince, which was more to be commended for the graces 
of its style than for the abundance or the accuracy of the 
information it supplied. A translation of this work into 
French, with a preliminary discourse, by the Abbe Cour- 
nand, appeared in Lisbon and Paris in 1781, small 8vo., 
but afforded no additional knowledge respecting its subject. 

After that time, the glorious little kingdom which, by the 
mere energy of its children, had in old times maintained 
itself for more than a century in the first rank of European 
Powers, until condemned by the disaster of Alcager-quivir 
in 1580 to a paralysing condition of silence and inaction. 


began anew to do itself honour in the field of literature, as of 
old it had not failed to do in the same career as well as 
on the perilous surface of the ocean. In 1779 the Royal 
Academy of Sciences at Lisbon, which had been founded 
in the beginning of the century, was reorganised by the care 
of the Duke of Lafoens, and since then we have had brought 
to light, from time to time, a series of valuable materials 
for history, which the Archives of Portugal could alone be 
expected to supply. 

Amongst these, some of the most important were embo- 
died in the Collec(jao de livros ineditos de Historia Portu- 
gueza dos Reinados de Joao L, D. Duarte, D. Affonso V., and 
D. Joao 11. , edited by Don Jose Correa da Serra, in three 
volumes folio. Lisbon, 1790 — 1793. 

But the most important of all the precious relics of the 
fifteenth century thus exhumed, was discovered in 1837 in 
the Royal Library at Paris by M. Ferdinand Denis, the 
distinguished conservateur of the Library of St. Genevieve ; 
and one cannot but feel that Fortune was unusually just in 
allotting the glory of so noble a trouvaille to one who, out of 
Portugal, stands second to none in intimate acquaintance 
with the details of Portuguese history and literature. This 
beautiful manuscript, which was drawn up in 1448, and 
fairly completed in 1453, was published in Paris in 1841, 
Svo., with a title of which the following is a translation* : — 
" Chronicle of the discovery and conquest of Guinea, written 
by command of King Affonso V., under the scientific direc- 

* Chronica do descobrimento e conquista de Guine, escripla por mandadi) do 
el Key D. Affonso V. sob a dii-ec^ao scicntifica e socundo as instruc^lcs do 
illnstrc infante D. Henrique, pelo chronista Gomes Eannes do Azurara, fielnicnte 
trasladada do manuscrito original contcmporaneo que so conserva ua Bibliothcia 
Ileal de Pariz e dada pela primeira vcz a luz per diligencia do Viscondo da Car- 
reira, prucedida dc uma introduc9ao e illustrada com alguuas notas pelo Viscoudr 
dc Sautarcm. Pariz, Svo. 


tion, and in conformity with the instructions, of the ilhis- 
trious Infant Don Henrique [the Prince Henry of the 
present work] , by the Chronicler Gomes Eannes de Azurara, 
faithfully copied from the original contemporaneous manu- 
script in the Royal Library at Paris, and now first edited by 
the Visconde da Carreira, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister 
Plenipotentiary of His Most Faithful Majesty at the Court 
of France ; preceded by an Introduction, and illustrated with 
notes by the Visconde de Santarem,'' &c. 

The title and period of this narrative will themselves con- 
vey some idea of its importance. The original manuscript 
is a magnificent specimen of the calligraphic skill required 
by King Affonso V., the first King of Portugal who endowed 
his country with a library. It is necessary, however, to state 
that in that condition it was not an original emanation from 
the hand of its recognised author Azurara. It was compiled 
from the rough narrative of one of Prince Henry's sailors, 
Affonso de Cerveira, who had himself been engaged in those 
great discoveries which we have now to narrate, and had 
given a description of them under the title of '• History 
of the Conquest of the Portuguese along the coast of 

This precious monument of the glory of Portugal sets 
forth from cotemporary testimony the attempts of the brave 
men who first penetrated the Sea of Darkness (as the Arabs 
called the Atlantic beyond the Canaries) which till then 
had baffled the ciforts of the most experienced navigators of 
Europe. Although in the composition of the original 
chronicle there is a display of pedantry common to the 
period, a little reflection will show that such pedantry is 
highly excusable in works })roduced before the invention of 

* Ilistoria dii Counuistii clos I'oitu^iiczLS pclu Costa dWJiitu. 


printing, when erudition could be acquired only tli rough the 
medium of manuscripts which were naturally at the com- 
mand of only a very few. Nay, it was more than excusable, 
it was valuable, for it informed the reader of the sources 
from which the author's information was derived. At the 
same time it will be obvious that the pedantry and prolixity 
which may be so justly excused in a writer of the first half 
of the fifteenth century, would prove but a wearisome repast 
except to the palate of an antiquary especially interested in 
the subject. To such the original is within as easy access 
as are most of the works which offer to an antiquary the 
pabulum in which he delights ; but for the present purpose 
it has been deemed sufficient to extract the facts with which 
the author supplies us. In this respect his work is invalu- 
able, for he not only lived with Prince Henry, but was 
personally acquainted with most of his intrepid explorers, 
more than fifty of whom were attached to the Prince's 
household and received their nautical instruction under his 
auspices. We may, therefore, feel sure that he supplied 
much that was wanting in the original manuscrij)t of 
Cerveira which formed the basis of his chronicle. So much 
of the subject matter of the work as was subsequently 
brought together by Barros in his "Asia", published at 
Lisbon in 1552-53, fol., was derived by him from scattered, 
torn, and mixed fragments of Azurara's original rough 

In the " Paleographie Universelle " of Silvestre, Paris, 
1841, fol., is a facimile of the first page of the fair copy 
of Azurara's manuscript, which is described as a small loh'o 
volume written on parchment and consisting of three hun- 
dred and nine pages with two columns in each page. At 
the end it is stated to have been written by Joiio Gousalvez, 


tion, and in conformity with the instructions, of the illus- 
trious Infant Don Henrique [the Prince Henry of the 
present work] , by the Chronicler Gomes Eannes de Azurara, 
faithfully copied from the original contemporaneous manu- 
script in the Royal Library at Paris, and now first edited by 
the Visconde da Carreira, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister 
Plenipotentiary of His Most Faithful Majesty at the Court 
of France ; preceded by an Introduction, and illustrated with 
notes by the Visconde de Santarem,'^ &c. 

The title and period of this narrative will themselves con- 
vey some idea of its importance. The original manuscript 
is a magnificent specimen of the calligraphic skill required 
by King Affonso V., the first King of Portugal who endowed 
his country with a library. It is necessary, however, to state 
that in that condition it was not an original emanation from 
the hand of its recognised author Azurara. It was compiled 
from the rough narrative of one of Priuce Henry's sailors, 
Affonso de Cerveira, who had himself been engaged in those 
great discoveries which we have now to narrate, and had 
given a description of them under the title of '•' History 
of the Conquest of the Portuguese along the coast of 

This precious monument of the glory of Portugal sets 
forth from cotemporary testimony the attempts of the brave 
men who first penetrated the Sea of Darkness (as the Arabs 
called the Atlantic beyond the Canaries) which till then 
had baffled the elForts of the most experienced navigators of 
Europe. Although in the composition of the original 
chronicle tlierc is a display of pedantry common to the 
period, a little reflection will show that such pedantry is 
highly excusable in works produced before the invention of 

* Jlialoriu (hi Cou(|ui.stii ilos l'urtu,i;in.'ZLS pcla Costa d'Alricu. 


printing, when erudition could be acquired only through the 
medium of manuscripts which were naturally at the com- 
mand of only a very few. Nay, it was more than excusable, 
it was valuable, for it informed the reader of the sources 
from which the author's information was derived. At the 
same time it will be obvious that the pedantry and prolixity 
which may be so justly excused in a writer of the first half 
of the fifteenth century, would prove but a wearisome repast 
except to the palate of an antiquary especially interested in 
the subject. To such the original is within as easy access 
as are most of the works which offer to an antiquary the 
pabulum in which he delights ; but for the present purpose 
it has been deemed sufficient to extract the /acts with which 
the author supplies us. In this respect his work is invalu- 
able, for he not only lived w'ith Prince Henry, but was 
personally acquainted with most of his intrepid explorers, 
more than fifty of whom were attached to the Prince's 
household and received their nautical instruction under his 
auspices. We may, therefore, feel sure that he supplied 
much that was wanting in the original manuscript of 
Cerveira which formed the basis of his chronicle. So much 
of the subject matter of the work as was subsequently 
brought together by Barros m his "Asia", published at 
Lisbon in 1552-53, fol., was derived by him from scattered, 
torn, and mixed fragments of Azurara's original rough 

In the " Paleographie Universelle " of Silvestre, Paris, 
1841, fol., is a facimile of the first page of the fair copy 
of Azurara's manuscript, which is described as a small folio 
volume written on parchment and consisting of three hun- 
dred and nine pages with two columns in each page. At 
the end it is stated to have been written by Joiio Gousalvez, 


calligraplier to Aifonso V., and completed on the 18th of 
February, 1453 ; and in a letter of the same date the author 
dedicates his work to the same sovereign by whose orders it 
had been composed. 

Very soon after this date the work disappeared from 
Portugal. Damiao Goes, the chronicler of the Life of King 
Joao L, Prince Henry's father, knew nothing of the book 
beyond the name of its author. It would seem to have been 
presented by Prince Henry to a King of Naples, inasmuch 
as it appears to tally with a book to which the celebrated 
Fr. Luis de Souza makes the following allusion in his 
Historia de S. Domingos, P. L, Liv. vi. cap. 15, p. 629, 
edition of 1767. Referring to the Prince's motto, " Talant 
de bien faire," and the oak leaves and acorns and pyramids 
which formed his device {see frontispiece) ^ he says, that 
they occur " in a book of the Prince's discoveries which 
Prince Henry himself sent to a King of Naples, and which I 
saw in Valencia amongst some choice curiosities belonging 
to the Duke of Calabria, the last male descendant of those 
princes, and who was there as Viceroy." The Vicomte de 
Santarem propounds a very reasonable conjecture that King 
Aifonso v., for whom, and not, as Souza states, for Prince 
Henry, the work was compiled, presented it to his uncle 
Alfonso King of Naples, surnamed the Magnanimous, 
between the years 1453 and 1457, for in the year 1457 (see 
Santarem's " Quadro Elementar," tom. i., p. 358) Martim 
Mendcs de Barredo was sent as ambassador from Portuiral 
to Naples, and Alfonso was a man who took great interest 
in literature, especially in accounts of voyages of discovery, 
and was well acquainted with tlie language in wliich this 
book was written. However this may have been, the 
manuscript was still in !S[)aiu at the beginning of the 


eighteenth century, for on one of the blank leaves at the 
end is a note to the elFect that it belonged to the library of 
the late Don Juan Lucas Cortes, Member of the Royal 
Council of Castile, anno 1 702. No one knows how or when 
it became the property of the Imperial Library in Paris. 
The Vicomte de Santarem had reason to suspect that it was 
long after the revolution, and that the acquisition had been 
a rather recent one. Immediately after its discovery by 
M. Ferdinand Denis, the Vicomte de Carreira, Envoy Extra- 
ordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Portugal in France, 
obtained permission to print it, and to secure accuracy, 
copied the text with scrupulous fidelity with his own hand. 
A learned Portuguese philologist, Senhor Jos^ Ignacio 
Eoquete, revised the proofs and made a glossary of old and 
obsolete words and phrases, which would have been other- 
wise absolutely unintelligible to the general reader. 

The miniature which forms the frontispiece of the present 
volume is a chromolithograph from an exact facsimile of 
that which is in the original manuscript, for procuring which 
I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to the kind inter- 
vention of M. Prosper Merimee. No greater proof could be 
adduced of the excellence of the copyist's handiwork than 
the perfection of the picture when exposed to the test of 
photography, for no modification of tint in the faithfully 
coloured copy produced the slightest deviation from perfect 
drawing in the monochrome of the photograph, a result 
greatly to the honour of M. Avril, the artist to whom this 
copy is due. The original miniature in the manuscript 
is the only authentic portrait of Prince Henry which the 
Portuguese possess. The Prince is represented dressed in 
mourning, his head covered with the large barret cap without 
any insignia, and his hair cut short according to the custom 


of the time on such occasions. As the chronicle was finished 
in 1448, and as the Prince's "brother Dom Pedro lost his life 
at AlfarroLeira on the 20th of May, 1449, it is most proba- 
ble that the portrait was taken while the Prince was in 
mourning for his iUustrious brother, for the fair copy of tlie 
chronicle was not completed till 1453. 

Azurara had intended, as he himself states in his last 
chapter but one, to write a second volume, containing fur- 
ther discoveries made during the life of Prince Henry ; but 
this volume, if written, has not yet been discovered. Azu- 
rara was also the author of the " Chronicle of the Conquest 
of Ceuta " which has supj^lied the material of the chapter 
headed " Ceuta •" in this volume, and also of the " Chroni- 
cles of Dom Pedro, and Dom Duarte de Meneses," the first 
governors of that place, which describe the warfare carried 
on in Africa, and may be considered as a continuation of his 
" Conquest of Ceuta.-" 

The dates of the birth and death of Azurara are entirely 
unknown ; but according to Mattheus de Pisano, the pre- 
ceptor of Affbnso V. and translator into Latin of Azurara's 
" Conquest of Ceuta", it was only in middle life that he 
applied himself to study, having till then been entirely 
ignorant of literature and solely occupied with warlike pur- 
suits. This is the more remarkable as we find him held in 
such high estimation by Affonso V., as to be nominated by 
him (on the Cth June, 1454) keeper of the archives of the 
Torre do Tombo, in succession to no less a person than the 
venerable Fernam Lopez, the fiither of Portuguese history, 
and, beyond all (picstion, the best chronicler of any age or 
any nation. Azurara himself went to Africa and remained 
there a long time to make himself acquainted with the 
scenes and circumstances of the deeds which he had to de- 


scribe. While at Alcac^cr ^cgucr he received the celebrated 
letter from the King as to his merit as a chronicler, which is 
printed at the beginning of his " Chronicle of l)om Duavtc 
de Meneses", a letter which does even greater honour to the 
King who wrote it than to the subject who received it, for 
its affable and even affectionate expressions clearly show the 
sovereign's consciousness that he was doing himself an 
honour when he honoured the intellect of his subject with 
the familiarity of friendship. 

It is greatly to be regretted that a valuable MS. work in 
the library at Evora entitled *'Esmeraldo de Situ Orbis,'^ by 
Duarte Pacheco, a knight of the household of King Joao 11. , 
should still remain unprinted. It is a sort of historical and 
geographical description of the discoveries of the Portuguese, 
which, if we may judge by the titles of the chapter supplied 
to us by Joaquim da llivera, the librarian at Evora, in his 
excellent catalogue of the MSS. in that library, would throw 
much light on the geographical details of these early dis- 
coveries. Fortunately, however, we possess some iuiportant 
extracts therefrom, which have been given us by Albano da 
Silveira in his " Memoria chronologica acerca do descobri- 
mento das terras do Preste Joilo das Indias e Embaixadas 
que a elle enviaram os Portugueses." 

Another manuscript, but recently given to the world in 
print, is valuable more for the quality than the quantity of 
the material which it supplies for the illustration of our 
subject. This is the " Leal Conselheiro " or *' Faithful 
Adviser," from the pen of King Duarte, Prince Henry's 
elder brother. So simple, dignified, and loveablc a picture 
of the home affections as existin": amon^: the members of a 
regal family, is perhaps not to be found elsewhere. It is 
the imaffected, nay almost unconscious, exposition of every 


manly and gentle virtue that could dignify the character of 
a prince as a Christian, a patriot, and a soldier. But more 
conspicuous than all the other qualities which are therein 
exhibited as characteristic of the members of this family, is 
the strong and loving affection existing between all of them, 
tempered by a lofty tone of mutual honour and respect which 
finds its culmination in the profound reverence of all of 
them for the sacred persons of the King and Queen. No 
higher eulogium could be unconsciously paid to the training 
bestowed upon their children by King Joiio and Queen Phi- 
lippa than the tone as well as the words of this noble produc- 
tion. When Alfonso V. first established a library in his 
palace at Lisbon, one of his first cares was to exhibit this 
beautiful and richly ornamented manuscript which had been 
left him by the King his father. It is now in the Im2:)erial 
Library in Paris. It was not till the year 1842 that it was 
published in Paris by the Reverend J. I. Roquete. 

In the absence of the second volume promised by Azurara, 
it is not of little moment that we possess the accounts of the 
Venetian Cadamosto's voyages occupying the interval between 
the completion of Azurara's first volume and the death of 
Prince Henry. But although these Venetian narratives, 
which have been reprinted several times, have been highly 
commended for their minuteness of detailed description, I 
cannot very cordially join in the eulogium; for on poiuts 
where Cadamosto's accuracy can be tested, as for example in 
the matter of dates, I have almost invariably found him 
wrong, and in such a case minuteness of detailed description 
only enlarges the field for misgiving and distrust. Indeed, 
as will be seen in the chapter on the Ca2)e Verde Islands, 
I have shown that Cadamosto's description of his second 
voyage abounds in inaccuracies and inconsistencies, and, what 


is "Worse, of mal-nppropri;ition of credit which did not ap- 
pertain to him. 

A remarkable instance of his jumbling two accounts to- 
gether will be seen on pages 284 and 319, where the dis- 
covery and naming of Cape Roxo and parts adjacent are at 
first claimed by himself, as occurring in his second voyage, 
and afterwards ascribed to Pedro de Cintra, of whose voyage 
he is also the narrator. 

But, happily, another document, never hitherto translated 
into English, has been brought within my reach by the 
recent researches of our learned fellow-antiquaries in Ba : 
varia. In the year 1847, the Academy of Sciences of 
Munich printed a memoir by Dr. Schmeller on a most in- 
teresting collection of manuscript documents formed by a 
German in Lisbon, in the year 1507. Although bearing the 
Portuguese-sounding name of Valentim Fernandez, he was 
a Moravian by birth, but, being of German descent, he styles 
himself occasionally Valentim Aleman and sometimes 
Valentim the Moravian. 

Before referrins: to those documents in his collection which 
have been of especial service in this work, I will state 
briefly the history of the collection itself and of its collector. 
Valentim Fernandez was a printer. At that time the art of 
printing led many Germans into foreign countries, and he 
wandered into Portugal. We find him in 1495 at Lisbon 
engaged in conjunction with another German, Nicholas of 
Saxony, in jjrinting the " Life of Christ," by the Carthusian 
Monk Ludolph of Saxony, but which had been translated 
into Portuguese in 1445, by Bernardo, a monk of the Cis- 
tercian Monastery of Alcobaga. On account of his know- 
ledge of the German language, he was appointed Notary f<'r 
the Germans in Lisbon, that he might draw up all tlic 



agreements and written negociations which took place with 
German merchants, and also authenticate translations from 
the Latin. Soon after Valentim Fernandez appeared not as 
a printer only, hut as an editor. Dom Pedro, Prince Henry's 
brother, had in 1428, brought back from Venice a valuable 
manuscript of Marco Polo, which had been presented to him 
as a compliment by the Signoria of the Republic. From 
this manuscript, and from the Latin text of the Dominican 
Friar Pepino of Bologna, which had been sent from Rome 
to King Joao IL, Valentim made a translation of the work 
into Portuguese, together with the "Travels into Lidia" of 
the Genoese Geronimo de Santo Stephano. He also trans- 
lated the travels of the Venetian Niccolo de' Conti from the 
Latin text of Poggio Bracciolini. The importance of these 
works to the King Dom Manoel, by whose order they were 
translated, may be judged by the fact of their containing de- 
scriptions of journeys into India at that early period. Eng- 
lish translations both of Conti and of Santo Stefano, the 
former by John Winter Jones, Esq., the present Principal 
Librarian of the British Museum, will be found in the volume 
which I had the honour to edit in 1857, for the Hakluyt 
Society, under the title of " India in the Fifteenth Century." 
It was doubtless in connection with such studies as these 
that Fernandez subsequently compiled the collective geo- 
graphical work which is immediately under our notice, and 
which wns intended to furnish an account of the countries 
discovered by the Portuguese in Africa and India. Its con- 
tents are as follows : — 

1. Azurara's " Chronicle of Prince Henry's Discoveries 
of Guinea," down to 1448. 

2. Diogo Gomez' Narrative, down to 1163. 

3. Narrative of Gonzalo Pirez, down to 1402. 


4. Narrative of Joiio Rodriguez, down to 1493. 

5. ''Journal of Hans Mayr," 1505-6. 

6. Fernandez' " Description of Africa," 1507. 

7. Fernandez' " Account of the Islands in the Atlantic," 
with Plans. 

8. " Ships' Eoutes, or Instructions for Pilots." 

Of these the narrative of Diogo Gomez has been given by 
Dr. Schmeller in full ; but as the earlier portion is a recital of 
voyages made under the auspices of Prince Henry, but with 
which he himself had nothing to do, and which being derived 
from hearsay, would not be regarded as absolutely trust- 
worthy, while they are better narrated by Azurara, I have 
extracted that portion only which describes his own ad- 
ventures. . . ' 

The document is the work of a half-educated man, much 
more of a sailor than a student, but it throws light upon a 
subject — the discovery of the Caj^e Verde Islands — on which 
I am able to demonstrate that Cadamosto had written with 
the greatest inaccuracy. 

Gomez' success as an explorer was remarkable, and his 
power of conciliating even hostile native chiefs by dint of 
sheer courage and tact was beyond all praise. Another but 
minor point of interest in his narrative is, that it is the 
only document that I have met with in which the slightest 
detail has been preserved of the death and burial of Prince 
Henry, whereas Gomez was, by especial order of the King, 
placed in immediate guardianship over the remains of his 
revered master until they were consigned to the tomb. 

The other documents in Valentim Fernandez' work have 
not been printed by Dr. Schmeller verbatim, but simply de- 
scribed with a running commentary by himself. One of them, 
however, entitled " Das ilhas do Mar Oceano," was of so mucji 



importance to the early history of the discovery of Madeira, 
that I procured from the library at Munich a verbatim copy, 
for which I am indebted to the kindness of Dr. Halm the 
distinguished chief of that important library, and also to the 
most obliging care of Professor Kunstmann who atforded me 
the benefit of his learned supervision of the transcription from 
the quaint and difficult Portuguese of the early manuscript. 
The value of this freely rendered kindness was the greater 
that no one was so competent as this eminent savant to deal 
with the difficulties of this task, inasmuch as we have 
already received from the hands of Professor Kunstmann a 
variety of most valuable memoirs on the various documents 
comprised in the collection of Valentim Fernandez,* and which 
have been of much service to myself in the present work. 

By means of the document on Madeira, combined with 
other evidence, it has been my good fortune to establish the 
truth of the story, hitherto much disputed, of the accidental 
discovery of Madeira in the fourteenth century by the 
Englishman Machin ; for this document is earlier than the 
earliest yet produced in which that story was related^ and 
being entirely independent of any other, is a proof of the 
derivation of all the accounts from an earlier source. 
Demonstrative evidence of the former existence and 
fifcnuinencss of that original source is adduced in the 
chapter on " Porto Santo and Madeira." 

* Afrika vor den Entdeckungcn der Portugiesen. Jliinclien, lSo3. 

Die Ilandclsvcrbiudiiiigcn der Portugiesen niit Timbuktu ini xv. Jaluliuu- 

Valentin Ferdinand's Bcschreibung der Westkiistc Afrika's bis zuni Senegal 
mit Einlt'itung und Annierkimgcn. Miinchen, 1856. 

Valentin Ferdinand's Besehreibiing der "Westkiistc Afiika's voni Senegal bis 
zur Serra Leoa. Miinchen, 1860. 

Valentin Ferdinand's Bcsrhreibung der Serra Leoa niit ciner Einleitung iibcr 
die Seefahrten nach der Westkiistc Afrika's iin vierxclinten Jabrluuulerte. 
Miinchen, 1861. 


History, for its own sake, is more zealously cultivated in 
Germany than in England, and it is in Germany that of late 
years the name of Prince Henry the Navigator, almost un- 
known in England, has been found to engage the attention 
of the learned. In 1842 a biography of the Prince was com- 
menced by Professor J. E. Wapi)a3us of Gottingen, but was 
unfortunately not proceeded with beyond the first volume, 
which was entirely occupied with preliminary matter of the 
most erudite and laboured character. It is probable that the 
author, whose industry and zeal could lead him to devote 
three hundred and sixty-five pages of close octavo print to 
historical events anterior to the birth of the subject of his 
biography, would not be satisfied without exhausting the 
contents of the Torre do Tombo itself, when he came to con- 
front in reality the task which he had proposed to himself. 
But "non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum ;^' and 
I, for my own part, with all the advantages already men- 
tioned at my disposal, am quite prepared to suppose that 
the biography of Prince Henry could only have full justice 
done to it by one who had the opportunity, the talent, and 
the industry to investigate the cotemporary treasures of the 
Torre do Tombo. A labour so Herculean is more, perhaps, 
than we may hope to see undertaken, unless possibly by the 
greatest of modern Portuguese historians, Alexandre de 
Herculano, who is perhaps more intimately ac(|uainted than 
any other with the valuable contents of that great historical 

So recently as 1864, a life of Prince Henry in Germany 
was published in Dantzick, 8vo., by a German clergyman, 
named Gustav de Veer, of Dantzick. This gentleman had 
resided two years in Madeira, and took a loving interest in 
the life and deeds of the noble Prince whose name is idolized 


in that country. The history of discovery was, moreover, 
a subject for which Herr de Veer may be said to have an 
inherited attachment, for he is the lineal descendant of that 
famous Dutchman, Gerrit de Veer, who wrote the accounts 
of three remarkable voyages made by the Dutch in 1594- 
1596, with the view of finding the way to China by the 
North-East, and in the last two of which he was himself 
engaged. In the earlier of these two, Spitzbergen was dis- 
covered and circumnavigated. 

In the pages which precede the actual life of Prince Henry 
himself, Herr de Veer has given an account of the doings of 
the Portuguese navy before the Prince's time. This, in mj 
humble judgment, does not appear to be of very great 
moment, and in the present work I have thought it prefer- 
able to relate what had been done, or said to have been done, 
in previous times on the face of that vast ocean which was 
to be the field of the Prince's fame. 1 have but one word of 
objection to make to Herr de Veer's otherwise interesting 
and able publication ; viz. , that he has inserted a fancy 
portrait of Prince Henry, a portrait not only based on no 
authority whatever, but a slander on the masculine character 
of the Prince himself. A portrait, if faithful, will convey at 
a glance more information than pages of written description : 
it is manifest, therefore, tliat no process could more efi'ect- 
ually neutralize the purpose of a biography, or show more 
disregard for men's opinions of him who is depicted, than to 
present a portrait Avithout even the pretence of a prototj'pe, 
and which neither in f\ice nor figure contains one single 
characteristic of the original. I feci sure that all the gravity 
of this incontestable fiict did not suggest ivself to the mind 
of Ilerr de Veer, when lie allowed himself to put forth the 
delineation of the emasculated creature, which forms the 


frontispiece to his book, as a portrait of that firm and laro-e- 
minded man to whose genius and perseverance wc are in- 
debted for our knowledge of one half of the world : I say 
it deliberatelj'-, to whom we are indebted for our knowledge 
of one half of the world ; and it is for this reason that this 
work is entitled, " The Life of Prince Henry the Navigator, 
and its Results." 

The glory of Prince Henry consists in the conception and 
persistent prosecution of a great idea, and in what followed 
therefrom. This book, then, is rather a record of the glory 
than of the mere life of Prince Henry. That glory is not 
a matter of fancy or bombast, but of mighty and momen- 
tous reality, a reality to which the Anglo-Saxon race, at 
least, have no excuse for indifference. 

The coasts of Africa visited ; — The Cape of Good Hope 
rounded ; — The New World disclosed ; — The seaway to India, 
the Moluccas, and China laid open ; — The glohe circumnavi- 
gated, and Australia discovered: within one century of con- 
tinuous and connected exploration. ** Such," as I have stated 
in my closing chapter, *' were the stupendous results of a 
great thought, and of indomitable perseverance in spite of 
twelve years of costly failure and disheartening ridicule. 
Had that failure and that ridicule produced on Prince Henry 
the effect which they ordinarily produce on other men, it 
is impossible to say what delays would have occurred before 
these mighty events would have been realized, for it must be 
borne in mind that the ardour not only of his own sailors 
but of surrounding nations owed its impulse to this per- 
tinacity of purpose in him.^' 

In my remarks on the slave-trade I have been largely 
indcljted to a paper on the subject in the " Ilevidta Litu- 
raria," 13" Janeiro, 1839. 


The " Ensaio sobre a statistica das Possessoes Portn- 
giiezas no iiltramar," by the careful Jose Joaqiiini Lopez de 
Lima, has been of much service to me in the description 
of discovery of the West Coast of Africa and the islands in 
the Gulf of Guinea. 

For the important voyage of Vasco da Gama I have 
followed the " Roteiro/' edited, in 1861, by A. Herculano 
and the Baron de Paiva. 

The voyage of Magellan has been digested from Piga- 
fetta's account, collated with Peter Martyr, Ilerrera, Gomara 
and Navarrete. 

Elsewhere I have given a list of the principal works 
which have been resorted to in the construction of the 

After that I had sent to the press my refutation of the claims 
of the French to priority in discovery of the coast of Guinea — 
claims till now uncorroborated by any documents — a new boolt 
reached me, entitled " Les Navigations Frangaises, et la Revo- 
lution Maritime du xiv^ au xvi'' siecle, d'apres les documens 
inedits tires de France, d'Angleterre, d'Espagne, et d'ltalie," 
par Pierre Margry, Paris, 1867, 8vo., in which those claims 
were re-asserted, with the following important addition. 
The author stated that in the year 1852 a friend of his, 
M. Lucien de Rosny, had occasion to visit the British 
Museum for the purpose of making philological researches. 
While there, a Mr. William Carter, drolly described as " un 
hommc distingue d'Oxford Street," " seeing him seareh for 
old French texts, phiced at his disposal a volume contain- 
ing a series of detached pieces, copied probably towards the 
middle of the 17th century. M. Lucien de Rosny having 
found in this colksction some very curious things connected 
with his studies in the l-'niifh hmguage, obtained [ler- 

mission to copy them, and among them was a document 
of which the following was the title : ' Briev Estoire del 
navigaige Moimsire Jehan Prunaut Roenois en la tiure des 
noirs homes et iles a nous incogneus avec les estranges 
fagons de vivre des dits noirs et une colloque en lor lan- 
guage.' " M. Margry then, not very mtelligihly, says," This 
last part is wanting, as well as some lines of the narrative 
effaced by time or damp." 

The following is the text : — 

" Ou mois de Septembre,M IIIc. soixanto et quatre dc I'liicar- 
nacion nostre Signer, ceus de Diepe et Roan, apavillerent denx 
naues et orent por amirax''-' Mesires Jehan li Roanois, home do 
grant ronom en la tiere de Xormendie, et singlerent longemcnt en 
mer, a la noel, au liu d'Ovideg,! ou one n'avoient este encoire 
cil Normendie, et ancrerent par de la pour avencier lor afaires as 
ung liu moult chaleureus, q'on apiele as jor cap Bugiador, qui siet 
au reaume de la Guinoye. Li Gilofs (ainsi sont apieles les gents 
eel partie, qui tot noir sont de visaige et de pel et tot nus, sinon la 
o covient de mucer), one n'avoient vu horns blancs, si que ceus 
qui went la nes furent espoventez, et tost retornerent de rechef 
ensemble jouste la mer, a grant plante de lor compaignons, pour 
veou- ceus Normans, mes point ne cuidoient entrer sor lor nes, 
jusques ils furent asseurtez que cil Normans ne voloient mi les le 
dangler o les na\Ter. Les boun naviors, qui tos estoient de 
gi-ant cuer, lor dounnerent a fuson petits juiaus et presouns, et les 
firent boire boun vin vermail, com que moult les esjouirent et les 
affierent. Adoncques les gents noirs de ceans lor douerent morphi, 
piaus de bestes sauvages et autres coses de lor pais fort estranges 
a veoir. Quat lur not fut plcin d'aveirs precios ct autre belle rien 
que ce estoit mervelle. Mesire Jehan, soun frtre Legier et kss 
compaignons de sa navie, de joie resbaudis, fii-ent entendre eel 
homes noirs qu'ils retomeroient enkoires la I'an ensuyvant et 

* Amiral veut dire ici simplement commandant. 

t Dans sa premiere decade de I'Asie, Barros dit qu' Ovidech est le nom que 
les uaturcls donnaient dans lem- langue au fleuve que les Portugais ont depuia 
appel^ Sanaga, du nom d'un des principaux du pays. 


qu'ils se approvisionasscnt dc eel inarchadises, c6 que il li asscnre- 
rent. Adoncqs si drecierent les veiles et despleiereut a vent et 
vers Normeudio retornerent et siglerent as mois 

(Plusieurs lignes effacues par I'liumidite et illisibles.) 

li dits naviors ct lor clief mosirc Jelian la Kocnois fircnt lor apareil 
por quero aveir 

(Lignes illisibles.) 

orent iiij nans et s'en retornerent par illuee et il besoignerent avoec 
ces homs noirs. Mes la lone ten ne porent estre porce que les 
naus furent molt adomagies par les pluies et grant boraskes orrible 
et tenebrosse avoecq biso qui vient d'Orient et qui lor estoient. 
Adoncques mcssire Jelaan requerit gens d'illecq permission de 
prenre ticre et bastir plusor masons por i mestre eels marcbandises 
ct eus a savete. Co quo les seingnors volontiers li otroierent et les 
aidicront a fere eels masons, adonqs eels de la nave traisterent lor 
nes sur la costiere. Les seingnors eel partie moult desiroient 
Talliance messire Jeban, et de cc terns comenga li fait de mar- 
cliandise avoec li naviors dc Normandio ct oils homs noirs. Lors 
fist asambler mcsiro Jelian les gens de sa navie et lor demanda sil 
voloient illuee sejorner et ilz li dirent qil n'avoient aucun qui lo 
eontredist et que s'il lui plesoit si cstablir, ils le tenroient a signor 
ct avoez qui bien est digue lor — mes petit aprics sequerelcreut, si 
quo CCS quo I'ung voloit, I'autro sc desdisait a tant que les naviors 
s'en retornerent en Normendio. 

" L'an M IIIo. scptcnto ctnocuf, lamirax Johan li Eocnois aparila 
a son eoust uuo naut moult grande et biclo que il apiela Nostro 
Dame de Boun Voiagc, parce quo cle cstoit riclicmout iniagice en 
bosc et painto marvilicuscmeut. Mais il la mist dctri et sor caue, 
solemcnt on Septcmbro, quar il savoit, commo dit est, quo les 
pluies tcmpestoises qui efondoicnt sor ces eostes foraines, tres 
mois paravaut, estoient moult porilousos ct q'il cstoit niort dc cclo 
pestilence ct malagc grant plautc domes naa,s lor mason.s come sor 


I'aigUG et I'air en col eaison est molt punais et brulant par un 
tonoii-e continuet. Adoucques morureut illuec (Dieu ait lors 
aames), Legier frere mounske I'Amirax, Gervois, Sebille, Haibicrs, 
Torcol, Tiebau, Doumare, Odon Cambers, los vaillant nots do 
Normandie, sans qu'ilz poreut trover uug sol mire dans tot le pais. 
Mes li boun sii'e Jehau I'Amirax rcvint apries Paske, en sa ncs 
avoeucques li remainaut sa navie et grant plante d'or que li bonis 
noirs li avoient doune. 

" Li Koi, ki alors estoit a Diepe, envoia a messiro Jeban et as 
compaignons li cuens de Poutiex et i ot message asses pour lor 
dii'e qu'il voloit les voir incontinent. Adoncques messire Jeban et 
eel sa navie s'en vinrent estament avecq le quens, et furent moult 
bien receus du Rois, de ses barons et damoiseles, quar de lor 
besoing estoient moult engries et cuidoient qu'ils estoient morts 

" ' Biaux sires Prunauts, Dieu vous maintiegne tos ! ' fist lo Rois 
et moult debonairement les festoj'a deus jors et firent boine ciere et 
ce fu joie, tant que nus poroit dire. Et li Rois requist messire 
Jehan I'Amirax qu'il li raconta les novieles et miervelles de la pais 
d'illuec ils s'en venoient. Quant li Rois ot oi ses grant proeces, 
les dons li fist et li donna une belle tierre. Par deseur le fit 
amirax sa navie, dont moult s'esjoit mounsire Jeban, qui pour tant 
jugia honour as Rois comme a signour. Si vos dirai que dela avint 
li non Prunaut a messire Jeban et que il le warda parce qu'il estoit 
moult preu, fier et hardi en fait de navigaige et bomme de haut 
sens. Ancois li Roi volsit que sa progenye et lignye fui'ent apielos 
Preunauts, comme fius de vaillant, preu et gentil navior. E ces 
dons confirma li Rois de son saiel sor cartes escrites, si que d'oir 
en oir il le doient tenir. 

" Adoncques apres que messire Jeban et tos ses compaignons 
fm'eut molt festoies, ils trerent vers Roan et cbevaucoit mounsiro 
Jeban le Pru navior avecques son escu pendu as cos, sor un pale- 
froi, molt richement arnace et atorne et li autre come ilz pcurent. 
L'arcevesque de Ruan et tote sa clergie, en oiant qu'il s'en vonoit 
avoec tos eel sa navie ala encontre et lor fist moult honours, quar il 
savoit ja que mounsire Jehan estoit retorne et q'il estoit moult 


aime de Dioix et ses sains, kar il avoit edifie illuec petite kapiole, 
et ke il wardoit por pastour frai Piere li Normant moult bon cler 
pour doctriner ces paiens et mescreans a aimer Dieu, bicn parler, 
praiecier et por dcstruire la loi paienne. En eel kapiele qu'ou dist 
Nostre Dame furent enfonis moult honorablement li naviors qui 
departirent aluel (?) comme dist est, de la pestilence. Adoncq a 
Eoan aveucq Tarcevesquo vint a Fencontre messire Jebau et com- 
paignons grand cevaucie des signers et si ot gens et manans a ])'u' 
asses, siergeans et borgois de Diepe, Kaan, Chieresborg, et de 
totes les cites de Normendie, qu0 la estoient venu pour veoir li 
gentil amirax et ses prus compaignons. Natent, la feme cest 
amirax, dame belle et saige, e ele ert voirement la plus belle i-iens 
qui fust oncques et estoit de grant lignaige en Saxonie avec Legier 
son fiu et Erkenbous, frere a cestui, ambedui petits enfens, qui lor 
boun pere acolurent et beserent, et iceus signers, borgeois et 
manans eu grand lesse et tot ensemble li menerent jusques a son 
ostel, car nul mot n'avoit dit de mounsire Legier et des autres qui 
morts estoient en la tiere foraine. 

"L'an ensuivant messire Jeban Prunaut resta empres Tost li 
Koi, mes envoiia oultre mer sa ncs nostre Dame come pieca, cil de 
Diepe et Roan lornaus Saint Nicolas et I'Esperance. Nostre Dame 
ancra as liu qu'ils apelierent la Mine por la grant plante d'or qui 
saportoit de par entor. lUoeuc est icele Kapiele de la Benoiste 
mere Dieix que mounsire Jeban fonda, come dit est, aveucq un 
petit castiaus fort et fortelesce et une mason quarree que i fit fere 
Bor un borg qui s'apiele la terre des Pru-naus par remembrance 
d'iccus et do lor amirax come aussi petit Diepe, petit Roan, 
petit Germentruville et petit Paris, porce qu'il venus estoient de 
Diepe, Roan et Paris. La aussi firent forz castiaux as lui q'on 
dit Cormentin et Akra. 

" L'an miiij et dis se departit gi'ant plante des Mariniers de Nor- 
mandie et les mercbauts perdirent lors ricesses qui estoient 
maugiecs par les gucres qui lors estoient et en onze ans deus naus 
a tot solemeut aleront a la costiere d'or et un por le grand Siest et 
petit apries les gucrres estant moult cstormes sur eaucs come sur 
ticrro les bosoignos dos morcbandiscs furent dcstourbces et 


TliG translation of tliis manuscript is as follows : — 

"In the month of September, 13Gi of the Incarnation of onr 
Lord, those of Dieppe and Kouen equipped two ships, and had for 
admiral (or captain) Monsieur Jehan le Rouenois, a man of great 
renown in the land of Normandy, and sailed a long time on the sea, 
till Christmas, to a place called Ovidcg, where those of Normandy 
had never as yet been, and anchored [par de la] to advance their 
all'airs at a very hot place, which is called now-a-days Cape Bugiador, 
which belongs to the kingdom of Guinea. The Gilofs (so the 
people of these parts are called, who are quite black in their faces 
and skins, and quite naked except where covering is necessary) 
had never seen any white men, so that those who saw the ship 
Avere frightened, and all turned back together to the sea with a 
great number of their companions, to see these Normans, but did 
not dare to get into their ships till they were assured that the 
Normans did not wish to hurt or grieve them. The good sailors, 
who were all generous, gave them a profusion of little toys and 
presents, and made them drink good red wine, so that they rejoiced 
and emboldened them much. Then the blacks in their turn gave 
them ivory, skins of wild beasts, and other things of their country 
very strange to see. When their ship was full of precious com- 
modities, and other fair things marvellous to behold, Messire 
Jehan, his brother Legier, and his shipmates, full of joy, made 
the blacks understand that they would return again in the follow- 
ing year, and that they would supply themselves with such 
merchandises as they promised them. Then they hoisted their 
sails, and spread them to the Avind, and returned towards Nor- 
mandy, and sailed till the month 

(Several lines effaced by damp and illegible.) 
the said sailors and their chief, Mesirc Jehan le Rouenois, made 

their preparations for seeking commodities (?) 

(Illegible lines.) 
had four ships, and returned by this way, and dealt with the black 
men. But they could not long remain there, because the ships 
were much damaged by the rains, and great and horrilde scjualls, 
and darkness Avith an east Avind, w]iich caiiie u])on them. Then 


Messiro Jelian asked permission of the people of those parts to 
take land and build several houses wherein to put his merchandises 
and his men [?] in safety. Which the chiefs willingly granted 
him, and helped them to build these houses, and then those of the 
ships drew up their vessels on the coast. The chiefs of those parts 
much desired the alliance of Messire Jehan, and from this time 
began the commerce between the sailors of Normandy and these 
black men. Then Messire Jehan assembled together the people of 
his ships and asked them if they would sojourn there, and they 
replied that they had nothing to say against it, and that if it 
pleased him to establish himself there, they would have him for 
their lord, and acknowledge him worthy of them ; but a little 
while after they quarrelled, so that what one wished the other 
contradicted, and so the sailors returned to Normandy. 

" In the year 1379, Captain Jehan le Kouenois equipped at his 
own cost a very large and beautiful ship, which he called Notre 
Dame de Bon Voijatjc, because it was richly carved in Avood and 
marvellously painted . But he [la mist detri] and launched it only 
in September, for he knew, as has been said, that the tempestuous 
rains which poured down on these foreign coasts, three months 
before, were very perilous, and that there had died of the pestilence 
and illness a great number of men in their houses, as the water 
and the air at this season have a bad smell and burn with con- 
tinual thunder. There died there (may God rest their souls) 
Lcgicr, brother to the captain, Gervois, Sebille, Haibiers, Torcol, 
Tiebau, Doumare, Odon Cambers, all valiant sailors of Normandy, 
without finding a single physician in all the country. But the 
good sire, Jehan the Captain, returned after Easter in his ship, 
with the fleet that remained to him, and a great quantity of gold 
which the black men had given him. 

" The King, who was then at Dieppe, sent the Count of Pontieux 
to Messire Jehan and his companions, and charged him to tell them 
that he wished to see them immediately. Then Messire Jehan and 
those of his ships went instantly with the Count, and wore very 
well received by the King, his barons and gentlemen, for the}- had 
been very grieved on their account, and thought that they were 
dead in those parts. 


" 'Fair sires Prunauts, God keep you alll ' Raid the Kinf,', and 
kindly feasted them for two days, and they made good cheer, and 
there was joy such as cannot be described. And the King prayed 
Messire Jehan, the Captain, to relate to him the news and tho 
marvels of the country whence they came. AVhen the lung had 
heard of his great prowess, he gave him gifts, and bestowed on him 
a fair estate in land. He also made him admiral of his navy, 
which greatly rejoiced Messii'e Jehan, who rendered honour to tho 
King as his seigneur. 

'' So I will tell you that from this came the name of Prunaut to 
Messire Jehan, and that he kept it because he was very valiant, 
high-spirited, and bold in feats on the sea, and a man of great 
sense. Also the King desired that his progeny and lineage should 
be called Prunauts, as the sons of a valiant, gallant, and gentle 
sailor. And these gifts the King confirmed with his seal on 
charters, so that he might hold them from heir to heir. 

" Then, after Messire Jehan and his companions were well feasted, 
they turned towards Koueu ; and Messire Jehan, the bold sailor, 
rode, ^vith his shield at his side, on a palfrey richly harnessed 
and adorned, and the rest followed as they could. The Arch- 
bishop of Pioueu and all his clergy hearing that he was coming 
with all his ship's company, went out to meet him and did him 
much honour ; for he knew already that Messire Jehan had 
returned, and that he was beloved by God and His saints, for ho 
had built in those parts a little chapel, and appointed as its priest 
Friar Pierre, the Norman, a very worthy clerk, to teach the 
Pagans and unbelievers the love of God, to speak well, to preach, 
and to destroy the Pagan law. In this chapel, which was dedi- 
cated to our Lady, were buried very honourably the sailors who 
died* ... as has been said, of the pestilence. Then at 
Piouen, with the Ai'chbishop, came to meet Messire Jehan and his 
companions, a grand cavalcade of lords and such high folks, and 
many peasants on foot, sergeants aud burghers of Dieppe, Caen, 
Cherbom-g, and all the cities of Normandy, who had come 
to see the gentle Captain and his bold companions. Natent, 

* " Aluel," perhaps "^ la Noiil," at Christmas. 


the ^vife of the Captain, a wise and beautiful dame, and slie was 
certainly the most beautiful there ever was [?] , and was of great 
lineage in Saxony, with Legier, her son, and Erkenbous, his 
brother — both little children — who embraced and kissed their 
good father and these lords, burghers, and peasants in great 
numbers, and all together brought him to his lodging : for no word 
had been said of Mounsire Legier and the others who were dead 
in the foreign land. 

" The following year Messire Jehan Prunaut remained with the 
King's army, but sent beyond sea his ship, Xotre Dame, as before; 
those of Dieppe and Rouen their ships Saint Nicolas and VE^perance. 
Notre Dame anchored in the place which they called La Mine, 
because of the quantity of gold which was found round about. 
Here is that chapel of the Blessed Mother of God which Messire 
Jehan founded, as we have said, with a little strong castle and 
fortalice, and a square house which he had made on a hill, which 
was called the land of the Prunaus, in remembrance of them and 
of their admiral, as also Petit Dieppe, Petit Rouen, Petit Germentru- 
ville, and Petit Paris, because they had come from Dieppe, Rouen, 
and Paris. There they built also forts [and] castles at the places 
called Cormentin and Acra. 

" In the year 1410 many of the Norman sailors went away, and 
the merchants lost their wealth, Avhich was devoured by the wars 
which then were, and in eleven years only two ships went to the 
Gold Coast, and one to the Great Siest ; and a little while after, as 
the wars raged at sea as well as on land, the mercantile aflairs 
were disturbed and destroyed." 

Some pages earlier in his book, M. Margry quotes an 
expression of my late honoured friend, the Vicomte de 
Santareui, that " it is not by documents that ma)j be discovered 
that positive histonj ought to be put in doubt. Even if a 
document should happen to be discovered which was opposed 
to facts recognised as true, it would not be sufficient to 
upset the unanimous testimony of cotcmporaries.'''' Now while 


it would, clearly, be too much to say that light may not 
be, and often is, thrown upon known history by the pro- 
duction of newly-discovered documents, it is equally clear 
that any single document not only not corroborated, but 
contradicted and condemned by a flood of well-authenticated 
historical facts, must require uncommonly strong authenti- 
cation to save it from the gravest suspicion. In the present 
case, however, I think I can produce sufficient reason to 
lead the reader to coincide cntlrehj with the dictum of the 
Vicomte de Santarem. 

For this purpose I will here briefly state the princi])al 
items of evidence which I had adduced to disprove the 
claims of the French to priority of discovery on the coast 
of Guinea, claims which as yet have never been authenti- 
cated by any document. 

1. It is asserted that the absence hitherto of documents 
proving the conjoined explorations of the Rouenese and 
Dieppese to the coast of Guinea in the fourteenth century 
is explained by the destruction of the Dieppese archives 
in the English bombardment in 1694. To this one replies 
with the inquiry : How comes it that Rouen, which was 
not so bombarded, supplies no testimony on the subject? 
M. Margry now suggests that such documents may have 
been used in lighting pipes or covering jam-pots. "Well, 
be it granted. Almost inconceivable though it be, we 
will suppose that jam-pots and a bombardment have ruth- 
lessly denuded these two important cities of every shred of 
testimony, whether cotemporary or retrospective, to their 
having earned for themselves a distinction of which any 
nation might be proud. Then let us look for farther 

2. A Swiss doctor in 1017 adduces the statement of 



Guinea negroes, a hundred and tldrty years old, that the 
French were there in the fourteenth century ; and a Dutch- 
man, Olivier Dapper (a man whose testimony is shown to 
be worthless by his own mis-statement of perfectly well- 
known facts in the history of Portuguese discovery, as well 
as by the acknowledgment of a learned Frenchman, M. 
Eyries, that his assertions mislead those who do not examine 
for themselves) stated in 1668 that in the Castle of La Mina 
was a ruined battery named Batterie Fran9aise, in which 
were the Urst two figures of the date 13 — , but the following 
numbers could not be deciphered. 

In answer to the latter statements, I have shown that the 
French had really been on the Guinea coast in the beginning 
of the last half of the sixteenth century, quite long enough 
to allow of the existence of a ruined French battery, and 
also to render possible the obliteration of a date (if date it 
was) exposed to the annual corrosive action of three months 
of rain. But there is nothing to prove that the figures were 
part of a date. In op})osition to the assertions of the super- 
annuated negroes I adduce the evidence of the Norman 
narrators of the expedition of Jean de Betheneourt (whose 
estate lay only twenty-five miles from Dieppe) to the Canaries 
at the period when the asserted Dieppese intercourse with the 
coast of Guinea was in its zenith, in which it is declared 
that "it is M. Bethencourt's intention, with the hel]) of 
God and that of Christian princes and people, to open the 
way to the River of Gold. It cannot be doubted that much 
remains to be done which might have succeeded in times 

})ast if it had been undertahen and he n:iU spare no 

pains to decide whether success is possible or impossible,^' &c. 

3. I further adduce an indignant remonstrance of a 
Dieppese Captain in 1539 against the arrogant extrusion of 


the French from Guinea by the Portuguese on the score of 
the acknowledg-ed priority of discovery of that coast by the 
latter, — a remonstrance so indignant, that if a claim cou/d 
have been set up by the writer to priority of discovery by 
his own people, it assuredly would not have been wanting, 
whereas such a claim was not attempted by the Frencli till 
a century and a half later. 

4. I further show that one of the warmest advocates of 
these claims acknowledges that no specimens of Dieppese 
ivory carvings, which he asserts were made as early as the 
close of the fourteenth century, could be found of an older 
date than the close of the sixteenth century, a period at 
which I have shown that the Dieppese did really traffic with 
the Guinea Coast. 

5. I further show that whereas the most beautiful and 
elaborate maps we possess of the beginning of the sixteentli 
century are Dieppese, not one of them exhibits the names of 
" Petit Dieppe " and " Petit Paris," asserted to have been 
given by their people to places on the Guinea Coast in the 
fourteenth century; whereas in 1631, five years after the 
Rouenese and Dieppese did redlly comhine (in 1626) to traffic 
with that coast, we do, for the first time, find those names 
laid down on the Dieppese maps of Jean Guerand. 

In the presence of a mass of historic evidence such as this, 
to which might be added an octavo volume full of proof, 
both positive and negative, laboriously brought together by 
the Vicomte de Santarem, assuredly a solitary document, 
uncorroborated and unauthenticated, will scarcely pass 
muster. It is unfortunate, doubtless, but unavoidalilo that 
the recent expose of the spurious Newton and Pascal cor^ 
respondence should cause the unexpected production of 
reputed early documents on important subjects to be treated 


with the most rigid investigation that even suspicion can 
suggest, and the reader will certainly demand such investi- 
gation at our hands. 

As will be presently seen I have spared no exertion to 
trace the existence of this newly adduced document. 

In the "search for old French texts" by M. de Eosny, 
observed by Mr, William Carter (p. xxii.), there was appa- 
rently a clue to this manuscript through the medium of 
the reo-isters of the Readinor Room of the British Museum. 
I there found that there were at that time two readers, and 
only two, of that name, but neither of them residing in 
Oxford Street. One, named simply William Carter, resided 
then as now in Philpot Lane, and never had any knowledge 
of M. Lucien de Rosny or of the MS. in question. The 
other, Mr. William George Carter, lived then in the Temple, 
and died in 1861 in Raymond's Buildings, Gray's Inn. 
But after an elaborate and interesting search, in which I 
traced and corresponded with all the surviving connections 
of this Mr. Carter, with results at first somewhat hopeful, but 
finally, as will be presently seen, almost conclusive against 
bis being the person referred to, I applied to M. Margry 
himself, and received an answer, of which the following is a 
translation : — 

" 11, Rue ihi Mont Thahor, 

" Paris, November 20, 1867. 

" Sir, — I have received the letter in wbich you ask me or M. de 
Rosny Foucqueville to be so good as to point out to you the 
means of finding Mr. AVilliam Carter, and the manuscript which 
was in his possession, and which I have published in my book 
on the French navigations from the fourteenth to the sixteenth 

"I regret excessively my inabilitj' to give you this information. 

*' When M. Lucien de Rosny copied the document from the volume 
confided to him by Mr. Carter, he unhappily attached to it no other 


ftnportance than that which a philologist studying the old French 
language would iind in it. Consequently, not. suspecting that ho 
had in his possession a paper touching the honour of a nation, he 
did not feel himself called upon to take, nor expect ever to have 
to give, any pledge of his good faith against the remonstrances 
of that nation or the criticisms of the learned. When, in com- 
pliance with your request, I again questioned M. de llosny on the 
origin of his document, he told me now, as before, that Mr. W. 
Carter, in 1853, when he met him, was living in Oxford Street, 
but as he did not go to his house, in which, as I believed and' 
told him, he was in fault ; as they met only in the British Museum 
in the Ethnological Room ; and, finally, as M. de Rosny is a man 
full of reserve, he never learned from Mr. Carter either his number, 
or whether he lived in London or was only passing through it. 

" This reply. Sir, is doubtless not calculated to satisfy you, but I 
can do no better. For you to have the same confidence as myself, 
you should see and hear M. de Rosny himself relate how he entered 
into conversation with Mr. Carter on the subject of botany ; how 
the latter, learning by chance that M. de Rosny was specially 
occupied in the study of the old French language, begged him to 
acquaint him with the contents of an old manuscript in that 
language which he was unable to decipher, and which he brought 
with him the next day ; how, finally, M. de Rosny, authorised 
by Mr. Carter to extract from it what he pleased, took from the 
volume, which was a collection of from about sixty to seventy 
leaves, bound in a sort of parchment of dark apple-green, the docu- 
ment in question, and an old carol of the fifteenth century, of which 
he has to-day brought me the copy. 

"All this is said so simply, so honestly; M. de Rosny has always 
taken to himself so little merit for this discovery, which he did 
not appreciate till I had made him aware of its importance ; he 
is 80 well known even to several persons in the Museum, among 
others to Mr. Franks, for his philological studies, in which he 
foUows the steps of his maternal grandfather, M. Hecart, of Valen- 
ciennes, that really I feel almost ashamed of the sort of interroga- 
tory to which your question obliges me to subject him. 

" I am aware that in the country whence has proceeded the 


scientific mystification of the voyage of Bartolome Fuente, people 
are not contented without seeing and touching, examining the 
water-mark of the paper and the character of the wi-iting. 

" On this point I have nothing to say, I have put forward 
honestly what I believed, and still believe, to have been communi- 
cated to me with equal honesty. 

" Now Avhether Mr. Carter, who was a man of from fifty-five to 
sixty years of age, with grizzled hair, and in feeble health, suffer- 
ing in his legs, is dead, or compelled by his infirmities to remain 
at home, or has left London, I do not know more than M. de 
Rosny. This is no reason why his document may not one day be 
found ; and if the difficulty which M. de Rosny encountered in 
reading the collection whence he extracted the document which 
interests us, should again have the efi"ect of making this collection 
a dead letter in the hands of the heirs of Mr. W. Carter, as it 
seems for a long time to have been in his own, allow me to say 
that I shall congratulate myself on having, at the risk of being 
attacked, taken advantage of a happy chance which has given me 
occasion to publish a document which would only have appeared 
to disappear again. 

" In any case. Sir, I do not think I have given in my book the 
last word which may be said on the subject which interests you. 
I have heard that there is now in England a gentleman, a connois- 
seur in documents on French discoveries in Africa anterior to those 
which I have quoted. Where has he found them ? In the papers 
brought from France by the English at the time of their expulsion ? 
I know not. I only know the name of the gentleman, but this I am 
not at liberty to publish, because he may perhaps himself intend to 
win honour by these documents. Thus history now, as ever, is 
remodelled piece by piece. Each one brings his portion to this 
great piece of marqueterie. There are some which do not agree 
with accepted historj^ but they are none the less true. In fact 
Montaigne has observed that if he had in his possession the events 
which are unknown, he could easily supplant the known ones in 
every kind of example. I have already several times brought 
examples to the support of this thought. But if, in the matter in 


question, I have not the happiness of seeing you accept my cou- 
chisions, believe me. Sir, that I consitlDr myself fortunate, in one 
respect, at least, in the circumstance which places me in com- 
munication with a distinguished savant. 

" I will conclude this letter with the assurance that you are at 
liberty to publish it in extcnso, if you think it necessary, either 
for the purpose of finding Mr. Carter, or any other reason unknown 
to me, but which, judging by j-our procedure towards myself, can 
only lead to a courteous discussion, aiming at the discover}' of Truth, 
the supreme end of History. This permission will doubtless be, 
at least in your^ eyes, a pledge of the good faith of those who have 
advanced the fact which you Avish to dispute, and I think that you 
will also see in it a mark of the sentiments of consideration with 


" I have the honour to be. Sir, 

'* Your very humble and very obedient servant, 

" R, Major, Esq." 

11, JHue dn Mont Thahor, 

Fares, ce 20, Kovembrg, 1867. 

J'ai re9u la lettre par laqiielle vous me demandez a moi ou a M. de Rosny 
Foucqueville de •vouloir bien iudiquei' les moyens de rencontrer M. William 
Carter et le manuscrit qui ^tait en sa possession, manuscrit que j'jjii public dans 
mon livre sur les Navigations Frau^'aises du quatorzifeme au seizifeme sifecle. 

Je regrette vivement de ne pouvoir vous donnei> ce moyen. 

Lorsque M. Lueien de Rosny a copi^ ce document dans le volume que lui a 
confix M. Carter, il n'y a mallieureusement attach^ d'autre importance que celle 
qu'y peut trouver un philologue, dtudiant le vieux langage frangais. II en est 
result^ que ne se doutant pas qu'il avait entre les mains un papier touchant ^ 
I'honneur d'une nation, il n'a pas cru devoir prendre ni avoir a donner un jour 
aucune garantie de sa bonne foi contre les reclamations de cette nation ou contre 
les critiques des ^rudits. Lorsqu'a votre demande, j'ai de nouveau interrog^ 
M. de Rosny sur I'origine de son document, il m'a dit aujoui'd'hui comme autre- 
fois que M. W. Carter en 1853, lorsqu'il le voyait, demeiu-ait a, Oxford Street, 
mais que comme il n'est pas all^ cbcz lui, aussi que je le croyais et I'ai dit litort, 
comme ils se rencontraient seulement au British Museum flans 1' Ethnological 
Room; comme enfin M. de Rosny est un homme plein de reserve, il n'a jamius 
su de M. Carter ni son numero, ni s'il ^tait de Londres, ou s'U y etait seulement- 
en passant. 

Cette r^ponse, monsieur, n'est sans doute pas de nature a vous contcnter, mab 
je ne puis rien de mieux. Pour vous donner la confiance que j'ai il faudrait 


voir et entencke M. de Eosny lui-meme racontant comment il est entre en rela- 
tions avec M. Carter a propos de Botanique ; comment celui-ci apprenant par 
hasard que M. de Eosny s'occupait surtout de I'^tude du vieux langage frangais 
lui demanda de lui renseigner sur ce que contenait un vieux manuscrit en cette 
langue ind^chiffrable pour lui et qu'il apporta le lendemain ; comment enfin M. 
de Rosny autorisd par M. Carter a en extraire ce qu'il voudrait, a pris dans ce 
volume compost d'un recueil de 60 a 70 feuillets environ, recouvert d'un espJjce 
de parchemin vert pomme fonc^ le document dont il s'agit, plus un vieux noel 
du quinzi^me siecle dont il m'a apporta aujourd'hui la copie. 

Tout cela est dit si simplement, si honnetement ; M. de Eosny s'est fait tou- 
joui's si peu un m^rite de cette d^couverte qu'il n'appreciait pas avant que je 
lui en cusse fait voir I'importance ; il est si bien connu, meme de plusiexu's 
personnes du Museum, M. Frauck entre autres, pour ses Etudes philologiques, ou 
il suit les traces de son grand pfere maternel, M. H^cart, de Valenciennes, qu'en 
\6Tit4 je me sens presque honteux de I'espbce d'interrogatoii'e que votre demande 
m' oblige a lui faii-e subir. 

Je comprends que dans le pays d'oil est partie la mystification scientifique du 
voyage de Bartbdl^my Fonte on veuille voir et toucher, reconnaltre la marque 
du papier et le caractfere des ^critures. 

La dessus je n'ai rien a dii'e, j'ai livre loyalement ce que j'ai cru et ce que je 
crois encore m'avoir ^t^ communique avec ime (5gale loyaute. 

Maintenant si M. Carter qui ^tait un lionime d'entre 55 et 60 ans aux 
cheveux grisonnans et d'une sante faible, souffi'ant des jambes, est mort, ou que 
les infirmities I'obUgent a demeurer chez lui, ou qu'il ait quitt^ Londres, ce que 
je ne sais pas plus que M. de Eosny, ce n'est pas une raison pour que son docu- 
ment ne se retrouve pas un jour et si la difficult^ que M. de Eosny a rencontr^e 
k lire le recueil dont il a extrait le document qui nous int^resse devoit avoir ime 
fois encore pour effet de faire de ce recueil une lettre morte dans les mains des 
heritiers de M. W. Carter comme il paralt 1' avoir 6t6 longtemps dans les siennes, 
laissez moi vous dii-e que je me fi^liciterai d' avoir profit e, au risque d'etre 
attaqu^, d'un heureux hasard qui m'a donn^ lieu de publier une pifece la quelle 
n'aurait guferes apparu que pour disparaltre. 

Quoiqu'il arrive, Monsieur, je ne crois pas avoir donn^ dans mon livre Ic 
dernier mot a dire sur le sujet qui vous occupe ici. J'ai entendu dire qu'il y 
avait en ce moment en Angleterre un gentleman connaissant des documents sur 
des ddcouvertes en Afrique faites par les fran5ais ant^rieiu'ement a ceUes que 
j'ai cit&s. Oil les a-t-il trouv^s? est ce dans les papicrs emport^s de France 
par les Anglais lors de leur expulsion ? je I'ignore, tout ce que je connais c'est le 
nom du monsieur, mais je ne suis pas autoris^ a le publier parceque ce gentle- 
man a peut-etre lui-meme 1' intention de se faii'e honneui- de ces documens. 
Ainsi I'histoire ici comme ailleurs se recompose pifece k pifece, chacun apporte un 
morceau k cette grande marqudterie. II y en a qui ne s'arrangent pas avec 
I'histoire convenue, mais ce ne sont pas toujours les moins vrais. En efFet 
Montaigne a pu dire que " s'il avait en sa possession les ^vt^nemens incogneus, 
il pourroit trtjs facilemcnt supplanter les cogncus en toute espfece d'exomples." 
J'ai dt^ja plusieurs fois apporte des exemplcs k I'appui de cette pens^e. Mais si 
dans le cas dont il s'agit aujourd'hui je u'nipas le bouhcur de vous voir accueillir 


mcs conclusions, croyez, monsieur, que jc rcgarde comnie heurcusc au moius 
par un cote uiie occasion qui me met en relation avec un savant distingue. 

Je terminerai cette lettre en vous disant que vous pouvez la publier in extenso, 
si vous le croyez n<5cessaii'e, soit pom- retrouvcr M. Carter, soit pour d'autrea 
vues qui je ne connais pas, niais qui d'aprfes votre demarche aupres do moi nc 
saui'aient etre que celle d'une discussion courtoise, ayant pour objet la decouvertc 
de la v^rite, cette supreme fin de I'histoire. Cette autorisation sera sans douto 
au moins h vos yeux un t^moignage de la bonne foi de ceux qui ont avanc^ 
le fait que yous voulez contester et je pense que vous y verrez aussi la marque 
des sentiniens de consideration avec lesquels, 
J'ai riionneur d'etre, monsieur, 

Yotre trtss humble et tres ob^issant serviteur, 

A. M. R. Major. 

This letter placed^ the transaction, if possible, in a still 
more unsatisfactory position, and on the 26th of November 
I addressed the following lines to M. Margry : — 

" British 2hist'iuii, Xovniibcr 26, 1867. 
" SiE, — I beg to offer you my best thanks for your obbging 
letter of the 20th iust., but regret that it brings me no more 
satisfactory account of the interesting manuscript lent to M. de 
Rosny by Mr. Wihiam Carter. It might greatly assist me in my 
endeavours to find it if M. de Rosny would kindly tell me how 
and where he restored to Mr. Carter the volume which he had 
boiTOwed of him. 

" Trusting that both yourself and M. de Rosny will pardon the 
trouble I am giving in consideration of my earnest desire to do full 
justice to a very important subject, 

" I have the honour to be, sir, 

" Your very obedient humble servant, 

"R. H. MAJOR." 

On the 4th of December I received an undated letter from 
M. Margry, enclosing another from M. Lucien de Rosny, of 
which the foUovriug is a translation : — 

" Levallois Ferret, Banlieue de Paris, Xore)iihcr 30, 1867. 
" SiE, — By his letter, which has just reached me, M. Margry 
has acfiuainted me with your desire to become acquainted with the 


MS. which Mr. W. Carter communicated to me when I resided 
in London. During the long period since I have ceased to live 
in England I have lost sight of that gentleman, whom I only knew 
from meeting him sometimes at the British Museum, not in the 
Eeading Room, but in the Ethnological Room, and in the different 
collections of the Museum. When I became acquainted with this 
MS., from which I have copied some passages (less than I had 
wished, for the cursive writing of the 16th and 17th century is 
very difficult to read), I was obliged to confine myself to some 
extracts, among which was that in which you are concerned, and 
to which I attached no other interest beyond what I felt generally 
for all ancient documents in the old French language. I was. 
ignorant at the time that this passage would make so much im- 
pression on the minds of the readers of M. Margry, for, otherwise, 
I would, as I have already stated, have taken every possible 
precaution to guarantee the authenticity of my copy. 

"I have lost sight of Mr. Carter. I only knew him as an 
obliging and confiding man, for there was not established betAveen 
us any relationship of a dm-able friendship. Accident brought us 
together, and we separated in the same way. M. Margry tells me 
that in the researches made in the register of persons authorised 
to frequent the British Museum, the name of Mr. Carter is not 
found inscribed. This does not astonish me, for he did not 
frequent the Reading Room, and there is no occasion for any 
authority to visit the collections of this establishment open to 
the public. 

" It was not in the Reading Room that Mr. Carter- communi- 
cated his MS. to me, but u-hcn Icariiifi the British Miiscuiii [under- 
lined by M. de Rosny] . He had it in his pocket, and I followed 
some time in conversation with him. We separated in Oxford 
Street, where he lived. It was then between four and five o clock. 

•' I returned him his MS. in the British Museum, in the Gallery 
of Antiquities, and he put it again in his pocket, if I re^member 
well, for it is now fourteen years ago. This, sir, is all that I 
know. From this MS. I copied not only the document of which 
we speak, but an old carol, and some lines on a 2^ro)iostic acconi- 

PREFACE. xliii 

panjnng a sneeze, for this pmnostic interested me only bocauso 
it entered into a monograph on the subject of sneezing which I 
was wi'iting at the time. 

"If it is in my power, sir, to give you satisfaction on other 
questions upon w'hich you may be interested to make inquiries, I 
am at youi* disposal. I avail myself of this opportunity to ask 
you in my turn to do me the kindness to give the inclosed letter 
to Mr. Franks, and to forward the other to the Superior of Trinity 
College, with a word of recommendation. 
" Pray accept, sir, 

" The assurance of my devotedness, 
(Signed) " L. DE ROSXY." 

LevaUois Ferret, Banlieue de Paris, 
MoxsiEUR, 30, Novembre, 1867. 

Par sa lettre qui m' arrive, M. ilargry m'entretient du d^sir que vous auriez 
de connaltre le Msc. que Al. W. Carter m'a communique lorsque je residais k 
Londres. Depuis bien long temps que je n'habite plus I'Angleterre, j'ai perdu 
de vue ce mousieur que je n'ai connu que pour I'avoir rencontre quelquefois au 
British Museum, non point au Eeading Room, mais dans la Salle d'Ethnographie 
et dans les diverges collections de ce mus^e. Quand j'ai eu communicatit)n de 
ce manuscrit dans lequel j'ai copi^ quelques passages, moins que je ne I'eusse 
voulu (car I'&riture cm-sive du seizifeme et du dix septifeme sifecle est fort p^nible 
a lire), j'ai d(i me bomer a quelques extraits parmi lesquels existe celui qui vous 
int^resse et auquel je ne donnais d'autre int^iet que celui que m'inspirent 
g^n^ralement tons les anciens documents du vieux langage frangais. J'ignorais 
alors que ce passage ddt faire tant d'impressions sur I'esprit des lecteiu's de M. 
Margry, car j'aurais pris toutes les precautions possibles pour garantir I'authen- 
ticite de ma copie comme je viens de vous le dire, monsieur. 

J'ai perdu de vue il. Carter, je n'ai vu en lui qu'un homme obligeant et 
confiant, mais il ne s'est point ^tabli entre nous des rapports durables et d'amiti^. 
L'occasion nous a fait trouver ensemble ; nous nous sommes s^par^s de la meme 
manifere. M. Margiy me dit que dans les recherches faites sur le registre des 
personnes autoris^es a frequenter le British Museum, le nom de M. Carter ne s'y 
trouve pas inscrit ; eela ne m'^tonne nullement, car il ne fr^queutait pas la Salle 
de Lecture et il ne faut pas d'autorisation pour aUer visiter les collections de cet 
etablissement ouvert (sic) au public. Ce n'est pas non plus dans la Salic de 
Lecture que M. Carter m'a communique son manuscrit, mais en quittant le British 
Museum. II Tavait dans sa poche et je le suivis quelque temps en causant avcc 
lui. Nous nous s^parames a Oxford Street oil ce monsieur devait habiter. II etait 
alors de 4 a 5 heures. 

Je lui remis son manuscrit au British Museum dans la Salle des Antiques, ct 
il le remit dans sa poche si je me le rappelle bien, car il y a bien 14 ans de ccla. 

xliv PREFACE. 

Voila, monsieur, le peu que je sais. J'ai copi^ dans ce manuscrit outre le docu- 
ment dont il s'agit, un vieu noel, et quelques lignes sur un pronostic accom- 
pagn^ d'un ^ternuement, car ce pronostic m'int^ressait par cela seul qu'il rentra 
dans une monograpMe sui' le culte de I'^teruuement que j'^cris en ce moment. 

Si je puis, monsiem-, vous etre agitable sur d'autres questions que vous pom-riez 
avoir- int^ret a me faire je me tiens k votre disposition. Je profite de cette 
occasion pour vous demander a mon tour un service, ce serait de remettre 
la lettre ci indue a M. Franck, et de faii-e parvenir 1' autre au Sup^rieur de 
Trinity College avec un mot de recommendation. 

Veuillez agr^er, 
Tassiurance de mon d^vouement, 


Now it will be observed that M. Lucien de Rosny volun- 
teers the observation that it was not m the Reading Room of 
the British Museum, where the addresses of students are 
kept, that he met jNIr. William Carter, and further, he par- 
ticularly states that that gentleman had not a reading 
ticket. This circumstance is to the last degree unfortunate, 
and when combined with the remarkable fact that the volume 
is lent to a perfect stranger by a perfect stranger, whose 
address is neither given nor asked, and in a part of the 
Museum where the chances of meeting again, or even of 
finding each other at an indefinite period after the extracts 
should have been made, were rendered the more uncertain 
by the attendants taking no cognizance of visitors, reduces 
the possibility of tracing the document to a minimum. 

But it is fiu-ther remarkable that M. Margry states in 
his book that the occurrence took place in consequence of 
Mr. Carter's " seeing M. de Eosny searching for old French 
texts.^' Now this search could only have taken place either 
in the Reading Room or in the Manuscript Department, and 
if in the latter, there would have been a twofold register of 
the students' names, one in the Reading Room, where the 
address would be also kept, and the other in the Manuscript 


Room itself. Neither of the names occurs in the ]\rannscrii)t 
Room register, whereas in the Reading Room I tind that 
M. de Rosny received his reader's ticket on the 13th of 
December, 1852, and that instead of tliere being, as M. do 
Rosny states as the result of M. Margry's inquiry, no reader 
at the time of the name of William Carter, there were the 
two whom I have already mentioned. ]\Ir. AVilliam George 
Carter was a man so imusnally reserved that as his executors, 
his clerk, his housekeeper, and the legatee of his books, as 
well as the purchaser of his books, Mr. Jones, the librarian of 
the London Library, have of their own accord informed mo, 
was the last man in the world to accost a stranger, or, in 
fact, to fall into conversation with any one. He never in 
all his life took any interest in botany. ]\Ir. Jones assures 
me that there was no MS. among his books, and even if 
there had been, I am informed by a letter from his clerk, Mr. 
Tubb, written from Bishop's Sutton on the 2nd of November 
last, only just in time, for he died the da}^ after, that he 
" should not think it likely he would lend his book to any 
Frenchman, as I don't think he was an admirer of the 
French."* It is true that the negative poles of a magnet 
will attract each other, but it would be strange indeed if two 
men, both so " pleins de reserve " as M. de Rosny and Mr. 
Carter, were to gravitate to each other, and respectively 
make and accept a loan of a valuable and curious volume 
without the slightest regard to the most ordinary rules of 

* I cannot refrain from mentioning hero a most extraordinary oconrrcnnc. 
After a romantic and almost hopeless search of many weeks, I succeeded in 
tracking the address of ]\Ir. Tubb, Mr. Carter's clerk. ,In reply to my 
inquiries, he wrote me a most obliging letter, containing the above sontepce, 
and informing me who was the purchaser of Mr. Carter's books, a point 
which I had in vain endeavoured to ascertain elsewhere. Jfr. Tubb's letter 
was written on Saturday the 2nd of Npvember, and on Sunday the 3rd .he 
died, even before his letter reached my hands. 


I mention all these facts, which have cost me much labour 
in tracing, solely because in the Eeading Room or Manuscript 
Room only could Mr. Carter have " seen M. de Rosny search- 
ing for old French texts," and to show that I have spared 
no pains to do justice to M. Margry's statements ; because 
if I had failed in doing justice to him, I should thereby have 
also failed in doing justice to my readers and to myself. 
But, as we have seen, the Reading Room is now out of the 
question. In a matter so important, this position of the 
case is greatly to be regretted, for, on the one hand, M. 
Margry's original statement of Mr. Carter's seeing M. de 
Rosny searching for French texts would have involved a 
meeting in the Reading Room, where there would have 
been some sort of guarantee to the two strangers, not only 
of respectability, but of the chance of meeting again ; while 
now that M. Margry shifts his ground, the transaction is 
based entirely on a quicksand, and one might as well hope 
to recover a sunken ship from the Goodwin as to regain this 
ignis fatmts of a manuscript. 

Why should this cruel fate pursue all Dieppese documents ? 
Why should this solitary seventeenth century copy of a 
solitary document testifying to the fourteenth century glories 
of the Dieppese have lain perdu for two centuries, only to 
flicker for a few days before the eyes of a French savant and 
again to hide itself in its beloved obscurity ? Wh}- also should 
the vampire which has brooded over the fame of Dieppe so 
remorselessly have clouded the intelligence of a French savant, 
who has shown his interest in early voyages by publishing in 
French the first letter of Columbus, as to blind him entirely 
to the importance of a document which cost him great pains 
to deci})her, when that document most intimately affected 
the maritime glory, of his own country ? Yet it was not till 


some seven years later that the document was shown to M. 
Margry, by whom at length the film was removed from tlie 
eyes of M. de Rosny. Of a truth, the whole story is a 
curious and notable one. 

Thus strangely are we left at sea respecting this Mr. 
William Carter himself, while the document in his posses- 
sion, reproduced by M. Margry, is but a copy by M. Lucien 
de Rosny of a copy, supposed by M. Margry to have been 
made in the seventeenth century. This is most unfortunate, 
for it disarms all criticism on the construction of the lan- 
guage, as being supposed of the fourteenth century. But 
it is far more unfortunate on another account — t/ce?x is 
nothing to prove the authenticity of the seventeenth century 
copy, and, certes, such proof is eminently necessary to 
countervail the accumulated arguments which have been 
brought together in refutation of claims nihich were not 
set up till just before the time when this reputed copy was 
supposed to have been made. 

But let us examine the document internally. Of two 
things one, 1. Either it was written to describe a genuine 
voyage in which we should look for consistency with 
geographical facts. 2. Or it has been concocted at some 
period or another with the view of establishing French 
precedence' of the Portuguese in the discovery of the coast 
of Guinea, and it will be interesting to see whether the 
document betrays in any way such an intention. In both 
these respects the language of the document is damaging 
to its integrity. The text says, " In the month of Sep- 
tember, 1364, those of Dieppe and Rouen equipped two 
ships, and had for admiral [or commander] Monsieur Jean 

Je Roanois and sailed a long time on the sea till 

Christmas, to a place called Ovideg [the Senegal], where 

Xlviii PREFACE. 

tliose of Normandy had never as yet been, and anchored 
par de Id to advance their affairs at a very hot place wliich 
is now called Cape Bngiador, which belongs to the kingdom 
of Guinea. The Giloffs (so the people of these parts are 
called, who are black in face and skin, &c.) had never seen 
white men, &c." Now this mention of Cape Boyador is 
remarkably suspicious. To the sailors of the Peninsula 
and the Mediterranean this cape had been the ne plus ultra 
of exploration until the time of Prince Henry, for it was 
difficult for small craft, hugging the coast, to round it. 
For twelve years the Prince's sailors strove in vain to 
accomplish this feat ; but when once, by putting well out 
to sea, they had conquered the difficulty, it for ever dis- 
appeared. Nevertheless the difficulty which liad existed 
has rendered the name of Cape Boyador conspicuous as 
the hone of contention in the endeavours of the French to 
wrest the honour of priority from the Portuguese. But 
this difficulty is not even professed to have been encoun- 
tered by the ships of Jean le ^Rouennais. It is therefore, 
I repeat, remarkably suspicious that the name of this cape 
should occur in a document adduced for the substantiation 
of the French priority, inasmuch as the above-mentioned 
difficulty being eliminated, there remained nothing in the 
locality itself to tempt a navigator to have anything to 
do with it, or his historian to mention it, t^nless with con- 
scious reference to the discussion. But the text tells us that 
" they anchored there for advancing their affairs." For the 
sake ,of brevity, I will refer the reader to page 131 of the 
jirescnt volume, that he may judge whether ,Cape liOj'ador 
was a place to anchor at, unless indeed at the very tip 
of the long spit of sand of wliich the cape consists, where 
there is an exce})tional little bit of anchor^ige, the exist- 

PKEFACE. xlix 

ence of which is so vahiable in the eyes of my friend 
M. d'Avczac ;* but whether anchoring there woukl mnch 
"advance their aftairs " is, I imagine, rather questionable. 
But why shoukl 1 take all this pains when the precious 
document now adduced transports Cape Boyador itself to 
beyond the Senegal, a distance of some 700 miles from 
its true position, which gave Prince Henry's mariners so 
much trouble? We trace then in this passage a great 
geographical error, throwing suspicion on the genuineness 
of the voyage, and a very suspicious reference to a place, 
conspicuous in a discussion of far more recent times, but to 
the last degree unlikely, even if we overlook the geographical 
displacement, to have been visited in the manner described, 
and therefore equally unlikely to have been mentioned 
except with a view to the more recent discussion. It 
may legitimately be retorted that if they reached the 
Senegal, the true Cape Boyador was ipso facto passed. 
True, but the name embodied in itself a temj)tation to 
triumph, and every item of assertion must be canvassed 
in a document which is adduced at this late period in 
contravention of all surrounding history. 

To these points of evidence I will add that, in the docu- 
ment just produced by M. Margry, occurs a repetition of an 
old French assertion that the Fort de la Mina was first built 
by the French in the fourteenth century. In reply, I 
adduce the honest avowal of a learned Dieppese, M. Bruzen 
de la Martiniere, who, in his " Grand Dictionnaire Geo- 
graphique," Paris, 1708, ft)l., under the heading of " Saint 
George de la Mine," uses the following words : — 

" However, all the details related by the Portuguese, 

* M. d'Avczac wi-otc a paper on the subject, for a notice of wLicli slc \)U'^o 



circumstantially given in the ' Decades ' of Barros, tend 
to show that the Portuguese found no traces of a previous 
establishment. The difHculties which were thrown in their 
way when they wished to dig- the ground fur the founda- 
tions of their fortress are facts which do not correspond 
with the story of those who phice there a fortress built 
previously. No mention is made either of a fortress or 
church except what they themselves built. This is not 
easy to reconcile. No doubt is entertained of the correct- 
ness of Barros, who has worked on excellent memoirs. 
I could wish that Father Labat had at least pointed out 
his authority for what he has stated, for Desmarchais, 
whom he quotes, is not more to be trusted than he is on 
such ancient facts, and they both need guarantees before 
they can be believed on a matter of antiquity of several 

In all candour I contend, in corroboration of this most 
just remark, that it is impossible to read the ndhcs and 
simple descriptions by the Portuguese of their tirst dis- 
coveries of these coasts and of the construction in 1482 
of their Fort de la Mina, the stones of which were carried 
out ready cut from Lisbon, and to believe that, had they 
found traces of any predecessors on those virgin coasts, no 
word of such a phenomenon should have escaped them ; 
whereas, on the contrary, all is fresh and new, and cor- 
roborated, as I have shown in the text, by French testimony 
generations before a French claim had ever been brought 
before the world. 

It is further stated that the French, in 1380, built the 
strong forts of Cormentin and Accra. Now it is perfectly 
true that, long before the loyal Sir Nicholas Crispe 
(whose heart lies inurned beneath the bust of his royal 


master in Hammersmith Church) had at liis own cost 
erected the fair Castle of Cormentin, in consequence of 
the concession to him luid others of the exchisive trade 
to Guinea for thirty years by letters patent from King 
Charles in 1629, that place had been the chief emporium 
of the trade on that coast, but had lapsed into disuse. 
Both there and at Accra there had doubtless been forts, 
which were requisite for the security of the commerce first 
carried on there by the Portuguese, and afterwards by 
the French ; but I have written in vain the latter portion 
of the chapter which in this volume bears the title of 
the *' Sea of Darkness," if the question as to whether of 
these two nations took precedence of the other is not defini- 
tively established. 

With respect then to the documents now produced by 
M. Margry, the sum of the investigation yields a result 
which, unless further explanations can be given, is unavoid- 
able, that, as all the surrounding evidence is not only not 
corroborative, but contradictory and condemnatory, an un- 
authenticatcd document, with internal indications of not 
being genuine, and represented by a copy of a copy which 
is itself not forthcoming, nor its possessor traceable, is 
worth absolutely nothing. 

I close this Preface with the pleasant duty of tendering 
my warm thanks to those from whom I have received the 
kindest and most valuable assistance. To his Excellency 
the Count de Lavradio for most generous help in books 
beyond my reach, for a photograph of the statue of Prince 
Henry at Belem, for a copy of the Prince's signature, as 
well as for a variety of valuable information from his own 


well-stored mind, I beg to offer the respectful expression 
of my sincere gratitude. For similar precious assistance 
I owe my thanks to my valued friend the Count de Rilvas, 
Chancellor of the Portuguese Legation in London, who 
has spared no pains to help me with his researches in 
Lisbon. To the spontaneous generosity of another most 
kind friend in Portugal, the Marquis de Souza Holstein, 
Chamberlain to His Most Faithful Majesty, I am indebted 
for the busts of King Joao and Queen Philippa from their 
effigies on their tomb in Batalha, and from which are 
drawn the portraits here given, as well as for a photograph 
of the tomb of Prince Henry. To His Excellency the 
Marquis de Sa da Bandeira, I have to acknowledge my 
great indebtedness for the plan of Sagres and of the 
monument which, to his lasting honour, was at his behest 
erected therein to the memory of the illustrious Prince 
whose residence had immortalised that desolate spot. 
Others, from among whom must not be omitted my friend the 
Chevalier dos Santos, will be sure that I am not unmindful 
of their ever-ready kindness and assistance to me in the 
course of this work. 



T II E r u li r s E . 

The mystery which since creation had hung over the 
Atlantic, and hidden from man's knowledge one-half of the 
surface of the globe, had reserved a field of noble enterprise 
for Prince Henry the Navigator. Until his day the pathways 
of the human race had been the mountain, the river, and the 
plain, the strait, the lake, and inland sea; but he it was 
Avho first conceived the tliought of opening a road through 
the unexplored ocean, a road rejDlete with danger but 
abundant in promise. Although the son of a king, he 
relinquished the pleasures of the court, and took np his 
abode on the inhospitable promontory of Sagres at the 
extreme south-western angle of Europe. It was a small 
peninsula, the rocky surface of which showed no sign of 
vegetation, except a few stunted juniper-trees, to relieve the 
sadness of a waste of shifting sand. Another spot so cokl, 
so l)arren, or so dreary, it were difficult to find on the warm 
and genial soil of sunny Portugal. Landwards the north- 
west winds were almost unceasing, while three-quarters ol" 
the horizon were occupied by the mighty and mysterious 
waters of the as yet unmeasured Atlantic. 



In days long past there had stood upon the sister Lead- 
land of St. Vincent", at about a league's distance, a circular 
Druidical temple, where, as Strabo tells us, the old Iberians 
believed tbat the gods assembled at night, and from the 
ancient name of Sacrum Promontorium, hence given to the 
entire promontory by the Romans, Cape Sagres received its 
modern appellation. As may be imagined, the motive for 
the Prince's choice could not have been an ordinary one. 
If, from the pinnacle of our present knowledge, we mark on 
the world of waters those bright tracks which, during four 
centuries and a half, have led to the discovery of mighty 
continents, we shall find them all lead us back to that same 
inhospitable point of Sagres, and to the motive which gave 
to it a royal inhabitant. To find the sea-path to the 
" Thesauris Arabum et divitis India3," till then known 
only through faint echoes of almost forgotten tradition, 
was the object to which Prince Henry devoted his life. The 
goal which he thus set before himself was at an unknown 
distance, and had to be attained through dangers supposed to 
be unsurmountable and by means so inadequate as to demand 
a proportionate excess of courage, study, and perseverance. 

To be duly appreciated, this comprehensive thought must 
be viewed in relation to the period in which it was conceived. 
The fifteenth century has been rightly named the " last of 
the dark ages," but the light which displaced its obscurity 
had not yet begun to dawn when Prince Henry, with 
prophetic instinct, traced mentally a pathway to India by an 
anticipated Cape of Good Hope. No printing-press as yet 
gave forth to the world the accumulated wisdom and ex- 
perience of the past. The compass, though known and in 
use, had not yet emboldened men to leave the shore and put 
out with confidence into the open sea ; no sea-chart existed 
to guide the mariner along those perilous African coasts : 
no lighthouse reared its iViendly head to warn or welcome 
him on his homeward track. The scieutilic and jjractical 
ai)pliances which were to render ]>ossiblc the discovery of 
half a. world had yet to be developed. But, with such objects 


in view, the Prince collecfed the information supplied by 
ancient geographers, unweariedly devoted hiinselt' to the 
study of ma-thematics, navigation, and cartography, and 
freely invited, with princely liberality of reward, the co- 
operation of the boldest and most skilful navigators of 
every countr}'. 

We look back with astonishment and admiration at the 
stupendous achievement effected a Avhole life-time later by 
the immortal Columbus, an achievement which formed the 
connecting link between the old world and the new ; yet the 
explorations instituted by Prince Henry of Portugal, were 
in truth the anvil upon which that link was forged ; and yet 
how many are there in England, the land of sailors, who 
even know the name of the illustrious man who was the 
very initiator of continuous Atlantic exploration? If the 
final success of a bold and comprehensive idea outstep 
the life of its author, the world, which always prefers 
success to merit, will forget the originator of the very result 
which it applauds. This injustice is specially manifest in 
the case of Prince Henry, for the vastness of his conception 
on the one hand, and tlie imperfection of his appliances 
on the other, made the probabilities of success during his 
own life-time infinitely the more remote. It is in such 
cases that Fame needs to be awakened to her task. Thus 
slept for centuries the fame of Christopher Columbus ; thus 
sleeps the fame of Richard Hakluyt, the pioneer of the 
prosperity of his country. 

If it be the glory of England that by means of her 
maritime explorations the sun never sets on her dominions, 
she may recall with satisfaction that he who opened the way 
to that glory was the son of a royal English lady and of the 
greatest king that ever sat on the throne of Portugal. The 
importance of these personages is such, as to demand a 
separate chapter. 




The Infant Dom Henrique, better known in England as 
Prince Henry the Navigator, was the fifth child and fourth 
son of King Joao I., " of good memory" (also surnamed the 
"Great," and "Father of his country"), and of Queen 
Philippa, daughter of "old John of Gaunt, time-honoured 
Lancaster." He was thus the nephevA of Henry IV. of 
England, and great-grandson of Edward III. He was also 
a descendant of the last kings of the line of Capet^, and 
allied to the family of Valois. 

Although in reality one of the oldest nations in Europe, 
Portugal did not begin to assume a prominent position till 
the accession of Prince Henry's father to the throne. It 
had been the fate of that little country to struggle for six 
centuries to throw oif the yoke of its powerful and im- 
placable enemies, the jNIoors. Reduced in numbers, subdued 
and despised, the Portuguese yet found, in their desperate 
patriotism, the materials for the final exi)ulsion of their 
o[>pre8sors. It was the realization of an impossibility. 
But no sooner were the Moors ejected from the jjcninsula 
than repeated efforts were made by Spain to effect the sub- 
jugation of Portugal, with whom she had been previously 
miited against the (common enemy. To King Joao, the 
father of Prince Henry, it was reserved to viiulicate, under 
frightful disadvantages, the honour of Portugal against 
Spain — to establish the throne upon a solid basis, yet 


more, to be the first to carry into tlie country of the ]\Ioors the 
sword of the tivciiger, and to ])repare the way for those more 
exi)ansivc movements whicli were to issue from the genius 
of his son. 'With his accession to the throne commenced 
the glorious dynasty known as that of iVviz, wliich histed 
two hundred years and embodied the period of Portugal's 
greatest dignity, prosperity, and renown. It is remarkable 
that King Joao was the youngest, and an illegitimate son of 
a sovereign who had three other sons legitimate, or accepted 
as such, who attained maturity. Ilis father, Dom Pedro I. , 
surnamed the Severe, by his marriage with Constance, 
daughter of Joiio Manoel, Duke of Penafiel, had two sons 
and a daughter. Of the sons, Luiz, the elder, died in in- 
fancy ; the younger, Fernando, succeeded his father in 1367. 
By the beautiful but unfortunate Inez de Castro, who, as 
Calderon says, was not a queen till after her death, Dom 
Pedro had three sons and a daughter. One of the sons, 
Alfonso, died in infiincy ; the two others were Jo;to and 
Diniz, of whom we shall hear more presently. Besides 
these, he had by Theresa Lourenzo, a lady of noble birth, a 
natural son named Joao, Prince Henry's father, who, at the 
age of seven, received from his father the Grand Mastership 
of the Order of Aviz. Two years after the death of Dom 
Pedro, which took place on the 18th January, 1307, his 
eldest son and successor, Fernando, became, as great-grand- 
son of Sancho IV., the rightful heir to the crown of Castile, 
on the death of Don Pedro the Cruel without legitimate 
offspring. That crown, however, was in the hands of 
Enrique of Trastamare, the illegitimate brother of the late 
king, a man by no means inclined to give up the kingdom 
he had usurped, unless under compulsion. Dom Fernando 
therefore formed an alliance with Don Pedro of Aragon, 
whose daughter Leonora he engaged to marry. Enrique the 
Bastard forthwith invaded Portugal, and a contest ensued 
which was only brought to a close through the intervention 
of Pope Gregory XL by a treaty of peace signed at Evora, 
at the close of 1371, one of the conditions being that Fer- 


nando should marry Enrique's daughter Leonora. Fernando 
was tlius betrothed to two Leonoras, the one of Aragon, 
the other of Castile, and he now became passionately ena- 
moured of a third Leonora, surnamed Telles de Meneses, the 
wife of Joiio Louren^o da Cunha, Lord of Pombeiro. The 
live months within which, according to the treaty, Leonora of 
Castile was to pass into Portugal had nearly expired, when 
the king annulled the marriage of Leonora Telles, sent her 
husband into Spain, and publicly took her to wife. This insult 
to the King of Castile was followed by another, if possible, 
still more flagrant ; for, in defiance of the terms of the treaty, 
King Fernando entered into an alliance with John of Caunt, 
Duke of Lancaster, who, having in 1370 married the eldest 
daughter of Pedro the Cruel, laid claim to the crown of 
Castile. The war that ensued was one of the most cruel 
and dei^lorable that Portugal ever had to sustain. King 
Enrique having sworn that he would not return to Castile 
till he had reduced Lisbon to ashes. Happily, however, 
Gregory XL again became the mediator between the two 
sovereigns, and a treaty of peace was signed in 1373, which 
remained in force till after the death of Enrique in 1379. 

Leonora Telles, who was as remarkable for her heartless- 
ness and subtlety as for her marvellous beauty, had a sister, 
Maria Telles, beautiful like herself, but, unlike her, endowed 
with a pure, noble, and affectionate nature. To this lady the 
king's half-brother, Joiio, eldest son of Llez de Castro, was 
secretly married. Leonora, who hated them both, and feared 
that they might one day succeed to the throne of Portugal, 
took occasion first to intimate to the prince a wish for his 
marriage with lier daughter, Brites, and, secondly, to insinuate 
charges against the chastity of his wife. The prince, incapable 
of suspecting such infamy on the part of the queen, believed 
the fixlschood, and hastening to Coimbra, where the princess 
was, killed her with his own hand. No sooner was the crime 
accom})lishcd than Leonora derided the assassin, who fled 
for safety to Castile. The other son of Ifie/v de Castro, Dom 
Ditiiz, was drivLU into exile for refusing, at a formal au- 


dience, to kiss the hand of the adulterous queen, presented 
to hhn by the king. Another object of the queen's mur- 
derous designs was the king's illegitimate brother, the Grand 
Master of Aviz, whose life she twice attempted by forging 
the king's signature for his execution, and afterwards by 
poison, but hap})ily he escaped her malice. She now added 
to the number of her crimes infidelity to the king himself. 
Her paramour was Don Fernando Andeiro, a Castilian 
subject, but a special favourite of the king, who had em- 
ployed him to negotiate a secret alliance with the Duke of 
Lancaster for the subjugation of Castile. On his return 
from this mission he was, for some time, concealed in the 
Castle of Estremos, the residence of the king and queen, 
with the latter of whom he thus had frequent opportunities 
for private interviews. 

King Juan of Castile, Enrique's successor, hearing that Fer- 
nando was forming large armaments and expecting assistance 
from England, lost no time in preparing for an encounter 
with his perfidious ally, but after a few indecisive engage- 
ments a treaty of peace was concluded, one condition of which 
was that the second son of the King of Castile should marry 
Brites, the daughter of Fernando and Leonora de Telles. 

In the interval King Juan's wife died, an event which 
suggested to Fernando a yet more advantageous marriage 
for his daughter, who, after having been affianced to many 
princes, became the wife of the king of Castde himself 

The marriage treaty provided that if Fernando died with- 
out legitimate male issue, Brites should wear the crown 
until the birth of her first legitimate child, on whom it 
should then devolve, and that until it should attain its 
majority at the age of fourteen, Leonora should be regent. 
If Brites were childless, and died before her husband, her 
father having also died without heirs, the crown of Portugal 
should then devolve upon King Juan of Castile and his heirs. 
Corresponding stipulations were adopted with regard to the 
crown of Castile. " No treaty," says Nunez de Leiio, " was 
ever more solemnly sworn to, or surrounded with greater 


precautions, and none was ever worse kept." King Fer- 
nando's failing health prevented him from being present at 
the brilliant marriage of his daughter. He had at length 
become aware of the guilt of the infamous queen, but not 
having the courage to remove her paramour from the court, 
lie called to his aid his illegitimate brother Joao, the Grand 
Master of A viz, with whom he resolved upon Andeiro's 
death, but before this could be effected, the king fell 
dangerously ill, and was conveyed to Lisbon, where he died 
on the 22nd of October, 1383. As his daughter Brites was 
childless, the throne of right belonged to Joao, Duke of 
Viseu, the eldest surviving son of Inez de Castro, but 
King Juan lost no time in seizing that unfortunate prince, 
and placing him in safe custody at Toledo. Leonora forth- 
with assumed the position of regent, but, on the demand of 
the King of Castile, was compelled to proclaim her daughter 
Brites as queen. 

The Portuguese chafed at the thought that the Castilian 
yoke should be imposed upon them through the marriage of 
their princess with a king of Castile. Leonora and her 
paramour were universally detested ; and not only the 
nobility, but the whole kingdom, were prepared to hail as 
their deliverer any one who should take the life of the latter. 
The two sons of L'lez de Castro being kept in safe custody 
by the King of Castile, the Grand Master of Aviz, who was 
the only son of King Pedro I. now in Portugal, at once 
saw in this favourable conjunction of circumstances a chance 
of obtaining possession of the crown. 

Leonora was not blind to the same possibility, and by way 
of removing him, made him governor of the Alemtejo for 
tlie defence of the frontier. This was a crisis in his life. 
Andeiro's dealli had been secretly resolved ui)on by the 
leading nol)les of the kingdom, and the hand of the Grand 
Master was by a 1 1 regarded as the one to strike the blow. 
Accordingly, at the close of an interview with the queen in 
her palace, lie h-d vViideiro into an antechamber, as if lo speak 
with him, aiul llicri.' tslcw Jutii. ilc then gave orders tluit ihc. 


gates of the palace slunild be closed ; and in pursnancc of a 
preconcerted plan, his page, (roniez Freire, rode through the 
streets of Lisbon, crying out that his master was shut uj) hi 
the palace, and in imminent danger of his life. The peoi)le, by 
whom he was much beloved, rushed in crowds towards the 
palace gates, threatening to force an entrance unless they were 
convinced with their own eyes of the Grand Master's safety. 

AV^hen at length he made his appearance, and rode through 
the streets, the shouts of joy with which he was received 
told plainly how near he was to the realization of his most 
sanguine hopes. The people were enthusiastic in his favour, 
but many of the nobles who had sided with him while it was 
a question of getting rid of Andeiro, returned to Leonora, 
now that that favom'ite was removed. The queen had called 
to her aid her son-in-law, the King of Castile, and when the 
people of Lisbon reflected on the dangers to which they would 
be exposed if their city were to be at the mercy of Leonora 
and of the Castilians, the instinct of self-preservation drove 
them the more anxiously to look for protection and safety in 
the talents and energy of the G-rand Master. They there- 
fore declared their wish to recognise him as their protector 
and sovereign, and to place at his command the city and its 

The approach of the King of Castile to the frontiers of 
Portugal left no alternative ; and even the nobles were at 
length, though against their inclination, induced to give in 
their adhesion, and accordingly, an act, which constituted 
the Grand Master defender and regent of the kingdom, with 
powers little less than royal, was formally signed on the IGth 
of December, 1383. 

In this new and difficult position, the Grand Master dis- 
l)layed talents equal to his responsibilities. To invest that 
})Osition with befitting dignity, he styled himself in all official 
letters and ordinances, " Joao, by the grace of God, son of 
the most noble King Pedro, Master of the Order of Chivalry 
of Aviz, Kegent and Defender of the Kingdoms of Portugal 
and the Algarves." lie placed the royal arms upon the 


cross of his order, so that only the extremities of the hitter 
were visible, thus skilfully blending the insignia of the Grand 
Master of the order with those of the Regent of the kingdom. 

He was prudent in the selection of his ministers of state, 
among whom the most remarkable were his High Chancellor 
Joao das Regras, and Nuno Alvarez Pereira. To the legal 
acumen of the former he subsequently owed his crown, 
while the latter, who was his well-loved friend from boy- 
hood, stands pre-eminent in Portuguese history for his 
valour, his piety, and devotedness to the king's service. 
The Regent, however, was not blind to the fact that his half- 
brother, Prince Joao, who was still a prisoner in Castile, 
had a claim to the throne which took precedence of any that 
he himself could advance beyond such as might emanate from 
the expressed will of the people. Accordingly, he declared 
that he held his authority on behalf of his half-brother, and 
caused banners to be painted representing the Prince in a 
dungeon, loaded with irons. By this means he secured the 
good-will of the j:)rince's partisans, and at the same time 
intensified the people's hatred of the King of Castile, and 
their attachment to his own family. The queen, who for greater 
security had now withdrawn from Alemquer to Santarem, 
perhaps the strongest fortress in the kingdom, issued letters 
to the commanders of various strongholds, calling on them 
to proclaim her daughter Brites queen, and urged on the 
King of Castile the necessity of forthwith enforcing her 
rights by the sword, thereby only the more exasperating 
the popular fury. 

The people's devotion to the Regent made him strong 
within the frontiers of Portugal, but an enemy was approach- 
ing who would have to be encountered and repulsed by force 
of arms. The Regent addressed himself with energy to the 
needful preparations, and appealed successfully to the dif- 
ferent towns of Portugal for aid. He also sent an embassy 
fo the King of England, reipiesting assistance and prtnnising 
future reciprociition, and suggested to the Duke of Lan- 
caster, who was then at the court in London, that if he 


wished to obtain poysossioii ol" the crown of Castile, it was 
now the fitting opportunit)^, when Portugal was ready to 
assist him. The English were delighted with the proposal. 
Money and men were forthcoming on the moment. Troo})8 
were dispatched forthwith, and King Richard's reply was in 
the highest degree encouraging. 

The Regent's next anxiety was to provide for the security 
of Lisbon, in the event of its having to sustain a siege. 
This charge was assigned to Nuno Alvarez Pereira, who with 
unfiiiling activity collected stores, and in spite of all opposi- 
tion conveyed them into the city. The King and Queen of 
Castile had already entered Portugal, and had received 
from Leonora a formal renunciation of the crown in their 
favour. This measure, which emanated from Leonora's 
hatred of the Grand Master, brought over many of the 
nobility to the side of the King of Castile, who thus found 
himself in possession of numerous strongholds of the king- 
dom. Before long, however, a disagreement arose between 
Leonora and the king, as to the appointment of the chief 
Rabbi of Portugal, and the Queen became so irritated, that 
she attempted the assassination of her son-in-law. Her 
designs being discovered, she was placed in a convent at 
Tordesillas, near Valladolid, where she ended her days. 

If by this removal of Leonora the king secured a positive 
gain, he incurred at the same time a more than correspond- 
ing loss in the withdrawal of the support of his adherents 
in Portugal. Lisbon was now the focus both of his hope 
and his anxiety, and with the view of effectually reducing 
it, he blockaded it from the sea, while his forces ravaged the 
Alemtejo and endeavoured to hem it in by land. It was 
absolutely necessary to check at once the advance of the 
land force, and the Grand Master entrusted this im- 
portant charge to the gallant but youthful Nufio Alvarez 
Pereira, who, in spite of his great inferiority in numbers, 
resolved to give them battle. The undertaking was a critical 
one, but the religious enthusiasm of Pereira gained for him 
the day. After addre^ising his soldiers in fervent language, 


he dismounted and knelt in prayer. His men followed his 
example, and when they arose from their knees and attacked 
the enemy's cavalry, which constituted the main strength of 
their army, the onslaught was so tremendous, that the Cas- 
tilians fled in the utmost disorder. The effects of this victory? 
known by the name of Atoleiros, from the field where it was 
won, were immense. Many who had hesitated to attach 
themselves to the cause of the Regent now readily gave in 
their adhesion, nor did the indefatigable Pereira cease his 
exertions till he had rendered futile all the efforts of the 
Castilians to subjugate the Alemtejo. 

King Juan now devoted all his thoughts to the siege of 
Lisbon. He had received large reinforcements from Castile, 
but delayed the attack till the arrival of his fleet from Seville. 
The Grand Master meanwhile lost no time in refitting the 
vessels which were lying in the harbour of Lisbon. The 
hearts of all were in the cause. Lorenzo, Archbishop of 
Braga, lance in hand, and with his episcopal costume over 
his armour, rode from point to point, encouraging and 
urging all to assist in the work. If a priest excused him- 
self on account of his orders, he answered, that he also 
was a priest, and an archbishop to boot. Lisbon was soon 
invested both by land and by sea, but through the foresight 
of the Grand Master, it was well supplied with provisions, 
ifs walls repaired, and its seventy-three towers well stocked 
with arms and projectiles. The people had full confidence 
in their (;hief All took their part in the work of defence, 
and the utmost order prevailed, though the city was crowded 
Avith refugees. For five long months the king was foiled in 
all his ellbrts to take it. The only hope now left was to 
reduce it by famine, and it seemed most likely that this 
dreadful scuurge would effect the king's object. Pallid faces 
and the groans of those who were perishing of starvation told 
a i)iteous story of the condition of those within the walls, 
yet none thought of surrender. But amid the ranks of the 
besiegers stalked a yet more deadly enemy, the plague, which 
carried off almost two hundred Castilians dailv. hi this 


direful position of afl'airs, each parly obstinately waited 
to see which wouhl be the conqueror, the famine or the 
phigue ; till at length, when symptoms of the malady began 
to show themselves on Queen Brites, the king struck his 
camp ; and on the 5th of September took his departure for 
Torres Vedras, uttering bitter execrations on the city which 
had thus successfully resisted him. On the 14th October he 
crossed the frontier, not in triumph, but as it were with a 
funeral procession ; for in the van of his army were carried 
on biers the bodies of many noble victims of the plague, 
whose remains had been preserved that they might be buried 
in the tombs of their ancestors. The gloom inspired by 
the black trappings of death was unrelieved either by the 
gladness of success or by the consciousness of glory won. 
Sadness and silence were the companions of that homeward 
march. Meanwhile at Lisbon the joy was that of men 
restored from death to life. The people were bent on 
solemn acts of fervent thanksgiving to the Almighty, and 
the bishop and clergy in their sacerdotal vestments, the 
Regent, the nobility, and the j)opulace testified their united 
and humble thankfulness by walking in reverent procession 
with bare feet to the convent of the Holy Trinity to offer 
to God the incense of their praise and gratitude. To none 
were the glad tidings of this happy event more welcome 
than to that truest of friends and patriots, Nuno Alvarez 
Pereira. With his usual fearlessness, he sailed down the 
Tagus from Palmella in a light skiff through the enemy's 
fleet to offer his congratulations. At his instigation a re- 
newal of the act of homage to the Grand Master by all the 
nobles, knights, prelates, and municipal authorities, took 
place on the Gth of October, in the royal palace, where the 
Grand Master resided. Mortified at his failure, the King of 
Castile now attempted the life of the Regent by the hand of 
an assassin, but the plot was discovered. 

Soon after this the Cortes were assembled at Coiml)ia. 
The safety of the kingdom rendered necessary the appoint- 
ment of a responsible chief, and it was evidently the wisli of 


the peo|)le to proclaim the Grand Master King. Some of 
the nobles, however, thought the only legitimate course was 
that the Grrand Master should be Regent for his half-brother 
Dom Joiio, or in case of his death for the Infant Dom Diniz, 
who had been declared legitimate children of King Pedro. 

At this juncture the Grand Master had the good fortune 
to possess in the Chancellor Joao das Regras an advocate 
who served him as well with his tongue as his faithful friend 
Nuno Alvarez Pereira had already done with his sword. The 
Chancellor's main purpose was to show that the throne was 
without an heir, and that by the laws of Lam ego * the 
choice lay with the people. He first asserted that Brites? 
Fernando's daughter, was illegitimate, and further, that she 
and her husband had, by making a violent entry into 
Portugal, broken the treaty by which the terms of the suc- 
cession had been settled. He then dwelt on the doubtful 
legitimacy of the children of Inez de Castro, and further 
declared that they had forfeited all right to the throne by 
joining their country's enemies. In conclusion, he argued 
that the Portuguese possessed the power of choosing their 
own king, and that there was no one who by his birth, 
abilities, and devotion to his country, so well deserved to be 
raised to the throne as the Grand Master of Aviz. The 
discussions which ensued were set at rest by the Chancellor 
producing the written refusal of Pope Innocent VI. to 
recognise the legitimacy of the children of Inez de Castro. 
His success was complete, and on the 6th of April, 1385, 
the Grand Master was })rociaimcd King to the joy of the 
whole nation. 

Amono- the individuals to whom the kino- held himself 
most deeply in(U'l)ted, Nuno Alvarez Pereira stood pre- 
eminent, and on him therefore, though but twenty-seven, 
two years younger I ban himself, he conferred the highest 
military rank in tin- rraim, that of (!*onstnble. Tlie rcmark- 

* It, \v;is at: ]-nnu'p;o, in llic indvim'c ot' Boini, tlint tlio tiist Cortes i.f tlio 
lvin<;(l<iiii were coMVolicd in 111:;, l.y thr Kin;;- AH'oiiso 1., and tlio InndanitMilal 
laws ol'tlic (•nnslilni inn drawn np. 


able combination in him of coiirn,'^o and religions entlmsiasm 
gained for him in after-years the title of the Holy Constable. 
His invaluable qualities were soon to be brought into active 
operation. Intelligence arrived of a fresh invasion by the 
King of Castile. Pereira at once set out with all the troops 
at his command for Santiago, and collecting men as he pro- 
ceeded, made himself master of various places which held 
allegiance to the King of Castile. When the King at length 
joined his forces to those of the Constable, in the province 
of Entre Douro e Minho, he obtained possession of the most 
important places in that province, and the Castilian party 
found itself daily more and more straitened. 

The struggle now began to assume more alarming propor- 
tions, and it became evident that the decisive hour was 
approaching. The Castilians had crossed the frontier by 
Almeida, and were advancing u})on Viseu. The Portuguese 
marched to meet them with three hundred lances, a small 
band of regular infiintry, and a number of peasants. They 
were drawn up at half a league's distance from Trancnso, by 
which place the Castilians would have to pass. The latter 
had been pillaging for several days, and the large quantity 
of booty made them anxious to avoid the enemy, but the 
Portuguese intercepted them. A deadly engagement ensued, 
which lasted from morning till afternoon. The Castilians 
liad the superiority in numbers, and the humiliation of 
defeat was not to be endured. The Portuguese were on 
their own ground, and had the thought of hearth and home 
to stimulate their antagonism to their ancient foes. It was 
not till the four hundred chosen lances of Castile were laid 
low in death that the obstinate engagement was brought to 
a close. 

The actual loss amongst the flower of the Castilian 
nobility was great, but the blow to the morale of those who 
remained was perhaps even more important. On the other 
hand, this well-won victory of Trancoso encouraged tlie 
Portuguese for those heroic efforts which were still to be 
required of them. The King of Castile now determined to 


bring the whole of his forces into Portugal, and to engage 
King Joiio in one decisive battle, a plan which was oi)posed 
by his more prudent advisers for reasons among which the 
king's health was by no means the lightest. King Jofio and 
the Constable lost no time in collecting such forces as could 
he mustered, and happily at this time three large ships 
arrived at Lisbon from England with about five hundred 
men-at-arms and archers. The greater part of them were 
mere adventurers. There were no knights amongst them, 
but they were led by three squires named Northberry, 
Morberry, and Huguelin de Hartsel, whereas two thousand 
French knights had joined the Castilian army. On the 14tli 
of August the Portuguese army took up an advantageous 
position in a plain at a league's distance from Porto de Mos. 
When the first ranks of the Castilians came in sight, they 
did not otfer battle to the Portuguese, but marched in the 
direction of Aljubarrota, where they halted. The older 
and more prudent officers of the Castilian army advised that 
they should remain quietly where they were, as the soldiers 
were fasting and fatigued with the march. This prudent 
counsel was overruled by the impatience of the young 
soldiers, who clamoured for an instant encounter. 

Historians differ as to the respective strengtli of the two 
armies in this important battle, but there can be no doubt 
that the Castilians were very superior in numbers, in 
experience, and in equipments. They had also the advantage 
of possessing ten pieces of cannon called " trons,'' the first 
ever seen in ^^pain. The movement of the Spaniards towards 
Aljubarrota had necessitated a change in the position of the 
PortugUL'se army. The ground occupied by King Joao was 
a level i)lain cuvered Avith heather, and as his force was 
small, it was divided into only two lines. In the vanguard 
was the Constable with only six huucbed lances. In the 
right wing was a goodly band of gentlemen who, as a point 
of honour, had resolved to defend to the death the spot on 
which they might be placed. This division bore the name of 
tlie" l']iiaiiior;ulos." or '• \'Hliiiileers," and was distinguished 

THE prince's parentage. 17 

by a o-recn banner. The left wing consisted of Portuguese 
and foreigners, among whom were some Englisli bowmen 
and men-at-arms. Behind the men-at-arms in both winofs 
were bowmen and inftmtrv, so placed as to give ready help 
to the cavalry. The King, with seven hundred lances and 
the royal standard with the guard appointed for its defence, 
were in the rear -guard, behind wliicli was a strong barricade 
formed with the baggage which was begirt by foot soldiers 
and bowmen. It was evening, and the men had suffered 
much from the necessity of remaining under arms all day 
beneath the full blaze of an August sun, especially as, from 
reverence for the vigil of the Assumi)tion, few of them ate or 
drank. But the example of the King and the Constable 
quite sustained the courage of all. On both sides the 
trumpets sounded for the charge ; the war-cries of " Castile 
and Santiago," and " St. George for Portugal," rang through 
the air, and the tAvo armies met with a heavy shock.* The 
Portuguese van-guard at first suftered terribly from the 
arrows of the Castilian bowmen. The Castilian light horse 
endeavoured, though in vain, to penetrate the baggage 
waggons, but the force of the battle was soon concentrated 
round the banner of the Constable, the Castilians directing 
their principal efforts against the division of " Enamorados," 
who suffered the most. When the King perceived that the 
foremost ranks were penetrated, and that the Constable was 
hard beset, he pressed forward with the rear-guard and the 
royal banner. The contest became fiercer and more deadly 
ever}^ moment, King Joao himself kindling the courage and 
valour of his troops by surprising proofs of his own strength 

* In accordance with the Portuguese historians ^lanocl de Faria and Duaite 
Nunjz de Leao, the armies are here made to meet in the open phiin. Froissart, 
on the contrarj', says that, in pursuance of the advice of the English, the King 
of Portugal made a stronghold of the church of Aljubarrota which was on a 
small eminence beside the road, and surrounded by large trees, hedges, and bushes. 
Trees were cut down and so laid that the cavalry could not pass them, leaving 
one entry not too wide, on the wings of which they posted all the archers and 
cross-bows. The men-at-arms were on foot, drawn up beside the church, wluve 
the king was. 



and intr('])idity. In the lieiglit of the coniLat the royal 
standard of Castile was thrown down, and at the disappear- 
ance of the banner which had served them as a rallying 
point, some of the Castilians began to give way. When the 
King of Castile saw his standard overthrown, and his soldiers 
seizing any horses they could find to flee upon, he resolved 
to look to his own safety before the battle was entirely lost. 
His keeper of the household, Pedro Gonsalvez de Mendoza, 
who had foreseen the result of a contest, entered upon 
against his own advice and that of the most experienced 
knights of the council, had steadily remained by his master's 
side to help him in the moment of necessity. That moment 
had now arrived. Setting the king upon a strong horse in 
exchange for the mule which, after leaving his litter, he had 
ridden on account of his illness, he led him from the field, 
and then, in spite of the king's remonstrances, returned to 
the fight. "Thew(mien of Cuadalaxara," said he, "shall 
not reproach me with having led their husbands and sons to 
death, while I return home safe and sound." Accordingly 
he fought his way into the thick of the battle, where he fell 
like a true-hearted soldier as he was, whilst his master rode 
for his life, tearing his beard and cursing the day that he had 
entered Portugal. Meanwhile the Portuouese bowmen and 
the infimtry who protected the baggage, having been taken 
in flank by the Castilian light horse, the King ordered the 
Constable to hasten to their assistance. The Portuguese 
were already successfully defending themselves, and on the 
appearance of the Constable the Castilian cavalry ceased from 
the attack. The wings were now able to bring all their 
strength upon Ihe Castilinn van-guard, and complete its 
overthrow. The Castilians, linding that their king had fled, 
lost :dl ho])o, and favoured by the darkness, took to flight, 
'io this d;iy \\\o\v is shown in Aljubari'ota a. baker's shop, 
which tradition recoi-ds to have been at that rime a bake- 
house, in which jirites d'Alnunda, the baker's wife, slew 
willi lici' dvcn-pccl no less llimi seven Castilian soldiers. 
This laiiioiis bat lie cf AliubaiTota w;is Ibniiht on the Mtli 

THE prtxoe's parkntage. 10 

of August, 1385. It was ;i day the })roiid memory of wliicli 
is deathless in the annals of Portugal ; for, apart from its 
incalculable importance to the permanent well-being* of that 
country, the battle then fought was as remarkable for the 
display of chivalrous courage as any that has been recorded 
in the history of modern Europe. In accordance with the 
custom of the period. King Joiio remained three days and 
three nights upon the field, until the fetid exhalations from 
the bodies of the slain obliged him to withdraw. The booty 
taken from the Castilians was immense. The king's tent, 
with all its furniture, the silver triptych belonging to the 
portable altar of the Castilian army, which is still to be seen 
in tlie sacristy at Guimaraens,* were taken as well as the 
king's sceptre, which was long joreserved in the now extinct 
('onvento do Carmo at Lisbon, built by the Constable Nufio 
Alvarez de Pereira. It was near the site of this famous 
battle that the king afterwards erected the beautiful convent 
of Batalha, as a mausoleum for himself and his posterity, 
and here are still preserved the helmet and sword worn by 
him on that eventful day. 

Meanwhile the King of Castile had fled, accompanied only 
by a fe^v servants. At midnight he arrived sick and 
exhausted at Santarem, about twelve leagues from Alju- 
barrota, where, still alarmed for his safety, he took a boat 
the same night, and descending the river, reached the port 
of Lisbon on the loth of August. Thence he sailed in 
safety to Seville, where he took the precaution of landing 
during the night of the 22nd of August. In his despondency 
at the great calamity which had befallen liim, he is said to 
have worn mourning for seven years. 

Taking advantage of the depressed condition of Castile, 
the Constable now resolved to carry his arms into the 
enemy's country, and thus afford the King an easier oppor- 
tunity of reducing to subjection the north of Portugal, many 

* In the same sacristy is shown the polote worn on this occasion by the Kini;- 
of Portujjal, and a large Bible then taken was given to tlie Abbey nf Ab'i>l):i(;;i, 
ami !>; now in the niblinthora Xacionnl a1 Lisbon. 


towns in wliich were still in the hands of the Castilians. In 
the month of September, 1385, he levied troo})s at Evora to 
the number of 1,000 lances and 2,000 infantv}',* intending 
to cross the frontier and attack Valverde. The Castilians, 
in order to be in advance of the Portuguese, immediately 
assembled a large force from the towns of Andalusia, part 
of which they sent across the Guadiana, while part remained 
behind in reserve. 

By dint of hard fighting the Constable forced the passage 
of the river, but only to find a second force of 10,000 await- 
ing him on the other side. His position was now in the 
highest degree perilous, but his exhaustless energy and 
marvellous presence of mind again worked wonders. But 
not to his own efforts only did he trust the result of so im- 
portant an engagement. While the battle was at its height, 
and all apparently depended on his presence, he for a while 
disappeared from the field. Two messengers dispatched 
successively in search of hira found him on his knees in 
prayer. He paid no attention to their representations, but 
at length, when his prayers were concluded, arose, his coun- 
tenance bright with confidence, and returned to the fight. 
Seeing the banners of the enemy on the summit of a neigh- 
bouring eminence, surmounted by the standard of the Grand 
Master of Santiago, he ordered his own standard-bearer to 
plant his colours bj- the side of the other, he himself cleaving 
his way through the masses which well-nigh smothered his 
little band, till he encountered a worthy adversary in the 
Grand Master himself. The combat was short ; the Grand 
Master fell mortally wounded, and his fall and the overthrow 
of his standard gave the siirnal for the fli"-ht of the Castilians. 
The Constable ])ursued thorn till nightfall, and on tiie 

* At (jarcic, ;i liuiiipeter prcsenti'd liiniselt' with a cliallongf fnnii tlic Castilian 
noblus, aocoiiipanii-d hy a certain niiiiibor of scour<:;e.s on tlio part of cacli of tlieni. 
The Constahlc iccciNcd tlicni witli liis lial)itiuil coniposuro, anil sent a jiTaci'lnl 
messaj^o of thanks to llic Caslilian iminili'i's for tlio clialh-nj;o wliii'h they ha<l 
Kent him, and more ispn i;illy fur tlic wliips, with whieli he promised himself tlie 
ideasiire of cliaslisinji; thnii ;ill. To the herald he gave a hundred golden dubrus 
(:ihoul x:m)). 


morrow retraced his steps towards I'ortugal. The disaster 
which Castile had experienced at Alju])arrota was thus 
speedily followed by a scarcely less crushing hlow at 
Valverde. Most of the Portuguese towns occupied by tlie 
Castilians soon surrendered to the King, and, in order to 
reduce the rest to submission, he was making preparations 
for levying a considerable army when news arrived that the 
Duke of Lancaster was on the point of proceeding to Spain 
to prefer his claim to the crown of Castile, in right of his 
marriage with the Princess Constance. 

From early times an alliance, cemented by numerous 
political and commercial treaties, had existed between Eng- 
land and Portugal, and the elevation of the Grand Master of 
Aviz to the throne and his victory over the King of Castile 
had supplied his ambassadors with reasons for suggesting to 
the Duke of Lancaster that the opportunity was favourable 
for carrying out his own designs upon Castile. 

Accordingly, on the 20th of July, 1386, the Duke arrived 
at Corunna with 2,000 lances, 3,000 archers, and a fleet of 
180 galleys, accompanied by the Duchess Constance, their 
daughter Catherine, and Philippa, the duke's daughter by a 
former marriage. Without delay an interview was arranged 
between him and the king, at which the latter undertook to 
assist him in the conquest of Castile, and bound himself to 
supply and maintain 2,000 lances, 1,000 cross-bowmen, and 
2,000 foot soldiers, for eight months, while the Duke, on his 
part, pledged himself, in the event of success, to cede to the 
King of Portugal several considerable places on the frontier, 
and to repay the expenses of the campaign. 

By way of sealing this new compact, it was agreed that 
the King should receive one of the duke's daughters in 
marriage. It was the wish of the Portuguese that the King 
should choose Catherine, with a view to his thus becoming 
the heir presumptive to the crown of Castile, but the King 
himself, both from policy and from real preference, chose 
the Princess Philippa. Having first obtained from the Po])e 
the necessary dispensation from the vow of chastity which 

J;: PRINCE iii:ni;v tiik xavi(;at(»i;. 

he had t;ikt'ii as Grand Master of the Order ul' Aviz, he was 
married to Philippa with <;reat pomp, and to tlie extreme 
delight of the people, on the 2nd of February, 1387. The 
young king had endeared himself to his subjects by his 
well-proved heroism and wisdom, while Philip[)a, who was 
one year his junior, was as remarkable for the modest 
dignity of her bearing as for her beauty, both qualities 
well befitting the grand-daughter of Philippa of Hainault. 

On the 25th of March, the King, having levied a larger 
contingent than be had engaged to furnish, brought theni 
as a reinforcement to the Duke of Lancaster, whose force 
sickness and frequent skirmishes bad already reduced to 600 
lances and a small number of archers. He could not 
conceal fi\)m himself, however, that the campaign offered 
little prosj)ect either of glory or of ultimate success. The 
Oastilians showed no disposition to recognise his father-in- 
law as their sovereign, and his remaining force was dwin- 
dling away from sickness and want of provisions, while the 
resources of the King of Castile were comparatively great. 
He therefore represented to the Duke of Lancaster that two 
alternatives only remained, to levy more soldiers in England, 
or to come to a compromise with the King of Castile. On 
many grounds the duke preferred the latter course, to which, 
moreover, other circumstances were leading him. When, on 
iirst landing, he had summoned the King of Castile to 
acknowledge his right to the crown, the king had proi)osed 
a marriage between Catherine, the duke's daughter, and her 
cousin the Prince Royal of Castile. This proposal, though 
far from disi)leasing to him, the duke had set aside at the 
time on account of his alliance with the King of Portugal, 
but it still remained o})en. 

Meanwhile it had become necessary to effect a retreat. 
On the loth of ]\Iay the Allies re-entered Portugal by way 
of Almeida, but on his way to Coimbra, to visit his daughter, 
the Duke was nu>t at Trancoso by a deputation from ihe 
King (»r C;istiK', oilei-ing (crms of peace, ajid again lU'c- 
(losing Ihc marriage between (he Princess Calherine and the 

TiiK I'IUNck's I'Ai;ia"ta(;f. 23 

Prhico Koyal. The King engaged to grant to the prhicess 
certain towns in Castile as a dowry, and to i)ay the duke 
()()0,000 florins as indemnity for tlie expenses of the war, as 
well as an annuity for life of 40,000 florins, if the Duke and 
Duchess of Lancaster would renounce all claim to the crown 
of Castile. The duke was invited to discuss these proposals 
Avith the plenipotentiaries of the King of Castile at Bayonne, 
which at that time belonged to England, and there, towards 
the end of September, the compact was formally agreed 
u[)on, the Princess Catherine being fourteen years of age, 
and her affianced husband ten. On this occasion, the king 
gave the Infant the title of Prince of Asturias, a title which 
has ever since been borne by the heir presumptive to the 
crown of Spain. 

King Joiio, whose chief wish was to secure the independ- 
ence and promote the internal well-being of Portugal, far 
from desiring to set up any claims of his own to the throne 
of Castile, saw in the proposed marriage that for which he 
was so anxious, a prospect of j^eace, and his hopes in this 
respect were soon realized. So rapid was his success in 
1389, in recovering some of the Portuguese towns which 
had given in their adhesion to Castile, that the King, 
alarmed at his progress, proposed a truce of six years, which 
was agreed to. On the 9th of October, 1390, the King of 
Castile died from the eftects of a fall from his horse at a 
tournament. During the following reign, Enrirpie, King 
Juan's successor, persuaded Queen Brites to cede her right 
to the crown of Portugal to the Infant Diniz, who had taken 
refuge in Castile, and who now, with two thousand lances and 
a number of Portuguese malcontents, entered the province of 
Beira, calling himself King, and promising large rewards to 
those who should render him obedience. No one declaring 
for him, he soon found it prudent to withdraw again to 
Castile. The King of Portugal continued to obtain im- 
portant successes, and negotiations for peace were opened, 
but failed, solely through the exorbitant demands of the 
Castilians. At lenoth, mainlv throuuli the influence of his 


uit'c, (jiieeii Philippa's sister Catherine, King Enrique was 
induced to agree to a cessation of hostilities for ten years. 
At his death in December, 1407, Queen Catherine became 
Regent during the minority of her son, and a definite treaty 
of peace was concluded on the 30th October, 1411. Mean- 
time the friendship between Portugal and England had 
become most closely cemented. The riband of the newly- 
established Order of the Garter had been conferred upon 
King Joao, who was the first foreign sovereign to receive it,* 
and the sovereigns of Portugal and England agreed, that in 
any treaty between either of them and Castile, the other 
should be included. Whilst Portugal was thus gaining 
importance. King JoiTo and Queen Philippa became the 
parents of a noble family of children, whose names and 
order of birth are as follows : — 

1st. Branca, who was born in Lisbon on the 13th July, 
1388, but lived little more than eight months. 

2nd. Alfonso, who was born in Santarem, on the 30th of 
July, 1390, and who, according to Fernam Lopez, lived tw^o 
years, though Cunha, in his history of Braga, where he "svas 
buried, gives the 22nd of December, 1400, as the date of his 

3rd. Duarte, who was born in Viseu, on the 31st of October, 
1391, and received his name of Duarto (or Edward) in 
memory of his great-grandfather. King Edward HI. of 
England, and who succeeded his father on the throne of 

4th. Pedro, who was born in Lisbon, on the 9th of 
December, 1392, and of whom much will be said in the 
following pages. 

otli. Henrique, the " Prince Henry," of the present, 
biography, born in Ojxn-to on Ash Wednesday, the 4th of 
March, 1394. 

()lli. Isabel, liorn on the 21st of February, 1397, after- 
wards married lo Philip le Bon, Duke of Burgundy, who 

■ ilr i-iiru'CiU'il Sir Williiiiu Aiuiukl, wli" ilicil Au;;u.~l. 1 lltO. 


t'stabli.shed the order of the Toison d'Or, in honour of the 

7th. Joao, born in Santarem, the 13th of January, 
1400, afterwards Grand Master of the Order of Santiago. 

8th. Fernando, born in Santarem on the 29th of Septem- 
ber, 1402, whose patient endm'ance of suffering in Morocco 
Avon for him the designation of " Tlie Constant Prince.'' 

King Joao had also two illegitimate children, Aftonso 
Count of Barcellos, who married the daughter of the Con- 
stable Nuno Alvares Pereira, from which nnion sprung the 
royal house of Braganza, and Brites, who married on the 
2Gth of November, 1405, Thomas Fitzallan, Earl of Arundel. 

* It is almost certain that Jan van Eyck, the perfecter, if not the inventor, of 
painting: in oil) '^vas attached to the embassy sent to Portugal to solicit the hand 
of Isabel for the Duke of Burgundy. In 1836, when King Ferdinand, then Prince 
of Saxe Coburg, was on his way to Portugal to marry Dona Maria da Gloria, 
he made a short stay at Brussels, and, at a court fete given on the occasion, the 
Queen of the Belgians appeared in a costume faithfully copied from a portrait in 
which his ExccUeney the Count de Lavradio, who negotiated the man-iage, 
thought that he recognised the portrait of the Princess Isabel by Yan Eyck. 


A.D. 1415. 

Now that Portugal was at peace with Castile, it began to 
attain a high degree of prosperity, and King Joao, though 
dreaded by his neighbours, was beloved by his people. The 
glory identified with his name served as a stimulus to the 
ambition cf his sons, the three eldest of whom, Duarte, 
Pedro, and Henry, were now of age, and had been admi- 
rably trained ly their father in every chivalrous accomplish- 
ment. The princes were anxious to receive the honour of 
knighthood ; but, as this was a distinction only to be gained 
at the point of the sword, the King proposed to hold a 
succession of tournaments during an entire year, to which 
knights of all nations, and of the highest renown in feats 
of arms, should be invited. His minister of finance, JoiTo 
Afibnso de Alemquer, represented to him the useless ex- 
penditure inseparable from such a plan, and suggested that an 
invasion of the Moorish city of Ceuta would offer a fiir more 
honourable and fitting opportunity for conferring the rank 
of knighthood upon the princes, while it would be carrying 
the sword of the avenger into the country of their former 
conquerors, and opening a door to the advance of Christianity. 
The King yielded to the rei)resentations of his minister and 
the wishes of liis sons, to whom the idea of winning tlicir 
s])urs at a tournament was most distasteful. 

Desiring to obtain as much information as possible respect- 
ing the strength and position of Ccuta, ho liad recourse 

CEKTA. 27 

to the following stratagein. He sent Aflbnso Furtiido cle 
Mendoza and Alvaro Gousalves de Canielo, prior of tlic 
hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, as envoys to Sicily, to 
ask the hand of the Queen in marriage for Dom Pedro, and 
as the vessels must necessarily pass near Ceuta, where ships 
of ditiereut nations were in the habit of sto]i)ping, he desired 
the envoys to make the most of the opportunity to examine 
the place. Accordingly, under pretence of taking in pre- 
visions, which, in their character of ambassadors, they were 
permitted by the Governor to do, they remained four days 
in the city, carefully noting everything about which the 
King needed information. 

They then proceeded to Sicily, and delivered their message 
to the Queen, but with no successful result. On their return, 
■when they had reported the issue of their mission to Sicily, 
the Kins: desired Mendoza to state what he had ascertained 
respecting Ceuta. His only answer was an assurance that 
the King would be successful in the proposed enterprise, 
and, when pressed for his reasons, instead of reporting his 
observations, he told a story of a prophecy uttered to him 
when a boy by an old Moor, and already jiartly verified, that 
a king named Joiio, a natural son of the late king, should 
be the first of his country to gain dominion in Africa. 

The King then applied for information to the prior of St. 
John, but it seemed that he was fated to be answered only 
in enigmas, for this envoy declared his inability to aftbrd 
any details unless he were supplied with two loads of sand 
and two bushels of beans. When after some demur these 
singular materials were produced, the prior formed the sand 
into a representation of the seven hills from which Ceuta or 
Septa takes its name, described the double wall on the 
landward side, with its towers and curtains, and rej^resented 
with the beans the apparent number and position of the 
houses, and what was all important, indicated the most 
convenient spot for the safe and expeditious landing of the 

The King warmlv commended his zeal and sa^acilv. ;ind 


lifter consultation with the Queen and the Constable, at once 
commenced his preparations for the expedition. The Kings 
of Aragon and Glranada immediately took the alarm. To 
the former, who sent messengers to him requesting a frank 
avowal of his intentions, King Joiio replied that he had no 
idea of attacking Aragon, hut that on the contrary, in case 
of necessity, he was ready to protect it. The Moorish King 
of Granada at first sought to allay his fears by asking the 
intervention of the King of Aragon, but receiving a con- 
temptuous answer, he sent envoys direct to King Joao 
himself, begging an assurance of peace under the King's 
seal, so that commercial intercourse between the two 
countries might not be interrupted. The King replied that 
he would take time for consideration. The envoys now had 
recourse to Queen Philippa, and besought her, in the name 
of Riccaforna, Queen of Granada, so to use her influence as 
to induce the King to remain at peace, promising, in requital, 
to send her choice and costly gifts for the nuptials of her 
daughter. To this Queen Philippa, who, as the old chronicler 
says, being English by birth, held both Jews and Moors in 
detestation, gave the following dignified reply : — " I know 
nothing of the methods which your queens may resort to in 
dealings with their husbands, but with us it would be 
regarded as an indecent thing for a wife to interfere in her 
husband's aifairs, especially in such as have to be debated in 
council. As regards the present which your queen has so 
liberally offered me, I thank her and accept her good wishes, 
but beg her to dispose of her gifts elsewhere as she may 
please, for, when the time comes for my daughter to be 
married, she will have no lack of costly ornaments." 

The King at length informed the envoys that he had no 
intention of invading Granada, but as he would not give 
the assurance in writing, they took it for granted that 
their worst fears were to be realized, and hastened back to 
report their apprehensions, whereupon the King of Granada 
garrisoned and }»rovision('d all the towns on the sea-coast. 
Rumours of llicse pri'parationy reached King Joao, who very 

CEUTA. 29 

reasonably supposing that tliey might also reach Morocco, 
gave out that he was about to dechire war against tlic Count 
of Holland, to whom he sent an envoy with instructions 
secretly to inform the Count of the truth, but openly to 
threaten war. Important as it was to allay the suspicions 
of the neighbouring powers, it now became necessary to 
announce the truth to his own subjects. He first summoned 
the peers to Torres Vedras, and declared to them the various 
reasons for which he had determined to attaclc Ceuta. The 
announcement being received with applause, the King issued 
a proclamation representing that the fleet was prepared for 
his sons, and that those who might desire to volunteer to go 
out with them should declare in writing how many armed 
men they would supply, and that stores would be taken on 
board at Lisbon and Oporto. When the fleet was completed, 
and while the soldiers were busily engaged in lading the 
vessels, a pestilence broke out in both cities. The King by 
no means relaxed his efforts on this account, but personally 
superintended at Lisbon the preparations for the expedition. 
At Oporto Prince Henry, armed with full authority from his 
father, equipped seven triremes, six biremes, twenty-six 
ships of burden, and a great number of pinnaces, with which 
he set sail for Lisbon, where he joined Dom Pedro, who was 
awaiting him in the roads with eight galleys. When on the 
point of departing they met with an unexpected obstacle yet 
greater than any they had hitherto encountered. The Queen 
had been attacked with the pestilence, and a letter from 
Dom Duarte summoned his brothers to Sacavem, where she 
lay. It was evident, on their arrival, that her end was fast 
approaching, but the sight of her sons revived her. 

The old Italian chronicler, Mattco de Pisano, relates mi- 
nutely the scenes which followed. The Queen had had three 
swords made, richly set with precious stones, for the purpose 
of presenting them to her three sons when they v/ere knighted. 
On the day after their arrival the Queen solemnly addresscMl 
them in the King's presence, giving each a portion of tlic 
true cross with her blessing. In presenting the sword to 


Dom Dnnrto, she impressed upon bini his duties as a king, 
especially that of ruling justly. To Dom Pedro she gave, as 
his knightly duty, the eharge of protecting the honour of 
helpless maidens and widows, and to Prince Henry she 
commended the care of the soldiery. On the thirteenth day 
of her illness she suddenly inquired, " What wind blows so 
strongly against the side of the chamber?" and when told 
by her sons that it was the north wind, she said, " It is the 
wind most favourable for your departure, which will doubt- 
less take place on the feast of St. James." This proved a 
true prophecy, though it seemed at the time scarcely possible, 
for the feast of St. James would fall only six days after. 
The Queen died on the 10th of July, 1415, to the sincere 
grief of the people ; for while sharing for twenty-eight 
years the throne of the most highly gifted of the kings of 
Portugal, she had exhibited qualities which Avould have 
])laced her amongst the most noble of her sex in any country 
or in any age. To do good was with her a necessity of 
existence, and her choicest pleasure was in stilling conten- 
tions and reconciling disputants. The virtue of abstinence 
she carried to an excess, for, from a deeply-seated sense of 
devotion, she fasted so severely as to seriously undermine 
her health. In the details of domestic economy she took as 
much interest as the humblest among her subjects, and 
encouraged similar habits in the ladies who were about her 
person. Such an example was calculated to produce, as in 
fact we find that it did produce, a notable effect on the 
bearing, manners, and tone of the nobles of the court. 
But of all the occupations of the Queen, that in which she 
took the greatest delight was the training and instruction of 
her children, in which she conmnmicated to them umch of 
the lofty tone oi' her own exalted character. She also 
possessed tlie faculty of developing their understandings in 
a manner whicli was remarkable lor the period, and their 
history shows how eminent ly qualified she was to he the 
mother of princes and heroes. 

The natniT of the (^hiccu's disease, togellier witli tlic lieat of 



cF.i'TA. :; 1 

the weather, rendered it necessary to luvsten ilie interment of 
her remains, and on the following day the funeral was cele- 
hrated with great pomp in the monastery of Odivellas, hnt. 
her body was nltimately removed, on the 14th Aiignst, 14;}4, 
to the chapel erected by King Joiio at Batalha, for the joint 
sepulture of himself and his beloved queen. 

After the funeral Prince Henry joined the King at Restello, 
whither the nobles had induced him to retire for safet-y from 
the jiestilence. There was much discussion as to tlic time 
for the departure of the expedition to Ceuta, but the King- 
overruled the opinion of some v/ho thought that there ought 
iirst to be a period of public mourning, by saying that an im- 
mediate departure would best carry out the Queen's expressed 
wishes. Accordingly, the expedition started with a favouring 
wind on the 25th of July, that feast of St. James which 
had been indicated by the dying Queen. Many distinguished 
adventurers from England, France, and Germany took jiart 
in the enterprise. A baron of the last-named country took 
with him forty knights, and a wealthy Englishman, whose 
name is difficult to recognise under the transmitted form of 
Menendus, Mondo, or ]\Iongo, brought four vessels laden 
with provisions. The armament was an unusually large one 
for the period. Of the number of vessels and of fighting men , 
Azurara, the contemporary chronicler, says nothing; but Zu- 
rita, in his "Annals of Aragon," informs us that the fleet con- 
sisted of 33 galleys, 27 triremes, 32 biremes, and 120 smaller 
vessels, with 50,000 men, of whom 20,000 would seem to 
have been scldiers, and the remainder oarsmen and mariners. 

The armada anchored in the Bay of Lagos at nightfall of 
Saturday the 27th. On Sunday morning the King disem- 
barked, with all the chiefs of the expedition, and heard mass 
in the cathedral, after which Father Joao de Xira, tlie 
Preacher- Royal, read the Bull of the Crusade granted by the 
Pope in favour of those who should be present at the con- 
quest of Ceuta. On the 30th the King departed for Faro, 
where ho was detained by a calm until the 7th of August, 
mid where Piince Henry had an opportunity of dis})laying 


great presence of mind ; for the lantern of liis vessel havini]^ 
canglit fire during the night, and there being imminent 
danger that the flames would spread to the ship, he, though 
suddenly aroused from sleep, with much risk to himself, 
seized the burning lantern and threw it into the sea. On 
the afternoon of the 10th the armada anchored at Algeziras, 
a place belonging to the King of Granada. Ceuta was to 
have been attacked on the 12th, and the fleet was already in 
full sail when a strong wind arose, which, combined with 
tlie action of the current in the strait, carried the large 
vessels nearly to ]Malaga, so that only the galleys and smaller 
craft reached Ceuta, where many of them anchored. 

This city, in old times called Septa, had been partly con- 
structed and fortified by the Emperor Justinian. It was the 
princijjal port of Morocco, being the centre of commerce 
between Damascus, Alexandria, and other eastern places, 
and the nations of Western Europe. Its position was one 
of great importance, for in all the invasions of Spain and 
Portugal, it had been the point of muster for the Moorish 
armies and the rendezvous of the corsairs. It occupied 
the western portion of a peninsula nearly three miles in 
length, jutting out almost due east from the mainland. It 
was divided into two unequal parts by a wall, the smaller 
and westernmost part terminating in the citadel, which 
covered the neck of land by which the peninsula was joined 
to the continent. The portion of the peninsula eastward of 
this wall was called Almina, and contained the outer and 
larger division of the city, as well as the seven hills from 
Avhich Ceuta derived its name, by far the highest of which 
was at the easternmost extremity, and was surmounted by a 
fortress called El Ilacho. On the north side of the jienin- 
sula, from the citadel to the foot of this last-mentioned hill, 
the city was protected by another lofty wall. Eastward of 
this hill was a. small bay named Barbazote,* in which 

* I do not find the harliour of Rarbazote laid down (Hi any ma]), not horn tin 
di'scriptions I roiijcctiirc it to hv Di'snarigado T?av. 

CEUTA. 33 

tolerably large vessels could lie at anchor sheltered from the 
west winds and but little exposed to missiles from the 
northern wall. Here the King determined to await the 
arrival of the vessels which had been driven out, intending to 
effect a landing immediately on their return. After much 
delay, Prince Henry succeeded in bringing them up, but a 
violent tempest frustrated the King's plan by compelling 
him to seek another anchorage, for while the large vessels 
turned with difhculty the i)oint of Almina, the current 
caught the smaller craft which moved more slowly and 
carried them towards Malaga. This apparent disaster, which 
in the minds of the superstitious awakened doubts as to the 
success of the enterprise, actually contributed in no small 
degree to that success. 

The first appearance of the strangers had caused great 
anxietj' to the Moors, who lost no time in preparing for 
defence, and obtained help from the sovereign of Fez and 
from other neisrhbourino- chiefs to the extent, it has been 
said, of one hundred thousand men. When, however, the 
Moors saw the fleet a second time dispersed, they imagined 
that it would be impossible again to bring it together, and the 
Governor of Ceuta, Zala ben Zala, accordingly dismissed the 
auxiliaries, and contented himself with the ordinary garrison. 

The Portuguese themselves were discouraged, and, but for 
the determination of the King, the Princes, and the Constable, 
would have abandoned the expedition. Prince Henry having 
again collected the fleet, preparations were resumed for the 
attack, which was at length ordered in the following manner. 
Prince Henry was to anchor off Almina with all the vessels 
he had brought from Oporto, and to be ready at daybreak 
on a signal from the Kiug to land his men with all expedition. 
Tlie King himself with the main body of the fleet was to 
anchor opposite the castle. The Moors would naturally 
flock to the point where the greater part of the fleet lay, and 
Prince Henry would thus be able to land with comparatively 
little hindrance, while, if the Moors should turn to oppose 
him, he would be supported by the King's division. 



These movements of the fleet greatly alarmed the Moors. 
Zahi ben Zala was so convinced that the issue of the struggle 
would be disastrous, that, but for the counsel of a few of 
his confidential advisers, he would have fled. In order to 
produce an impression that Ceuta was a very populous city, 
he now gave instructions that the wall on the side where the 
fleet lay should be crowded with men, and that lighted 
candles should be placed in all the windows of the houses. 
The elicct was brilliant, but, as might have been anticipated, 
in no way alarmed the Portuguese. At daybreak the King, 
in spite of a severe injury which he* sustained in descending 
from his galley into a boat, visited the fleet, and gave his 
instructions to each commander, encouraging all with the 
certain hope of victory. In accordance with a request made 
by Prince Henry at Lisbon, he forbade any one to set foot 
on shore until the Prince himself should have landed. 
Meanwhile Zala ben Zala was overcome with terror, from 
which the younger Moors sought in vain to arouse him. 
They therefore took matters into their own hands, and, while 
Prince Henry and his men awaited the appointed signal, 
issued from the city shouting their war-cry and defying the 
enemy. Seeing this, Joiio Fogaza, comptroller of the house- 
hold of the Count de Barcellos, could brook no further delay, 
and disregarding the King's injunction, put ofi" with several 
armed men for the shore. The first who touched the soil 
was lluy Gonsalvez, a man renowned for his daring, who 
attacked the Moors so desperately that they recoiled enough 
to allow of others landing. This hastened the movements 
of the Portuguese, and, after some opposition from the 
Moors, Prince Henry and Dom Duarte effected a landing with, 
about three hundred men. Two only accompanied Prince 
Henry in his boat, namely, Estevao Soarez de Mello, and Mem 
Rodriguez de Ilefoyos. The Moors poured out in great 
numbers from the town, and a long and fierce contest 
ensued, in which the latter were driven back to the Almina 
Gate which opened on the landing-place, and through which 
they entered and the Portuguese with them. The first 

CEUTA. 35 

who passed through was Vasco Eannes de Cortercal, 
closely followed by Dom Duarte, and thus they con- 
tinued charging the Moors till they reached the gates of 
the city. Here Prince Henry offered to resign the command 
to Dom Duarte, but the latter would not accept it. Prince 
Henry therefore, having put his men in military order, pro- 
posed to await the arrival of their father, as he had com- 
manded, but Dom Duarte overruled this, suggesting the 
advautao-e of their continuing to avail themselves of the 
evident panic of the Moors. After retreating before the first 
onset, however, the Moors made a stand, being protected by 
the walls and encouraged by their champion, a gigantic 
negro who fought naked and used no weapons but stones, 
which he hurled with terrible force, and with one of which, 
while the combat was at its height, he struck Vasco jMartinez 
de Albergaria, a nobleman of Prince Henry^s household, full 
on the helmet. The Portuguese staggered under the violence 
of the blow and stood for a moment half stunned, but re- 
covering himself, he broke his way through the ranks of the 
enemy and thrust his spear into the side of the giant. When 
the Moors saw their champion fall, they fled in confusion 
into the city, the Portuguese entering with them. Prince 
Henry's most anxious care now was to secure possession of 
the city gates, not only for the sake of facilitating the entry 
of his countrymen, but also in order to prevent those who 
had already entered being hopelessly shut in by the enemy. 
The two princes, with the Count de Barcellos, their illegiti- 
mate brother, and about five hundred men occupied a mound 
within the city, and there fixed Prince Henry's standard, the 
spot being favourable for defence, should the Moors renew the 
engagement. In consequence of the smallness of their force 
they were not free from anxiety, lest, before fresh troops 
arrived, the soldiers might be tempted to begin plundering, 
which w^ould give the Moors an opportunity to collect in 
sufiicient strength to shut the gates, and so render their 
position in the highest degree perilous. But reinforcements 
came in with great rapidity from that part of the fleet which 



Prince Henry had commanded, and some of the Moors in 
their alarm announced to Zala ben Zala in the citadel, that 
the city was taken. Some took to flight with their wives 
and children. Zala ben Zala, overwhelmed with dismay, 
came from the citadel in the hope of checking, if possible, 
the advance of the enemy through the narrow streets until 
the citizens could pass the wall to the western, or inland, 
side of the city, where^ if anywhere, they might receive help 
from their neighbours. 

Among the new comers was Vasco Fernandez de Ataide, 
who, despising the easy entrance through the open gate by 
which the Prince had entered, called together his men and 
attacked another gate which was carefully kept by the Moors ; 
but his attempt was fruitless, for while he was striving to 
force the gate with axes, the Moors attacked him with stones 
and darts, and he was compelled to return, himself mortally 
wounded and eight of his men slain. When Prince Henry 
perceived that the greater number of his men had arrived, he 
thought it better to waste no more time on the spot where 
he had waited with Dom Duarte, and gave orders to the 
captains to occupy various parts of the city, so that no 
opportunity might be afforded for the panic of the Moors 
to subside, or for them to reorganize their forces. Dom 
Duarte took possession of Cesto, the highest of the hills 
overlooking the city, and Prince Henry of the main street. 

Meanwhile the King, who had now inspected the fleet, gave 
orders for a general landing, and receiving news of the rapid 
victory of his sons, offered up thanks to God for their success. 
He then advanced with his retinue towards the town, and, 
supposing from the quantity of plunder which was being 
carried on board the ships that nothing more remained to 
be done, seated himself near the gate. 

In the interim the Moors seeing: the Portuguese intent on 
plunder and approaching in utter disorder very near to the 
citadel, had attacked them with such fury that they fled in 
confusion. The Moors thought this the moment for avenging 
their injuries, and endeavoured to drive the enemy completely 

CEUTA. 37 

out of tlie cify and close the gates. Prince Homy allowed the 
flying Portugnese to pass him, knowing that if he checked 
the foremost, those in the rear would be exposed to great 
danger. He himself was left with but a handful of men, but 
seeing that the position of aftairs was critical, he opposed the 
Moors with such vigour that he put them to flight with great 
slaughter. Pursuing them however too eagerly, he found 
himself alone with the enemy, and would certainly have been 
cut off had not the narrowness of the road in a great degree 
protected him. For a short time he had to sustain the con- 
flict quite alone till, his soldiers coming to his assistance, 
the Moors were again put to the rout. While his men pur- 
sued them. Prince Henry rested in a house which the 
Portuguese had converted into a store for the goods which 
they had brought on shore, but the fugitives having received 
reinforcements, the Portuguese were again driven back as 
far as the house where the Prince was. In vain ho en- 
deavoured to rally them, they were worn out with the heat 
and thirst, and out of the many whom he addressed not more 
than seventeen remained with him. With these few he 
boldly met the on-coming enemy, and forced them to retreat 
through the gate which led into the inner part of the city, 
and which could be secured on both sides. After a long and 
violent struggle Prince Henry succeeded in clearing this gate, 
thereby securing his return to his troops. 

But evening was now coming on and the Portuguese began 
to seek their respective leaders, from whom they had been 
separated in the turmoil of the day ; and many were the 
anxious enquiries for Prince Henry, whose gallantry had won 
all hearts ; and it was rumoured that at the head of a hand- 
ful of men he had made his way to the above-mentioned gate, 
and fighting to the last had there met his death. The King 
hearing of this, said with a calm and unmoved countenance, 
" Such is the end which soldiers must expect." 

In another part of the town, Dom Duarte was deliberat- 
ing with Dora Pedro and some other nobles as to the means 
of storming the citadel, and sent a message to Prince Henry 


desiring his presence. This Prince Henry at first refused, 
for he waited to see if the Moors would return to the con- 
flict, but when a second messenger urged on him that it 
was now evening, and that if the citadel were stormed no 
further work would remain to be done, he joined the council. 

Meantime the Moors, who feared that they would be unable 
to defend the fortress, after consultation with Zahi ben Zala, 
determined on flight. Each man loaded himself with as much 
as he could carry, and having constructed a testudo at the 
western gate, which opened landward, they silently retired 
with their wives and children to the neighbouring towns and 

It was now sunset, and the Portuguese, having resolved 
to attack the citadel at daybreak, sent out a reconnoitering 
party, who, finding no sentinels on guard, suspected that the 
Moors had deserted. On hearing this, the King, who now 
had entered the city, sent a knight, named Joao Vaz de 
Almada, to attempt an entrance into the inner part of the 
city, and if he found the citadel abandoned, to place the 
standard of St. Vincent, the patron saint of Lisbon, upon 
the highest tower of the fortress. 

When Almada reached the gate in the wall which divided 
the city into two parts, he found it shut, and ordered his 
men to hew it down. "While they were so doing, two 
Moors, who had waited to see the end, told them in Spanish 
to spare themselves the trouble, for that they would o])en 
the gate. Almada then entered the citadel and placed the 
standard on the highest tower. 

Meanwhile the King, hearing that Prince Henry was alive 
and present at the council, sent to summon him to liis pre- 
sence. The King's face grew briglit with joy as his son 
approached, and he welcomed him with tlie proposal that as 
he had borne himself so gloriously that day in the midst of 
so many well-tried veterans he should receive the honour of 
Knighthood in precedence of liis brothers. Prince Henry, 
however, besought the King, that as his brothers Dom Duarte 
and Dom Pedro took precedence of liim in age, they might 

CEUTA. 39 

also do so in lionour. The King commended tlie wisdom of his 
son's reply, and gave orders that at daybreak all the bishoi)s 
and priests who were present with the army should assemble 
in the great Mosque, and consecrate it as the site of the 
Cathedral of the city. On the following day this was done, 
and the three Princes presented themselves before the King, 
in full armour, each bearing unsheathed the sword which the 
Queen had given him, and with all due solemnity they were 
invested with knighthood, each in the order of his birth. 

The night had been passed in the greatest watchfulness. 
When in the morning the Portuguese entered the city, it 
lay before them in unbroken stillness. They encountered 
nothing but the dead bodies of the slain, and some few old 
men, women, and children, who still lingered near the 
homes which they loved, even at the risk of becoming slaves 
to the victorious Christians. The spoil was most abundant 
in gold and silver, and jewels of great price, with stuffs and 
drugs in great quantity, but the destruction and waste were 
immense. The morning was stormy, with rain and hail, 
and such was the recklessness of the troops that, mingled 
with the streams of water which flowed down the streets, 
were oil, honey, spices, preserves, and butter, with fragments 
of the great jars which had hitherto contained them. This 
waste was afterwards the subject of much vain regret, when 
it was found that the provisions in the city were enough 
to have maintained for a considerable time the garrison 
necessary to hold it in subjection. The spoil which fell to 
the share of the nobles was very rich. Dom Afibnzo, 
Count de Barcellos, with princely taste took for his plunder 
more than six hundred columns of alabaster and marble from 
the gates and windows of the palace of Zala ben Zala and the 
other chief buildings of the city. From one square was taken 
an entire vaulted roof of elaborate gilt work, which together 
with the columns was afterwards used in the construc- 
tion of the count's palace at Barcellos. 

The Moors were now seen ascending the mountains carrying 
their wives and children, whom after awhile they left in charge 


of the old men that were unable to bear arms, whilst they 
themselves returned to the walls of the city, challenging its 
present occupants to fight, rather with a passionate desire of 
vengeance than with any hope of recovering what they had lost. 
Dom Duarte rode forth with a large company and speedily 
repulsed them, and as, when they again returned, they found 
the gates shut, they withdrew, uttering such wild sad wail- 
ings of anguish and despair as moved even the hearts of 
their enemies to pity. 

On the Sunday after this important victory, the principal 
mosque having been purified, the King with his sons and 
the Grandees proceeded thither to the sound of martial 
music to hear the first mass. They were met at the entrance 
by a large number of priests in rich vestments, and the 
sound of the instruments was answered by two bells which 
were found in the highest tower of the mosque. How came 
they there ? was the natural question of those who knew that 
the Mahometans were not in the habit of using bells. The 
answer was not without its interest. Some years before, 
the Moors had attacked and pillaged the city of Lagos, and 
carried oif these bells, which had been carefully but vainly 
concealed, and which now again spread far and wide the 
summons to attend a Christian service. Many Moors of 
both sexes were witnesses from a distance of this sudden 
and for them heart-rending transformation of a structure 
which but two days before had been the scene of that exclu- 
sive devotion which regarded the approach of a Christian 
foot as a desecration meriting death. When the hated 
sound of those bells reached their ears they stood aghast, 
as if under the influence of a hideous and unnatural dream. 

While the most solemn services of the church were beins: 
celebrated in the newly consecrated cathedral, messengers 
from the King were hastening in different directions with 
the news of tlio victory, the fame of which rajjidly spread 
throughout Knropc, for it was felt to be one tliat promised 
in)))ortant consequences. 

The conquerors were naturally desirous not to prolong 

CEUTA. 4 1 

their stay upon the coast of Barbary, and the King, though 
by no means inclined to resign into the hands of the floors 
so important a conquest, was anxious to resume the govern- 
ment of his country. The majority of the Portuguese 
doubted the possibility of holding the place, and one Grandee, 
Martin Atfonso de Mello, whom the King had selected as com- 
mander, declined the honour, though it was a greater than 
had been offered by the King to any subject in any of his 
enterprizes. While it was uncertain who was to accept the 
charge of the place, Dom Pedro de Meneses, Count de 
Viana, of the noble house of Villareal, happening to have.,in 
his hand a stick of Zamboa wood,* uttered the exclamation, 
" By my faith, with this stick alone, I feel myself man 
enough to defend these walls against every Morisco of them 
all." What then appeared an empty boast became after- 
wards a valuable reality. The King took him at his word, 
and this stout-hearted knight remained the first commander 
of Ceuta, and had the honour of being told by the King that 
lie should require of him no other pledge than that which was 
afforded by his high character and noble birth. Faria y 
Sousa, who wrote two centuries later, records that this staff 
was still, in his time, preserved at Ceuta, and placed in the 
hands of every governor on the occasion of his taking the 
command of the place. The valiant Dom Pedro held the 
governorship for nearly two and twenty years. He was 
engaged in frequent contests with the Moors, but proved 
himself well able to maintain with honour that dignified but 
responsible position. From that day to this, the Moors have 
never recovered possession of the city. 

The King left Ceuta with the fleet on the second of Septem- 
ber, 1415, and a few days afterwards, anchored amidst the 
exultant welcomes of his people in the port of Tavira, on the 
coast of Algarve. At Tavira the King summoned his sons 
to him, and declared his wish to reward them for the great 
service which they had rendered him. To Dom Duarte, who 

* A varietj^ of the orange true. Faria uses the words — Azebuche, Azcbo, aud 


was to succeed him on the throne, he had nothing greater 
to offer, but upon Dom Pedro he conferred the titles of 
Duke of Coimbra and Lord of Montemoro Velho, Aveiro, 
and other territories which thence, as forming the aj^panage 
of his rank, took the name of the Infantado, a designation 
which still remains. The title of Duke had not previously 
existed in Portugal. Prince Henry was made Duke of 
Viseu and Lord of Covilham. 

In Tavira the King discharged with many thanks and 
ample presents those who had volunteered their assistance, 
and dismissed with liberal payment the foreign vessels 
which had been employed in his service. Among these 
were twenty-seven English ships, which, touching at the port 
of Lisbon on their way to the Holy Land, had at the King's 
request joined him in his expedition against the Moors. 

This enterprize, which had in the first instance been 
undertaken mainly with the view of affording a worthy 
opportunity for the young Princes to earn knighthood, 
proved in many ways of great importance. It was a severe 
reprisal upon the Moors, who had for so many centuries 
inflicted their hated dominion on the Peninsula, and it 
transmuted Ceuta, from being the chief emporium and key 
of the Mahometan states, into the very bulwark of 
Christendom against them. But further, and this is espe- 
cially note-worthy, as a successful naval enterprize it was the 
parent of those grand achievements which made the close of 
the fifteenth century memorable in the history of the workl. 

For three years the Count do Viana was able to hold the 
Moors in check with the forces which had been left in his 
command, but in 1418 it api)eared necessary for him to 
seek aid from the mother country. Ceuta was surrounded 
inland by a large army of Moors, and was attacked from the 
sea by the forces of the King of Granada, who had sent a fleet 
of seventy-four sail, and numerous troops, under the command 
of his nei)hew Muley Said, to attack the city from the sea. 
Fortunately the munitions in the arsenals of Lisbon were 
abundant, so that the King was able to despatch a strong 

CEUTA. 43 

force under the command of Prince Henry, who took with him 
his brother Dom Jofio. At the same time, Dom Duarte and 
Dom Pedro proceeded to Algarve, in order that they might 
be ready to reinforce Prince Henry in case of necessity. As 
the latter was entering the mouth of the strait, he was met 
by a pinnace, bringing him written information from the 
Count de Viana that Muley Said had ah'eady taken posses- 
sion of the eastern part of the Ahnina, in combination with 
the army ah-eady hi situ, while the galleys blockaded the 
port. The glory of destroying the navy of Granada did not 
however fall to the lot of Prince Henry, for, before he 
could reach Ceuta, the Count de Viana had sallied forth at 
the head of his small but stout-hearted garrison against the 
position which Muley Said had taken up on Mount Hacho. 
The brave Moor met the Count with a desperate resistance, 
which though it was sufficient to secure his honour, could 
not win for him success. At the commencement of the 
engagement, his gallej's, which had sailed out of the bay, 
came in sight of the Portuguese fleet, of the approach of 
"which the Moors had given repeated signals from both sides 
of the strait. The whole of the fleet of Granada took the 
alarm and fled, only one galley remaining to aid the escape 
of Muley Said with a small handful of men. By the time 
the Princes landed the action was at an end. 

The Princes remained two months in Ceuta hoping that 
the Moors would make an efibrt to regain their lost city, but 
they waited in vain. During this time Prince Henry, who 
chafed at the thought of returning to the presence of his 
father without having achieved a single act of distinction, 
conceived the bold idea of taking Gibraltar by storm. 
Although he was opposed by the almost unanimous opinion 
of the council, yet he determined to make the attempt, and 
set sail accordingly. Fortune however did not favour the 
undertaking. A storm arose which drove the fleet towards 
Cape de Gat, where it remained fifteen days, and on their 
return to Ceuta the Princes received a letter from their 
father with positive orders for their return to Lisbon. 



"Talent de bien faire" was Prince Henry^s adopted motto, 
and human wit perhaps coukl scarcely suggest a better. In 
his time the word " talent" conveyed not, as now, the idea 
of "power" or "faculty," but of "desire," and the ap- 
propriateness of the motto to Prince Henry himself has in 
it something remarkable. Its principal characteristic is 
aspiration, and when the exertions of the Prince's life have 
been depicted they will be found to have been great indeed 
in effort, but great only in ultimate, not in immediate, result, 
the most indisputable evidence of a life devoted to the 
" Talent de bien faire." 

Azurara states (page 40) that the renown of the Prince 
became so high in Europe that he was invited severally by 
the Pope, the Emperor of Germany, and the Kings of Castile 
and of England to undertake the command of their respec- 
tive armies. These offers will most probably have been 
made after the taking of Ceuta, where the Prince had so 
greatly distinguished liimself as a soldier. In all jjrobability 
it was in 1420 or 1421 that he received this invitation irom the 
Pope (Martin V.), after the embassy sent to him by the 
Greek Emperor Manuel l*akx?ologus asking for his assistance 
against the Turks. The Emperor of Germany spoken of 
was Sigismund, whose close relations with the court of Lisbon 
and with the ambassadors of Portugal in the Council of 
Constance would enal)le him to fi)rm a correct opinion of 


the eminent qualities of the Prince. The Kings of Castile 
and of England of whom Azurara speaks are John II. and 
Henry Y. (See Santarem's note to Azurara, p. 40.) When 
Prince Henry, after the capture of Ceuta, set his mind upon 
the conquest of Guinea he sent every year two or three 
vessels to examine the coasts beyond Cape Non, the limit of 
Spanish exploration, yet none of his ships for many years 
had the hardihood to round Cape Bojador. It is recorded 
by Barros, the great historian of the Portuguese, when 
describing the eiiect of a storm which assailed one of the 
earliest of these expeditions, that " the Portuguese mariners 
of that time were not accustomed thus to venture on the 
open sea, all their nautical knowledge being limited to 
coasting in sight of land." Hercules was yet in his 
cradle. The little nation had but just succeeded in strang- 
ling the snakes of Moorish and of Spanish oppression. So far 
it had done bravely. It had thrown off the yoke and was 
able to draw breath. What wonder if having achieved such 
victories it felt its pulse beat strong for greater and yet 
nobler efforts. True, the ocean was a new and formidable 
antagonist. Other nations mightier than they had tempted 
the same danger but had withdrawn disheartened from the 
contest, and their unavailing efforts, so far from diminish- 
ing, enhance the glory due to that persistent bravery which 
yielded neither to difficulty nor danger. But the inspiration 
and encouragement to this perseverance emanated from 
Prince Henry himself. 

It was not however to the exploration of the West Coast of 
Africa only that the thoughts of the Prince were directed. 
The hope of reaching India by the south point of Africa 
was a yet higher object of ambition. The political decay 
of the Roman Empire had not been accompanied by any 
decrease in that love of luxury and profusion which necessi- 
tated commerce and navigation. The civilization and trade 
of the world had simply fallen into the hands of new 
masters. The vast dominion acquired by the followers of 
Mahomet gave them the control of a gigantic commerce. 


Not indeed that maritime communication possessed for 
them any charms : the contrary was the case, and the 
timidity of their navigation was ])eculiarly remarkable, but 
their overland caravans were the means of carrying on a 
traffic which extended from the Mediterranean to India, and 
from the heart of Africa to Astrakhan and the countries of 
the north. One of the most important of these caravan 
routes was that which traversed the great African desert, 
and introduced into the Mediterranean the slaves and gold 
dust, the ivory, and malaguette pepper that were procured 
from the negroes. 

In the middle ages a variety of causes conspired to 
direct the attention of European nations to the East. The 
Crusades, mischievous as they were in their primary effects 
on the nations from which they emanated, not only made 
them acquainted with distant countries but also with that 
oriental luxury which supplied a stimulus to the cultivation 
of mercantile relations with those countries. Another event 
which had great influence in inciting the western states of 
Europe to maritime discovery was the war between the 
Moors and the inhabitants of the Peninsula. The vast 
mercantile operations of the Arabs had filled Spain with 
the rich productions of the East, and the luxurious habits of 
the Moorish courts of Seville and Granada were imitated 
by the Catholic princes of Aragon and Castile. But as 
hostilities between the conquerors and the conquered daily 
became more obstinate and implacable, the lack of these 
objects of luxury began to be felt by the latter, to whom, at 
least amongst the wealthy, they had become necessities. 
So that it may be fairly inferred that the expulsion of the 
Moors from the Peninsula was one of the great stimulants 
to the search for a passage to India by the sea. In this ex- 
pulsion the Portuguese took the lead, and were consequently 
the first to feel the effect of the incentive. The conquest 
of Ceuta was the first step towards the desired object, 
and Prince Henry with his love of study, his chivalrous 
courage, and zealous nature, was exactly the man to 


pursue that object with the perseverance of a fixed de- 

The geographical position of Portugal was eminently 
suggestive and encouraging. The large revenues of the 
Order of Christ, of which the Prince was the Grand Master, 
provided him with resources for which he could imagine no 
more worthy employment than the conquest and conversion 
of the heathen, and tlie general extension of the knowledge of 
the human race, with its concomitant commercial advan- 
tages. During his stay in Africa he gathered important in- 
formation from the Moors respecting the populous nations of 
the interior and of the coast of Guinea. We have evidence 
of the nature of the enquiries instituted by Prince Henry in 
the cotemporary accounts of Azurara and Diogo Gomez. 
From the latter we learn that the Prince gained information 
of the passage of large caravans from Tunis to Timbuctoo 
and to Cantor, on the Gambia, which instigated him to seek 
those countries by the way of the sea. From Azurara we 
learn, as will be seen hereafter, that he gathered from 
Azanegue prisoners information of the position of certain 
palms growing at the northern mouth of the Senegal, or so- 
called Nile, by which he was enabled to give instructions to 
his navigators for the finding of that river. 

But while Prince Henry was thus anxious to inform him- 
self respecting the geography of Africa, he was no less 
anxious as Grand Master of the Order of Christ to further 
the cause of Christianity in that country. After the de- 
struction of Carthage the chair of the Primate of Africa 
remained vacant for centuries, although individual bishoprics 
contrived to secure for themselves a continuance of existence 
even under the dominion of Mohammedanism. When St. 
Francis first' established his order in 1208, with a view to 
the revival of the Christian faith, it was with him a subject 
of ardent desire to send missionaries to Marocco, and it 
was not long before a bishopric was there established, the 
bishops of which belonged to his order. Agnellus was 
consecrated the first Bishop of Marocco and Fez in 1233. 


From that time Christianity was propagated with inde- 
fatigable energy throughout the north of Africa. Churches 
were erected and the right of free celebration of Christian 
worship was a frequent item in commercial compacts, but 
until the taking of Ceuta, Marocco remained the only 
bishopric of the Catholic Churcli in Africa. 

As regards the West Coast of Africa, very little indeed 
had up to this time become known to explorers. Ibn Khal- 
doun in the preceding century had placed the limit at Caj)e 
Non, but Ibn Said had related the chance arrival of some 
Arabs at the Glittering Cape (Cape Branco) two centuries 
before, and it is certain that Cape Bojador was known as 
early as 1375, for it is laid down under the form of Bugeder 
in the Catalan map of that date. But here was in very 
truth the limit of known coast. We have not sufficient 
evidence to show the exact extent of the information which 
the Prince was enabled to gather respecting the interior 
of the country, but we are not entirely deprived of the 
means of forming what may probably be an approximately 
correct judgment on that point. The seaports on the North 
Coast of Africa had long been the medium of conveying to 
Europe the valuable commodities brought from Nigritia, 
but as these were brought over by land, and not by sea, it is 
manifest that much had to be learned by enquiry respecting 
the nations and the countries from which they were supplied. 
To become acquainted not only with the Moors and their 
immediate neighbours to the south, but also with the lands 
both on the Eastern and the Western Coasts beyond the 
Great Desert, was the object of the Prince's desire. And it 
must be acknowledged that the chances of gaining approxi- 
mately accurate local knowledge from the Arabs was greater 
than could be looked for from Europeans, for while the 
former took diligent notice of individual narratives of travel, 
and industriously availed themselves of the geographical in- 
formation which they acquired, the latter made a secret of 
many of their commercial connections, and even treated with 
mistrust Ihe details of explorations whii'li were openly made 


known, whether by Arabs or by Christians. The one great 
source and even limit of the knowledge of African geogra- 
phy was commerce, and the kingdoms in the interior with 
which this commerce took place wore Melli, Gana, Teknir, 
Takedda, Biirnu, and Kanem. The most important of 
these was Melli, comprising the cities of Kabra, Timbuctoo, 
and Kuku on the Joliba. Of Timbuctoo some knowledge 
was already possessed in the Spanish peninsula, inasmuch as 
there appear to have been frequent commuiucations between 
it and the kingdom of Granaila. Leo Africanus, himself a 
native of Granada, who was born at the close of the century 
which witnessed Prince Henry's explorations, speaks of the 
Stone Mosque and Royal Palace of Timbuctoo, the only two 
remarkable buildings in the city, as having been the work 
of an experienced architect of Granada; and Ibn Batuta, 
writing in the century in which Prince Henry was born, 
mentions as one of the curiosities of Timbuctoo the tomb 
of Abu-Ishac-es-Sahili, a famous poet of Granada, who died 
at Timbuctoo in 134G. The old accounts leave us in much 
doubt in respect of the geography of the several kingdoms 
we have referred to, though many points have been settled 
in more recent times. The kingdom of Melli extended east- 
ward as far as the city of Muli in Lemlem, and westward to 
the oasis of Waleta. An important map which at the close 
of last century came into the possession of Cardinal Borgia, 
and which is supposed to have been of Arab workmanship of 
about the year 1410, consequently just before Prince Henry 
was making his researches, contains the indications of three 
stations of a caravan track in the interior, viz., Teget 
(Teigent), Tagost (Audagost), and Tagaza, as well as the 
towns of Gana, Tocoror (Tekriir), and Melli. It will be 
seen in a subsequent chapter that indications of the forma- 
tion of the Western Coast, but with no local names proving 
actual intercourse with places thereon, had been derived 
from merchants reaching the ports of the Mediterranean 
from the interior as early as the first half of the fourteenth 
century. The most southern point to which a name was 



given along the Western Coast was Ulil, where was a 
natural deposit of salt which was carried thence inland to 
Gana and other cities of the Blacks. Mr. Cooley, who has 
devoted so much learned labour to enquiries respecting the 
geography of these countries, has no hesitation in assigning 
this position to the Ba}'' of Arguin, where, he says, " the 
natural deposits of salt, the little island or peninsula, and 
the abundance of large tortoises," which form the descrip- 
tion of Ulil, " are all found together." The learned Dr. 
Friedrich Kunstmann, however, who has also carefully exa- 
mined the subject,* carries the position of Ulil down as far 
south as the island of Bissao, at the mouth of the Rio 
Grande, in which he finds the requisite characteristics, with 
the additional fact that in the neighbouring island of 
Bulama is found abundance of amber, which is a concomitant 
item in the description given by Ibn Said. There is a piece 
of collateral evidence which seems very strongly to corrobo- 
rate this conclusion of Dr. Kunstmann's, for whereas in the 
eleventh century Ulil is described as the common boundary of 
commerce and of creed., we learn from Valentin Fernandez, 
within half a century after Prince Henry's time, that " the 
negroes of the Rio Grande towards Cape Verde are for the 
most part Mahometans, with some idolaters amongst them, 
but on the other side of the river all are idolaters." 

With respect to the immediate inducements which actuated 
the Prince in exploring the land of Guinea we have five reasons 
supplied to us by Azurara. The first was the desire to know 
the country beyond Cape Bojador, of which till then neither 
from writing nor tradition had any certain knowledge been 
gained. The second was that, if any Christian nations and safe 
harbours should be found in those lands, mercantile relations 
advantageous both to Portugal and to the natives might be 
established, as no other European people were as yet known 
to have commercial intercourse with them. The third reason 
was that he had been led to suppose that the Moors were in 
greater strength in that part of Africa than had been generally 

* In his work entitled " Afiikii vorclen Eiitdcckungon der Portuf^'icson," p. 11. 


believed, and that there were no Christians there. The Prince 
was therefore naturally anxious to learn the extent of the 
power of his enemies. The fourth reason was that in all liis 
contests with the Moors he never found a Christian King or 
potentate come forward from that country to help him. He 
was therefore anxious to learn whether there were in those 
parts any Christian princes, who for the love of Christ would 
help him against the enemies of the Faith. The fifth reason 
was the great desire which he had for the extension of that 
Faith and the salvation of the souls of such vast numbers 
then lying in a state of ])erdition. To these live Azurara 
adds a sixth from which he believed that the other five pro- 
ceeded. This reason was an astrological one, " for as," he says, 
'•' his ascendant was Aries, which is the house of Mars and is 
the exaltation of the Sun, and his lord is in the eleventh house 
accompanied by the Sun, and inasmuch as the said Mars is 
in Aquarius, which is the house of Saturn and in the house 
of hope, it signified that he should be engaged in mighty 
conquests, and especially in the search for things hidden from 
other men in conformity with the craftiness of Saturn in 
whose house he is. And his being accompanied by the Sun 
and the Sun being in the house of Jupiter, showed that all 
his acts and conquests should be loyally done and to the 
satisfaction of the King his sovereign.'^ 

The more entirely to enable himself to carry out his objects 
without embarrassment, he took up his abode, with the King's 
permission, on the Promontory of Sagres in Algarve, of which 
kingdom he was made Governor in perpetuity after his return 
from the succour of Ceuta in 1419. From a passage in the 
cotemporaneous MS. of Azurara it has been inferred that 
he did not betake himself to that secluded and barren pro- 
montory until after his return from Tangier in the year 
1437,* but it is to be remarked that in that passage " bis 

* Despois da viinda de Tanjer, o Iffante comunalinente sempre estava no regno 
do Algarve, per rezom de sua villa, que tntom mandava fazer. " After the return 
from Tangier the Infant commonlj' remained in the kingdom of Algai've, on 
account of his town which he then was having built." — Azurara, p. lOo. 



town" is spoken of, whereas from another cotemporaneous 
manuscript, now lost, but the genuineness of which I hope 
hereafter to establish, we are informed that he originally 
named it Terga Nabal; quasi, Tercena Nabal or Naval 
Arsenal ; and it was only subsequently, when, as at the time 
of Azurara's writing (see Azurara, page 34), it came to have 
strong walls, and houses were being continually added to it, 
that it received the name of " Villa do Infante," or the " Town 
of the Infant/^ From these facts, combined with the im- 
portance of the proximity of the port of Lagos for the dispatch 
of the Prince's vessels, it would seem reasonable to conclude 
that the belief of the majority of Portuguese historians that 
the Prince established himself at Sagies after his return from 
Ceuta in December, 1418, is correct. In fact, if the genuine- 
ness of the missing manuscript just alluded to be, as it is 
hoped, successfully established, the fact is certain, inasmuch as 
it is there distinctly stated by a living witness. This remark- 
able position had not been without its occupants in yet older 
times. M. Ferdinand Denis informs me that at the period 
of the terrible earthquake of 1755, which covered both Sagres 
and Lagos with ruins, there were buildings on the promontory 
of Sagres as old as the eleventh century. When its occupa- 
tion by Prince Henry brought it into notice the Genoese 
offered a large sum for the site for the establishment of a 
colony, which the Portuguese government prudently re- 

By the great kindness of His Excellency the Marquis de 
Sa da Bandeira, late Minister of Marine, I have been 
fevoured with a drawn copy of an official survey of this 
interesting promontory, of which the accompanying plate is 
a reduction. 

In this secluded spot, with the vast Atlantic stretching 
measureless and mysterious before him, Prince Henry de- 
voted himself to the study of astronomy and mathematics, 
and to the disj)atch of vessels on adventurous exploration. 

I have heai-d it whispered that the greatest Portuguese 
historian of tlie day has expressed a doubt whether it can 


'laken by" Captain Louren^ Gtrmack Possollo on the occasion of Liie rrooljon of a 
Monument to IVince Henry in July 184-0, under the auspices of his Kxct-llciiev the 
Viscount (nowMai-quis) de Sa da Majideira. then Minister of Marine, by whum tiie 
Copy from i^ich the present reduction is made was kmdiy-communii^ated totheAuthtu 

Copied, in t^e Archive Mihtar" by J C.Bou de Souza ux 1863. 

3L 'J(Twer nci\- ser^iTig as a ha^-Z<>^, beja\*- 
-which, (s the entrance to tPu Tarts and. m 
f^hzch. ajbcne ths (tcanvay inside is placed. 
th£ MoTtujnent to Che Ihuice. 
b Old -naUs brought into the ConstJiLctum, of 

Che riew reeidertces 
C Ji^majne tyC ^u ari^nal Mather- Church. 
d H^tftams of th^Barraeks destrcyed i/v 17S3. 
e Stoubies. 

F Pawdef^iaga'xinjR (miit tm the ruins of a, 

circtd/zi' edi/ux prohabfy- die Ohser-^tztpry bu*^ 

fyjhince Senry- 

^ ^ Traces of waUs entirely ra^ed to the ground. 

jX A/t^ excessi^efy deep Oit^em camTnunicatujg 

-^ah the Sea-. 
i 1 cU die edge of the P/XFmmtjtary. 
Jl a Pedestal aa -which fbrmerfy stood aGy>ss 

It is here that the PromarOcrTy ccTTunertees . 
1 B<»y of BeU^ve 
m Bay of Sagres 

Scale of Half an Eaglisli Mile. 

Fii'^''»i«r. lufic lUi Um St^M, 


be proved that Prince Henry established at Sagres a school 
for the cultivation of cartography and the science of naviga- 
tion. There can however be no doubt that Barros distinctly 
asserts that " in his anxiety to secure a prosperous result to his 
eftbrts at discovery on the West Coast of Africa the Prince 
devoted great industry and thought to that object, and at a 
large ex{)ense procured the services of one Mestre Jacorne 
from Majorca, a man very skilful in the art of navigation and 
in the making ot" maps and instruments, whom he sent for 
to instruct the Portuguese officers in that science." This 
distinct assertion, combined with the fact that the Prince 
erected an observatory at Sagres, the first set up in Portugal, 
would seem to leave but little doubt upon the subject, even 
if the well-known love of mathematical study which the 
Prince shared with his brothers Dom Duarte and Dom Pedro 
were not enough to lead to the conviction that such a pursuit 
would naturally occupy the active attention of one who had 
located himself on that desert promontory for the very pur- 
pose of prosecuting the exploration of unknown coasts. 

At the same time I am anxious in this chapter to vindicate 
the honour of Prince Henry from the aspersion of falsely 
attributed praise. The picture of a worthy life can only be 
marred in its beauty and fall short in its teaching if it be 
not exhibited in the light of truth. In a subsecpient chapter 
I shall endeavour to show that the detraction from the glory 
of Prince Henry on the ground of prior discoveries along the 
West Coast of Africa are utterly untenable. In another 
chapter I shall show that the Prince's navigators had 
really been preceded in the mere fact of discovery, though 
not of colonization, of the Atlantic islands. I now proceed 
to show that the honour of originality in the invention or 
introduction of more than one important appliance in the 
art of navigation has been incorrectly assigned to him. It 
has been honourably and justly said by M. d'Avezac that 
" the historical glory of Portugal is based on enough of real 
merits to render it needless for her to dispute the legitimate 
share of other nations. Once aoain let me sav : the 


Portuguese were certainly not tlie first to undertake the 
enterprize of finding the great maritime route to India, but 
they were the first to persevere in it, and they were the first 
to attain that object. That is their share of honour. It is 
a fair one enough to render it needless for them to claim 
what belongs to others." This most true and graceful verdict 
is worthy of the distinguished savant who pronounced it, 
and no one can have traced his learned and ingenious argu- 
ments in confutation of what he believed to be false praise 
of Prince Henry without feeling convinced of the good 
faith in which every word was written. It has been a 
pleasure when our convictions have, as in the case of 
which we are about to speak, been in accordance with his 

Pimentel first, and Montucla after him, declared that the 
invention of hydrographic plane charts was due to Prince 
Henry. A greater mistake could not have been committed. 
The very first charts that were constructed upon the base of 
a geonomic graduation were in a certain sense of this kind. 
As 'far as we know, Eratosthenes (two centuries B.C.) was 
the first who constructed such. Hipparchus, perhaps a 
century later, reconstructed the maps of Eratosthenes with 
meridians convergent at the poles, and Marinus of Tyre 
(second century a.d.) reverted to the plane chart. But not to 
dwell on maps of high antiquity, there can be no question 
that there existed sailing charts on the cylindrical projection, 
in which for convenience in navigation the meridians were 
made parallel to each other, before Prince Henry was born. 
Garcao-Stockler in his " Ensaio historico sobre a origem e 
progresses das Mathematicas en Portugal " recognizes tlie 
existence of a map of the kind bearing the date of 1413, 
which is mentioned by Don Joaquin Lorenzo Villauueva in his 
" Viage literario a las Iglesias de Espana," tomo 4, carta 28, 
p. 24, as existing in the year 1802 in the Carthusian Monastery 
of Val de Christo, near Segorbe, in Valencia. But while recog- 
nizing the existence of the map, he disputes the correctness 
(if tlie date because the map contains the Atlantic islands 


which, as ho believed, were not discovered till afterwards by 
Prince Henry's navigators. The reader will be prepared to 
set aside this argument when he has read what I shall have to 
say respecting the discovery of these islands in the chapter 
of " Glimpses of Light." Had the distinguished Portu- 
guese mathematician been aware of the facts there stated he 
woukl doubtless have avoided resorting to so eccentric and 
improbable an alternative. In short, to set the matter 
at rest, the Catalan map of 1375, on which those discoveries 
are repeated, is of the class of nautical maps of which we 
are now speaking, and although the map discovered by the 
P. Villanueva bears the inscription " Mecia de Vila Destes 
me fecit in ano mccccxiii,," Senor de Navarrete asserts in 
his '' Historia de la Nautica" (Madrid, 184G, 80.) that it is but 
a repetition of the third sheet of the aforesaid Catalan map. 
At the same time it should be remembered that to have 
introduced on fresh tracks in the Atlantic those nautical 
appliances which had already been employed in the Mediter- 
ranean, and by careful study and perseverance in recording 
new observations to have led the way to subsequent im- 
provement of those appliances, is a merit which needs no 
superfluity of praise to commend it to the admiration of the 
thoughtful. The celebrated Portuguese mathematician, 
Pedro Nunes, in a work in defence of the sailing chart, 
which I have not seen, but which is quoted by Garc^ao- 
Stockler, makes the following interesting statement respect- 
ing the early navigations of his countrymen. He says, 
" Now it is evident that these discoveries of coasts, ishmds, 
and mainland were not made without nautical intelligence, but 
oiu" sailors went out very well taught and provided with 
instruments and rules of astrology (sic) and geometry, 
which, as Ptolemy says in the first book of his geography, are 
things with which cosmogra pliers ought to be acquainted." 

There is no doubt that old travellers delineated geometri- 
cally on maps the places which they had visited, and that, 
as discoveries and observations increased, improvements 
were made in mai)-making. Amongst these improvements 


was the delineation of the sphericity of the earth, but this 
very improvement, while valuable for the student of geogra- 
phy, offered many embarrassments to sailors who had pro- 
blems to solve and courses to calculate. Thus, the meri- 
dians had of course to be represented by straight lines or 
by curved lines meeting at the pole, and the course of a 
vessel not sailing directly under the equator nor under a 
given meridian would also be represented by a curved line. 
It became therefore necessary to devise a form of chart for 
nautical purposes on which, the meridians being parallel, the 
lines of the rhumbs or points of the compass could be drawn 
straight. The necessity produced the desired result, and the 
sea charts so made were known as plaiie charts, and, though 
they naturally involved a geometrical inaccuracy, the devia- 
tion from correctness was almost imperceptible in the short 
voyages of the period. It was not till the close of the six- 
teenth century, when extensive oceanic voyages had become 
frequent, that Gerard Mercator proposed to remedy the 
inconvenience by elongating the degrees of latitude towards 
the poles in the same proportion as the degrees of longitude 
decrease on the globes. He was however unable to deter- 
mine the law of this prolongation, which was discovered 
about 1590 by Edward Wright, an Englishman, and pub- 
licly made known by him in 1599. 

Very few details are left to us of the astronomical instru- 
ments used in the time of Prince Henry. The altitude of a 
star was taken by the astrolabe and the quadrant by means 
of an alidade, or ruled index, having two holes pierced in its 
extremities, through which the ray passed. The quadrant 
hung vertically from a ring which was held in the hand. 
We do not know how these instruments were graduated, but 
it is to be presumed very rouglily. The astrolabe, the com- 
pass, timepieces, and charts were employed by sailors in the 
Mediterranean at the beginning of the fifteenth century. 
The learned Count Libri in his great work on the Histor}' of 
the Mathematical Sciences in Italy, Paris, 1838, ton). 2, 
page 220, quotes in corroboration of thi^ statemeni the 


Gncrino Meschino, said to have been written at the begin- 
ning- of the fourteenth century.* 

The earliest alhision to the use of the compass in the 
middle ages yet discovered occurs in a treatise De Utensili- 
tus by Alexander Neckam, a native of St. Albans, who as 
early as 1180, when he was but twenty-three years of age, 
had become famous as a Professor in the University of Paris. 
For the treatise in question we are indel)ted to the learned 
researches of our distinguished and indefatigable antiquary, 
Mr. Thomas Wright. It is given in a privately-printed 
" Volume of Vocabularies," illustrating the manners of our 
forefathers from the tenth century to the fifteenth, in the 
rather obscure language given at foot.f The earliest account 
of the mariner's compass previously known was contained in 
some often-repeated lines of a satirical poem, entitled the 
" Bible," by Guyot de Provins, in which he wishes the 
Pope were as safe a point to look to as the North Star is to 
mariners, who can steer towards it without seeing it by the 
direction of a needle floating in a straw on a basin of water, 
after being touched by the magnet. Nothing can more 
clearly prove than these two passages that the compass was 
in use in the West at the close of the twelfth century. But 
to show how limited that use must have been, even more 
than half a century later, it is only necessary to refer to a 
passage in the description of a visit paid by Brunetto Latini, 
the tutor of the immortal Dante, to Roger Bacon at Oxford, 

* Pero li naviganti vanno con la calamita, securi per lo marc, e con la stella 
e con lo partii-e della carta et de li bossoli de la calamita. 

t " Qui ergo munitam vulthabere navem, albestum habeat, ne desit ei bene- 
ficium ignis. Habeat etiam acum jacnlo suppositam, rotabitnr enim et circum- 
volvetiu- acus donee euspis acus respiciat orientem, sicque comprebendunt quo 
tendere debeant naute cum cinossura latet in aeris turbacione, quamvis ad 
occasum nunquam tendat propter circuli brevitatem." But a fuller description 
of the compass is given in another of Neckam's books, the treatise De JSaturis 
Rerum, lib. 2, cap. 18, (MS. Reg. 12. G. xi. fol. 53 verso). "NautiE etiam mare 
legentes cum beneficium claritatis soUs in tempore nubilo non sentiunt, aut 
etiam ciun caligine noctiu'nanim tenebranim mundus obvolvitur, et ignorant in 
quern mundi cardineni prora tendat, acum super magnatem ponunt quae cir- 
culariter circumvolvitur usque dum, ejus motu cessante, euspis ipsius scptentri- 
onalcm plagam respiciat." 


apparently in the year 1258. When driven out of Florence 
by the Ghibeline faction, Latini had sought an asylum with 
the Earl of Provence, brother-in-law to King Henry the Third. 
He came over to England with the King's brother, Richard, 
Earl of Cornwall, then newly elected King of the Romans, 
in the quality of preceptor to Henry d'Almaine, Richard's 
eldest son. From England he addressed descriptions of what 
he saw to the poet Guido Cavalcanti, who also had been one 
of his pupils. These interesting letters, written in the French 
patois of the Romansch language, were translated by a cor- 
respondent of the Monthly Magazine in 1802, under the 
title of "Extracts from the Portfolio of a Man of Letters."* 
He says : — 

" The Parliament being summoned to assemble at Oxford 
(probably the Mad Parliament in 1258), I did not fail to see 
Friar Bacon as soon as I arrived, and [among other things] 
he shewed me a black ugly stone, called a magnet, which 
has the surprising property of drawing iron to it ; and upon 
which if a needle be rubbed, and afterwards fastened to a 
straw, so that it shall swim upon water, the needle will in- 
stantly turn towards the Pole-star : therefore, be the night 
ever so dark, so that neither moon nor star be visible, yet 
shall the mariner be able, by the help of this needle, to steer 
his vessel aright. [La magneto piere laide et noire. Ob ete 
fer volenters se joint. Lon touchet ob une aguilet. Et en 
festue lon fischie. Puis lon mette en laigue et se tient 
desus. Et la point se torne centre lestoille. Qiiant la nuit 
feit tenebrous et lon ne voie estoile ni lune, poet li mariner 
tenir droite voie.] 

" This discovery, which appears useful in so great a degree 
to all who travel by sea, must remain concealed until other 
times ; because no master-mariner dares to use it lest he 
should fall under a supposition of his being a magician ; nor 
would even the sailors venture themselves out to sea under 
his command, if he took with him an instrument wliich 

* The Monthly Magazine, or, British Register. Vol. xiii. I'art 1, p. 419. 
London, 1802. 


carries so great an appearance of being- constrncteil ini(U>r 
the influence of some infernal spirit. A time may come 
when these prejudices, wliich ave of such great hindrance to 
researches into the secrets of nature, will probal)ly be no 
more ; and it will be then that mankind shall reap the 
benefit of the labours of such learned men as Friar Bacon, 
and do justice to that industry and intelligence for which he 
and they now meet with no other return than obloquy and 

Thus far we find the mariner possessed of a contrivance 
which, without the moral hindrance to its use referred to by 
Brunetto Latini, might possibly be used at sea, but certainly 
only under favourable conditions. It is clear that as yet it 
was known as an article of curiosity rather than one of prac- 
tical utility. At what time it became effectively serviceable by 
being fitted into a box and connected with the compass-card, 
we have as yet no historical data to show, but we are told 
by Antonio Beccadelli, surnamed II Panormita from his 
birth-place Palermo, and who was a cotemporary of Prince 
Henry, that sailors were first indebted to Amalfi for the use 
of the magnet. " Prima dedit nautis usum magnetis Amal- 
phis " ; and, " Inventrix praiclara fuit magnetis Amalphis."* 
The former line was better calculated than the latter to win 
honour for the Amalfitan, Flavio Gioja, who is therein re- 
ferred to. We have already seen that the invention of the 
magnet was certainly not due to him, for by common con- 
sent the period at which he flourished was the beginning of 
the fourteenth century, but if the honour described in the 
former line of having given sailors the use of the magnet might 
be taken in its severest meaning, we might gather that he 
supplied what was hitherto wanting, viz., the box and fittings 
which made the compass available. Be this as it may, we 
have certain evidence of the practical use of the needle at sea 

* The former of these lines is quoted from II Panormita by Henricus Brenc- 
mannus in his Dissertatio de Republica Amalfitana, and Klaproth has addi'd 
the latter. We must therefore presume that they are genuine, but I have sciuglit 
for them in vain thi-ough the verses of that elegant Latiuist, but most impure 
poet, to whom they are ascribed. — R.H.M. 


before Prince Henry's time, not only from the above lines 
of Antonio Beccadelli, but from the words of Prince Henry 
himself, as will be hereafter seen when he is nrging on one 
of his navigators to the rounding of Cape Bojador. 

It was in the reign of Alfonso the Fourth that the sciences 
of mathematics and astronomy first began to be studied in 
Portugal, the Moors and Jews being the most eager students, 
and they principally in judicial astrology. It is not how- 
ever till the time of Prince Henry that we meet with the 
names of individual cultivators of those sciences. His 
brother the King Dom Duarte himself gave proof of the 
interest he took in meteorology by the following observa- 
tions of the aspects of the moon made by him and preserved 
amongst his writings in the Carthusian Convent at Evora.* 
He says that " when the new moon is entirely red, it signifies 
much wind. If its topmost point be darlf, it means rain. 
If it sparkle like water raised by oars, it shows that there 
will soon be a storm. If dark in the middle, it shows that 
there will be fine weather when the moon reaches the full." 

It seems highly probable that the chair of mathematics in 
Lisbon was established by Prince Henry himself, since by a 
deed dated 12th October, 1431, he conferred on the Univer- 
sity of that city, which had no house 2jroperty, some houses 
which he purchased of Joao Annes, the king's armourer, for 
four hundred coroas velhas, while it is known that in 1485 
that chair did exist, and that the subject was one in which he 
took especial interest. 

A most valuable coadjutor of the Prince in the prosecution 
of these studies was his elder brother the Infant Dom Pedro. 
Excellently educated, as indeed were all the children of Queen 
Philippa, he was an accomplished student of the ancient 
languages and mathematics. In 1410 f, the year after the 
taking of Ceuta, this Prince was seized with the desire to 

*See Sousa. Provas. Tom. 1, p. oIO. 

t The old chroniclers assign the date of 142-1 to the Prince's departure ou his 
travels, hut his modern hiographcr, the Ahhadc de Castro, has found reason to 
place tliat event in 11 16. 


gain enlightenment by travel through the principal countries 
of Europe and Western Asia. And accordingly on the first 
Sunday after Easter, with the King's permission, he set forth 
with that object attended by a small suite of only twelve 
persons. He first visited his uncle the King of Castile at 
Valladolid, who not only welcomed him with a present of five 
thousand gold pieces, but escorted him in person a league forth 
of the city. The King also gave him for a comjoanion an 
interpreter named Garcia Eamires, who had travelled in many 
countries and was a notably able linguist. His first desti- 
nation was to Palestine, whence, after visiting the Holy 
Places, he proceeded to the Court of the Grand Turk and to 
that of the Grand Sultan of Babylonia, where he met with a 
magnificent reception. He thence passed to the Court of 
Eome, where Pope Martin V. welcomed him with the highest 
distinction and at his request conceded to the Kings of 
Portugal the important prerogative, afterwards confirmed by 
a bull dated June 16th, 1428, of receiving the rite of 
coronation by unction in the same manner as observed in 
the crowning of the Kings of England and France. This 
grace was subsequently confirmed to King Duarte, King 
Joao's successor, by Pope Eugenius in the year 1436. 
The Prince also visited the Courts of the Kings of Hun- 
gary and Denmark, and Sousa states, on the authority of 
the History of Bohemia by Mneas Sylvius, afterwards 
Pope Pius II., that in company with Eric X., King of 
Denmark, he served the Emperor Sigismund to such 
good purpose in the war against the Turks, and also in 
the war against the Venetians, that he granted him in 
reward the Marca Trevisana.* After peace was established 
between Sigismund and the Venetians the Prince went to 
Venice, and there received from the Republic, in compliment 
to him as a traveller and a learned Royal Prince, the priceless 
gift of a copy of the travels of Marco Polo, which had been 
preserved by the Venetians in their treasury as a work of 

* I do not find tljc passage, but the deed of endowment was seen hy Duarte 
Nuues in the arehives of the Torre do Tombo. 


great value,* together with a map which had been supposed 
to have been either an original or the copy of one by the 
hand of the same illustrious explorer. The Priuce then 
proceeded to England, which he much desired to see on 
account of its being the country of the Queen his mother. 
His reception by Henry the Sixth was marked by every 
demonstration of honour and regard that could be shown 
by a powerful monarch to so near a relative. On the 22nd 
of April, 1427, the Prince was elected a Knight of the 
Garter in place of Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, who 
had died on the 27th December, 1426. 

At the end of twelve years' travel Dom Pedro returned in 
1428 to Portugal, where his safe arrival after so many wander- 
ings caused the liveliest joy not only to the King his father 
and his brothers, but to the whole population, by whom he 
was henceforth spoken of as the Prince " that had travelled 
over the seven parts of the world. ' ' Unfortunately we possess 
only a fabulous narrative of this most genuine peregrination 
drawn up by one of Dom Pedro's own companions, named 
Gomez de Santo Estevan. This is the more to be regretted 
as journeys of such length through distant countries were 
seldom in those days made by Royal personages. On his 
return Dom Pedro devoted himself like his brother Prince 
Henry to scientific studies, among which the art of carto- 
graphy took a leading place, and there is little doubt that to 
the genius and attainments of his elder brother Dom Pedro, 
Prince Henry ow^ed much of encouragement and enlighten- 
ment in his pursuit of geographical investigation. The 
Marco Polo MS. and the map brought from Venice would 
doubtless act as a potent stimulus to these investigations. 
We are unfortunately much in the dark as to the character 
of this map, but according to Antonio Galvam it "had all 
the parts of the world and earth described. The Streight 
of JMagellan was called in it the Dragons taile : the Cape 
of Bona Speran^a, the forefront of Afrike (and so foorth of 

* A rorluiriinsc trnnslalioii of fliis work was inado and edited at Lisbon in 
1-302 by the same ^'aleIltin Fcinaiidez ol' w lioni iiieniioii has been alit'udv made. 


other places :) by which map Don Henry the King's thii-d 
Sonne was much helped and furthered in his discoveries." 
Galvam further states that he was told by Francisco de Sousa 
Tavares that, in the year 1528, Dom Fernando, the son and 
heir of King Manoel, showed him a map* which was found 
in the Cartorio, or study, of the Royal Monastery of Alcobaoa, 
which had been made more than a hundred and twenty years 
before, on which was laid down all the navigation of India, with 
the Cape of Good Hope as it was now known. '' If it be «o.' 
he proceeds to say, " there was as much or more discovered i^j 
times past than now." This Francisco de Sousa Tavares was 
the executor of Antonio Galvam, and the editor of his " History 
of the Discoveries of the World," so that if any mistake had 
been made by Galvam in first writing down this fact, the editor 
would have been able to correct it. By not doing so he has 
made the assertion his own. And such being the case the 
closing remark of Galvam respecting the evidence of these 
two maps* seems prima facie not only reasonable but in the 
highest degree damaging to that claim which it is the object 
of this work to assert on behalf of the Portuguese, and par 
excellence of Prince Henry, to the glory of having opened 
the way to India by the Cape of Good Hope. This difficulty 
has been ably met by a learned Portuguese writer, Antonio 
Ribeiro dos Santos, f not by any endeavour to escape from, but 
by enlarging the field of, the apparent danger. He shows 
that similar indications occur upon maps yet earlier, as for 

* If one may be giiided by what is said in the first paragraph of Book 4 of 
Cordeyro's Historia Insulana, p. 97, the map brought back by Dom Pedi'o 
and the one which was formerly in the Cartorio of Alcobaga are identical ; for 
though, after speaking of the one brought by Dom Pedro, he says that in 1528 
Dom Fernando showed Antonio Galvao another map found at Alcoba§a, he two 
lines later says that the latter must have been the one brought back by Dom 
Pedro. By this it is clear that the word " another " simply implies " also." This 
conclusion is (;onfii-med by the fact that in this very paragraph, which con- 
sists of only one sentence, what the word " another " would make to mean two 
maps, is thus spoken of as only one, " and of such map our discoverer I'rince 
Heniy must have availed himself together with the information received from 
the Venetians for gi-ving instructions for the discovery of these new islands." 

t See Memorias de Littcratura Portugueza. Tom. 8, pp. 27o et seq. 


example on that of Marino Sanuto of about the date of 1320, 
on a famous map still preserved in the Camaldolese Monastery 
of S. Miguel de Murano near Venice, of about the date of 
1380, supposed to be a copy of one brought from China by 
Marco Polo. To these he adds two of a later period, though 
anterior to those recognized discoveries of the Cape which 
resulted from tiie expeditions of Prince Henry, viz., that of 
the Venetian Andrea Bianco of 1436 and of the renowned 
geographer Fra Mauro of the above-mentioned Camaldolese 
Monastery of the date of 1459. But of these maps and how 
far they were indicative of actual exploration I shall have 
occasion to speak fully in a subsequent chapter. 

Much doubt has been entertained as to the year in which the 
Prince first dispatched a vessel on an exploratory expedition. 
Some have even made it as early as 1412, but there appears 
no sure foundation for such a supposition. From an ex- 
pression which occurs in a bull of Pope Nicholas V. of the 
date of 1455, it would be inferred that he commenced his 
enterprize, when about coming of age (ab ejus ineunte 
SBtate), which would be in the year 1415. All seem to agree 
in acknowledging the fact that when in Ceuta in that year 
the Prince gathered important information from the Moors 
of Fez and Marocco respecting the Arabs who lived on the 
borders of the desert, as well as respecting the kingdom of 
the Jaloffs near Guinea. He knew that the countries on 
the North of Africa were enriched by commerce with that 
country, and derived therefrom a considerable quantity of 
gold. In this, as a step to yet greater purposes of advance- 
ment, he saw a source of prosperity for his own country, 
which in itself was worthy of new efforts at exploration. 
The earliest date assigned by any authority of the same 
century to an expedition fitted out by him is that of this 
selfsame year of 1415. It occurs in a narrative recounted 
many years after the Prince's deatli to the celebrated German 
knight, Martin von Behaiin, by Diogo Gomez, almoxarife 
or superintendent of the palace of Cintra, who had himself 
been an explorer uikKt Ihi' ordci's of Prince TTeniT, and liad 


been much about his person. He states, that, in 1415, a 
certain noble Portuguese gentleman, named Joiio de Trasto, 
was captain of an expedition, fitted out by the Prince, lie 
was driven by stress of weather upon that part of the isUind 
of Great Canary, which was named Telli, the fruitful. In 
endeavouring to return, he encountered strong currents 
between the islands, so that it was with great difficulty 
that he made his way home. There is however so much 
that is manifestly inaccurate in other statements of Diego 
Gromez respecting the early voyages which he narrates from 
hearsay, that we cannot be perfectly sure that the date here 
applied to the earliest expedition is correct, . Be this as it 
may, it is certain that after his return from Ceuta, the 
Prince made a practice of sending out an expedition every 
year as far as was possible along the coast of Africa. Some 
have attributed to his sailors the credit of first passing Cape 
Non, which as its name imports had in old times been 
regarded as the limit of safe or even possible navigation ; * 
but this is plainly wrong, for Cape Boyador, which really did 
form that limit, is distinctly laid down on maps of the 
fourteenth century, before Prince Henry was born. These 
various expeditions which resulted in no immediate ad- 
vantage called down upon the Prince much obloquy from 
the nobles, who complained of an amount of useless 
expenditure, from which meanwhile they were in no sense 
the losers. But vituperations fell harmless upon one who 
was consciously influenced by a noble purpose which could 
only be effected by perseverance. At length an event took 
place which silenced clamour for a while, and greatly en- 
couraged the hopes of the Prince, but this must form the 
subject of a separate chapter. 

* The proverb ran " Quem passar o Cabo de Nao, ou voltara ou Nao :" 
" Wboever passes Cape Non will return or «o<." 



The discovery of the islands of Porto Santo and Madeira in 
1418 — 20 was the first fruit of Prince Henry's esi)lorations, 
and until the year 1827 the belief had prevailed for nearly 
three hundred years, that those islands were then discovered 
for the first time and then also received their respective 
names. True, a vague rumour obtained in some quarters, 
especially in the islands themselves, that the discovery had 
been made fortuitously by an Englishman named Machin at the 
close of the previous century, but great discredit was thrown 
upon this story by many, and none knew for a certainty what 
to believe. Happily the means have fallen within my power 
to establish the truth of this latter story, but in a subse- 
quent chapter it will be shown that even earlier still, 
namely, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, the 
discovery was made in which the present names of the 
different islands of the group originated. It is to the great 
Portuguese historian De Barros that we owe the diffusion of 
the erroneous belief that the group first received those names 
and was for the first time discovered by the Portuguese in 
Prince Henry's time in 1418 — 20, and in making that 
statement he exceeded the authority of the ancient chronicler 
Azurara from whom he, by his own acknowledgment, derived 
his materials. He tells us that " two squires of Prince 
Henry's household named Joao Gonsalvez Zarco and Tristam 
Vaz, anxious for fame and desirous of serving their master, 


bad set out on an exploring expedition to the coast of 
Guinea, but were taken by a storm oif Cape St. Vincent and 
driven to the island of Porto Santo, which name was then 
given hy them to the island on account of its saving them 
from the dangers of the tempest." The favourable report of 
the newly found island of Porto Santo induced Prince 
Henry forthwith to send out to colonize it, and after a while 
a dark spot was descried on the horizon by the colonists, 
which on examination proved to be what is now called the 
island of Madeira. In speaking of this De Barros, in like 
manner, says " they gave it that name which means ' wood,' 
on account of the thick forests with which it was covered," 
a statement equally incorrect with that already noticed. 
The real origin of these names will be described in another 
chapter. At present we have to speak of Machin's expe- 
dition and the process by which Zarco himself was led to his 
reputed accidental discovery. The story is one of the most 
romantic that has ever been dignified with the name of 
history, and has been told a hundred times in as many 
different shapes ; but the following is a digest of it as related 
by the possessor of the original manuscript account. 

In the reign of Edward III., a young man of good 
family named Robert Machin had the misfortune to become 
enamoured of a young lady, the wealth and rank of whose 
parents were so far superior to his own that they treated his 
pretensions with disdain. To avoid his importunities they 
obtained from the King an order for his imprisonment, and 
in the interval united their daughter to a nobleman whose 
station was more suited to maintain the dignity of their 
family. As the lady whose name was Anne d'Arfet or 
Dorset reciprocated Machin's affection, he was no sooner 
released from prison than he determined on carrying her off. 
By the aid of a friend who contrived to gain admittance as 
gi'oom into the lady's family, which was established at 
Bristol, this plan was finally effected, and from Bristol they 
set sail together in a vessel which Machin had already 
provided and manned for the purpose. 



The intention was to sail for France, but a north-east 
wind carried them off that coast and, after thirteen days' 
driving before a tempest, they canght sight of an ishmd on 
which they landed. They found it uninhabited, but well 
wooded and watered and eminently suited for habitation. 
For three days they enjoyed the peacefulness of security, and 
while some explored the interior, others in the ship examined 
the contour of the coast, but on the third night were over- 
taken by a storm and driven on the coast of Africa. The 
anxiety and suffering which the unhappy lady had undergone 
found their culmination in this disaster, and after three days 
of total mental prostration she expired. She was buried 
at the foot of the altar which had been erected in gratitude 
on their arrival, and, on the fifth day after her death, 
Machiu also was found dead on the grave of his mistress. 
The survivors buried him, and then embarked in the ship's 
boat and, on reaching the coast of Africa, were carried before 
the King of Marocco, by whom they were thrown into cap- 
tivity. In the same unfortunate circumstances they encoun- 
tered their missing companions who had previously been 
carried away in the ship. 

Among their fellow-captives was one Juan de Morales, a 
native of Seville, a good seaman and originally a pilot, to 
whom they gave a description of the land they had dis- 
covered. Now on the 5th March, 1416, died Don Sancho, 
the youngest son of King Ferdinand of Aragon, and by his 
will he left a large sum for the ransom of Christian captives 
from Marocco. Amongst those who were redeemed was this 
Juan de Morales, but the vessel which brought him over was 
captured by the Portuguese navigator Joao Gonsalvez Zarco. 
From pity however the latter liberated the unfortunate cap- 
tives, reserving only Morales, whose experience in nautical 
matters he thought might be of service to his master. Prince 
Henry. This Zarco had, as we have already seen from 
Barros, gone out in company with Tristam Vaz Teixeyra, to 
explore the west coast of Africa, and had been driven by a 
storm on the ishmd of Porto Santo. This appears to have 


occurred at the close of 1418 or at tlie beginning of 1419. 
From Morales he heard tlie account of Machines discovery , 
and, with the permission of the Prince and under the guid- 
ance of Morales, he set sail and made the important discovery 
of the island of Madeira, to one half of which he gave the 
name of Funchal and to the other that of Machico. 

This story was first given to the world in full detail by the 
graceful Portuguese writer, Francisco Manoel de Mello, in 
his " Epanaphoras de Varia historia Portugueza," published 
at Lisbon in 10(30. He declares it to have been founded 
on an original narrative by Francisco Alcaforado, a squire of 
Prince Henry, who was with Zarco in this famous voyage, 
and which narrative De Mello states that he preserved as a 
precious jewel, and which had come into his possession by an 
extraordinary channel. As much suspicion has been thrown 
upon its truth I have been at great pains to investigate its 
history. Although the library of Manoel de Mello is pre- 
served in the Bibliotheca Nacional at Lisbon, the manuscript 
of Alcaforado, which has been diligently searched for by my 
own request at the instance of a distinguished Portuguese 
nobleman, the Count de Rilvas, has never been found. The 
suspicion occasioned by this circumstance was increased by 
my finding that in De Mello' s library was a copy of Antonio 
Galvao's " Treatise on the Discoveries of the World," 
written about the year 1555, and in which this story of 
Machin had been for the first time told in print, although 
in a far less detailed manner. This book had become so 
extremely scarce in the course of half a century that Hakluyt, 
who possessed an anonymous translation of it made by some 
" honest English merchant," strove for twelve years to find 
a copy of the original, sending to Lisbon for it, but in vain.* 
The suspicion excited by the absence of the Alcaforado 
manuscript from, and the presence of Galvao in, De Mello's 

* What Hakluyt failed to do I had the good fortune to succeed in for the benefit 
of the Society which bears his name. Mr. John Carter Bro-wTi of Providence, 
Rhode Island, lent me a copy which was edited for the Hakluyt Society in 
1862 bv Admiral Drinkwater Bethune. 


library, induced me to seek further, and at length I succeeded 
in obtaining from Munich an extract from an unpublished 
Portuguese manuscript, containing this story, which having 
been written in 1508 was earlier even than Galvao by half 
a century. It is the production of a German printer and 
compiler resident at Lisbon, the Portuguese form of whose 
name was Valentin Fernandez.* A comparison of the two 
narratives of De Mello and Fernandez presents the following 
differences. De Mello takes Machin to Madeira at once, 
while Fernandez takes him first to Porto Santo and then to 
Madeira. De Mello makes Machin die at Madeira ; Fer- 
nandez makes him spend six months in cutting a canoe out 
of a large tree, in which he lands on the coast of Marocco, 
whence he is sent by the King of Fez to King Juan of 
Castile. The Spanish sovereign, however, was so closely 
encraffed in a war with Portugal that the matter was neglected, 


and meanwhile Machin died. 

Tliat such differences should exist is intelligible, when we 
consider that De Mello's story is his own embellished com- 
pilation from Alcaforado, and that of Fernandez is also 
his own account drawn up from a source of which we are 
io-norant. The question is whether the story can, from 
them, be shown to be true in the main. This can be done 
in two ways, first by establishing De Mello's truthful- 
ness as to the Alcaforado manuscript from internal evi- 
dence ; and secondly, by showing that, even if that manu- 
script were a myth, the story nevertheless existed in a 
record earlier than any to which De Mello had access. 
First, there are certain facts which, when brought side 
by side, confirm the truth of De Mello's statement that 
he really possessed the now missing Alcaforado manu- 
script. De Mello's narrative based upon that manuscript 
gives not only the story of Machin, but a detailed account 
of Zarco's subsequent discovery, in which Alcaforado is said 
to have been ])resent. Now Barros, writing a century before 

* IIo also appears aa Valcutinus de Moravia in a Lilo of Cluist whicli liC 
published in H'JO in at-sociation witli Nicolas de Saxonia. 


De Mello's time, distinctly declared that in his day Zarco's 
descendants possessed a detailed account of his voyage, and 
De Mello himself ' informs us that by marriage he had 
become the representative of the Zarco f iniily. Should this 
combination of facts presenting such strong presumptive 
evidence be held to fall short of positive proof, and if it be 
assumed that De Mello drew his information not from any 
manuscript by Alcaforado, but from Galvao, there yet 
remains the fact that the earlier manuscript of Valentin 
Fernandez was out of the reach both of G-alvao and of Mello ; 
and the truth of the story is thus distinctly established 
by its appearance in an earlier document derived from 
totally independent sources. Soon after the compilation of 
that document in 1508, it passed into the hands of the cele- 
brated Conrad Peutinger (the fortunate possessor of the 
famous Tabula Peutingeriana), and remained in his posses- 
sion till he died in 1547. During the whole of this period 
the noble but unfortunate Antonio Galvao, whose account, 
drawn up in 1555, was the earliest hitherto printed, was en- 
gaged in the East, either sword in hand or sufi'ering in a 
prison, so that his account is shown to have been derived from 
independent sources, and the two separate documents point 
to the existence of another of a yet earlier date testifying to 
the truth of Machin's discovery. But further, Fernandez' 
account has remained in Germany ever since, so that when 
Francisco Manoel de Mello drew up his narrative in 1660, 
though he possessed a copy of Galvao's then rare book, 
he could have had no cognizance of the earlier statement of 
Fernandez, but, as he relates much more than either one or 
the other, it follows that he derives his additional matter 
from an ampler source, or that that source was a myth, and the 
additions a forgery. But if we bear in mind his own state- 
ment that he did possess such an original manuscript, which 
he says came to him by an extraordinary channel, an ex- 
pression explained by his becoming the representative of rhc 
Zarco family through matrimonial alliances, and the dis- 
tinct assertion by Barros about a century before, that that 


family possessed a detailed account of Zarco's voyage which 
is comprised in De Mello's story, suspicion of De Mello's 
truthfulness, never otherwise impugned, becomes more in- 
defensible than credulity. 

So much for external evidence. The internal evidence is 
no less conclusive. Although Azurara and Barros are silent 
on the subject, the accounts of Fernandez, Galvao, and De 
Mello, which I have shown to be independent of each other, 
concur in deriving the local name of Machico from the name 
of the Englishman Machin. Now none of Machin's crew 
were left behind, and the importance attached to Zarco's 
re-discovery in 1419-20 proves that the Portuguese had not 
colonized the island when, some seventy or a hundred years 
before, it was discovered, as I shall presently have to show, 
by their own vessels under the command of Genoese cap- 
tains. It follows therefore, although it has been nowhere 
distinctly so stated, that the names of Machico and Funchal 
must have been newly given by Zarco and Vaz at the time 
of the partition of the island between them. The etymology 
of the word Funchal is exclusively Portuguese. It signi- 
fies a place where fennel (in Portuguese, funcho) grows, and 
the name is distinctly declared to have been given from that 
plant having been found there in great quantities. The 
entirely different Spanish form of the word " hinojo,^' and 
the Italian form " finocchio," prove that the name could not 
have survived from any previous Spanish or Italian dis- 
covery. And since no Englishman remained on the island 
to preserve the name of Machin, the conclusion seems in- 
evitable that, at the time of the partition, the Portuguese 
showed their recognition of Machin's previous discovery, 
communicated to them by the Spaniard Juan de Morales, by 
themselves giving the name of Machico to the place where 
they found the grave and cross, and other indications of Ma- 
chin's tragic adventure. Further, it is past belief, that Manoel 
de Mello, himself a Portuguese, should gratuitously detract 
from the glory not only of his own country but of his own 
family, by setting forth that his ancestor hud been preceded 


in a grand discovery by an Englishman, and, even more, had 
been guided to that discovery by a Spaniard, if it had not 
been true. I think, therefore, that henceforth the story of 
the accidental discovery of Madeira by Machin must be 
accepted as a reality, but the question arises as to the date. 
By the misreading of a passage in Galviio, the date of 1344 
has been erroneously assigned to the event and repeated by 
many. That year is mentioned in connection with an 
entirely different occurrence which Galvao states was in the 
reign of King Peter IV., of Aragon [1336 to 1387], and 
then adds, "in the midst of this time also the island of 
Madeira was discovered by an Englishman named Macham, 
who was driven out of his course by a tempest, and anchored 
in the harbour now called Machico after his name." De 
Mello states that the adventure occurred during the reign of 
Edward III., ending 1377. It is clear, however, from their 
own statements, that neither of these writers was very 
precise in his chronology. 

But to return to Zarco, who, although his discovery was 
not original, had accomplished a feat of very great im- 
portance and added honour to a name which he had already 
greatly distinguished. He had won his spurs' at Ceuta, and 
had continued to serve bravely in the other African expe- 
ditions. He is also supposed to have been the first who 
introduced artillery on board' the Portuguese vessels. In 
the June of 1420 he set sail for Porto Santo with two vessels, 
accompanied by Joao Lourengo, Euy Paes, Alvaro AfFonso, 
Gonzalo Ayres Ferreira,* and Francisco Alcaforado, the 
author of the narrative. On arriving he had his attention 
called to a dark line which was visible on the horizon towards 

* We learn from Cordeiro's Historia Insulana, liv. 3, cap. 15, that in a 
chaiier of Prince Ilenrj^'s dated 1430, this Ferreira is mentioned as a companion 
of Zarco. He was the first who had children horn in Madeira. The eldest he 
called Adam and the second Eve. From him descended the nohle family of 
Casta Grande of Madeira and the Ferreiras of San Miguel, who also derive fiom 
the Drummonds and the Royal Stuarts. It may here be observed that Prince 
Henry, as I am informed by the Count dc llilvas, was careful to institute family 
registers at that early period in the island of ^ladeira. 


the south-west, an appearance which had astonished those 
whom he had left in the island. The pilot Juan de Morales 
conjectured that this would be the island they were in search 
of, and suggested that the thick fog was occasioned by the 
action of the sun on a soil covered with forests. After a 
stay of eight days, Zarco sailed in the direction of the fog, 
and as he approached it found that it diminished in extent 
and intensity towards the east ; and, steering in this du'ec- 
tion, he reached a point of low land to which he gave the 
name of Ponta de San Louren90. Doubling this he coasted 
along the southern shore, and came to high land covered 
with thick wood from the shore to the top of the mountains, 
where the fog still rested. 

The next day Ruy Paes was sent with a sloop to explore 
the coast. He found it answer to the description given of 
it from memory by Morales, and at length discovered the 
tomb with the epitaph and wooden cross which had been left 
by Machin's party, but no human being did he encounter. 
Zarco took formal possession of the island in the name of 
the King of Portugal, Prince Henry, and the order of 

He then went on board his sloop, and accompanied by 
Alvaro Afifonso in command of the other vessel, made an 
exploration of the coast. He soon fell in with four fine 
rivers of very pure water, to one of which he gave the name 
of Rio do Seyxo or river of the flint, which name still 
remains. From a valley further on, which was full of trees, 
he collected several samples of the difierent woods, and at 
the point of the river which flowed through it he set up a 
great wooden cross, which gave the name of Santa Cruz to 
the town afterwards built on the spot. Further on there 
arose from a point of land a great number of jackdaws, 
which caused him to name it " Ponta dos Gralhos " (Jack- 
daw Point). The name survives in the form of Cabo do 
Garajiio. Two leagues further was another point, which 
with the first formed a spacious and commodious gulf, into 
which several valleys opened ; the first was clothed with 


majestic cedars, and down the second flowed a broad river, 
which offered a convenient place for landing. Gon9alo 
Ayres was sent with some soldiers to explore the interior. 
He brought back word that from the top of the mountains 
he could see the outline of the whole island. The river has 
borne the name of that explorer ever since. On the west 
of the valley, the beach, which was broad and unsheltered, 
was one vast field of fennel, whence they called it " Funchal," 
the name which it has ever since retained. It is observable 
that the Portuguese instead of seeking grand names for 
their colonies contented themselves with preserving those 
which existed already, or adopting those which nature sup- 
plied. Some islets, opposite this " Funchal," offered an 
excellent roadstead where Zarco anchored to take in wood 
and water, and summoned the crews on board for the night. 

Next day the sloops set sail with the view of doubling 
the westward point of the bay of Funchal. On that point 
they planted a cross and gave it its present name of Ponta 
da Cruz, or Point of the Cross. Beyond it extended a 
beautiful beach, to which they accordingly gave the name of 
'^ Praya Formosa." This ended in a considerable torrent, 
the beauty of which tempted the curiosity of two soldiers 
from Lagos ; they went to reconnoitre it, and imprudently 
attempted to swim across it, but would certainly have been 
drowned, had they not received prompt assistance. This 
circumstance caused the torrent to be named, as at present, 
the " Eibeira dos Socorridos." 

Continuing still to advance, Zarco came to a little creek 
sheltered by a rock, and entered it with the sloops ; his 
arrival disturbed the repose of a troop of sea wolves or 
phocas, which fled into a cavern at the foot of the rock, 
which was their dwelling-place. This " Camara dos Lobos " 
(Chamber of the Wolves) was the terminus of Zarco's 
exploration of the coast. After taking in a good supply of 
water, wood, plants, and birds at Funchal, he returned to 
Portugal, where he arrived at the end of August. 

The King received him with great distinction, bestowed 


on him the title of Count of Camara dos Lobos, and gave 
him the hereditary command of his new discovery. He 
returned in the May following with his wife, his son, and 
all his family, and landed at the port of Machico, the name 
of which, given in remembrance of Machin, still survives. 
On the spot where the unfortunate Englishman was buried, 
he founded a chapel dedicated to the Saviour. He then 
went to Funchal, where the bay offered a better anchorage, 
and there founded a city, which rapidly increased in size, and 
in which his wife founded the Church of St. Catherine. 

The entire island was divided between Zarco and Tristam 
Vaz, so as to form two Captaincies of about equal extent. 
The northern half, with Machico for its capital, was given to 
Tristam, and the southern, with Funchal for its capital, and 
the three Dcsertas, to Zarco. 

Soon after Zarco had established himself at Funchal he 
erected a church, which from the great quantity of flint found 
on the coast he named Nossa Senhora do Calhao, or our Lady 
of the Flints, but as, inland from thence, the forests were so 
thick that they could not open a road, he had it set fire to, 
and it is stated by Caspar Fructuoso that for the incredible 
period of seven years the fire was unextinguished. However 
this may have been, it seems clear from a formal act signed 
by Prince Henry on the 18th of September, 1460, a few 
months before his death, by which he endowed the order of 
Christ with the spiritualities of these islands, that it was not 
till he was thirty-five years of age that he began to colonize 
the island of Madeira and Porto Santo, which would be in 
the year 1425. 

The province of Machico was richly wooded, and we learn 
from Azurara how, twenty years later, this wood was im- 
ported into Portugal by Prince Henry in such quantity that 
a great change took place in the architecture of the country, 
lofty houses being substituted for those which had previously 
been built in the Roman or Arabic style. The north of the 
island produced large quantities of corn and honey. The 
sugar cane was introduced from Sicily, and the first sugar 


grown in the whole island was in Machico. Prince Henry 
imported from Candia the Malvasiaor Malvoisie* grape, and 
in Machico the best wine was produced. Hence nnder the 
corrupted form of the name we have our Malmsey Madeira. 
It will be seen in a subsequent chapter how this grape had 
thriven in the island in the course of thirty years. 

On the return of Zarco and Vaz from their first discovery 
of Porto Santo, they suggested to the Prince the desirable- 
ness of colonizing the island. The Prince greatly approved 
of the idea, and provided them with the requisites for the 
colonization, and among those who offered to accompany 
them, was a gentleman of the household of Prince Joao, 
named Bartollomeu Perestrello. He had in a cage a pregnant 
rabbit, which had been given him by a friend. She littered 
during the passage, and with her young ones was taken to 
the island. Unfortunately the race increased so rapidly that 
they consumed everything that was planted by the colonists. 
On returning the following year after a short absence from 
the iBland, the colonists found the rabbits increased to such 
an extent that in spite of all their efforts to destroy them, 
they produced no sensible diminution of their numbers. 
Perestrello then returned greatly discouraged to Portugal, ■ 
Zarco and Vaz having by this time discovered Madeira, and 
received from Prince Henry that island in partition between 
them. The Prince however subsequently caused Perestrello 
to return to Porto Santo, of which he gave him the governor- 
ship, and although the multitude of rabbits entirely prevented 
all vegetable cultivation, yet the island nourished a con- 
siderable number of goats, and the dragon-tree grew in 
abundance, so that they were able to export dragon's blood 
to Portugal and many other places. We shall meet with 
the family of Perestrello established in Porto Santo at the 
close of the century, when we come to speak of Christopher 

* Originally from Monemvasia or Napoli di Malvasia in the Morca. 




The last years of the reign of King Joao, after the taking of 
Ceuta, were employed in the peaceful pursuit of the internal 
prosperity of his kingdom, . and the dynasty of Aviz was 
now firmly established. Even the warlike constable, Nuno 
Alvarez Pereira, who had never known defeat, had retired 
in 1423 to his magnificent Convent do Carmo, and, adopting 
the habit of a monk, laid aside all his titles, and, by his own 
desire, was addressed by the simple name of Nufio. Had he 
followed his own inclinations, he would have existed on the 
alms of the charitable and have made a pilgrimage as a 
mendicant to Jerusalem. 

For ten years more the kingdom enjoyed profound peace, 
when in 1433 the King's health began to fail, and he went by 
direction of his physicians toAlcochete,a village on the banks 
of the Tagus, the air of which was considered more suitable for 
him than that of Lisbon. But as his weakness increased 
and he became convinced that his end was approaching, he 
desired his sons to take him to Lisbon, for he did not think 
it befitting that he should remain to die in an obscure place, 
and in the house of a private individual, as he was so near 
to the capital of his dominions. He was therefore removed 
to the palace of Alcacova, where he breathed his last on the 
14th of August, 1433, — being the eve of the assunii)tion of 
the Blessed Virgin, and the anniversary of the battle of 
Aljubarrota, — in the 77th year of his age and the 49tli of his 


reign. His subjects mourned for him as for a father. Nor 
is this difficult to understand. For him they had suftercd 
much, and willingly sacrificed life and substance, while on 
his part the wisdom, skill, and courage which had made 
these sacrifices only the offerings of a willing loyalty, had 
procured for them a condition of prosperity and dignity which 
they had never before enjoyed. 

The King had directed by his will that he should be 
buried in the convent of Batalha, in the noble tomb which 
had been already coDstructed for himself and Queen 

King Joao was a man of a firm and resolute countenance, 
of large and well-proportioned frame, and of great strength, 
as shown by some pieces of his armour still existing, such as 
his helmet and battle-axe, which latter only a man of great 
power could have wielded. He was a man of remarkable 
self-control, and never allowed his features to betray emotion 
even in the extremes of joy or sorrow. His magnanimity 
was remarkably shown in the readiness with which he 
pardoned and restored to his favour those who offended him 
or who had conspired against his life. In his gifts he was 
always open-handed, and those v/ho served him well either in 
peace or in war he rewarded almost always beyond their 
expectation. He was the founder of a great number of the 
buildings in Portugal, most remarkable for beauty and 
magnificence ; as for example, the splendid palaces of Cintra, 
of Lisbon, of Santarem, and of Almeirim ; the sumptuous 
church of our Lady of Batalha, not far from the site of the 
, battle of Aljubarrota ; the church of Peralonga of the order 
of St. Jerome, the first of that order founded in the kingdom, 
and the monastery of Carnota, of the order of St. Francis, 
near Alemquer. 

He was a man of great piety, and was the first sovereign 

* The portraits of King John and Quoen Philippa given in this volume are 
drawn from casts from the statues on their tomb, expressly made for the author 
by order of his kind and valued friend His Excellency the Marquis de Souza 


who ordered the Hours of the Blessed Virgin to be trans- 
lated into the Portuguese language, that all might make 
use of them in prayer. He also had the Gospels and the 
life of Christ and other spiritual books translated into the 
mother tongue. As Grand Master of the order of Aviz, 
he had the Eoyal escutcheon placed upon the green cross of 
the order, as a memorial of the care which as Grand Master 
he maintained over the kingdom. This is seen in the coins 
of his reign and those of his successors, until altered by 
King Joao II. Being also Knight of the Garter, to which 
order he was the first foreign sovereign admitted, from 
devotion to St. George, its patron saint, whose name was at 
all times his battle cry, he bore for his crest the dragon, 
the saint's well-known symbol. He was a man intel- 
lectually in advance of his age. One of the latest acts of 
his life, was a requirement that all public ordinances should 
be dated from the Christian era, instead of from the era of 
Ca3sar, as had until that time been the j)ractice ; the altera- 
tion involved a difference of thirty-eight years, the era of 
1460 corresponding with the year of our Lord 1422. 

During the later years of his life the military ardour of 
his earlier days was allowed to give place to purposes of 
usefulness, and while he cultivated the chivalry that he 
loved, in the character and habits of the youthful nobility, 
he devoted himself to the internal improvement of his 
kingdom. With so many claims upon their reverence and 
their love, well might the Portuguese in after years speak 
of him as the " Father of his country" and " El Key de boa 
memoria," "the King of happy memory." 

The court of King Jofio adopted for the most part English 
habits and usages, and the intercommunication between the 
two countries was much more extensive than it had previously 
been. The adoption of the French language as it was used 
at the English court and the devices and mottoes adopted 
by the King's sons attest this influence. The King himself 
was an exceedingly accomplished Latin scholar, and wrote in 
that language with remarkable skill and good taste. Many 






passages of the " Leal Conselheiro " of his successor King- 
Duartc show that the princes had conversations with the 
King their father and other well-instructed persons on 
various literary subjects, and discussed the rules and in- 
structions for making good translations of classical works. 
We find also that King Joao I., in his address to those wlio 
remained behind atCeuta in 1415, quoted the"Regimcnto dos 
Principes" of Fr. Gil de Eoma, and reminded them that he 
had often read it in his chamber. And so in that age of 
discoveries the reading of the "Wonders of the World" and 
the " Voj'ages of Marco Polo," brought from Venice by Dom 
Pedro, would doubtless give the greatest delight to the dis- 
tinguished men who were trained in the households of Prince 
Henry and his ilkistrious ftither and brothers. It has been 
generally believed that the King on his death-bed exhorted 
Prince Henry to persevere in his laudable purpose of pro- 
secuting the extension of the Christian faith amongst their 
hereditary enemies in the as yet unexplored regions of 
Africa. Such an injunction would fall with redoubled force 
upon a mind whose views, religious, patriotic and scientific, 
were already so strongly directed to that object. For a long 
series of years the Prince had with untiring perseverance 
continued to send out annually two or three caravels along 
the West Coast of Africa. Cape Non was passed, but the 
increasing violence of the waves that broke upon the dan- 
gerous northern bank of Cape Boyador had till now prevented 
his sailors from rounding its formidable point. As yet they 
feared to venture out of sight of land and risk their lives 
upon the unknown waters of the Sea of Darkness. 

One of the earliest acts of King Duarte after ascend in f>- the 
throne was to testify his satisfaction with Prince Henry's 
efforts in the progress of discovery by making him a donation 
of the islands of Madeira,'^Porto Santo, and the Desertas, by 
a charter given from Cintra on the 26th of September, 143:3, 
and in the following year, by a charter dated from Santarem 
on the 26th of October, he granted the spirituality of these to 
the Order of Christ, of which the Prince was the Grand ^faster. 


Each time that the Prince sent out a fresh expedition he 
stimulated his explorers with promises of increased reward, 
to aim at excelling their predecessors in throwing light on 
this dark sulyect. Accordingly, in 1433, the year of his 
father's death, undismayed by so many years of disappoint- 
ment, he again sent out a squire of his, Gil Eannes, a 
native of Lagos, but with the usual bad success, for he 
reached no further than the Canary Islands, where he took 
some captives and returned home. In the following year 
the Prince strongly urged him to make another effort, at any 
rate to pass Cape Boyador, which if he could do, it would 
suffice for that voyage. 

It is manifest that fanciful alarms suggested by sailors 
from other countries were superadded to the real dangers of 
the ocean to deter the Prince's mariners, for in his injunc- 
tions to Gil Eannes we find him thus remonstrating with 
him for giving heed to such fables : 

" If," he says, " there were the slightest authority for 
these stories that they tell, I would not blame you, but you 
come to me with the statements of four seamen who have 
been accustomed to the voyage to Flanders, or some other 
well known route, and beyond that have no knowledge of 
the needle or the sailing chart. Go out then again and 
give no heed to their opinions, for, by the grace of God, 
you cannot fail to derive from }-our voyage both honour and 

The Prince was a man of commanding presence, and his 
injunctions had great weight with Gil Eannes, who now 
firmly resolved that he would not appear again before his 
master without bringing a good account of his erranil. 
Accordingly, disregarding all danger, he put well out to sea, 
and succeeded in doubling the Cape. Although the exploit 
was in truth but a small one in the eyes of those who after- 
wards had gained greater experience, yet the hardihood of it 
was thought much of at the time, for if tlu' first who readied 
that Cape had done as much, he would lu'ither liave been 

aisednor Ihankctl, but the greater the sense of danger that 



others had attached to it, the groaf^er was the honour that 
accrued to hmi who overcame it. 

The Prince was as good as his word, and Gil Eannes on 
his return was handsomely rewarded. He informed the 
Prince that he had landed, but had found no human beings 
or signs of habitation, but as he thought he ought to bring 
back some evidence of his having been on shore, he pre- 
sented to the Prince some plants that he had gathered, 
which were such as were called in Portugal St. Mary's 

The Prince in consequence fitted out in the following 
year, 1435, a larger vessel than he had yet dispatched, called 
a varinel, or vessel with oars, in which he sent out Affonso 
Gonsalves Baldaya, his cup-bearer, together with Gil 
Eannes in his barque, and they passed fifty leagues beyond 
the Cape. They found no habitations, but only some traces 
of men and camels. Either in obedience to their orders or 
from necessity they returned with this report, but did 
nothing further. They named the place which they had 
reached Angra dos Ruivos, or Gurnard Bay, on account of 
the great number of those fish which they caught there. 

These traces of men and camels satisfied the Prince either 
that there was a population at no great distance, or that 
there were travellers who came to the coast. Accordingly, 
he again sent out Baldaya in the same varinel, and recom- 
mended him to proceed as far as he could, and to do his best 
to capture one of the people, so as to gather some informa- 
tion respecting the natives. Baldaya passed seventy leagues 
beyond the point previously reached, making a hundred and 
twenty from the Cape, and here found what might be the 
mouth of a large river with many good anchorages, and 
the entrance of which extended eight leagues along the 
shore. This was what has ever since been known as the 
Rio d'Ouro, but it is only an estuary. 

Here they cast anchor, and as Affonso Gonsalves had 
brought with him two horses, given him by the Prince for 
the purpose, he sent out two young men to reconnoitre and 

G 2 


see whether they could discover any signs of villages or 
travellers. To make this task the easier they wore no 
armour, but simply took their lances and swords Ly way of 
defence, for in the event of their meeting any people in 
numbers, their best chance of safety would be in their 
horses' heels. The lads -were but about seventeen years of 
age, but although they had no notion what sort of people or 
wild beasts they might encounter, they boldly set out and 
followed the course of the river for seven leagues. 

They came at last upon a group of nineteen men, neither 
wearing armour nor carrying any weapons but azagays. 
When the lads saw them they rode up to them, but the 
men, although so many, had not the courage to meet them 
in the open field, but for safety collected near a heap of 
stones, and there withstood the onset of the youths. They 
fouo'ht till evenino^ warned the latter to make their retreat 
and return to the vessel. 

It is difficult to imagine what those men must have 
thought of this sudden appearance of two boys, of com- 
plexion and features so different from their own, mounted 
on horsel)ack, and armed with weapons which they had 
never seen before, and withal so courageously attacking a 
great number of men. 

The two Portuguese lads wounded several of their antago- 
nists, and one of them was himself injured in the foot. " I 
afterwards knew one of these boys," says the old chronicler, 
" when he was a noble gentleman of good renown in arms. 
His name was Hector Homem, and you will find him in the 
chronicles of the kingdom well proved in great deeds. The 
other was named Diego Lopez Dalmeida, a nobleman of 
good presence, as I have heard from those who know him." 
They readied the ship towards morning, and took some rest. 

At daybreak xiffonso Gonsalves took some of his people 
with him in his boat, and ascended the river accompanied 
by the boys on horseback. They came to the place where 
the natives had been on the day before, hoping to fight with 
them and ca})turo one of them, but after the boys had left 


tliem, they had decamped, leaving the greater portion of 
their poor property behind them. This Alfonso Gonsalves 
took and put on board his boat, as an evidence of what had 
been done, and, judging that it would be of no use to 
continue the pursuit, returned to his ship. They named the 
bay Angra dos Cavallos, or Bay of the Horses. Near the 
mouth of the river they found an immense number of 
phocas, amounting, as some reckoned, to five thousand. 
They killed as many as they could, and loaded the ship with 
their skins. 

Nevertheless Gonsalves was not contented, because he 
had not taken one of the natives. He therefore proceeded 
fifty leagues further to see if he could not capture some man 
or woman or child in order to gratify the Prince's wish. 
Accordingly he continued his voyage till he came to a head- 
land where was a rock which looked like a galley, for which 
reason they called that port ever after the port of Gallee. 
Here they landed and found some nets which they took on 
board. These nets were a novelty, for they were made of 
the bark of a tree of such a texture that without any tan- 
ning or admixture of flax it could be woven excellently 
well, and made into nets or any other cordage. 

Hence Affonso Gonsalves returned to Portugal, but with- 
out having been able to gain any certain knowledge whether 
those people were Moors or heathen, nor what was their 
manner of life. This took place in the year 1436. 

The result may at first sight appear but insignificant. 
Such was, however, far from being the case, for it must be 
borne in mind that now for the first time within the 
Christian era Cape Boyador, which had hitherto presented 
an impassable barrier to Europeans into the Sea of Dark- 
ness, had at length been rounded. True, claims have been 
set up for the honour of a prior achievement of that exploit 
on behalf of Genoese, and Catalans and Frenchmen, but it 
will be showm in the following chapter that so far as historical 
evidence has been adduced in support of these claims, not 
one of them is tenable. 



Although all the parts of the Infinite are finite, they will 
still remain infinite to a man's fancy until in some sense 
brought within the grasj) of his intelligence, and that which, 
because unmeasured, is supposed to be boundless, will become 
endued with the awe which is inseparable from darkness 
and mystery. It was thus that, in the olden times, before 
the maritime explorations instituted by Prince Henry had 
led to the magnificent achievements of Columbus and Da 
Gama, the vast and mysterious, because as yet unexplored, 
Atlantic, was known by the designation of " The Sea of 
Darkness." Even amongst the ancients this idea was so 
prevalent, that we find a friend of the poet Ovid, Albinova- 
nus, himself also a poet, putting into the mouth of German- 
icus, as he came upon the ocean, the following expression 
of dismay, — 

" Quo ferimur ? ruit ipsa dies, orbemque relictum 
Ultima pei-petiiis claudit natura toiicbris." 

The Arabs adopted the idea of the ancients, and hence we 
find one of their authors, Ibn Khaldun, who Avrote at the 
close of the 14th century, immediately before the period of 
Prince Henry's expeditions, describing the Atlantic as " a 
vast and boundless ocean, on which ships dare not venture 
out of siglit of land, for even if the sailors knew the direction 
of the winds, they would not know whither those winds would 
carry them, and, as there is no inhabited country beyond, 
they would run great risk of being lost in mist and vapour. 


The limit of the West is the Athmtic Ocean." Sucli was 
the state of man's knowledge respecting that trackless wil- 
derness of waters only five centuries ago. 

Nevertheless we have traditions of voyages into the 
Atlantic earlier than Prince Henry by three thousand years, 
and of importance, no doubt, for the geographical history of 
the ancient world, but otherwise practically useless. The 
value of any exploration must be looked for, not only in the 
traces it has left behind it in the history of human know- 
ledge, but in its influence on human action. Had any such 
influence for the general welfare of mankind resulted from 
the explorations which preceded Prince Henry^s time, the 
Atlantic would not have been called the " Sea of Darkness." 

The oldest story respecting this mysterious sea is related 
by Theopompus, who lived in the fourth century before the 
Christian era. In a fragment of his works preserved by 
^lian is a conversation between Silenus and Midas, King 
of Phrygia, in which the former says that Europe, Asia, and 
Africa were surrounded by the sea, but that beyond this 
known world was an island of immense extent, containing 
huge animals, and men of twice our stature, and long-lived 
in proportion. There were in it many great cities whose in- 
habitants had laws and customs entirely difierent from ours. 
Fabulous as the story is as a whole, we cannot escape from 
the thought that it suggests, though vaguely, a notion of 
the real existence of a great Western Country. This idea is 
strengthened by the remarkable story related to Solon by a 
priest of Sais from the sacred inscriptions in the temples, 
and presented to us by Plato in his Tima3us and Critias, 
wherein he speaks of an island called Atlantis, opposite the 
Pillars of Hercules, larger than Africa and Asia united, but 
which in one day and night was swallowed up by an earth- 
quake and disappeared beneath the waters. The result was 
that no one had since been able to navigate or explore that 
sea on account of the slime which the submerged island had 

Many as have lieen the doubts and conjectures u> which 


this narrative has been subjected by the learned in ancient 
and modern times, it is a remarkable fact that Grantor, in a 
commentary on Plato quoted by Proclus, declares that he 
found this same account retained by the priests of Sais three 
hundred years after the period of Solon, and that he was 
shown the inscriptions in which it was embodied. It is also 
deserving of notice that precisely in that part of the ocean 
described in the legend we find the island groups of the 
Azores, Madeira, the Canaries, and a host of other rocks and 
sand-banks, while the great bank of varec or floating sea- 
weed occupying the middle portion of the basin of the North 
Atlantic and covering, according to Humboldt, an area 
about six times as large as Germany, has been reasonably 
regarded as explanatory of the obstacle to navigation to 
which the tradition refers. 

It is to the jealous secrecy of the Phoenicians, who were 
the first, so far as we know, to brave the perils of the Atlan- 
tic, that we owe much of the darkness with which their 
explorations are surrounded. When Homer first sang of 
those " blissful plains of utmost earth " * to which he gave 
the name of Elysium, it was probably from Phoenician enter- 
prise that he derived his inspiration. Civilisation in her 
westward course had already passed through the portals of 
the great Inland Sea and seated herself on the confines of 
the Atlantic Ocean. On the shores of Andalusia, at a point 
so convenient for trade that it has ever since remained the 
principal port of Spain, the men of Tyre established a colony 
whose Phoenician name of Gadir has survived three thousand 
years in the modern name of Cadiz. The delicious climate, 
the luxuriant fertility of the soil, the rich variety of products 
and abundance of mineral wealth, so great that even ordi- 
nary utensils were made of the precious metals, were sources 
ample for that "joy" or "exultation" (Alizuth) which 
has been sui)posed to have engendered " Elysium " in the 
fancy of the poet. Yet still it lived but as a poet's dream, for 
the Phauiician was jealous of his geographical knowledge, 


and the delights which gladdened the fields of Fjlysinra were 
to the Greek as mythical as the Elysian fields themselves. 

Centuries had to elapse before the eye of a Greek should 
rest upon the waters of the Atlantic, and then not under the 
guidance of Phoenician mariners, nor by the light of Phoeni- 
cian experience. It was in the middle of the seventh cen- 
tury before Christ that a trader of the island of Samos, 
named Cola3US, availed himself of the privilege of trading 
with Egypt, then first granted to the Greeks by Psammiticus, 
the Phoenicians having been as yet the only foreigners per- 
mitted to land upon the Egyptian shore. On his way to 
Egypt Coloeus encountered a gale of wind from the coast 
which lasted long enough to carry him through the Straits 
into the Atlantic, where he lighted upon the Phoenician colony 
of Gadir. In this rich and unexpectedly discovered empo- 
rium he made purchases of goods which had never before 
been imj^orted directly into his own country, and by securing 
the profits which had hitherto been divided between the 
Greeks and Phoenicians, realised an extraordinary fortune. 
But here the results of his accidental discovery terminated, 
for the Greeks took no pains to continue the trade which 
thus favourably invited their attention. 

In the reign of Pharaoh Necho, the son of Psammiticus — 
supposed to have lasted from 617 to 601 B.C. — a voynge of 
quite another character is recorded to have taken place. 
This king, like his father, devoted himself to the develop- 
ment of commerce, and being disappointed in an attempt to 
unite the Mediterranean with the Red Sea by a canal, estab- 
lished ports and built a fleet of ships on each of them. 
Conceiving the probability of Africa being surrounded by 
water, he projected an exploration for the purpose of ascer- 
taining the truth. The aversion of his own subjects to the 
sea made him enofa^fe Phoenician sailors, who starting from 
the Red Sea made the first authenticated circumnavigation 
of Africa, and reached Egypt by the Mediterranean in the 
third year from their departure. 

During their voyage it had been the practice of these 


Phoenician sailors every year, as seed-time came, to land at 
whatever part of Africa they might hajipen to be near, sow 
a crop, wait for the harvest, and then again set sail. It was 
reported by them as a matter of astonishment that during a 
considerable part of their voyage they had the sun on their 
right hand. This im2)ortant fact, the most confirmatory of 
the reality of the expedition, was even discredited by Hero- 
dotus to whom we are indebted for the narrative, and the 
voyage itself was so unproductive of impressions on the 
minds of men that no trace of it could be found in the 
Alexandrian library either by Eratosthenes in the third, or 
by Murinus of Tja^e in the second, century before Christ, 
although both of them were diligent examiners of ancient 

Meanwhile it would seem that even before the foundation 
of Carthage in the ninth century B.C. the Phoenicians had 
colonies on the West Coasts of Africa. Eratosthenes indeed 
speaks of them as being exceedingly numerous, but Arte- 
midorus, who lived about a hundred years before Christ, 
contradicted the assertion and declared that not a vestige 
of them was apparent. In any case it is scarcely probable 
that such colonies existed in great numbers till after the 
famous expedition of Hanno the Carthaginian. 

The date of this gigantic undertaking has been the subject 
of much investigation and discussion. The latest writer 
on the subject, the learned and laborious geographer, M. 
Vivien de St. Martin, adopts the date of 570 B.C., which 
after deep research had been accepted by Bougainville. In 
his elaborate work entitled " Le Nord de I'Afriquc dans 
TAntiquite,'' which in 18G0 won a prize offered in 1858 by 
the " Academic des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres," I 
observe that M. Vivien de St. Martin accepts in the main, 
bat, as I venture to think, with some improvements, the 
conclusions of the learned Carl Miiller. I shall here quote 
these amended conclusions for the reader's enlightenment in 
following the course of the ancient navigator. 

The narrative is as follows : — Ilainio having received 


orders from the Senate to found Liby-Phocnician cities 
beyond the Pilhirs of Hercules, set sail with a fleet of sixty 
ships of fifty oars each, carrying thirt}'' thousand people, men 
and women, with every necessary. The first city that he 
founded was distant two days' sail from the Pillars, and was 
named " Thyniiaterion," near Salee, at the mouth of the 
Bouragray. Proceeding westward they raised an altar to 
Neptune on the })romontory of Solceis, the present Cape 
Cantin, which they found covered with a thick wood. Half 
a day's sail towards the east brought them to a marshy 
coast full of large reeds, probably near Safifi, where a multi- 
tude of elephants and other wild beasts were feeding. A 
day's sailing carried them past this, and between the termina- 
tion of this marshy country and the mouth of a river named 
the Lixus, i.e., the Sous, they founded the following cities 
on the sea-coast : — Caricum Teichos or the Carian Wall 
(Mogadore?), Gytta (Kouleikat?), Acra, Melitta (Wad Beni 
Tamer ? ), and Arambys (Aghader ?). 

On the banks of the Lixus they sojourned some time, and 
made a treaty of peace with its natives, who were a pastoral 
people. Beyond these lived Ethiopian barbarians, whose 
country was full of wild beasts and intersected with high 
mountains, in which the Lixus had its rise. They took inter- 
preters with them from among the Lixites, and coasted along 
the desert southwards for two days. They then sailed east- 
wards one day and found a small island of five or more, 
(probably fifteen) stadia, or about two miles in circumference, 
which they named Cerne (Heme, within the estuary mis- 
named Rio d'Ouro). Here they established a colony. At 
Cerne they made a reckoning of their voyage, and found 
that the distance from Carthage to the Pillars had taken 
the same time as that from the Pillars to Cerne. 

After leaving Cerne they ascended the mouth of a great 
river named " Chretes," or rather " Chremetes," and reached 
a lake in which were three islands, larger than Cerne. A 
day's sailing brought them to the extremity of the lake, 
which was skirted with lofty mountains, inhabited by 


savages clothed in skins, who attacked them with stones and 
prevented their landing. This river was the northern branch 
of the Senegal, and the lake Panie-Foul or Lake Ngaier, 
which corresponds correctly with the description. After 
this, they came to another river, wide and large, full of 
crocodiles and hippopotami. This was the large branch of 
the Senegal. Here they put back and returned to Cerne. * 

Recommencing their voyage southward they sailed twelve 
days along the coast and found it entirely peopled by Ethio- 
pians who fled at their approach. Their language was not 
und(3rstood by the Lixite interpreters. On the twelfth day 
they came near some lofty mountains thickly wooded with 
sweet-scented trees of different kinds. It took them two 
days to sail round these mountains, when they found the 
coast line present an immense opening, on the opposite side 
of which was plain country. At night they saw fires rising 
at intervals in every direction, sometimes more, sometimes 
less. These wooded mountains clearly represent Cape Verde, 
which in the time of Prince Henry received the designation 
from this very peculiarity. The inability of the interpreters 
to understand the language of the natives accords with the 
fact that at the Senegal commences the country of the 
blacks. The immense opening was the estuary of the 

Five days' sail along the coast southward brought them 
to a large gulf called by the interpreters the " Western 
Horn." In this gulf was a large island, and in this island 
a lake of salt water, which itself contained another island. 
Here they landed, and during the day saw nothing but 
forests ; but, as night came on, a great number of fires were 
lighted amidst fi-ightful cries and the clang of a variety of in- 
struments. They were greatly terrified, and the soothsayers 

* Tliis is pcihiips tlio most iiTcconcilahle point in tlio -whok' of M. Vivien 
de St. Martin's able analysis. From Ilornoto the Senegal is some eight degrees, 
and it is difficult to sujiposc that Ilanno should have retraced his course for so 
great a distance without any assignable motive. It wimld involve sixteen 
degrees traverscil uselessly, u serious awkwarilness in the otherwise commendable 
churacter of this analysis. 


charged tliem forthwith to leave the island. This description 
tallies with the real character of the coast. The Western Horn 
corresponds with the great gulf into which the River Jeba 
debouches a little to the north of the Rio Grande. The 
south side of the gulf is as it were formed by the chain of 
the Bissagos Islands, the last of which, the Island of Harang, 
presents the exact configuration described by Hanno. 

Departing in haste they sailed along a country abounding 
in fragrant exhalations, but with streams of fire running 
down into the sea, so that it was inaccessible on account of 
the heat. In great alarm they hastened onwards, and four 
days' fast sailing brought them at night to a country which 
seemed full of fires, in the midst of which arose one much 
larger and higher than the rest, which seemed to touch the 
sky. When day came they found that it was a very high 
mountain which they named " Theun Ochema," the Chariot 
of the Gods. 

In the whole range of coast from the time that the mari- 
ner loses sight of Mount Atlas he will see nothing, with the 
exception of the headland of Cape Verde, that could be in 
any way dignified by the name of mountain. Near Cape 
Verga, in 10|- latitude, the country begins to show some 
elevation, and so continues till the neighbourhood of the Isles 
de Los, in 9| degrees, where, near a broad creek which 
receives the waters of the Sangaria, rises a conical shaped 
mountain conspicuously distinguished by its height and 
form from the rest of the chain. To this the Portuguese 
subsequently gave the name of Sagres, in honour of the 
headland of the same name in Algarve, where Prince Henry 
had taken up his abode. It was known by the name of 
Souzou. This, both from its physical character and position, 
and from a calculation of the distances, is presumed to be 
identical with the Chariot of the Gods. It may require 
some ingenuity perhaps to explain the occurrence of fires 
which Pliny and Pomponius Mela have since described as 
perpetual. The very fact that these fires were seen at night 
and not by day disproves the assertion and makes it reason- 


able that what Hanno saw was pnre],y incidental. A story 
told by Bruce of the Shangalla of Abyssinia has a sugges- 
tive value which commends it for quotation : "As soon " 
he says, " as the rain subsides, the high grass which it has 
brought into existence becomes suddenly dry, brown, and 
parched ; and being inconvenient to the Shangalla, they set 
fire to it. Flame rapidly extends over the country and fire 
actually flows down ravines and gullies in which, but a few 
weeks before, another element was seen rushing on its 

Three days' sail beyond this mountain brought them to a 
£rulf named the Southern Horn, at the bottom of which was an 
island like that before described, containing a lake, in which 
was another island peopled with savages. The females, 
more numerous than the males, had hairy bodies, and the 
interpreters called them " Gorillas." They were not able 
to seize any of the males, for they fled across the precipices, 
and defended themselves with stones ; but they took three 
females who broke their bands, and bit and tore their cap- 
tors with fury ; they therefore killed them. Hanno brought 
back two of their skins and deposited them in the temple of 
Juno at Carthage. Beyond this they could not venture on 
account of their provisions beginning to run short. 

There can be little doubt that the " savages " here des- 
cribed are the chimpanzees. As to the position of the gulf 
and island the distance traversed shows it to be a gulf 
resembling a large estuary formed on one side by the conti- 
nent and on the other by Sherborough Island, in which the 
peculiarities of the description may be easily recognised. 

In the examination of aperiplus, the details of which have 
for centuries been canvassed by the learned with ever varying 
results, much has been gained when the positions of two or 
three salient points of the coast at important intervals have 
l)cen fixed with some degree of certainty. This happy re- 
sult seems here to have been attained. The careful measure- 
ment of the distance from the Island of Heme to the Straits, 
and its approximate coincidence witli tlie distance fr<nn the 


Straits to Cnrtliag'e, is a strong point made in deciding the 
position of Cerno in accordance with the narrative. Another 
most remarkable fact is that the River Chretes is, as shown 
by Bochart, spoken of by several ancient writers under the 
name of Chremetes, and that the Chremetes is described by 
Aristotle as ''one of the most remarkable rivers of Africa, 
having its source in the same mountain as the Nile, whence 
it flows to empty itself into the Outward Sea." We have 
here distinctly indicated that ancient notion of the common 
origin of the Nile of Egypt and the Nile of the Blacks which 
was maintained by geographers dowm to the time of Prince 
Henry, and which assigned the latter title to the River 
Senegal. When in addition to this some minute items of 
local description are found to correspond with the real 
geographical formation of the mouth of that river, another 
point of certainty seems to be authoritatively established. 
Starting from such conclusions the recognition of Ca})e 
Verde as identical with the large mottntain covered with 
trees round which they sailed seems unavoidable. When 
therefore M. Vivien de St. Martin shows as the result of his 
analysis that Hanno sailed further to the South in a few 
months than the Portuguese did in a great many years, the 
claim will probably be conceded by many, and the shade of 
the Carthaginian chief be allowed to enjoy in its plenitude 
the glory which, if M. St. Martin's deductions be correct^ 
would so justly attach to his name. But when the distin- 
guished geographer accepts upon trust, and adds the weight 
of his authority to, the assertion that * " a very long time be- 
fore the Portuguese discovered the Rio d'Ouro and its island, 
that locality had been frequented by Catalan navigators," 
we are bound in the most emphatic manner to take exception 
to the statement, and, for reasons which will hereafter be 
adduced at length, to declare that that statement is utterly 
without foundation. 

This remarkable voyage of Hanno, which for centuries 
formed the principal source of Greek and Roman inlurma- 

* See page 383. 


tion on the African coasts of the Atlantic, was described in 
an inscription in the Punic language in one of the tcmi)]e8 
of Cartilage. Long afterwards, probably about the middle 
of the fourth century B.C., it was translated into Greek by 
some one whose name is not known, and thus this very 
precious document has survived to our times. 

In about the year 470 B.C., another expedition was at- 
tempted under the following circumstances. Sataspes, a 
nephew of Darius, had been sentenced by Xerxes to be 
impaled for violating the maiden daughter of Zopyrus, the 
devoted friend of Darius, whose fidelity had secured 
Babylon to his master after a siege of twenty months. The 
mother of Sataspes, a sister of Darius, besought from the 
King a commutation of the sentence, engaging that her son 
should, if spared, circumnavigate Africa and return by the 
Red Sea. Her request was granted, and in an Egyptian 
vessel manned by Carthaginians Sataspes sailed through 
the Straits, doubled Cape Soloeis (Cape Cantin), and after 
many months' voyage southward became disheartened and 
returned. On presenting himself before Xerxes he related 
that at the farthest point of his voyage he had lighted on a 
shore inhabited by a people of diminutive stature, clothed 
with garments made of the palm-tree. He assigned as 
a reason for his turning back that his ship was stopped 
[query by weed], and that it was impossible to go any 
further. Xerxes, believing that he lied, had him impaled 
in accordance with the original sentence, because he had 
not completed the task imposed. Now as this voyage, 
which doubtless was subsequent to and suggested by that 
of Hanno, preceded the journey of Herodotus into Egypt 
in the year 448 B.C., in which he derived through Car- 
thaginians that information respecting the mode of com- 
merce on the West Coast of Africa which they first had 
gathered from Hauno's voyage, it might have been expected 
that greater impressions would have been left behind as to 
the desirableness of continuing explorations along that 


Another presumed exploration, or rather circumnaviga- 
tion of Africa, is that attributed to the geographer Eudoxus 
of Cyzicus in Mysia, who lived towards the end of the 
second century B.C. Having left his native place for Egypt 
he entered the service of Ptolemy Evergetes the Second and 
his wife Cleopatra, by whom he was employed in making 
voyages to India. We have two contradictory accounts of 
his voyages. One, taken from the writings of Cornelius 
Nepos as related by Pomponius Mela, supposes that 
Eudoxus, starting from the Arabian Gulf, arrived at Cadiz 
after circumnavigating Africa, but the description given of 
the natives beyond the desert is so full of extravagant fables 
that it is utterly unworthy of any consideration. The other 
account of the adventures of Eudoxus is by Posidonius 
as preserved by Strabo, which relates only a series of un- 
successful attempts, whence we may come to the conclusion 
that Eudoxus did not circumnavigate Africa, and that his 
voyages taught nothing that was not known before his time. 

So barren of influence on Atlantic exploration in after 
times was the expedition of Hanno, that since it there has 
been but one admissible intimation transmitted to us of a 
passage by sea to the southward of Cape Boyador before the 
fifteenth century, and that was made by Africans of the 
west coast, on their own coast line and by the mere chance 
action of the winds, and was as fruitless in impression on 
the minds either of explorers or of Arab geographers as any 
that had preceded it. It was first brought to light in 1848, 
since when it has been triumphantly adduced in derogation 
of the glory of Prince Henry. In that year the learned 
French orientalist M. Eeinaud published with a French 
translation the Geography of the Arab Abu Al-Fida, 
embodying therein the "Geography" of Ibn Said, of the 
middle of the thirteenth century. In the latter is recorded 
how a Moor named Ibn Fiitimah being once at Noul-Laratha 
(Wad-Nun, a little north of Cape Non, see Hartmann's 
Edrisi), took ship and was wrecked in the midst of some 
shoals. The sailors lost their bearings, and had no notion 



where they were. They therefore deserted the ship, and 
put out in a sloop to reconnoitre. Sometimes the sloop got 
entangled amongst marine plants, but was raised olf them 
by dint of rowing. When they reached the middle of the 
gulf the sailors were astonished at the great quantity of 
tunny fish they saw ; they also observed some white birds. 
Before they reached the shore their provisions were entirely 
exhausted. Just as they came under the Griittering Moun- 
tain (Aldjebel-allamas), Cape Blanco, so named from its 
being of a glittering white, " some Berbers of the tribe of 
Godala made signs to them not to approach the mountain. 
The sailors did not comprehend the intention of this warning, 
but nevertheless they turned northwards and managed to 
pass the Cape. A man then came forward who knew both 
the Arabic and Berber languages, and asked them how they 
had missed their way. The sailors related what had 
occurred, and asked the reason of their having been warned 
off the mountain. The man replied ' the whole of that 
mountain is one mass of deadly serpents. Strangers take 
it for a rock of glittering colour, and deceived thereby, come 
near and are devoured by the serpents.' The man took 
])ains to reassure the sailors, and some of the latter bought 
some camels and rode to Tegazza, the capital of the tribe of 
Godala, described as in 11° of longitude and twenty of 
latitude. They remained some time with the Berbers of 
that tribe, drinking camel's milk and eating dried camel's 
flesh. They then returned to Noul, accompanied by some of 
that tribe." The correctness of the description as to the 
seaweed and the tunny fish leaves little room to doubt the 
soundness of the learned editor's conclusion that the cape to 
which these Moorish sailors were driven was really Cape 
Blanco. But such an occurrence can scarcely be accepted 
as in any way diminishing the honour earned by the pre- 
determined and persistent explorations instituted by Prince 
Henry. If it were possible at this late period to learn that, 
some centuries before the discovery of the West Indies by 
Columbus, a native of Haiti had been carried by accident 


to the shores of (Aiba, woiihl the g'lory of the immortal 
Genoese be diminished one iota by such a discovery ? Surely 
not, not even had the Haitian discovered that Cuba was an 
island, a fact of which Columbus was ignorant to his dying 
day, whereas it is not pretended that Ibn Futimah made 
any discovery that was not effected by the mariners of 
Prince Henry. The cosmographers and cartographers who 
followed Ibn Said derived not the least addition to their 
store of funded information from the romantic adventure of 
Ibn Fiitimah. "Whatever may have been effected in ancient 
times, this is the only instance within our knowledge in 
which it can be said with certainty that Cape Boyador was, 
in the middle ages, passed before the time of Prince Henry, 
although that honour has been claimed on behalf of G-enoese 
and Catalans and Frenchmen, and finally for the Norman 
Jean de Bethencourt. The high reputation of the dis- 
tinguished French geographer, M. d'Avezac, who has most 
prominently advanced these claims, demands the most 
attentive consideration to the arguments he adduces ; but 
after a careful investigation I feel bound in conscience, but 
with the sincerest respect for him, to give in every instance 
the Scotch verdict of " uon proven." But the reader must 
judge for himself. 

The earliest claim is set up for a Genoese expedition in 

For the fullest account of this expedition we are indebted 
to the learned labours of Dr. Pertz,* Principal Librarian of 
the Royal Library of Berlin, and editor of the Monumenta 
Germania3 Historica. It was discovered by him among the 
public annals of the city of Genoa, which form a continua- 
tion of the Chronicles of Caffaro, printed, but only in 
extract, by Muratori. It is as follows: "In the year 121)1 
Tedisio Doria and Ugolino de Yivaldo, with his brother 
and certain other citizens of Genoa, commenced a voyage 

♦ In a memoir printed in Beriin entitled " Der ^Iteste Versuch zur Entdcc- 
kimg des Seewegcs nach Ostindien," presented to the Eoyal Academy of Sciences 
of Munich on March 28th, 1859, the centenaiy of its foundation. 



wliich none has ever in any way attempted till now. They 
equipped in the best manner two galleys supplied with pro- 
visions, water, and other necessaries, and despatched them 
in the month of May towards the strait of Ceuta, that they 
might go by sea to the ports of India, and bring back useful 
articles of merchandise. The two said brothers Vivaldo 
went in person, as also two friars minor. It was an un- 
dertaking that astonished not only those who witnessed it, 
but those who heard of it. Since they passed a place called 
Gozora no certain news has been received of them, but may 
God preserve them and bring them back safe and sound to 
their own homes." This account was in the handwriting of 
Jacopo Doria, a near relative of Tedisio Doria, one of the 
originators of, though not a participator in, the expedition. 
In it we have an undeniable statement not only of the 
reality of this noble undertaking, but of the purpose for 
which it was set on foot, and of the farthest point from 
which news had at that time been received of it. The story 
is confirmed by the great astrologer and physician Pietro 
d'Abano, who wrote that portion of his important work 
" Conciliator Differentiarum" which contains the reference to 
this event about the year 1312. This narrative is eminently 
interesting as showing the geographical notions which led 
to the expedition, and the courage required for so dangerous 
an exploit. In a chapter treating of the possibility of living 
within the tropics, he says, " According to Ptolemy persons 
have reached us from the equinoctial regions, for the same 
man is capable of enduring, at different times, opposite 
extremes of temperature, and it is said that the Indian city 
Arin* lies in those regions. Others assert that all passage 

* The sacred citj' of Ocljcin or Ougcin, in Mahva, whence tlic Indians reckoned, 
their first meridian. The change of the name to Aiin in Arahic is thus explained 
by M. lleinaiid in his Memoire sur I'lnde, p. 373. The dj of the Indians ■was 
sometimes rendered z by the Arabs, and thus the Arab transhitors -wrote the 
word Ozcin ; but as in manuscripts the vowels were often omitted, the mass of 
readers to whom the name of Odjein was indifferent would pronounce it Azin, 
and as the copyist would somotimes forget to insert the point which distinguished 
a 2 from an r, Azin woaild be road Arin. 


between here and there is prevented by certain mountains 
which attract men to them as the loadstone attracts iron, 
and that men hiugh while being attracted, and at last are 
held fast. It is also reported that Cfesar sent two 
centm-ions to seek the head of the Nile, who related that 
by the help of the King- of Ethiopia and his recommenda- 
tions to neighbom-ing kings, they reached some immense 
lakes whose outlet the inhabitants themselves did not 
know, nor could any one separate the grass, which was so 
entangled in the water that neither on foot or in a boat 
was there any contending against it. They further stated 
that they saw two stones from which the vast body of the 
river fell forth, but whether that was the head of tlie Kile 
or only an affluent, or whether it then first springs out on 
the land or only returns diverted from a previous course is 
unknown. Some assert that the desert is so vast and sandy, 
so full of serpents and venomous animals, and so deficient 
in fresh water, that no one can easily make the passage 
from thence. Wherefore some time since the Genoese fitted 
out two galleys provided with every necessary, and passed 
through the Pillars of Hercules at the end of Spain, but 
ovkat became of them remains now nearly thirty years unknown. 
The passage, however, is now open by going northward 
through Gi-reat Tartary, and so winding round to the east 
and then to the south." The purpose of this voyage is thus 
set forth, vaguely it is true, but in immediate connection 
with the indefinite geographical knowledge of the period. 

It would be difficult to speak in terms too laudatory of 
this noble undertaking, the result of private enterprise. It 
wanted but success, or, in case of failure, to be followed up 
with the invincible perseverance of a Prince Henry, to have 
neutralised by anticipation the glory of Prince Henry 
himself. The narrative of Jacopo Doria mentions Gozora 
as the last place from which tidings had been received 
respecting it. The map of the Venetian brothers Pizzigani, 
of 13G7 shows us the position of this place under the name 
of Caput Finis Gozole, which is very clearly Cape Non. 


Another cotemporaneous writer is stated by Griustiniani * 
to have written of this expedition ; viz., Francesco Stabili, 
better known as Cecco d'Ascoli, in his Commentary on the 
treatise De Sph^era Mundi of Sacrobosco.f Eepeated ex- 
aminations of the various editions of that commentary have 
however failed in verifying the reference. It was not till a 
hundred and sixty-four years later that any allusion was 
made to the expedition. A Genoese gentleman of noble 
family named Antonio de Nolli, of whom we shall here- 
after hear more, being overwhelmed with debt and in 
desperate circumstances, had sought to mend his fortune 
in explorations on the west coast of Africa, under the 
auspices of Prince Henry. In 1802 a letter apparently 
by his hand addressed to his creditors under date of the 
12th of December, 1455, and signed Antonius Ususmaris 
(the Latinized form of his adopted pseudonym " Uso di 
Mare" J), was discovered in Genoa by M. Griiberg de 
Hemso, a learned Swedish merchant resident in that city, 
among a collection of papers which had been presented to 
the archives of Genoa by M. Federico Federici in 1660. 
In the immediate neighbourhood of the letter were some 
geographical legends in an unknown hand, apparently 
prepared for inscription on a globe or mappe-monde, as 
was not unusual in those times. One of the legends in 
all its rude Latinity is as below, § and translated is as 

* See Giiistiniani, Castigatissimi Annali di Gcnova. Genova, 1537 (Lib. 3. 
fol. iii. verso). 

t The Ijatinized form of the name of John Holywood, who flourished at the 
beginning of the thirteenth century, and whose learned treatise De Sjilia-ra. 
IMundi, the most famous book of the middle ages, was for centiu'ies the subject 
o f a host of connnentarics. He was named from Ilolywood, in Yorkshii-e, the 
place of his birth. 

j I observe that in tlie old chronicle of Jacopo Doria, a Genoese sea-captain 
named Antonius Ususmaris is mentioned under date of 1284. It is not impro- 
bable that he may have been known in Genoa to have accompanied this famous 
expedition in 1:291, and that hence Antonio de Nolli adopted this significant 
name of his compatriot in undertaking a similar exploration. 

y^ "Anno 1281 recesserunt de civitate Janua) d\i;r galea^ ])atronisata> per D. 
Vndinum et Guidnm de Vivuklis fraties vuleutes iie in levante ad i)artes Indiarum, 
<iuic duLC galctc luullum nuvigavciuul. Sid nuuudo fiKruut dielai duie galea; 


follows : " In the year 1281 two galleys left the city of 
Genoa, under the command of the brothers Vadinus and 
Guido Vivaldi, with the view of going to the East to the 
parts of the Indies ; which two galleys sailed a great way, 
hut when they came to this sea of Ghinoia one of them 
stranded, and could not proceed further, but the other sailed 
on and passed through that sea until they reached a city of 
Ethiopia named Menam. They were captured and detained 
by the people of that city, who are Christians of Ethiopia, 
subjects of Prester John. That city is on the sea-coast near 
the river Gihon. The aforesaid were kept in such close con- 
finement that not one of them ever returned from those 
parts." As quoted by M. d'Avezac the date is altered from 
1281 to 1285, and the following sentence is added, "The 
aforesaid was related by a Genoese nobleman named Anto- 
niotus Ususmaris." Here we have a statement of the 
locality to which the expedition attained, while it should be 
mentioned that in the letter of Antonio de Xolli, alias Uso 
di Mare, we are actually brought into contact with an indivi- 
dual descended from the explorers. I propose to show that 
both the letter and the legend, which have been adduced to 

in hoc mari de Ghinoia una eanim se repcrit in fimdo sicco per niodum quod 
uon poterat ire nee ante navigare, alia vero narigavit et transivit per istud mare 
usque duni venirent ad civitatem imam Ethiopian nomine Menam, capti I'uerunt 
et dctempti ab illis de dicta ci\'itate, qui sunt cristiani de Ethiopia submissis 
presbitero Joanni ut supra. Civitas ipsa est ad maiinam prope tinmen Gion 
pninlicti fuerunt taliter detempti, quod nemo iLlonim a partibus iLlis umquam 
redivit, qui pra^dicta narraverat." (Ajinali di Geografia e di Statistica, torn. 2. 
pp. 290, 291.) But quoted by M. d'Avezac (Nouvelles Annales dcs Voyages, 
torn. 108, p. 47) in the follo-«-ing altered and enlarged form : " Anno Domini 
M.C.C.LXXXV recesseriint de ci\-itate Janusc duse galleic patronisatre per D. 
Ugolinum et Guidiim de Vivaldis fratres volentes ire in Levantem, ad partes 
Indiarum. Quae galleaj multum navigaverunt ; sed quando fuerunt dict;u 
duiu galleaB in hoc mari de Ghinoia, xma earum se reperit in fimdo sicco 
per modum quod non poterat ire nee ante navigare, alia vero navigavit et 
.ansivit per istud mare usquedum venirent ad civitatem unam Ethiopia^, nnniine 
IMcnani ; capti fuenint et detenti ab iUis de dicta civitate, qui sunt chiistiani do 
Ethinpia submissi prcsbytero Joaiuii, ut supra. Civitas ipsa est ad marinam, 
pi-o]K' flumcn Gion. Prscdicti fuerunt taliter detenti quod nemo illorum a 
partibus illis unquam redivit. Qurc prtdicta naiTavcrat Antoniotus Ususmaris, 
nobilis Jauucnsis. (Annali di Geogratica c di Statistica, i-'Ui. i. pp. 290, 291)." 


prove that Prince Henry's navigators were anticipated by the 
Genoese in actual African exploration, bear internal evidence 
of being a farrago of nonsense and untruth. The legend is 
anonymous, and consequently without intrinsic authority, but 
it quotes as its authority ''Antoniotus Ususmaris nobilis 
Januensis," who is also the writer of the letter. The 
original of the letter is given at foot,* and, as the reader 

* (The Letter) — 1455, die 12 Decembris. Honorandi Fratres, quantum sciatis 
de me male sciipti, bene illud judicare possum, qui non sufficit vestrum vobis tenere, 
sed de vestris male vos visitare contingit, vere non possendo vobis scribere rem 
de ullo bono, et habendo in veritate animum ad vos esse, et me ponere in mauibus 
vestrorum, et alionim creditorum, voluit ista mea fortuna me transmisisse in 
una caravella ad partes Giunoie et essendo in ista verecundia, qua jam dis- 
posui citius mortem sumere, quam vivere ; et transivi ubi umquam aliquis 
cristianus fuerat ultra miliaria octingenta, et reperto rivo de Gamba, maximo 
in extremitate in eo intravi sciens qiiod in ipsa regione aurum et meregeta 
colligitur. Illi piscatores me insultaverimt cum archibus scive sagittis avene- 
natis putantes esseremus inimici, et videndo nos recipere noluerunt, fui coactus 
redire, et inde prope legas septuaginta quidam nobUis Dominus niger dedit niibi 
capita tringinta una et certos dentes elefantorum, papagajos cum certo pauco 
zebetto, pro certa rauba sibi preseutata, et intellecta voluntate mea mecum 
misit ad S. Eegem Portugalliae secretarium suum cum certis clavibus, qui quidam 
secretarius se obligat pacem tractare cum Ulo Kege de Gamba. Et sic viso S. 
Eex istius Secretarii fuit contentus vadam simul tantum ad illas partes. Ideo 
in Dei nomine compello aduch unam caravellam, in qua vado, et habebo cariciun 
de Ulis infantis, et me expediani per totum venturum, et infra dies decern 
expcdiam istum ambasciatorem in ima caravella, ut vadat pacem tractandam ; 
ipse mihi dimittit totiun sum, ut ipsum implicare velim cum mea. Quare Domine 
me expedit, ad hoc videre ista vice quid faccre vult ista mea fortuna, qua3 nisi 
esset mihi tantum adversa vivere sub magna audiendo quid mihi narrat ipse 
Secretarius, qua; si vobis scriberem, vana vobis viderentur. 'N'erum ex toto 
firmaj non restabant leghaj trecentos ad terram presbyteri Joannis, non dice 
persona sua, imo incdpit ejus territorium, ct si mc potuisscm detinere vidissem 
capitancum regis mei, qui prope nos erat jornatas sex, cum hominibus 
C. et cum eo cristiani de presb. Joannis V. et looutus fui cum illis illius 
exerciti ; repcrui ibidem anum de natinne nostra, ex illis galeis credo Vivaldaj, 
qui se amiscrit sunt anni 170. qui mihi dixit, et sic mo affirmat iste secre- 
tarius, non restabat ex ipso semine salvo ipso, et alius qui mihi dixit de elefan- 
tibus, uiiicornibus, et aliis strauissimis, et hominibus habcntibus caiidas, et 
commedentcs filios, impossibile vobis videretur, credatis quod si navigassem 
aduch diem unum amisisscm tramontanam. Et causa quia mo detinere non potui 
fuit quia victualia mihi deficiebant, ct de suis -vdctualibus ullo modo homines 
blanchi uti non possunt nisi infirmcnter, ct moriantur, salvo illi nigri, qiii in eis 
nascuntur. Aer vero optimus et pulcrior terra qua^ sub I'irlo sit, et quasi cqui- 
vocum videlicet in mcnse Julii dies de horis duodecim ct nox do horis undecim. 
Rccito vobis hcTc omnia et sum ccrtus dicerctur citius vcltictis vestrum ct aliorum 


will see, is a most ungrammatical and incoherent docu- 
ment. It states that Uso di Mare, being in the neighbour- 
hood of the River Gambia, spoke with the last living descen- 
dant of those who in the legend were said to have reached 
the Ethiopian city named Menam, which was on the sea- 
coast, and inhabited by Christian subjects of Prester 
John. The allusion to the River Gihon, which the early 
Arabian geographers connected with the Nile in Eastern 
Africa, would lead us to infer that this Ethiopian city was 
on the east coast, — to have reached which would have been 
the glory of the expedition of 1291, — in which case we 
have to imagine a navigation over four thousand miles of 
most perilous African ground, with no professed object, and 
not even spoken of as a wonder when accomplished, which 
is incredible. The only alternative is that this Christian 
city, subject to Prester John, lay on the west coast ; but the 
letter states that the westernmost inland boundary of Prester 
John's country was " three hundred leagues off," which in- 
volves an absurdity. Then an incoherent and inconceivable 
story is told of there being, at a distance of only six days' 
journey from the point of coast where Uso di Mare was, a 
captain of Uso di Mare's king, who we must suppose to be 
the King of Portugal, having with him an army of a hun- 
dred men and five of Prester John's Christians, whom, if the 
writer could have stayed, he would have seen. Then although 
he was unable to stop for want of victuals, this space of six 
days' journey is annihilated in a breath, and Uso di Mare not 
only does see, but speaks with, some men of that army, and 
just there he found one of this nation whom he believed to be from 
those galleys of Vivaldi which had been lost one hundred and 
seventyyears before. The person thus found told him that he 

quam ista varia audire, expedit habeatis patientiam sex menses, et eo post quia 
faeeo me assegurare, quod certe opus non esset, essendo ilia maria sicut darcina 
nostra de ibi. 

Ista littera sit omnibus creditoribus qui credunt, et vos cum cis si habuisscm 
pro posse eos contentarem de pagis de 60. non posuissem me in tali ventura cum 
una caravella, tantum erit forsitan per meUora, Ideo patientiam habeant amore 

Vk. ANTONirs UsrsMARis. 


or she was the last of the stock, and this was confirmed by the 
black secretary of a neighbouring chieftain, and by another 
man who told him of men with tails who ate their own 
children, and other matters which Uso di Mare feared his 
readers would think impossible. But after he had in this 
miraculous manner lighted ujoon the last living remnant of 
the famous Genoese expedition, is it conceivable that this 
man, himself a keen explorer, should fail to ascertain and 
declare distinctly in his letter on what jiart of the coast of 
Africa this city of Mena or Menam, the terminus of the ex- 
pedition, lay ? Moreover, neither Antonio de NoUi himself, 
who was of a noble familj^, nor his own explorations, were so 
insignificant that a communication of the kind from him 
upon a matter so intimately connected with the glory of Grcnoa 
should be entirely disregarded by his fellow citizens, if such 
a communication had been reputed valid. Yet, subsequent 
historians of the republic, even to one hundred and thirty 
years later, distinctly declare that no news whatever of the 
expedition of which they were so justly proud had ever 
reached their times.* In presence of such facts, can the 
reader accept this preposterous letter as evidence that Prince 
Henry was anticipated by the Genoese in rounding Cape 
Boyador ? I think not. 

But further, the testimony of maps has been adduced 
in evidence of the high probability of the Cape of Good 
Hope having been rounded in the middle ages before the 
time of Prince Henry ; as for example, that of the date of 
l;]0(j, by the Venetian Marino Sanuto, an earnest advocate 
of a new crusade for the recovery of the Holy Places, f on 
which map the South of Africa is surrounded by the sea. 
The geography of Sanuto's map itself is derived from the 
early middle age cosmographers, and no greater proof can 
be given of his real ignorance of the true form of Africa 

* Sec Giustiniiiiii, Castigatissimi Annali di (lenova, 1537 (Lib. 3. t'ol. Ill 
verso); and Foglieta, Ilistoria' Genuensium Libri xii., 1.585 (Lib. 5. I'ol. 110 

f See his "Liber .-<i'cri'l(iruiii lidiliaiii irueis," i)utilisht'd by liongars. 
Hanau, IGll, being part of the seeoud \oluiue of the " Uesta Dei per Francos." 


or she was the hist of the stock, and this was confirmed by the 
black secretary of a neighbouring chieftain, and by another 
man who told him of men with tails who ate their own 
children, and other matters which Uso di Mare feared his 
readers would think impossible. But after he had in this 
miraculous manner lighted upon the last living remnant of 
the famous Genoese exjoedition, is it conceivable that this 
man, himself a keen explorer, should fail to ascertain and 
declare distinctly in his letter on what part of the coast of 
Africa this city of Mena or Mcnam, the terminus of the ex- 
pedition, lay? Moreover, neither Antonio de NoUi himself, 
who was of a noble family, nor his own explorations, were so 
insiffnificant that a communication of the kind from him 
upon a matter so intimately connected with the glory of Genoa 
should be entirely disregarded by his fellow citizens, if such 
a communication had been reputed valid. Yet, subsequent 
historians of the republic, even to one hundred and thirty 
years later, distinctly declare that no news whatever of the 
expedition of which they were so justly i)roud had ever 
reached their times.* In presence of such facts, can the 
reader accept this preposterous letter as evidence that Prince 
Henry was anticipated by the Genoese in rounding Cape 
Boyador ? I think not. 

But further, the testimony of maps has been adduced 
in evidence of the high probability of the Cape of Good 
Hope having been rounded in the middle ages before the 
time of Prince Henry ; as for example, that of the date of 
loOO, by the Venetian Marino Sanuto, an earnest advocate 
of a new crusade for the recovery of the Holy Places, | on 
which map the South of Africa is surrounded by the sea. 
The geograi)hy of Sanuto's map itself is derived from the 
early middle age cosmographers, and no greater proof can 
be given of his real ignorance of the true form of Africa 

* See fJiustiniimi, Castigatissimi Annali di Cronova, l.'J37 (Lil). 3. I'ol. Ill 
verso); and Foglieta, IIistori;v Genuonsiuiu Libii xii., l.')85 (Lib. 5. ful. 110 

f Sec his "liiher tieci-c(oniiii lidi'iiuin ( iiicis," puldislu'd liy lloiiRars. 
Hanau, Kill, being part of the seLnud \oluiiir ol" the " Uesta I>ci per Traneos." 

A F R I C A 


1351 . 

}/eh'\. ^racia pma luna T3e 0° ecc l"\, feoi Rue mit tvoua; 
at" "&ies.VT vii mens ianuarij. a'S i 7*. ipouta'Dcccc.ut miito . 
canletaw -paret. xa"o tiieig •7<^febTuary,lui\abuxtT)Les>Jv,\xa1)e \t\ tabula ifta,, 
in aumero ?iv fub meius vanuaru iuetite^. cancer- un iti came eu luna.z i^r3"Dib7 74 v. 

Jnfiilt rie, cahri 

tlfltXtt. tloXttL Co.'vtcL V. 


'^^ J. deih-te 

. ffO J, Ji Uparjfie ^ fj tit, f, 

nil Equuloriu!; 


.■' \¥^i:,,- l«»? 



1351 . 

htc i'ia dcftA 

maumcro ■>t\_ 


^idw-* W^ll^r Luho 


than the followiug note below the Regio 7 montium, " llegio 
inhabitabilis propter ealoreiii." In short, a shigle glance at 
the map is sufficient to show tliat nothing could well be 
further from a delineation of Africa based on actual know- 

Far more startling than the map of Marino Sanuto is a 
map in a Fortulano of the date of 1351, in the Laurentian 
Library at Florence, of which the Count ]i)aldelli Boni gave a 
facsimile to accompany his valuable edition of Marco Folo, 
published at Florence, 1827, 4*^. On this map not only 
is a southern extremity given to Africa, but the coast-line 
of Guinea is drawn with so much greater an approxima- 
tion to correctness than would be expected from the period, 
that the Count inferred that both these delineations were 
the result of actual discovery. (See map.) This conclusion 
however is rendered untenable by a further examination of 
the map, for while there is not a single name of river, cape, 
or bay, or any other local indication of actual discovery on 
the whole line of coast com2)rising the remarkable indenta- 
tion supposed to rejiresent the Gulf of Guinea and onwards 
round the southern extremity of the continent, the map 
does contain, and for the first time as far as we know, names 
indicaimg entirely new discoveries amongst the African 
islands. These will be spoken of more fully in their appro- 
priate place hereafter. For the present it will be sufficient 
to speak of such indications as have been referred to on the 
west coast of the continent itself. We there find no sign of 
local geographical knowledge beyond two rivers corresponding 
with the Wad-om-er-Biyeh of modern maps, and the River 
Palolus, or River of Gold, as delineated on the Fizzigani map 
sixteen years later. And as if to supply one with the oppor- 
tunity of rendering this argument the more valid. Count 
Baldelli Boni has inserted at the corner of the map a fac- 
simile of the fifth map in the Fortulano, and on it are 
entered the names of the places already known on the northern 
portion of the west coast as far as Cape Boyador, exactly in 
accordance with the information supplied by the later Fizzi- 


gani map of 1367. These realities, combined with the fact 
that the later Pizzigani map of 1367 and the Catalan map 
of 1375 make no pretensions to exhibit such astoiindins: dis- 
coveries as those of the Gnlf of Guinea and the roundins: of 
the Cape, lead to the reasonable conclusion that the Medicean 
map was not, as Count Baldelli Boni infers, intended to 
describe any such actual exjDlorations, but merely to pro- 
pound a geographical theory based upon traditions and 
inferences for which we shall presently be able to show that 
authority existed. The only alternative is to suppose that 
the successful navigator who had rounded the Cape of Good 
Hope, had recorded his stupendous achievement simply in 
outline on a carefully executed map, but that his country was 
so insensible to the importance and honour of such a discovery 
that it left the name of the explorer to sink into oblivion. 
This is past belief, and therefore it only remains to show 
how the remarkable outline in question can be accounted for. 
There were two opinions entertained by the geographers of 
antiquity respecting the conformation of the Atlantic Ocean. 
Hipparchus the Bithynian, who lived a century and a half 
before our era, maintained that it had no connection with 
other seas, but formed one great lake. On the other hand 
Herodotus, Crates of Malles, Posidonius, Cleomedes, Arrian, 
in the Periplus attributed to him, and Strabo, admitted the 
possibility of the circumnavigation of Africa. Pomponius 
Mela, in the first centurj^, maintained the same belief, and 
Julius Solinus, in the third century, distinctly states in the 
sixtieth chapter of his " Collectanea rerum Memorabilium," 
speaking on the authority of King Juba, that " all that sea 
from India to Gades (Cadiz) was navigable before the north- 
west wind." * St. Isidore of Seville, at the beginning of the 
seventh century, partook the same opinion ; and in the middle 
ages his native country, Spain, which was greatly influenced 
by his opinions as well as those of Mela and Solinus, was 
the focus of the geographical literature of the Arabs. We 

* "Omiio illucl mare ab India us([ue ad Gudes voluit Juba iutelligi uavigabile, 
Cori tautiim flatibus." 


have a summary of the two opposing creeds in the words of 
the Alexandrian philosopher, Joannes Philoponus, who 
also lived in the seventh century; in his work "Do Mundi 
Creatione," liber 4. cap. 5, p. 153, he says : "• Some persons 
have suspected, following an absurd tradition, that the 
Atlantic is united on the south with the Erythrean Sea. 
They pretend that several navigators have been carried 
by accident from that ocean to the Erythrean Sea, M'hich 
is evidently false, for it would require that the ocean 
should extend quite across Libya and even under the torrid 
zone. Now it is impossible for men to navigate them 
on account of the burning heat that prevails." In the map 
of Marino Sanuto, already referred to, the southern termi- 
nation of the African continent is made to turn greatly to 
the east, in conformity with an idea suggested by the author 
of the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea ; but in the Laurentian 
map, of which we now treat, the outline is distinctly ditferent 
from any which preceded it or have followed it. 

Let us now examine under what influences that outline 
may have been laid down, simply as a theoretical exponent 
of old ideas confirmed by more recent observations. During 
many centuries the Arabs were exclusive masters of the 
commerce of the eastern coast of Africa, and had establish- 
ments in all the ports and principal islands as far as Sofala. 
Further south than Cape Corrientes, however, they did not 
venture, because, as Barros tells us (Dec. 1, liv. 8, cap. 4), 
their vessels, being sewn with cocoa fibre and not fastened 
with nails, " could not stand the shock of the rough seas off 
the Cape of Good Hope," — and "several losses of vessels had 
occurred in the direction of the Western Ocean. '^ Now the 
westward^ trending of the coast south of Cape Corrientes, 
suddenly first and continuously afterwards, would naturally 
lead to the conclusion that the termination of the African 
continent there commenced. There is no difficulty in un- 
derstanding__how these notions of the Arabs were communi- 
cated to Europeans, for as the former were the purveyors of 
the commerce of India and the east coast of Africa bv the 


Red Sea, to Alexandria, they would not fail to be questioned 
by the merchants of the Mediterranean respecting the 
countries whence they came. Moreover, Marco Polo, who 
returned from his eastern journey in 1295, speaks distinctly 
(book 3, chap. 36) of the prodigious velocity of that south- 
ward current which led to this belief, and which was so 
strong off the Cape alluded to as to cause it to be afterwards 
named by the Portuguese " El Cabo dos Corrientes." In 
addition to these facts, the very singularity of the map 
affords presumptive proof that it was not the result of a 
distinct exploration of so eminently notable a character. 

But Count Baldelli Boni wished also to show the high 
probability of the Gulf of Gruinea having been already dis- 
covered, and if truth always floated on the surface instead 
of lying at the bottom of the well, I for one should forth- 
with subscribe to his opinion. But let us look a little deeper. 
The map is an extract from the first of eight sheets, and the 
Count naturally adduced all the evidence which the Portulano 
afforded of new and original discovery. Accordingly, on the 
corner of this map he has inserted an extract from another, 
the fifth in the series, really exhibiting, for the first time 
within our knowledge, the unmistakable proof of new 
discoveries in the African islands. But, together with 
these island novelties, this extract from sheet 5 contains 
the corresponding part of North Africa, and there, as Avell 
as on sheet 1, we find laid down the erroneous geographical 
information derived from ancient authorities and repeated 
on later maps, but southward thereof no local information 
whatever. Under such circumstances a mere outline, 
however striking in its form, cannot, whether applying 
to the Gulf of Guinea or the Cape of Good Hope, 
be accepted as the result of actual exploration. 

Incidental allusion has been already made to the Catalan 
map of 1375. We have now to speak of it in a more special 
manner, for on the third sheet of that map is the repre- 
sentation of a boat-load of explorers off the coast to the 
south of Cape Boyador, accompanied by the following legend 


in Catalan : " Partich Inxer clfi Jac. Ferer, per anar al riu de 
Tor, al goru de Sen Lorens qui es a X de Agost, y fo en 
Tan MCccxLVi :" " The ship of Jaime Ferrer started to go 
to the River of Gold on St. Lawrence's day, the 10th of 
August, 1346." The event here recorded is corroborated by 
the following legend, which occurs amongst those already 
described on page 102 as having been discovered in the 
Genoese archives by M, Griiberg de Hemso. The original 
is at foot.* "On St. Lawrence's day, viz., the lOth of 
August, 1346, a galley belonging to the Catalan, John Feme, 
left the city of the Majorcans with the purpose of going to 
Rujaura [the River of Gold], but of said galley no news has 
since been received. On account of its length that river is 
called Yedamel. It is also called Ruiauri, because the gold 
of Pajola is collected in it. You must also know that the 
majority of the inhabitants of these parts are employed in 
collecting gold in this river, which is a league wide, and deep 
enough for the largest shij) in the world." 

" This is the Cape Finisterre of West Africa." 
It has been inferred by M. d'Avezac from these two 
legends that this voyage must have been preceded by many 
others, " because," he argues, " one does not fit out an 
armament with a fixed destination without knowing ap- 
proximately at least the point one has to arrive at." 

I now propose to show that the contrary was the case, and 
that the expedition was fitted out for the express purpose of 
finding the unhnoKn mouth of a river in which gold was 
collected, and the existence of which had become known to 
the mercantile populations in the Mediterranean through 
the medium of commercial intercourse with the Arabs. The 

* Eecessit de cu-itate majorisarum Galeatia una Joannis Feme Catalani in 
festo Sancti Lavu-entii, quod est in decima die mensis Augusti, anno Domini 
1346, causa eundi ad Rujaura, et de ipsa Galeatia nunquam postea aliquid 
novum habucnint. Istud liumcn de longitudine vocatur Vedamel et similiter 
vocatur Ruiauri, quia in eo reeoUigitur aumm de pajola. Et scire debealis quod 
major pars gentium in partibus istis habitantium sunt electi ad colligendum 
aurum in ipso flumine, qui habet latitudinem unius legue et fondum pro majori 
nave mundi. 

Istud est caput finis Terrarum Afirica; occidentalis, etc. 


fact of the voyage having been recorded not only in the 
archives of Genoa, but also on the face of a remarkably 
handsome map prepared with extreme carefulness and 
labour, is a proof that the expedition was one of unusual 
importance and anxiety, such as the purpose I have 
suggested would involve. Had it been merely an un- 
successful venture to a point already known even approxi- 
mately, we should not expect to find the expedition recorded 
on the face of a map at all, but we should reasonably hope to 
find that point laid down with an approximation at least to 
accuracy on charts of the period, and especially on the one 
on which this individual expedition was recorded. For- 
tunately, there are maps existing on which the river in- 
dicated by the legends is laid down, and by their help, and 
in conjunction with the wording of the legends themselves, 
we have an opportunity of testing how far the geographical 
information they convey is, either a})proximately or at all, 
in accordance with the knowledge which would be derived 
from even one antecedent maritime exploration. 

The two legends manifestly refer to the same event : they 
both record an expedition which started on the same day^br 
the purpose of going (in the Catalan per anar, and in the 
Latin causa eundi) to the same river. This river, the Ruiauri 
or Eiver of Grold, was so called because gold of Pnjola was 
collected in it, and from its length it was called Ycdamel. 
Now in the Venetian map of the brothers Pizzigani, made in 
1367, twenty-one years after the expedition of Jaime Ferrer, 
we find laid down in a latitude a, little south of the Canaries 
the river Palolus, rising in a large lake, on which is the follow- 
ing legend in Latin, " This lake proceeds from the Mountain 
of the Moon, and passes through sandy deserts." In the 
middle of its course the river bifurcates, and again joins, 
forming an island, on which in Latin is the inscription, 
"The island Palola; here gold is gatliered." Lito the 
opposite or eastern extremity of the lake fiows the Nile, the 
eastern branch of which takes its northward course towards 
the Mediterranean, in its well-known position. We thus 


find a river exactly corresponcliug with the description of 
that for which Jaime Ferrer started on St. Lawrence's da}', 
in the year 134(3. Three of the four specialities indicated in 
the Genoese document are here substantiated by Venetians 
who, like the Genoese, had commercial relations with the 
Arabs ; and that on a map bearing no reference whatever 
to the voyage of Jaime Ferrer. We have a river on which 
gold is collected, and it is the gold of Palola or Paiola, and 
we also have an explanation of the expression that from its 
length it is called Vedamel. That length may be judged 
when it is made to extend from the Nile, delineated in its 
true position as falling into the Mediterranean, to another 
outlet into the Atlantic a little south of the Canaries. The 
fourth speciality of the river as given in the Genoese 
document is the name Vedamel itself, which I think I 
can show to mean River of Nile in conformity with the 
old idea of the Nile having a western outlet into the 

The Genoese document in which the name Vedamel 
occurs is so carelessly spelt that the name of "Jay me 
Ferrer,*' a well recognisable Catalan name (see " Ferrer," in 
Torres Amat's " Escritores Catalanes "), is misspelt "Joannes 
Feme;" and the Genoese form for the Rio d'Oro is in the 
course of two or three lines spelt both "Rujaura" and 
"Ruiauri." It is not difficult therefore to suppose that 
"Vedamel" is a misspelling for " Vedanill," in which we 
recognisu the Arabic words " Ved" or " Wadi," a river, and 
" Nill," the " Nile." Pliny had long ago declared that a 
branch of the Nile debouched on the west coast of 
Africa, and an ample description of it is given by the 
Arab geographer Edrisi in the middle of the twelfth 
century, who, after speaking of the sources of the eastern 
Nile, says, " The other arm of the Nile (the Nile of the 
Blacks) flows into the western districts, and, reaching from 
the east to the extreme west, empties itself into the sea not 
far from the island of Ulil, which is a day's sail from its 
mouth ; and on that Nile of the Negroes, or on another river 



which mixes its waters with it, are situated the abodes of 
the people of Nigritia." 

A reference to the map of Abul- Hassan Ali Ben Omar 
(1230) shows us this Western Nile, under the name of Nil 
Gana, falling into the Atlantic in about the latitude of the 
Gambia. The map of Ibn Said (1274) has it, under the 
name of Os Nili Ganah, a little more northward. That of 
Abulfeda (1331) with the same name, yet a little more 
northward. The retention of the belief in this river as a 
branch of the Nile by the Arab geographers is shown by an 
Arabic map, preserved to us by M. Jomard in his " Monuments 
de la Geographie," by a Moor named Mohammed Ebn-Aly 
Ebn- Ahmed al Charfy of Sfax, and bearing date 1009 of the 
Hegira, which corresponds with a.d. 1600. That the river 
itself was the Senegal is shown by Azurara, the chronicler of 
the conquest of Guinea in the time of Prince Henry, who 
speaks of it as the Eyo do Nillo, which they call the ^anega. 
Both in the Pizzigani map and in the Catalan map which 
records the voyage of Ferrer, this river, whose existence was 
thus learned from Arab sources, is called the Piver of Gold. 

But while this notion of a river of gold, debouching on 
the west coast of Africa, was thus handed down geographi- 
cally from ancient times, the mercantile cities of Italy 
would have the impression more immediately brought home 
to them by the gold brought across the desert from Guinea 
into the Mediterranean. We find in the treatise " Delia 
Decima" of Balducci Pegolotti, who was a factor in the 
great Florentine house of the Bardi, and who wrote in the 
first half of the fourteenth century, that the malaguette 
pepper, which was the product of the Guinea coast, was 
then among the articles imported into Nismes and Mont- 
pellier ; and De Barros expressly states (Dec. I, fol. 33) that 
the malaguette im})orted into Italy before Prince Henry's 
time was brought from Guinea by the Moors, who, crossing 
the vast empire of Mandingo and the deserts of Libya, 
reached the Mediterranean at a port named Mundi Barca, 
corrupted into Monte da Barca, and as the Italians were not 


acquainted with tlie locality whence it came, they called it 
"grains of Paradise." It would be uureasonahle to doubt 
that, with the uialaguette from Guinea, gold was also trans- 
ported by these merchants across the desert to their port in 
the Mediterranean, and though the Italians were ignorant of 
the country whence it came, they would not fail to learn that 
it lay somewhere on the western coast of Africa. AVe have 
therefore but to repeat the poet's apostrophe to the " auri 
sacra fames, '^ to perceive the motive which would induce an 
enterprising party of men to encounter extreme danger for the 
sake of discovering a sea-path to the mouth of such a river. 

But these very maps themselves prove how utterly igno- 
rant the i^old Majorcan adventurer was of the position of 
that mouth. The Pizzigani map places it north of Cape 
Boyador, the Catalan map itself oilers a su(/gcstion onhj of 
where that mouth mlgld be^ some short distance south of that 
cape. But both these indications resolve themselves simply 
into conjectures, inasmuch as neither north nor south of Cape 
Boyador is there any riuer at all nhich could by any pretence 
he made to correspond nnth the Vedamel or Eujauri till n:e 
come to the Serwyal, which is at least seren hundred miles 
south of Cape Boyador. Whether Ferrer himself passed 
Cape Boyador or not it is impossible to state and futile to 
conjecture, for the legend itself tells us that nothing more 
was heard of the expedition. That which was subsequently 
named the Rio d'Ouro by the Portuguese could by no possi- 
bihty have anything to do with the Rio d'Oro which Ferrer 
went to seek, for the simple reason that the former is no 
river at all, but only an arm of the sea, the appearanca of 
which deceived the Portuguese, and to which they gave the 
name of the Rio d'Ouro because there they first received 
gold in ransom for captives. 

For precisely the same reason it is clear that the Rio 
d'Ouro of the Portuguese can in no sense be identical with 
the Fleuve d'Or referred to in the chronicle of Jean de 
Bethencourt's voyage of 1402, and in an extract tlierein 
given from the book of a Spanish mendicant friar, who 


asserted that lie had accompanied some Moors in a galley 
to that river. It is expedient here to introduce and refute 
the extract from this fable, which has also been adduced 
to show that Prince Henry's explorers were anticipated on 
the west coast of Africa. The words of the mendicant 
friar who relates that notable expedition run thus : " They 
put to sea, and steered for Cape Non, Cape Saubrun, and 
Cape Boyador, and followed the whole coast southward to 
the Fleuve de I'Or ; " and according to the said friar, "when 
there they found on the river's bank very large ants, which 
drew up the grains of gold * from under the ground. The 
merchants made considerable gains in this voyage. They 
then departed and proceeded along the bank, and found a 
very good and very rich island named Gulpis, where they 
made great profit and where the people were idolaters. 
They then proceeded further and found another island named 
Caable, which they left on the right hand, and then they 
found on the mainland a very lofty mountain abounding in 
all sorts of good things and named Alboc, from which 
sprung a very great river. The mountains there are 
said to be the loftiest in the world. Some call them 
in their language the Mountains of tlie Moon, others the 
Mountains of Gold. There are six, from which spring six 
rivers, which all fall into the Fleuve de I'Or. There they 
form a great lake, and in this lake is an ishaud called Pft//<9?/6', 
which is peopled with negroes. Thence the friar proceeded 
further till he came to a river named Euphrates, which 
comes from the terrestrial Paradise, He crossed it, and 
passed through many countries until he came to the city of 
Melle, wliere dwelt Prester John. He remained there many 
days, for he saw there a considerable number of marvellous 
things, of which at present we make no mention in this book 
that we may proceed t]\c more rapidly, and for fear the reader 
should take them for lies." The possibility of an European 
thus crossing tlio continent of Africa and escajMug to tell the 

* This is but tho old story from Herodotus of the Indian aiits which were 
smaller than a dog hut larger than a fox, and which in nuking their siibtcrruueous 
dwellings pushed uj) sand charged wilii gold. 


telle might well be doubted ; but the reader has ordy to recog- 
nise iu this language a rcchmijjc of the confused geogra|)hy of 
Edrisi, not losing sight of the good friar's stumble over the 
reference to the Euphrates,* to judge whether the fear of the 
narrator as to his credit for veracity is a reasonable one. What 
then becomes of the voyage of the Moors to the Fleuve de I'Or ? 
Thus far it has been shown that all the claims of 
Genoese and Catalans to the honour of having passed 
Cape Boyador before the Portuguese are untenable. We 
have now to deal with a claim on behalf of the Dieppese, 
which was not set up till the seventeenth century, but 
which has since been repeatedly asserted. It was first 
put forth in a work entitled " Eelation des Costes d'Afrique 
appellees Guinee," &c., par Villaut, escuyer, Sieur de 
Bellefond, Paris, 16G9. For the sake of brevity, but in 
order that at the same time the account may be given in the 
words of a Frenchman, I have selected the summary of the 
narrative as extracted from Villaut de Bellefond's work by 
M. Estancelin, in his " Recherches sur les voyages et de- 
couvertes des navigateurs Normands en Afrique," &c., 
Paris, 1832, 8°. M. Estancelin has also made extracts 
from another work which followed that of M. Villaut de 
Bellefond half a century later, entitled ''Nouvelle relation 
de I'Afrique occidentale," 5 torn. Paris, 1728, 12^, by the 
Pere Labat. His summary is as follows : — 

'* France, so long and so cruelly the victim of the folly of her 
masters, began to breathe again under Charles the Fifth. This 
monarch knew how to appreciate the advantages of commerce, 
and saw the interest of encouraging that of a province which had 
formed his own appanage. The Dieppcse took advantage of these 
favourable inclinations. In the month of November, 13G4, they 
fitted out two vessels of a hundred tons each, which set sail for 
the Canaries. About Christmas they reached Cape Verde, and 

* la speaking of a famous and veiy large city of the negroes named ivucu, 
Edrisi says, "Some negroes think that this city lies on the Nile itself, others on 
a river flowing into the Nile; but in truth the Nile passes through the city Kucu, 
and then diffuses itself through sandy plains into the desert, and thence merges 
into lakes, just as the Euphrates does in Mesopotamia." 


anchoi'ed before Rio Fresco, in the bay that still in 1669 bore the 
name of Bale de France. Passing the coast of Sierra Leone they 
stopped at a place, named afterwards by the Portuguese Rio 
Sestos. Struck with the resemblance which this place bore to 
their native city, they named it Petit Dieppe. Their trade with 
the natives procured them, for objects of little value, gold, ivory, 
and pepper, from which on their return, in 1365, they gained 
immense profit. Encouraged by this first success, in September 
in the same year, the merchants of Rouen joined those of Dieppe, 
and the company fitted out four ships, of which two were to trade 
from Cape Verde to Petit Dieppe, and the other two were to go 
further to explore the coast. These instructions were subject to 
modifications, which proved fortunate for the owners. One of 
the ships destined to pass on further, stopped at the Grand Sestre, 
on the coast of Malaguette, for, finding a great quantity of pepper 
in this place, it took in a cargo. The other ship traded at the 
Cote des Dents, and w^ent on as far as the Grold Coast. It returned 
with a large quantity of ivory and a little gold. The people of 
this coast not having welcomed the sailors so hospitably as those 
of the coast of Malaguette, the company resolved thenceforth to 
fix their depots at Petit Dieppe and the Grand Sestre, which the 
sailors had then named Petit Paris, in honour" and memory of the 
capital of their country. 

" These expeditions were all made during the reign of Charles the 
Fifth. Factories, which they then called ' loges,' were estab- 
lished to facilitate their intercourse with the natives. The ships 
thus found their cargoes prepared, and on arriving had only to 
unload and reload. As they were too weak to attempt to govern 
the natives and to reduce them to submission, the colonists and 
sailors felt the necessity of gaining their affection and confidence. 
In this they succeeded without trouble ; it needed only to be 
humane and just, and above all not to use the scourge of religious 
proselytism, the odious and fatal pretext, of which the Spaniards 
and Portuguese have made such cruel use to legitimatise the 
atrocities which their thirst of gold caused them to commit in the 
countries which they conquered. It docs not appear that the 
kindly relations which united the Africans with their guests ever 
altered. They were, on the contrary, deeply rooted in the 
memory of the people, who even preserved for a long time, in 
their language, a number of French expressions, which Yillaut de 
Bellefond, from whom these details are borrowed, found in his in- 


terconrse with them. 'The little of the language,' says he, 'that 
oue ouu uutlerstaud (in IGGG) is French ; the)' do not call pepper, 
as in Portuguese, sextos, but malaguette, and when one lands, if 
they have any, the}' crj', "malaguette tout plcin, tout a force de 
malaguette," which is the little of our language which they retain.' 

" The abundance of spices which the Normans brought back in 
their annual voyages, produced a diminution of their value. This 
branch of commerce no longer oftering such great profits, the 
company sent out, in 1380, a ship of a hundred and fifty tons, 
called the ' Notre Dame de Bon Voyage,' which sailed from 
Rouen in the month of September, to trade at the Gold Coast, and 
if possible to form a settlement there. This ship arrived, towards 
the end of December, at the same landing where, fifteen years 
before, the second expedition had traded so advantageously. This 
expedition was very successful ; the ' Notre Dame ' returned to 
Dieppe, nine months after, very richly laden. ' Thus commenced,' 
says Bellefond, 'the prosperity of the commerce of Rouen.' 

"The year following (1382) three vessels, 'La Vierge,' ' le 
Saint Nicholas' and ' I'Esperance,' set sail on the 28th of 
September. La Vierge stopped at the first place which had been 
discovered on the Gold Coast, which had been named La Mine, 
because of the quantity of gold found there. Le Saint Nicholas 
traded at Cape Corse and at Moure below la Mine, and I'Esperance 
went as far as Akara, having traded at Fautin, Sabou and Cor- 
mentin. Ten mouths after the expedition returned safe and 
sound with rich cargoes. Their reports fixed the attention of the 
company, which thenceforward conceived the idea of directing all 
their speculations exclusively to that point. For this purpose 
three vessels, two large and one small were sent out in 1383. 
The small one was to go to Akara to discover the southern coasts. 
The two large ones were ballasted with building materials which 
were employed in constructing a station at La Mine. There they 
left ten or a dozen men and returned after an absence of ten 
months. The small vessel was retarded by the currents which in 
those parts present the remarkable phenomenon of two parallel 
streams in contact with each other, running with great velocity in 
opposite directions. It was only partially successful in its object, 
and returned with an incomplete cargo three months before the 
two others. When they arrived it was again sent out to carry 
provisions to the new colony, which soon afterwards became of 
sufficient importance to build a church, 'which,' says Bellefond, 


the Dutch now make use of, and in which may still be seen the 
arms of France.' The development of this prosperity was 
checked by the frightful calamities which burst upon France 
shortly after the accession of Charles the Sixth. The decay of 
commerce followed that of the state, and when its sovereign had 
lost his reason, France, delivered over to party contentions, 
became the prey of Englaiid. At this unhappy period the African 
trade began to decrease from year to year, and finally disappeared. 
The station of La Mine was abandoned before 1410, and from that 
time till after 1450 there is reason to suppose that the Normans 
did not attempt any maritime expedition whatever." 

The work containing this astonisliing pretension, thus 
made for the first time in 1669, without any documentary 
corroboration whatsoever, was addressed to Colbert by its 
author on his return from a voyage which he had himself 
made to Guinea. Its supporters assert that " there is reason 
to think that the elements of the accounts were derived from 
the registers of the Admiralty at Dieppe, subsequently 
destroyed in the bombardment of 1694." The claim was 
reasserted in 1728 by the Pore Jean Baptiste Labat, who says 
that " the date and other circumstances which he relates are 
taken from the MS. annals of Dieppe, which can be seen in 

the cabinet of Monsieur , the king's advocate, in the 

same city," and, thus unauthenticated, the story has been 
over and over again repeated up to the present time. As 
therefore, in the one case, the presumable elements of the 
account were destroyed, and in the other, have never been 
forthcoming from the cabinet of their nameless possessor, 
we naturally look for some evidence, either external or inter- 
nal, of the trustworthiness of such a pretension. An octavo 
book full of daniaging analysis was published by the late 
learned Vicomte de Santarem in 1842, * but a few conclusive 
facts will render a host of minor ones needless. 

And first as to internal evidence. The credibility of IM. 
Villaut as an liistorian may be judged irom the fact that he 

* Ecclicrclu's sur la prioritc' do la dccouverte dcs pays situes sur la cote 
occidcntale d'Al'ritiue au-dcla du Cap Bojailor, par le Vicomte de Santai'em. 
Taris, 1842. 8^ 


makes the Island of St. Thomas, in tlie Oulf of Guinea, which 
Avas not discovered till 1471, when Prince Henry had been 
dead eleven years, to have been discovered l)y the Portuguese 
on the 23rd of December, 1405, when that Prince was eleven 
years old. An author capable of such circumstantial mis- 
representation is surely not to be trusted. 

Secondly : In the original of Villaut de Bellefond, he says 
(page 160) that the word Malaguette, the name of the si)ice 
imported from the west coast of Africa, was French, and 
uses this fact thus asserted as an argument in confirmation 
of his claim. But this assertion is entirely disproved by 
the fact already stated at page 114, that in the "Delia 
Decima " of Giovanni Balducci Pegolotti (Vol. iii. p. 229), 
which was written about 1340,* a quarter of a century before 
the date of the earliest j^'^'eteiided intercourse of the Diejypese 
with Guinea, malaguette is mentioned as being imported into 
Nismes and Montpellier. 

But again, if, as is here stated, the merchants of Ptouen 
fitted out vessels in conjunction with those of Dieppe, 
and continued these exj)editions to the coast of Guinea 
every year, whence comes it that the archives of Rouen, 
which were not destroyed by a bombardment like those 
of Dieppe, should not contain the slightest record of any 
such fact? Now it happens that such an association had 
really been formed, not in the fourteenth century, but in the 
year 1626, and this fact has an interesting connection with 
the evidence of maps in reference to the point in dispute. 
The Dieppese have indeed much to boast of without resorting 
to nnauthenticated assertions to secure to themselves yet 
greater honour than they deserve. The finest charts that we 
possess of the first half of the sixteenth century are the pro- 
ductions of a school of hydrography established at Arqnes, near 
Dieppe, by Pierre Deschelier in the beginning of that six- 
teenth century. There can be no doubt that this school was 
the offspring of the many daring maritime explorations by 

* Sco p. 279 of Colonel Yulu's " Cathay and the Koad tliilher," printL-d for 
the Hakluyt Society, Lond. 18GG. 


which the Dieppese had for many years distinguished them- 
selves. But, as we shall presently have occasion to show, 
the watchful jealousy of the Portuguese over their African 
possessions kept for a long series of years even Dieppese 
daring in check. The result of this was, that although at 
the close of the century Dieppese perseverance conquered, 
3^et up to the date of 1626, the beautiful maps of the Diejipese 
contain no mention of either Petit Dieppe or Petit Paris, 
whereas in 1631, five years after the establishment of the 
Rouen and Dieppe Company, we do for tlic first time, find 
the name of Petit Dieppe laid down on the MS. map of 
Jean Guerand of Dieppe. 

In such a position of things we naturally look around 
for any corroborative evidence whatsoever of this extra- 
ordinary claim. Nor has such been wanting. M. Estancelin 
has brought to light two i)ieces of testimony by way of 
confirmation, which it is a duty to lay before the reader 
in full. The first of these is a statement made by Samuel 
Braun, a surgeon of Basle, who went out in a Dutcn 
vessel to the Gold Coast, and resided at Fort Nassau from 
1617 to 1620. His account is printed in the "Appendix 
Regni Congo," in De Bry's collection of Petits Voyages, 
published in Frankfort, 1625. In it he says, " In this Fort 
(Fort Nassau), as well as at Accra, I saw some people above 
a hundred and thirty years old, who told me that the Fort 
Mina had begun to be built many years before by French 
merchants who came to trafiic there. As every year for 
three months there were constant rains with strono- whirl- 
winds wliich the sailors call Travada, so that the goods were 
damaged, the French begged permission of the inhabitants 
to build a magazine or warehouse, which, as they were on 
very friendly terms, tlie blacks willingly conceded. Accord- 
ingly they built a tolerably large warehouse and brought 
their goods to land. This was a great furtherance to trafiic, 
as the natives who had neither coin or weights exchanged 
their gold for merchandise without any measurement but 
that of the eye. AVhen the Portuguese learned that the 


French carried on this prolitahle trade with the negroes 
tliey fell on them unawares, took possession of the maga- 
zine, gave the merchandise to the inhabitants, and assured 
them that they would deal with them on better terms than 
the French. These poor people readily believed them and 
assisted in murdering those who came there afterwards. 
Finally the magazine was converted into a castle [misprinted 
' chapel '], which is now very strong, and only serves to the 
great injury of the natives." 

The second quotation is from Doctor Olivier Dapper's 
description of Africa, published in Dutch at Amsterdam in 
1668 : " The Castle of La Mine " he says, " is a very old 
buildmg, as is shown by difl'erent dates in various places. 
In a ruined battery restored by our people, some years ago, 
and named the Batterie Franc^aise (because it was of French 
construction, and because the French, according to the 
natives, were established in this place before the Portuguese), 
our people found the hrst two tigures of the date 13 — , but 
the following numbers could not be deciphered. In the 
small inner court there also exists an inscription cut in the 
stone, between two old pilasters, but almost entirely effaced 
by exposure to the weather, and consequently illegible ; 
while at the provision magazine one sees at once that it 
was built in 1484, under John II., King of Portugal, as is 
shown by the date placed on the door, which is still as clear 
and as entire as if it dated only from a few years ago, whence 
we must conclude that the other before-mentioned date 
must be very ancient." 

M. d'Avezac, adverting to these quotations, comments on 
them as follows : " This tradition of the natives, thus re- 
peated in 1617 to Braun by men one hundred and thirty years 
old, that is to say, by men born in the first years of the esta- 
blishment of the Portuguese, and whose fiithers had witnessed 
the facts recounted in the narrative, is a fact of importance not 
to be annulled by sinq)le contradiction. * It is moreover con- 

* Hee Ecchcrches sur la priorite, etc., pp. 32, 33, and Bulletin de la Soci^te 
de Geographique, cahier de Janvier, 1846, pp. 18 — 19. 


firmed by material indications which are not without their 
value. The old inscriptions defticed by time, especially that 
which was found by the Dutch in the rains of the old 
Batterie Frangaise, show that the first constructions of Fort 
La Mine date from the fourteenth century. Besides which 
this French warehouse, transformed into a chapel by the 
Portuguese, retained even in 1667 the traces of its former 
masters. Villaut de Bellefond, who then visited those 
coasts, attests this in the most exact manner. ' The Dutch,' 
he says, ' now use for their preaching the same chapel 
which we built there, in which are still to be seen the arms 
of France.' " It is not often that M. d'Avezac makes a 
mistake, but here he has chanced to fall into two errors at 
once, and between the two M, Villaut makes a fortunate 
escape. Had he, as M. d'Avezac supposes, alluded in the 
quoted sentence to the " French warehouse transformed into 
a chapel by the Portuguese," he would have been in the 
ludicrous position of making Dutchmen preach in 1669 in a 
chapel which had been built in a moment by a printer's devil 
in 1625. A reference to the original of Braun's " Fiinff 
Schiffarten," three lines beyond M. d'Avezac's extract, will 
show by the words " dieses Castell " that the printer had 
misprinted " Capell " for " Castell;" but M. Villaut, it will 
be seen, had stated that the French built their own church, 
and therefore he derives no confirmation from the extract on 
that head. 

But all this time the reader will naturally infer that 
these several statements could not possibly have been made 
unless the French had really been in those parts some 
considerable time before ; and so in truth they had been. 
The only question is as to the period. The French them- 
selves are very indistinct, or rather they seem entirely at 
fault, at to the date of what they would call the resumption, 
we the commencement, of their intercourse with the coast of 
Guinea. That the Portuguese fenced them oil" with jealous 
perseverance during tlie early part of I he sixteenth century 
is demonstrated by the words of a Diep})e,so caplain in 1531), 


which for a more comprehensive purpose we shall presently 
have to quote in full from Ramusio. l>ut that in the latter 
half of that century the French did succeed in establishing 
themselves on that coast is shown by an expression which 
occurs in the third volume of Ramusio, pul)lished in 1565, 
page 417 verso, in the editor's " Discorso sopra la Nuova 
Francia," where, in speaking of " Guinea and the Malaguette 
coast of Africa," he says, " which the French constantly fre- 
quent with their shii)s : " and that they carried on an immense 
trade in Gruinea grains and ivory is shown by a letter in the 
British Museum (Lansdowne xxv. art. 72), addressed to Lord 
Burleigh under date of the 9th of March, 1577, by Doctor 
David Lewis, Judge of the Admiralty, concerning a cargo 
of Guinea grains and elephants' teeth taken by one Batts 
from a ship called the Petit Margaux, coming from the river 
of Cestos, and belonging to one Thomas de Verins of Diep})e. 
We there find the words " by the reporte of suche as be best 
acquainted with them of Roan, Deepe, and other places in 
Normandye, it should seame that they have an ordinary trade 
to the sayd ryver of Ccsto." From the documents which 
accompany this letter we learn the amount of this capture, 
which consisted of twenty-four tons or butts of Guinea grains, 
and seven hundred elephants' teeth. If the cargo of one out 
of many vessels ''having an ordinary trade ^' to the Guinea 
coast was so rich as this, we can form some notion of the 
footing which the French had gained on that coast even for 
some years previous to this period. 

And this leads us to another incidental proof, though 
of a different nature, that it was about the beginning 
of the last half of the sixteenth century that the French 
established these relations with that coast. M. Vitet, one 
of the most zealous advocates of the prior claims of the 
Dieppese to African discovery, in his " Anciennes Villes 
de France," Paris, 1833, page 244, after having, without 
any evidence whatever, simply asserted that the ivoiy 
carvings of the Dieppese were as old as the close of the 
fourteenth century, lets slip the following confession : — 


" Unfortunately their works of this period are only known 
to us by reputation; no trace of them has reached us. 
These delicate bijoux with difficulty escape destruction. The 
churches only had it in their power to procure some of them, 
but the pillage of the altars in the sixteenth century caused 
the disappearance of the paxes and crucifixes of ivory, to- 
gether with the shrines and gold-embroidered chasubles. 
The oldest works of the kind that can be found at Dieppe 
were made in the seventeenth century, and they are extremely 
rare." Then in a note he says : — " M. Flammand, ivory 
dealer in the Grande Rue, is said to possess two small bas- 
reliefs of an earlier date than 1600, one representing the 
self-sacrifice of Curtius, the other Mutius ;^ca3Vola before 
the King of Etruria, but not having seen them I cannot 
answer for their style or their antiquity." Bombardments 
and pillage seem to have been more effectual in exter- 
minating material testimony on important historical questions 
during a few centuries in Dieppe, than all the accidents of 
thousands of years have effected in Assyria. We have 
Assyrian ivories of three thousand years old, as delicate 
bijoux as any ever made at Dieppe, and others of inter- 
mediate periods from various countries in abundance. No 
antiquary, assuredly, will admit so vapid an argument as that 
adduced by M. Yitet for the disappearance of his fourteenth 
and fifteenth century ivories. 

Meanwhile it has been shown that the French had been 
connected with the Gold Coast quite long enough to admit 
of the existence, in Villaut de Bellefond's time, of a church 
then occupied by the Dutch, but containing the arms of 
France. And although Dapper's character for trustworthi- 
ness seems to be not much better tlian that of M. Villaut, 
for the late learned French geographer, M. Eyries, snys of 
him (Biographic Universelle de Michaud), that "he was 
sometimes so undiscriminating in selectin<r his materials, 
that he has misled authors who have trusted him without 
making a critical examination of his statements," never- 
theless a wliole century was long enough to render possible. 


in his time, the existence of a French Lattery as well as 
the obliteration of a date (if date it was), exposed to the 
animal corrosive action of three months of rain. At the 
same time it is clear that the date of 1484 if less exposed or 
cut in harder material would, even if older, survive com- 
paratively intact. That such was either its position or the 
texture of the material, or both, is made quite certain by 
Dapper's OAvn words ; for, as the annual rains were an un- 
failing reality and the one hundred and eighty years between 
1484 and Dapper's time were realities equally inexorable, and 
yet the inscription was as sharp and unimpaired as if it had 
been only made a few years before, it follows that either its 
position must have been sheltered or the material uncommonly 
hard. We have thus, it is hoped, cleared the field of all the 
witnesses except the superannuated negroes whose memories 
at the age of one hundred and thirty enabled them to supply 
M. Samuel Braun with intelligence as to what had happened 
two hundred years before. These shall be answered presently. 
Such is the nature of the evidence adduced in corroboration 
of this extraordinary claim ; and M. d'Avezac, by far the most 
learned of its advocates, leaves the question with the following 
judicial verdict : — " The contemporary documents which 
proved the authenticity of these explorations have perished, 
and modern criticism takes advantage of this loss to dispute 
the genuineness of the narratives which show the establish- 
ment of the French on the coast of Guinea, as far as the Gold 
Coast, before the end of the fourteenth century. She is in her 
right ' dans son droit,' and she avails herself of it. It would 
be discourtesy in us to disregard it." JS'oblesse oblige, and if 
the evidence closed here, no duty could be more imperative 
or more grateful, in the presence of such language, than to 
refrain from pressing a case in which an eminently distin- 
guished savant finds his arguments weakened solely by an 
accident. But we are not left to rest on so loose a foothold 
as this. In contravention of the enlightened testimony of 
the venerable negroes we are able to adduce Xorman evidence, 
before the Portuguese time, and of the very period when the 
asserted prior discoveries of the Normans were at their height, 


to show that the Normans knew nothins: of the coast south 
of Cape Boyador ; and we have further the evidence of a 
Dieppese captain, after the Portuguese discoveries, and earlier 
than the earliest statement of any kind in favour of the 
Dieppese, showing that the Portuguese were the first dis- 
coverers of that coast. The asserted period of Norman 
exploration ranges, as we have just seen, from 1364 to 1410, 
and we have the unquestioned Norman narrative of the 
voyages of Bethencourt in 1402-5, written by the chaplains 
who accompanied him. Referring to the Spanish friar's 
book already spoken of at page 110, they say: — 

" The mendicant friar says in his book that the distance from 
Cape Bugeder to the River of Gold is only a hundred and fifty 
French leagues as the map shows." 

The reader will remember that I have shown (page 1 1 5) that 
the indications on the maps were assumptions, not demon- 
strated facts. But to continue : — 

" This would take three days' sailing in ships or barks, but 
longer in the galleys, which can only sail along the coast, so that 
it is not in om* power to go there. If things be as the Spanish 
friar's book says, and as those say who have visited these countries 
[see the disproof of this on page 117] , it is M. Bethencourt's 
intention, with the help of God and that of Christian princes and 
people, to open the way to the River of Gold. If he succeeded it 
would be a great honour and a great profit for the kingdom of 
France and all Christian kingdoms, seeing that we should get 
near to the country of Prcster John, from which so many good 
things and so much wealth are derived. It cannot bo doubted 
that much remains to be done which niiiht have succeeded in 
times past, ;/' it li'nl been Hiidcrtakcni. He does not boast that he 
will succeed, but he will so demean himself that, if ho do not 
succeed, both he and his crew shall be held blameless, for he will 
spare no pains to decide whether success is possible or absolutely 
impossible. But with the help of God he will conquer and 
convert to the Christian faith a host of men now in a state of 
perdition for want of enlightenment. It is a great pity, for go in 
any part of the world you will, you will not find handsomer or 
better made men and women than in these islands (the Canaries). 
They have great intelligence, and only want teaching. And as the 
said Lord do Bethenct)urt lias a great desire to know the con- 


dition of other neighbouring parts of this country both ishinds and 
mainland, ho will spare no paius to got exact information respect- 
ing all these countries." 

Such was the state of kuowleclg-e and such were the inten- 
tions with reference to the west coast of Africa beyond Cape 
Boyador entertained by a Norman gentleman of seafaring 
tendencies, whose estate of Grainville la Teinturiere hiy only 
five-and-twenty miles from Dieppe at the very time when 
the pretended Dieppese relations with Gruinea were at their 
height. Surely the secrecy of those wealth-producing ex- 
peditions must have stood unexampled in the history of the 

But to proceed. After Bethencourt's time follow the well- 
recognised voyages under Prince Henry. From the rounding 
of Cape Boyador to that of the Cape of Grood Hope occupied 
from 1434 to 1497; and in 1531) we have a document by a 
Dieppese captain^ preserved to us by Eamusio (torn, iii., p. 
426 b., 1565 edition), in which occurs a passage, of which 
the following is a translation :- - 

" This land of Brazil was first discovered in part by the Portu- 
guese about five and thirty years ago and as I might 

be asked w^hy the Portuguese prevent the French from going to 
Brazil and the other places whither they have navigated, such as 
Guinea and Taprobana, I could give no other reason than their 
insatiable avarice, and although thej^ are the smallest nation in the 
world, even this does not seem enough to satisfy their cupidity. 
I think they must have drunk of the dust of the heart of King 
Alexander to have brought about in them such unlimited greediness, 
and they afiect to hold in their closed fists more than they could 
enclose in both their hands. I think it is their belief that God 
made the sea and the land for them alone, and that other nations 
are not worthy to navigate, and if it had been in their power to 
put limits and shut up the sea from Cape Fiuisterre to Ireland, 
the passage would have been closed long ago ; and there is just 
as much reason why the French should not go to those lands, in 
which they (the Portuguese) have not planted the Christian religion 
and where they are neither loved nor obeyed, as we should have 
reason to prevent them from going to Scotland, Denmark, or 
Norway, if we luul been there before them." 



If words mean anything this is an acknowledgment on 
the part of a Dieppese captain * of Portuguese priority in 
tlie discovery of the coast of Guinea; and be it observed 
that this acknowledgment is made unguardedly in the midst 
of a bitter expression of rivalry and complaint against the 
latter apropos of their possessions by right of discovery, in 
which the power of claiming priority, had the complainant 
possessed it, would have been bej'ond all price. 

But lest these more splendid pretensions should be met 
with an obdurate incredulity, a minor claim has been set up 
on behalf of Jean de Bethencourt himself, for the honour of 
having at least passed southward of Cape Boyador in anti- 
cipation of the Portuguese. The claim is made in respect of 
the following occurrence. M. de Bethencourt being in the 
island of Fuerteventura, set sail on the 6th October, 1405, 
with three galleys for the Great Canary, and the words of 
the chronicler are : — 

" The vessels were separated at sea, and all three came near 
the lands of the Saracens very near to the i^ort of Bugeder, ' bien 
pivs du port de Bugeder.' M. de Bethencom-t and his people 
lauded and went a good eight leagues into the country. They 
took some men and women whom they carried away with them, 
and more than three thousand camels. But thej' could not take 
all on hoard ; they killed some and hamstrung (or potted) some, 
and then returned to the Great Canary." 

On the strength of the word " port," in the foregoing 
narrative of de Bethcncourt's adventure, it has been reasoned 
that henceforth no one can deny to M. de Bethencourt the 
lionour of having passed Cape Boyador thirty years before the 
Portuguese, wdio boast of having been the first to double it, 
inasmuch as it is pointed out that the Port of Boyador is 
south of the Cape. Cape Boyador had been for ages the ne 
plus ultra of navigation along this coast. "When Gil Eannes 
leally doubled this Cape in 1434, it was, as Azurara tells us, 

* Now known to bo Jean Parmonticr, who made a voj-agc to Sumatra in 
1.529, the first made to the South Seashy a Frenehiiuin. The aecount was in all 
probability written by his friend and eulof^ist the poet Pierre Crignon, who 
aeeonipanicd him in the voyage. 


" by avoiding certain slioals and rocks which are on certain 
reefs exactly laid down on the charts that have been drawn 
by the orders of Prince Plenry." The French Admiral Baron 
Eoussiu in his " Menioire sur la navigation anx cotes oceiden- 
tales d'Afrique," Paris, 1827, 8"^, tells us that Cape Boyador 
** when seen from the northward shows a strand of red sand 
with a gradual descent towards the sea," and the " African 
Pilot," published by our own Admiralty, says that " the 
surf is exceedingly heavy all along this shore." Hence we 
can understand the difficulties in the way of doubling this 
Cape which would be offered to small craft making their 
way southward along the African coast. These difficulties 
were such as to baffle the efforts of Prince Henry's sailors 
for a long series of years. But now for the position of the 
bay. In the old editions of the " African Pilot," now very 
scarce, is a passage extracted by M, d'Avezac, who has written 
an article on the subject,* to the following effect : " Cape 
Boyador is surrounded by a reef which extends above a 
league into the sea ; to the soutlmard of it you may anchor in 
a little bay in four or five fathoms water, but coming from 
the northward you must not approach it nearer than twenty 
fathoms." The position of this little bay is very minutely 
described by Admiral Roussin. He says that " the western 
extremity of the Cape, which is very low, forms a small bay with 
the cliff which immediately followsy So that the claim set up 
for Bethencourt is that he anchored in a bay south of the 
very tip of the nose of Cape Boyador. In early maps and 
narratives of travels the words port, cape, river, &c., are 
used with marvellous recklessness, and if, as is almost cer- 
tain, Bethencourt lauded a little north of Cape Boyador, 
then famous as the limit of exploration, nothing would be 
more natural than the expression that " they came very 
near to the Port of Bugeder." The editor of Bethencourt's 
voyage himself took this view of the case, for in his preface 

* Entitled " Sur la veritable situation du mouillage marque au sud du Cap de 
Bugeder dans toutcs les cartes nautiques." Lue a la Societe de Geographic de 
Paris dans la seance du 20 Mars, ISiG. Paris, 1843, 80. 

K 2 


he says that Bethencoiirt was " thrown by a storm on the 
Coast of Africa, vers le Cap de Bogeador," and the French 
word " vers " can by no process be made to mean " beyond." 
The authors of the narrative also, who elsewhere show them- 
selves quite alive to the importance of the subject, make 
no claim for the honour of such an achievement on behalf of 
their hero. It was not till four centuries and a-half had 
transpired that a fellow countryman of Bethencourt's, 
my good friend M. d'Avezac, discovered for him a claim 
to glory of which neither himself nor his companions 
were in any way conscious. But let it for a moment be 
assumed that the ships had indeed arrived at the port in 
question, it will be seen that neither by skill or knowledge 
or courage, but under the unwelcome action of the winds, 
they were driven thither from a point in the open sea, which 
entailed not one tittle of the sjjecial danger or difficulty 
which constituted the glory of " doubling " the redoubted 
Cape. Gil Eannes, in 1434, by dint of sheer courage and 
perseverance rounded Cape Boyador, which de Bethencourt 
never did. The argument seems scarcely deserving the 
learned labour of a distinguished writer, for it proves neither 
merit nor usefulness in the feat assumed to have been 
accomplished, and I should not have thought it desirable 
to lay it before the reader were it not that its author regards 
it as so great a triumph over Prince Henry's navigators 
that he uses the following words, " Thus twenty-nine years 
before the so much vaunted enterprise of Gil Eannes we see 
the French make a Ghazyah of eight days" [it should have 
been leagues] " on the African lands beyond Cape Bugeder. 
In the presence of this fact simply enunciated, of what 
value are the resounding noise and pompous eclat of a blind 
renown?" To our view the honour that attaches to that 
fact resolves itself into the very quintessence of a bagatelle, 
but by all means let the invited comparison be duly made. 
Let the bandage be withdrawn fioni the eyes of Fimie, 
that the goddess may hie her lieyond C;q)e Boyador to cull a 
garland for the brows of Jean de Bethencourt. It is to be 


feared she u'ill return but empty handed. Yet there are 
flowers beycnul that stormy cape, but they grow for those 
only who shall win them by predetermined purpose and 
unflaiTirinfr exertion. Fame leaves untouched the roses of 
St. Mary till they shall be gathered by the weather-beaten 
hands of Gil Eannes, that in her name he may offer them at 
the feet of his princely master. The value of the meritorious 
rounding of Cape Boyador by Gil Eannes in 1434 was that 
it led to the rounding of the Cape of Good Hope by 
Bartholomew Dias in 1487, to the discovery of America by 
Columbus in 1492, to the unfolding of the sea way to India 
by Vasco da Gama in 1497, to the maritime discovery of 
China in 1517, to the discovery of the Straits of Magalhaens 
in 1520, and the circumnavigation of the globe in the same 
voyage, and to the discovery of Australia by the Portuguese 
some ten years later. In the celebration of such mighty 
results what ''bruit" could well be too " retentissant," 
what "eclat" could well be too "pompeux?" And now 
let us turn aside to do fall justice to the transaction which 
precluded the merit of the Portuguese by a priority of 
nine and twenty years. Driven by stress of weather, Jean 
de Bethencourt, as is supposed but by no means proved, 
lights upon a little bay, looking south west, on the extreme 
western point of the Cape which was not rounded till nine 
and twenty years later. He lands, and thirty years in 
advance of the Portuguese, sets an example of that for 
which the latter were afterwards reproached. He captures 
men and women. In so doing he j^roceeds eight leagues 
into the country, but whether his steps were turned north- 
ward or southward is not recorded, and, if it were, the fact 
could not by any possibility have the worth of a straw. In 
short, to put the value of this fortuitous expedition to the 
most unequivocal test, it could not enable any cartographer 
to add one iota of information to the chart of the west coast 
of Africa. That the sea of darkness was visited by some 
glimpses of light before the time of Prince Henry is true, 
but these must be treated of in another chapter. 



There has been a belief prevailing in every religion from 
the oldest times that the souls of the departed cannot enter 
into bliss without first crossing a river. The doctrine 
originated apparently in India, whence it passed into Assyria 
and Chaldea, and so into Persia. From Asia it extended 
into Greece and Egypt, thence through Ethiopia to the 
country of the Gallas, and at length we find it, as Bowdich 
tells us, among the natives neighbouring on the country of 
the Ashantees. Even to the mythic Jordan of the Christian 
the idea has still obtained. In the poems of Homer the 
ocean is treated as a river beyond which, at the earth's con- 
fines, were the Elysian fields, which Hesiod and Pindar 
made to be surrounded by water, so that the habitations of 
the blest were transformed into islands, and hence, as it has 
been supposed, originated the name of the Insular Fortunata? 
or Fortunate Islands.* These remained, hoAvever, no better 
than islands of fable, lying remote wherever fancy suggested, 
till solidity was given them by the discovery of the Canaries 
in tlie outlying ocean, and at length the land of spirits had 
assigned to it in men's minds a somewhat more definite 
geographical position. It is in the highest degree probable 

♦ I am indebted for this deduetion to the learned treatise by the venerable 
Joaquim da Costa de Maeedo, entitled : " IMenioria em que se pertende de provar 
que OS Arabes uiio conheceriio aa Canarias autes dos Portuguezes." Lisboa 
1844. fol. 


tliat the PliOBnicians had been the original discoverers of the 
Canaries. Strabo tells us, lib. 3, "The poets make mention 
of the Islands of the Blest, and we know that even now they 
are to be seen not fiir from the extremity of INIauritania, 
opposite Gades (Cadiz). Now I say that those who jjointed 
out these things were the Phoenicians, who before the time of 
Homer had possession of the best part of Africa and Sjjain." 
It may therefore be reasonably presumed that the Canary 
Islands were known to the Carthaginians established at 
Gadir or Cadiz, but that the monopolizing policy of that 
nation referred to by Diodorus induced them to conceal from 
other countries the extent of their commercial relations. 

After the third Punic war the attention of the world was 
directed to other conquests, and it was not till about 
eighty-two years before our era that we find the Fortunate 
Islands brought afresh under notice. The Roman armies 
were in Spain. Sertorius fleeing from the ships of Annius 
had passed through the Straits and turning to the right had 
landed a little above the mouth of the Guadalquivir, then 
called the Ba^tis, when he fell in with some Lusitanian 
sea captains who had just returned from the Fortunate 
Islands, and their description of them is given us by 
Plutarch in his Life of Sertorius. It is as follows : " They 
are two islands separated only by a narrow strait, and 
distant from Africa ten thousand stadia [or five hundred 
leagues]. They are called the Fortunate Islands. It rains 
there but seldom and then softly. The winds are generally- 
agreeable and bring with them refreshing showers which 
fertilise the earth, and make it not only produce anything 
that is planted, but supply spontaneously excellent fruits 
for the abundant nourishment of a happy people who pass 
their lives in the most delicious idleness. The changes of 
the season are always gentle and the air is pure and whole- 
some. The north and east winds which blow from our 
continent in traversing so great a space expend their force 
before they reach those islands. The winds from the west 
and south sometimes bring gentle rains, but for the must 


part only refreshing vapours sufficient to make the ground 
fertile. All these advantages have established even amongst 
the barbarians the generally received opinion that these 
islands contain the Elysian fields, the abode of happy souls 
celebrated by Homer.-" M. Bory de St. Vincent fancied 
that he recognised in these islands Madeira and Porto 
Santo, but the fact of the latter not being inhabited 
precludes that idea. It is more probable, judging by their 
distance from each other and from the continent, that 
Lancer ote and Fuerteventura are referred to. This glowing 
account inspired Sertorius with the most ardent desire to 
retire from the toils of life and seek repose in these blissful 
islands, but circumstances forbade the realization of his wish. 

Twenty years after the death of Sertorius we have five 
islands specified by distinct names in a vague itinerary 
drawn up by one Statins Sebosus from the accounts of 
navigators of his time and preserved to us by Pliny. He 
represents the group to which he gives the name of Hespe- 
rides as one day's sail from the western promontory (Cape 
Non). He names them (1) Junonia, at 750 miles from 
Grades (Cadiz), (2) Pluvialia and (3) Capraria, 750 miles 
west of Junonia, and 250 miles beyond to the left of 
Mauritania and towards the ninth hour of the sun were the 
great Fortunate Islands, one called (4) Convallis and the 
other (5) Planaria on account of their form ; but all these 
indications are too indistinct to supply us with any informa- 
tion beyond the fact that in the time of Sebosus five islands 
of the Canary group had received individual names. 

Happily we are supplied also by Pliny with information of 
a far more distinct character respecting these islands. When 
King Juba the Second was reinstated by Augustus on the 
throne which his father had lost, on his return to j\Iauri- 
tania he turned to account the geographical knowledge 
which he had acquired through his education in Italy, and 
sent out an expedition for the express purpose of exploring 
the Fortunate Islands. On the return of the navigators he 
wrote a narrative of the voyage from their report, and sent it 


to the emperor. A fragment only of that narrative survives, 
and has been transmitted to us by Pliny in the following 
shape: "The Fortunate Islands lie to the south-west, at 
625 miles fi-om the Purpurarias. To reach them from the 
latter they first sailed 250 miles westwards and then 875 
miles to the east.* The first is called Ombrios, and contains 
no traces of buildings. There is in it a pool in the midst of 
mountains, and trees like ferules, from which water may be 
pressed, which is bitter from the black kinds, but from the 
lighter ones pleasant to drink (sugar cane). The second is 
called Junonia, and contains a small temple built entirely of 
stone. Near it is another smaller island having the same name. 
Then comes Capraria, which is full of large lizards. Within 
sight of these islands is Nivaria, so called from the snow 
and fogs with which it is constantly covered. Not far from 
Navaria is Canaria, so called on account of the great number 
of large dogs therein, two of which were brought to King 
Juba. There were traces of buildings in this island. All 
the islands abound in apples and in birds of every kind, and 
in palms covered wdth dates, and in the pine nut. There is 
also plenty of honey. The papyrus grows there, and the 
Silurus fish is found in the rivers. (See Pliny, Nat. Hist., 
lib. 6, cap. 37.) In Ombrios we recognise the Pluvialia of 
Sebosus, the words being synonymous. Convallis becomes 
Nivaria, and Planaria is replaced by Canaria, which name is 
still borne by the large central island, and has now been 
given to the whole Archipelago. There is no difiiculty in 
fixing the island named Nivaria, a name which clearly in- 
dicates the snowy peak of Teneriffe, almost constantly capped 
with clouds. In Ombrios or Pluvialia, with its pool in the 
midst of mountains, we recognise the island of Palma, with 
its famous Caldera or cauldron, the crater of an old volcano. 

* The " three hundi-ed " is omitted in some editions of Pliny, but that they 
are necessary is evident from the account of Pliny himself. It is clear that the 
625 miles is reckoned in making the periplus of the whole group, the 2-50 tully- 
ing with the distance from Fuertevcntura, one of the PurpurariiT>, to Onihrios or 
Palma. The 375 would he the length of the eastern return track from raliua 
round the group. 


The distance also of this island from Fuerteventura agrees 
witli that of the 250 miles indicated by Jiiba's navigators 
as existing between Ombrios . and the Purpurarife. It has 
been already seen that the latter agree with Lancerote and 
Fuerteventura in respect of their distance from the continent 
and from each other, as described by Plutarch. That the 
Purpurarite are not, as M. Bory de St. Vincent supposed, 
the Madeira group, is not only shown by the want of in- 
habitants in the latter, but by the orchil, which supplies the 
purple dye, being derived from and sought for specially from 
the Canaries and not the Madeira group, although it is to be 
found there. Junonia, the nearest to Ombrios, will be Gro- 
mera. It may be presumed that the temple found therein 
was, like the island, dedicated to Juno. Capraria, which 
implies the island of goats, agrees correctly with the island 
of Ferro, which occurs next in the orcler of the itinerary, for 
these animals were found there in large numbers when the 
island was invaded by Jean de Bethencourt in 1402. But a 
yet more striking proof of the identity of this island with 
Capraria is the account of the great number of large lizards 
found therein. Bethencourt's chaplains, describing their visit 
to the island in 1402, state : — " There are lizards in it as big as 
cats, but they are harmless although very hideous to look at." 

It was probably the desire to bring these mysterious 
islands within the grasp of history that induced King Juba 
to send out this expedition, and although the blessedness that 
was looked for formed no part of the discovery, yet as these 
were the only islands that were lighted upon in the ocean where 
they were sought for, they were assumed to be the genuine 
Insula3 Fortunat{\?, and accordingly retained the name. 

For thirteen centuries from the time of which we have 
been speaking, the Fortunate Islands were destined again 
to be almost buried in oblivion. The destruction of the 
Roman Empire re-plunged Europe into ignorance, and 
although the Fortunate Islands were vaguely known to the 
Moors of Spain under the designation of the Islands of 
Khaledat, it has been elaboraLcly shown by the eminent 


Portuguese savant, now venerable in years, Senhor Joaquira 
Jose da Costa cle Macedo, that the Arabs had no practical 
knowledge of the Canaries before the times of the Portu- 
guese discoveries. He maintains that the only notions they 
had respecting them, were such as they derived from Greek 
and Latin authors, and he seems satisfactorily to have proved 
his point. 

It was not till the beginning of the fifteenth century, when 
the Norman Jean de Bethencourt established himself in 
the Canaries, that something like substantial information 
respecting those islands was made accessible to Europeans. 
Much earlier expeditions it is true had been attempted, but 
of the navigators who visited those islands before the 
fifteenth century, some only landed accidentally, and others 
went for the purpose of taking slaves, or goats' flesh, or else 
to gather orchil for dyeing, and dragons' blood or other 
products that might be useful in commerce. That the 
Canaries were visited, but visited only, by the Portuguese, 
even earlier than the year 1345 is proved by a passage in a 
letter from Alphonso fourth King of Portugal to Pope 
Clement Vl. which was written under the following circum- 
stances. When Alphonso the eldest son of the Infant Don 
Ferdinand, and grandson of King Alfonso the Wise, was 
deprived by his uncle Dom Sancho of the succession 1;o the 
Crown of Castile, he retired in indignation to France to the 
Court of his uncle Philippe le Bel. He there married 
Marhaut or Mafalda daughter of Amery VI., Viscount of 
Narbonne, by whom he had Luis of Spain, called by almost 
aU the Spanish historians, Luis de la Cerda, Count of 
Talmond, and Admiral of France. On the death of John 
III., Duke of Britany, a civil war divided the country into 
two parties. England took the part of the Count de Mont- 
fort, the Duke's brother, while the King of France main- 
tained that of his nephew the Count de Blois, who had been 
called to the succession by the Duke himself. In this 
contest, Don Luis commanded in several engagements 
against England, till at length Pope Clement VI. obtained 


a truce, signed at Malestroit on the 19th January, 1343, 
which was to last three years, so that terms of peace might 
in the interval be negociated in the Pope's presence at 
Avignon, One of the plenipotentiaries was Luis of Spain, 
and as the negociations were greatly protracted by repeated 
delays on the part of the King of England, he remained 
there till the beginning of the year 1345. 

During his stay at Avignon, Don Luis represented to the 
Pope that there were islands in the ocean, named the 
Fortunate Islands, some of which were inhabited and others 
not, and that he wished to obtain possession of these for 
the exaltation of the Faith and the sjjread of Christianity, 
and for this purpose he prayed his Holiness to grant him 
the necessary authority and the title of King of these 
islands. The Pope granted his request, and by a Bull 
dated from Avignon, November 15th, 133-1-, bestowed on 
him the lordship of the Fortunate Islands with the title 
of Prince of Fortune, to remain in perpetual fief to the 
Apostolic See, to which it should pay annually 400 florins 
of good and pure gold of Florentine coinage ; and Don Luis 
gave an acknowledgment of the fief on the 28th of November 
of the same year. At the same time the Pope wrote letters 
to the Kings of France, of Sicily, of Aragon, of Castile, and 
Portugal, as well as to the Dauphin, and to the Doge of 
Genoa, desiring them to help the new king in this enter- 
prise. The reply of the King of Portugal contains the 
l)assage to which allusion has been made. While submit- 
ting, from habitual reverence, to the desire of his Holiness, 
he reminded him that he had already sent out expeditions to 
those islands, and was only i)rcvented from sending out a 
large armada by the wars in which he became involved, first 
with the King of Castile, and afterwards with the Saracens. 
The letter finished with the King's excusing himself on 
account of the exhausted condition of his treasury from 
supplying Don Luis with ships and soldiers, but expressing 
his willingness to furnish him to the extent of his power 
with provisions, and other supplies. This letter was dated 


from Monte ^Mor, 12th of February, 1345. The war with 
Spain, to which the king referred, broke out at the close of 
133(>, whence it follows that his assertion that he had 
thereby been prevented from sending out a large armada to 
those islands, either means that previously to that year the 
Portuguese had sent out expeditions to the Canaries or that 
expeditions which he had sent out during the war would, but 
for the war, have been equipped on a grander scale. Mean- 
while we have evidence to show that in 1341 a voyage was 
made to the Canaries, under the auspices of the King of 
Portugal, in a narrative for which we are indebted to the poet 
Boccaccio, and which has been rescued from oblivion so 
recently as 1827 by the learned Sebastiano Ciampi. It was 
derived from letters written to Florence by certain Florentine 
merchants established at Seville, under date of the 1 7 kalend 
of December, 1341. 

The narrative records that ^' On the 1st of July of that same 
year, two vessels furnished by the King of Portugal with all 
the necessary provisions, and accompanied by a smaller 
vessel, well armed and manned by Florentines, Genoese, 
Castilians, and other Spaniards, among whom were naturally 
included Portuguese, for the word Hispani included all in- 
habitants of the Peninsula, set sail from Lisbon, and put out 
into the open sea.* They took with them horses, arms, and 
warlike engines for storming towns and castles, in search of 
those islands commonly called the ' Eediscovered.' The 
wind was favourable, and on the 5th day they found land. 
They did not return till the month of November, when they 
brought back with them four of the natives, a large quantity 
of goat skins, the fat and oil of fish, and seal skins ; red 
wood which dyed almost as well as the verzino (Brazil 
wood), although connoisseurs pronounced it not to be the 
same ; the barks of trees to stain with a red colour ; red 
earth and other such things. Nicoloso de Recco, a Genoese, 

* " The Florentine who went with these ships M'as Angclino del Tcgghia dei 
Corbizzi, a cousin of the sons of Gherardino Gianni," according to what we leai-n 
from a marginal note by Boccaccio. 


tliG pilot of this expedition, stated that this archipelago was 
nearly nine hundred miles from the city of Seville ; but that 
reckoning from what is now called Cape St. Vincent, the 
islands were much nearer to the continent, and that the first 
of those which they discovered [most probably Fuerteventura] 
was a hundred and fifty miles in circumference ; it was one 
mass of uncultivated stony land, but full of goats and other 
beasts, and inhabited by naked men and women, who were like 
savages in their appearance and demeanour. He added that 
he and his companions obtained in this island the greater part 
of their cargo of skins and fat, but they did not dare to 
j)enetrate far into the country. Passing thence into another 
island [Great Canary], somewhat larger than the first, a 
great number of natives of both sexes, all nearly naked, came 
down to the shore to meet them. Some of them, who seemed 
superior to the rest, were covered with goats' skins coloured 
yellow and red, and, as far as could be seen from a distance, 
the skins were fine and soft, and tolerably well sewn 
together with the intestines of animals. To judge from 
their gestures, they seemed to have a prince, to whom they 
showed much respect and obedience. The islanders showed 
a wish to communicate with the people in the ship, but 
when the boats drew near the shore, the sailors who did not 
understand a word that they said did not dare to land. 
Their language however was soft, and their pronunciation 
rapid and animated like Italian. Some of the islanders then 
swam to the boats, and four of them were taken on board 
and afterwards carried away. On the northern coasts of the 
island, which were much better cultivated than the southern, 
there were a great number of little houses, fig trees and 
other trees, palm trees which bore no fruit, and gardens 
with cabbages and other vegetables. Here twenty-five of 
the sailors landed, and found nearly thirty men quite naked, 
who took to flight when they saw their arms. The build- 
ings were made with much skill of S(piarc stones, covered 
with large and handsome pieces of wood. Finding several 
of them closed the sailors broke open the doors with stones. 


which enraged the fugitives, who filled the air with their 
cries. The houses were found to contain nothing beyond 
some excellent dried figs, preserved in palm baskets, like 
those made at Cesena, corn of a much finer quality than the 
Italian, not only in the length and thickness of its grain but 
its extreme whiteness, some barley and other grains. The 
houses were all very handsome and covered with very fine 
wood, and as clean inside as if they had been whitewashed. 
The sailors also came upon a chapel or temple, in which 
there were no pictures or ornament, but only a stone statue 
representing a man with a ball in his hand. This idol, other- 
wise naked, wore an apron of palm-leaves. They took it 
away and carried it to Lisbon. The island seemed to be 
thickly peopled and well cultivated ; producing not only 
corn and other grain, but fruits, principally figs. The 
natives either ate the grain like birds, or else made it into 
flour, and ate it with water without kneading. On leaving 
this island they saw several others, at the distance of five, ten, 
twenty, or forty miles, and made for a third, in which they 
remarked nothing but an immense number of beautiful trees 
shooting straight up to the skies [most probably Ferro, 
remarkable for its magnificent pines]. Thence to another, 
which abounded in streams of excellent water and wood 
[Gomera]. They found also many wild pigeons, which they 
killed with sticks and stones. They were larger and of better 
flavour than those in Italy. Falcons and birds of i)rey were 
numerous. The sailors ventured but a very little way into 
the country. At length they discovered another island, the 
rocky mountains of which were of immense height and 
almost always covered with clouds, but what they could see 
during the clear weather seemed very agreeable, and it 
appeared to be inhabited [Palma]. They afterwards saw 
other islands, making in all thirteen, some of them inhabited 
and some not, and the further they went the more they saw. 
They remarked the smoothness of the sea which separates 
these islands, and found good anchorage, although there were 
but few harbours, but all the islands were well provided 


with water. Of the thirteen islands five were inhabited, 
but some were much more populous than others.* The 
languages of these people were said to be so different, that 
those of one island did not understand those of another, and 
they had no means of communication except by swimming. 
A phenomenon which they witnessed on one of these islands 
[Teneriffe] deterred them from lauding. On the summits 
of a mountain which they reckoned to be more than thirty 
thousand feet high they observed what from its whiteness 
looked like a fortress. It was however nothing but a sharp 
point of rock, on the top of which was a mast, as large 
as a ship's mast, with a yard and a lateen sail set upon it. 
This sail when blown out by the wind took the form of a 
shield, and soon afterwards it would seem to be lowered, 
together with the mast, as if on board a vessel, then again 
it was raised and again would sink, and so alternately. 

" They sailed round the island, but on all sides they saw 
the same phenomenon, and thinking it the effect of some 
enchantment, they did not dare to land. They saw many 
other things also, which Niccoloso refused to relate. At any 
rate the islands do not seem to have been very rich, for the 
sailors hardly covered the expense of the voyage. 

" The four men whom they carried away were young and 
beardless, and had handsome faces. They wore nothing 
but a sort of apron made of cord, from which they hung a 
number of palm or reed fibres of a hair's-breadth and a half 
or two hairs'-breadth, which formed an effectual covering. 
They were uncircumcised. Their long light hair veiled their 
bodies down to the waist, and they went barefooted. The 
island whence they were taken was called Canary, and was 
more populous than the others. These men were spoken to 
in several languages, but they understood none of them. 
They did not exceed their captors in stature, but they were 
robust of limb, courageous, and very intelligent. When 

* Thirteoa is correct if the desert islands be added to the seven inhabited 
ones. Those inhabited are here counted live instead of seven, doubtless from 
defective exploration. 


spoken to by signs, they replied in the same manner, like 
mutes. There were marks of deference shown from one to 
another; but one of them appeared more honoured than the 
rest. The apron of this chief was of palm leaves, while 
the others wore reeds painted in yellow and red. They sang 
very sweetly, and danced almost as well as Frenchmen. 
They were gay and merry, and much more civilised than 
many Spaniards. When they were brought on board, they 
atCj some bread and tigs, and seemed to like the bread, 
though they had never tasted it before. They absolutely 
refused wine, and only drank water. Wheat and barley 
they ate in plenty, as well as cheese and meat, which was 
abundant in the islands, and of good quality, for although 
there were no oxen, camels, or asses, there were plenty of 
goats, sheep, and wild hogs. They were shown some gold 
and silver money, but they were quite ignorant ol the use 
of it ; and they knew as little of any kind of spice. Rings 
of gold, and vases of carved work, swords and sabres were 
shown to them ; but they seemed never to have seen such 
things, and did not know how to use them. They showed 
remarkable faithfulness and honesty, for if one of them 
received anything good to eat, before tasting it, he divided 
it into portions which he shared with the rest. Marriage 
was observed among them, and the married women wore 
aprons like the men, but the maidens went quite naked, 
without consciousness of shame." 

Meanwhile the Prince of Fortune made but little progress 
towards the acquirement of the royal domain with which the 
Pope had endowed him. In short, the whole project proved 
a mere abortion, and neither the treasury of the Pope, the 
property of Don Luis, nor the knowledge of the geography 
of the Canaries, were advanced one iota thereby. 

The enterprise of the Norman Jean de Bethencourt, a 
century and a half later, was of a far more persistent and 
effectual character. Having conceived the project of con- 
quering the Canaries, which were then only frequented by 
merchants or Spanish pirates, he assembled a body of adveu- 



turers, among whom was a knight named Gadifer de la Salle, 
who joined him at Rochelle. He first made a descent 
on the island of Lanccrote, established himself there, and 
undertook the conquest of the other islands ; but not having 
enough people to effect this enterprise, he went to ask help 
of the King of Castile, to whom he made homage of the 
islands. The King conceded to him the sovereignty of 
the Canaries, with the right of coining money. He also 
gave him twenty thousand maravedos for present expenses, 
and a well-found ship with eighty men. By means of these 
reinforcements he subjugated the island of Fuerteventura. 
He then revisited France, and there collected a new troop 
of peojjle of all classes, with their wives and children, whom 
he brought to his new states, and succeeded in conquering 
the island of Ferro. Resolving now to finish his days in 
France, he distributed his lands to those who had helped in 
his conquest, and named his nephew Maciot de Bethencourt 
governor-general, as his representative ; enjoining him to do 
justice according to the customs of France and Normand3^ 
He set out on the loth December, 1405, first for Spain, 
where he renewed his homage, and obtained a bishop for the 
Canaries. Thence he went to Rome, where he received from 
the Pope the bull of installation for the Spanish bishop. 
He returned in 1406 to his lands in Normandy, and died in 

It will have been seen in a previous chapter that on the 
authority of the great Portuguese historian, De Barros, the 
names of Porto Santo and Madeira were for three centuries 
accepted as having been, for the first time, given to those 
islands on their assumed first discovery by Zarco and Vaz, in 
1418-20. But while it is to the Portuguese, under the 
auspices of I'rince Henry, that we owe the colonization of 
tlie lovely island of Madeira, and the development of its 
valuable resources, there can be no doubt that its discovery, 
although neglected, had already been made at an earlier 
period. From Lisbon, nevertheless, it would seem, if an 
ingenious inference by the learned M. d'Avezac be correct, 


the first expedition took place which was to remove, tliougli 
but with a shadowy hand, some portion of tlie mist which 
held that island enveloped in Atlantic obscurity. 

In that deluge of Mahometan invasion which, so soon 
after the rise of the false prophet, overswept the surface of 
civilized humanity with a force unexampled in the history of 
ancient Rome, the Iberian peninsula at length became a 
victim. After the death of Don Roderic and the extinction 
of the kingdom of the G-oths at the beginning of the eighth 
century the Moslems with wonderful rapidity compelled 
nearly the whole of Spain as well as Portugal to yield to 
their victorious arms. Cordova and Granada became the 
two principal seats of government, and Lisbon also became 
essentially a Mussulman city. " From Lisbon," then, 
according to Edrisi, who was the first to write an account of 
the voyage, '' the Maghrurins, or ' strayed ones,' set sail 
with the object of learning what was on the ocean, and what 
were its boundaries. They were eight in number, and all 
related to each other. Having built a transport boat, they 
took on board water and provisions for many months, and 
started with the first east wind. After a sail of eleven days 
or thereabouts, they reached a sea whose thick waters ex- 
haled a foetid odour, concealed numerous reefs, and were but 
faintly lighted. Fearing for their lives, they changed their 
course and steered southwards for twelve daj^s and reached 
the island of El Ghanam, so named from the numerous 
flocks of sheep which pastured thereon without a shepherd 
or any one to tend them. On landing the}^ found a spring 
of running water and some wild figs. They also killed some 
of the sheep, but the flesh was so bitter that they could not eat 
it, and they were obliged to content themselves with taking 
the skins. For twelve days more they sailed southwards, and 
discovered an island in which were habitations and cultivated 
fields. As they approached it they were surrounded by boats, 
made prisoners, and carried in their own boats to a city on 
the sea-shore. They reached a house in which were men of 
tall stature, dark-skinned, with short but straight hair, and 



women of uncommon beauty. In this house they were con- 
fined for three days, and on the fourth there came to them 
a man who spoke Arabic, and who asked them who they 
were, what they sought, and where they came from. They 
related to him their adventures, and he gave them good 
encouragement and told them that he was the king's inter- 
preter. Two days afterwards they were presented to the 
King, wlio put similar questions to them; to which they 
replied that they had ventured out to sea for the purpose of 
making themselves acquainted with its wonders and curiosi- 
ties, and of ascertaining its limits. When the King heard 
them talk in this fashion he laughed heartily, and told the 
interj)reter to explain to them that in former times his 
father had ordered some of his slaves to venture out on 
that sea, and that after sailing across the breadth of it for a 
whole month they found themselves dejirived of the light 
of the sun, and returned without having either gained or 
learned anything. The King furthermore desired the inter- 
preter to assure the adventurers of his friendly disposition. 
They returned to their prison and there remained until a west 
wind arose, when they were blindfolded and put on board a 
boat and taken out to sea. When they had been out three 
days and three nights they reached land, and the wanderers 
were put on shore with their hands tied behind them, and 
there left. They remained there till sunrise in a miserable 
condition from the tightness of the cords with which they 
were bound, but hearing some laughter and human voices 
near them they began to shout. Some of the inliabitants of 
the country came to them, and seeing their wretched plight, 
unfastened them and questioned them as to tlieir adventure. 
They were Berbers, and one of them asked the wanderers if 
they knev; how far they were fi'om their own country. On their 
answering in the negative, he told them that it was two 
months' sail. The person who seemed to be of most con- 
sideration amongst them said repeatedly Wasafi (alas), and 
accordingly they took that to be the name of the locality, 
and ever since it continues to bear the name of Asafi. Tliev 


reached Lisbon in considerable confusion at their disappoint- 
ment, and from that received the name of the Mag-ln-urins, 
or ' strayed ones,' and from these adventurers a street at the 
foot of the hot bath in Lisbon took the name of the street 
of the Maghrurins." On this story M. d'Avezac makes the 
following- ingenious observations : — " Eleven days west of 
Lisbon and then twelve days to the sontli would bring them 
to Madeira, which would be the island of El Ghanam or El 
Aghnam, the latter being the plural of the former word, 
which means, ' small cattle.' The name El Aghnam has a 
remarkable resemblance in sound to the Italian name of the 
island Legname, which occurs, as will be presently seen, on 
maps anterior to the Portuguese discovery, and of which 
name Madeira was simply a translation. It should be ob- 
served, however, that the word Ghanam or Aghnam, which 
generally implies flocks of sheep, would here rather mean 
herds of goats, whose flesh is rendered bitter, according to 
M. Berthelot, the author of the ' Natural History of the 
Canaries,^ by a plant, le coquerel, which they sometimes 
browze upon." Whether M. d'Avezac's ingenious derivation 
be correct or not, it is certain that the Madeira group was 
discovered in the early part of the fourteenth century, and 
I now propose to prove that that discovery was made in 
Portuguese ships commanded by Genoese captains. 

In the Portulano Mediceo of the date of 1351 in the Library 
at Florence, an extract from which the reader has already seen, 
the Madeira group is distinctly represented, bearing names, 
in the two instances of Porto Santo and the Desertas, identi- 
cal with those which they at present bear, while the island of 
Madeira is called " Isola dello Legname " or " Island of Wood," 
of which the name " Madeira" is simply a translation. The 
Portulano is anonymous, but Count Baldelli Boni in his 
valuable edition of the "Milione of Marco Polo," published 
in Florence in 1827, adduced admirable proofs to show that 
it was of Genoese construction. Against the island of 
Lan9arote in the Canaries is inserted the shield of Genoa, 
distinctly claiming the priority of discovery in favour of 


that republic, and Count Baldelli with reason remarks that 
no Venetian or Pisan or Catalan would be the first to lay 
down, on a map so important, a fact in favour of their rivals 
the Genoese. It is right however to observe that on the 
later Venetian map by the brothers Pizzigani of 1367, and 
in the Catalan map of 1375 this remarkable indication is 
inserted. Perhaps a stronger argument is derived from the 
use of the Genoese dialect in the names in preference to 
that of Venice or Pisa. Now if upon a Genoese map we 
find both the Madeira group and the Canary gTOup laid 
down for the first time within our knowledge, but with the 
arms of Genoa inserted against the latter, but not against 
the former, the legitimate inference is that in the one case 
a claim was reserved for Genoa to which in the other they 
could make no pretensions. It is this theory which I now 
propound as a new one, and which I propose to corroborate 
by well authenticated historical facts. M. d'Avezac, with 
his usual untiring research, has bestowed great labour upon 
the inquiry into the discovery and naming of the Island of 
Lan^arote. He has shown that the discoverer was of the 
ancient, but now extinct, Genoese family of Malocello. In 
the visit of the Norman knight Jean de Bethencourt to that 
island in 1402, it is said that they stored their grain in an 
old castle reputed to be built by Lancelot Maloisel. In a 
Genoese map of the date of 1455, made by Bartolommeo 
Pareto, are inserted against the same island the words 
" Lansaroto Maroxello Januensis," and further we are led to 
believe that the discovery was made as early as the thirteenth 
century from a ))assage in Petrarch which declares that 
a patrum metnoria, i.e. a generation back, an armed fleet of 
Genoese had penetrated as for as the Fortunate Islands. 
Now as Petrarch was born in lo04, if, as is highly probable, 
LancL'lote Malocello's voyage was the one alluded to, it 
will have taken place at the latest in the close of the 
thirteenth century. We thus find a reason for the reserva- 
tion by Genoese map makers of the claim of their country 
to the Island of Lanrarote ; but it may be asked, if the 


Genoese were the first, as it appears, to delineate the Madeira 
group upon a map, and thereby to show that they were the 
discoverers of that group, how comes it that they did not 
claim it for tlieir own by the same process adopted with 
reference to Lani^arote ? There can be no doubt that, if they 
could have set up such a claim, they would, but meanwhile 
we are provided by history with what appears to be a very 
satisfactory answer. By a treaty concluded in 1317, Denis 
the Labourer, Kins: of Portuo-al, secured the services of the 
Genoese Emmanuele Pezagno as hereditary admiral of his 
fleet, with a distinct understanding that he and his successors 
should make unfailing provision of twenty Genoese captains 
experienced in navigation to command the king's' galleys. 

In the year 1326 we find this same Emmanuele Pezagno 
sent by Alfonso IV. as ambassador to our own King Edward 
III., who regarded him with such favour, that on July 24, 
1332, he addressed a letter to Alfonso, recommending both 
Emmanuele and his son Carlo to his especial patronage. 
Further, the document in the handwriting of Boccaccio, dis- 
covered in 1827 by Sebastian© Ciampi, informs us that 
in the year 1341 two Portuguese vessels commanded by 
Genoese captains, but manned with Italians, Spaniards 
of Castile, and other Spaniards, comprising doubtless Portu- 
guese, for the word " Hispani " included both nations, made 
a re-discovery of the Canaries. Even so late as 1373, we 
find the rank of admiral of the Portuguese fleet remaining 
in the hands of Lancelot, son of Emmanuele Pezagno, who 
received it from Peter I. by letters patent dated 26th June, 
1357. Thus from 1317 to 1351 we have a range of thirty- 
four years for the discovery of the islands laid down on this 
important Genoese map. The exact year of this discovery 
is not known, but enough has been said to demonstrate that 
the Genoese map of 1351 indicates the discovery of the 
Madeira group by Genoese navigators in a foreign service, 
while we have the evidence that such service was rendered 
by Emmanuele Pezagno to the King of Portugal. Politically 
the (jut'stion is without importance, for if any doubt could be 


thrown on the claim of Portugal to these islands on the 
ground of Genoese commanding Portuguese ships in this 
earlier actual discovery, nevertheless the accidental re-dis- 
covery of the group by the Portuguese in 1418-20 led to the 
first colonization and fertilization of the islands, and it would 
be as futile to dispute such a claim as it would be to negative 
the English claims to the colonization of Australia on the 
ground of those early authenticated discoveries in that vast 
island by the Portuguese, which it has already been my good 
fortune historically to establish. This engagement of Genoese 
navigators by the Kings of Portugal in the fourteenth century 
cannot diminish by one iota the transcendent glory of that 
heroic little nation, to whom in truth we owe the knowledge 
of one-half of the globe that we possess. My late honoured 
friend the Vicomte de Santarem, in his patriotic ardour, 
endeavoured to carry back the claim of the Portuguese to 
comparative maritime distinction to an earlier period than 
was either just or reasonable. It was not reasonable to ex- 
pect that a people seated on the open Atlantic, that dreadful 
and unmeasured ocean whose mysterious immensity had 
gained for it the name of the Sea of Darkness, should so early 
gain experience in navigation as the comparatively protected 
occupants of an inland sea, allured by the wealth of seaports 
within easy reach, and encouraged by antecedents which filled 
the history of centuries. 




The personal qualities of King Joao's successor, Dom Duarte, 
promised most favourably for the maintenance of that pros- 
perity which had been bequeathed to the kingdom by the 
energy and wisdom of his father, yet was his reign destined to 
misfortune from its beginning to its close. On the morrow of 
his father's death as he was about to be proclaimed king at 
Lisbon, his physician Mestre Guadalha, who was held in high 
consideration as an astrologer, counselled him to postpone the 
ceremony on the ground that the stars at that time foreboded 
him misfortune. The king gave no heed to the superstitious 
words of the soothsayer, who forthwith, in the presence of a 
great concourse of people, jDrognosticated that the years of 
the king's reign would be few and full of troubles. The 
prediction and its accurate fulfilment have been consolidated 
in the records of history. The ceremony nevertheless took 
place in conformity with the usual custom. 

From Lisbon the king went to Cintra, where his wife and 
children were, and here a noticeable novelty was introduced, 
for when the Princes of the royal household did homage and 
took the oath of allegiance, the eldest son of the King, 
afterwards Aflfonso V., but then little more than a year and 
a half old, received the style and title of " Prince of 
Portugal " instead of that of '' Infant." This change had been 
lately adopted in the Peninsula, in imitation of the title of 


" Prince of Wales/' given to the eldest son of the kings of 
England, and of that of "Dauphin," given to the eldest son 
of the King of France. Thus the eldest son of the King of 
Castile was called " Prince of Asturias," while the eldest son 
of the King of Aragon received the title of " Prince of 
Gerona,^' and so from that time forward the heir to the 
crown of Portugal was styled " Prince of Portugal." 

The trouble with which the king had been threatened 
began to show itself betimes. The king's youngest brother 
Dom Fernando was especially desirous of emulating the 
prowess of his brothers in Africa. In this desire he was 
greatly encouraged by Prince Henry, the aim and object of 
whose life was to make discoveries and conquests in that 
direction, and together they decided on attempting an 
attack upon Tangier. Accordingly they besought the king 
their brother to fit out an expedition for them against the 
Moors. The king at first affectionately but firmly refused, 
for the exchequer had been seriously reduced by many 
causes, but at last their arguments and the influence of the 
queen prevailed, and against his judgment he reluctantly 
gave his consent. 

His first measure was to meet the Cortes at Evora, and 
demand of them the necessary funds for the expedition. 
These were readily granted, but the grant called forth much 
discontent and many complaints from the people. Dom 
Pedro, Dom Joao, and the Count of Barcellos also remon- 
strated with the king on the course he was })ursuiug, and, as 
in his heart he acquiesced in all their arguments, he resolved 
to rid himself of the resj)onsibility by a})plying to the Pope. 

The question having been laid before the consistory, and 
duly considered, the following answers were returned : That 
if the infidels in question occupied Christian territor}' antl 
turned churches into mosques, or if, though occupying their 
own lands, they did injury to Christians, or even if, while 
doing none of these things, they were idolaters or sinned 
jigainst nature, the princes would be justified in making war 
upon them. Nevertheless they ^^liould do so with luety and 


discretion, lest the people of Christ sliould suffer death or 
losses. Concerning- the levying of imposts for the prosecu- 
tion of the war, it was decided that war might justly be 
made against the infidels in two ways : 1st. Of necessity, in 
defence of territory ; 2nd. Voluntarily, for the purpose of 
conquering land from the heathen. In the first case taxes 
might be imposed, but the voluntary war could only be 
carried on at the personal expense of the king. Before this 
decision arrived, however, the king, influenced by the queen 
or by the promise he made to his brothers, had brought his 
preparations for the enterprise to such a point as to render 
the answer futile. 

Prince Henry has not been held entirely free from blame 
in the matter. True it is that the advancement of Chris- 
tianity and civilization, the good of his country, the dictates 
of chivalry, the furtherance of his brother's wishes, and his 
own love of glory, all conspired to set before him in the 
light of duty, the enterprise which he thus warmly advo- 
cated. True it is, also, that the original invasion of Ceuta 
had been attended with an unlooked for success in the 
highest degree encouraging to the aspirations of a courageous 
and ardent mind, and that in that invasion his judgment, no 
less than his valour, had given him so high a standing in 
the estimation of his illustrious father, as to gain him the 
chief command in preference to his elder brothers, yet there 
can be no doubt that in this instance, as on the occasion of 
his proposed attack on Gibraltar, his zeal was allowed to 
outrun his discretion. The dictum of the consistory respect- 
ing the indiscreet sacrifice of Cliristian life in waging war 
against the infidels might, had it arrived in time, have been 
accepted by him as a wholesome warning, but it did not 
arrive in time ; and it may be further urged in his extenua- 
tion, that if a hesitating cautiousness had always been 
allowed to repress enthusiasm, history would now be want- 
ing in the records of full many an heroic achievement. 

At length the preparations were completed, and on the 
26th of August, 1437, the princes landed at Ceuta, of which 


Count Pedro de Menezes was still the commander. Their 
arrival soon became known in all the surrounding districts, 
and the tribe of Ben Hamed sent messages to Prince 
Henry praying for peace, and offering him tribute of gold, 
silver, cattle, and wood, and the Prince accepted them as 
vassals of the king. The Prince then reviewed the force 
which he had brought with him, and found it to consist only 
of two thousand cavalry, one thousand cross-bowmen, 
three thousand infantry, so that of fourteen thousand which 
had been promised him, eight thousand were missing. 
This shortcoming was caused by the reluctance of the 
people to risk their lives and property in what they con- 
sidered a rash adventure, and also by the lack of ships to 
convey a greater number of men to the African shore. In 
consequence a serious question arose among Prince Henry's 
counsellors as to whether Dom Duarte should not be applied 
to for a sufficient force before further steps were taken, but 
the Prince, fearing lest any delay might be fatal to the 
expedition, overruled their doubts, and promised them the 
greater honour if they conquered with so small a force. 

Finding that the shortest road to Tangier across the Sierra 
Ximera was strongly guarded, they decided to go by the 
Monte Negrona through Tetuan and the valley of Angela. 
Dom Fernando, being ill and unequal to the journey by land, 
went by sea. After two days' march they came before 
Tetuan, which surrendered without resistance. On the 13th 
of September Prince Henry arrived with his army before 
Old Tangier, which was already deserted, and there found 
Dom Fernando awaiting him. He then made arrangements 
to encamp along the sea-coast, and while the troops were 
thus engaged, a report was spread that the inhabitants of 
Tangier had opened their gates with the intention of aban- 
doning the place. This news proved to bo so far from the 
truth that tbe Portuf'-uese were engaged till nightfall in 
endeavouring to force the gates, and then withdrew, carrying 
off the Count de Arrayolos and Alvai-o Vaz de Alinada 
wounded. There were in the citv aliuut seven thousand 


fio'litin*^ men, including many cross-bowmen from Granada. 
They were commanded by Zala ben Zala, the same who had 
twenty-two years before lost Ceiita. 

On Saturday, the 14th September, Prince Henry had 
completed his encampments, and from that time till the 
following Thursday was occupied in landing the artillery and 
munitions. On the morning of Friday, the 20th of Sep- 
tember, Prince Henry ordered the trumpets to sound to battle. 
Dom Fernando, the Count Array olos, and the Bishop of Evora 
were to scale the walls at different points, and Prince Henry 
took upon himself the attack on the gate of the fortress, 
where the greatest resistance would be made. For tliis pur- 
pose he took with him only two mantas or mantelets,* 
without any scaling-ladder. 

The engagement commenced in the morning and lasted 
till six o'clock, when the Portuguese were obliged to retire 
with loss. All attempts to force the gates had been utterly 
useless, for they had been very strongly walled up by the 
Moors, with stone and mortar. The contemplated attack 
with the scaling-ladders proved abortive, for the ladders were 
too short to reach the top of the wall. Prince Henry was 
therefore compelled to withdraw, and on mustering his peo- 
ple found that he had five hundred wounded and twenty 
killed. He ordered that the artillery should remain in charge 
of the Marshal, and the Captain Alvaro Vaz de Almada, who 
being left close under the walls, and at a distance from the 
camp, received much injury from the Moors, but nevertheless 
valiantly stood their ground. Prince Henry now sent to 
Ceuta for longer scaling-ladders and also for two large 
pieces of cannon, together with powder and shot, for the 
guns which he had were too small and ineffective. During 
ten days there were repeated skirmishes, in which several 
Portuguese noblemen were slain. 

At length, on the 30th of September, a body of ten thou- 
sand Moorish horsemen and ninety thousand foot came to tlie 

* Mantelets -^rere temporarj^ and movable defences formed of plank:^, under 
cover of which the assailants advanced to the attack of fortified places. 


assistance of the city, and took their stand on a hill within 
sight of the camp. But when Prince Henry went out to 
meet them with fifteen thousand cavalry, eight hundred 
cross-bowmen, and two thousand infantry, they were seized 
with a panic and took to flight. The next day the same 
mana3uvre was repeated, and on Thursday, the 3rd of 
October, the Moors advanced in yet greater numbers and 
drew near to the camp. The Prince again went out to 
meet them, and drove them from their position with con- 
siderable loss. Meanwhile another attack was made upon 
the camp by the Moors, but they also were repulsed by 
Diogo Lopez de Souza, who had been left to defend it. This 
engagement was of the highest importance, for had either of 
the attacks proved successful, the Portuguese army must 
inevitably have been destroyed. 

On the 5th of October the scaling-ladders were replaced, 
and a wooden tower moving on wheels, and containing 
men supplied with missiles, was provided for the purpose of 
being brought up to the level of the walls, to facilitate the 
escalade by driving from the parapets those who were sta- 
tioned there. The Prince then ordered a second assault to 
be made upon the town, at a spot where the batteries had 
made a breach in the wall. This attack was led by himself 
in person, the remainder of the troops under arms being 
entrusted to Dom Fernando, the Count de Arrayolos and the 
Bishop of Evora, to make a stand against the Moorish army, 
in the event of their attacking the lines during the action. 

This assault was as unsuccessful as the former, for only one 
scaling-ladder was brought to rest against the wall, and that 
was burnt by the Moors, and those who were upon it were 
killed. Not one of the others, nor even the wooden tower 
could be brought up to the wall, for as no other attack, 
either feigned or real, was made elsewhere, the whole garrison 
was able to repair to the point assailed, and with firearms 
and other missiles compelled the Portuguese to withdraw 
with great loss. 

On the 0th the Moors appeared in great multitudes, accom- 


pfiniod by the Kings of Fez and lilarocco and the other 
neighbouring princes. They forthwith attacked the advanced 
posts of the Portuguese array, and opened communication 
with the fortress, at the same time taking possession of the 
Portuguese batteries with all the artillery and munitions for 
the siege. Prince Henry had his horse killed under him, 
and fovmd himself fighting on foot in the midst of the enemy, 
from which peril he escaped at the sacrifice of the life of his 
chief engineer, Ferdinand Alvarez Cabral, who with devoted 
gallantry came to his rescue. An additional act of devotion 
on the part of a page of Dom Fernando provided him with 
another horse, mounted on which he cleft his way in safety 
through the enemy. 

When the Prince reached the camp he found the Portu- 
guese overwhelmed with the great odds against which they 
had to contend, and to add to his dismay he found that about 
a thousand of his men had fled to the ships. Happily Dom 
Pedro de Castro, who was in command of the fleet, came to 
his aid with reinforcements. Oj^pressed as he was with toil 
and anxiety, the Prince showed no sign of shrinking from 
the high requirements of his responsible position. Though 
surrounded by danger the most imminent, he encouraged his 
men by an appearance of confidence and cheerfulness, which 
he was far from feeling in his heart. 

On the following day the Moors again attacked the 
trenches, but they were now more strongly fortified, and 
after four hours of hard fighting the Moors were repulsed 
with immense loss. 

At length when their provisions were well-nigh all con- 
sumed, Prince Henry came to the resolution to force a 
passage in the night-time to the shore and withdraw with 
the fleet. In this plan however he was frustrated by the 
treachery of his chaplain, Martin Vieyra, who deserted to the 
Moors and informed them of the Prince's resolution. The 
Moors now suspended their attacks and deliberated as to the 
best course to pursue in the probable event of the Portuguese 
falling into their hands. Some were for exterminating them 


without mercy, others with greater wisdom suggested that 
such a massacre would only provoke the Christians to revenge, 
and that therefore the most prudent course would be to let 
them freely depart, upon condition that they surrendered 
Ceuta, and delivered up their artillery and arms and baggage, 
with all the Moors that had been taken prisoners. This pro- 
posal was made, and after a short deliberation accepted by 
the Portuguese, who in fact had no alternative. Prince 
Henry accordingly sent Ruy Gromez da Sylva, chief constable 
of the camp, a man of great prudence and courage, and Payo 
Rodriguez the secretary of dispatches, to conclude the treaty 
with the King of Fez and the other Princes of Marocco. 

Meanwhile a great number of Moors, who either were 
ignorant of the importance of Ceuta or were very doubtful of 
its being surrendered, were determined to make another 
vigorous onset upon the Portuguese camp. They principally 
directed their attack upon the side which was defended by 
Dom Fernando, and their numbers and the ferocity of the 
onslaught placed the Prince in considerable danger. But 
the Portuguese fought with desperation, and the neighbour- 
hood of the intrenchments was soon covered with the bodies 
of the dead and wounded Moors. They then endeavoured to 
set fire to the palisades, but the indefatigable energy of 
Prince Henry averted this danger also. At his side fought 
the Bishop of Ceuta, whose intrepidity encouraged the soldiers 
with a fervour of pious zeal which worked wonders in the 
unequal contest. The struggle having lasted for seven hours 
without any decisive result on either side, the Prince deter- 
mined on reducing the area of the camp and bringing it 
nearer to the sea, a task which, in spite of the fatigues of the 
preceding day, was elfected in one night. The Moors oftered 
no opposition, but contented themselves with occupying the 
ground between the camp and the shore, and guarding the 
neighbouring passes. 

Meanwhile the Portuguese were obliged to kill their horses 
for food, and to use their saddles for fuel to cook them. In 
addition they were tormented with tliirst, for within the lines 


there was but one well, which was not sufficient to su]->])ly a 
hundred men with water, so that if some rain had not i'allen, 
they must all have perished. Many of these disasters would 
have been averted, had Prince Henry in the first instance 
kept his camp near to the sea-shore, in accordance with the 
wise instructions which had been given him by the King, his 
elder brother. Before leaving Lisbon he had received an 
autograph dispatch from the King, containing a special in- 
junction so to fix his camp before Tangier that he should 
touch the shore at two points, and if, from a deficiency of 
numbers, that could not be efiected, he was by no means to 
neglect retaining a communication with the sea at least at 
one point.* This recommendation was accompanied with an 
urgent request that it might often be read and never in- 
fringed, and Prince Henry had promised to observe it to the 
fullest possible extent. Nor docs there appear to have been 
reason for deviating from these precautionary instructions, 
and men of calm judgment attributed much of the disas- 
trous result of the expedition to this want of implicit attention 
to the King's instructions. To establish a communication 
with the fleet had now become a matter of great difficulty 
and danger, if not of impossibility. 

Fortunately for the Portuguese the enormous losses suf- 
fered by the Moors gave them an inclination to subscribe to 
terms of peace. Hence happily it followed that on the 15th 
of October a treaty was concluded, by virtue of which the 
Portuguese were at liberty to embark, but simply in their 
clothes as they stood, delivering up their arms, their horses, 
and their baggage. Ceuta, with all the prisoners therein, 
was to be surrendered, and a pleclge given by the King of 
Portugal, on behalf of his country, that peace should be 
maintained with all Barbary for a hundred years, both by 
sea and land. Dom Fernando, with twelve other nobles, 
was given over as an hostage until the surrender of Ceuta 
and the prisoners, while on the side of the ]\Ioors the eldest 

* Sousa, Provas, torn. i. p. 533, et seq. Pina, cap. xxi. p. 138. 


son of ZaKi ben Zala, the Lord of Tivngior and Arzilla, and 
one of the most powerful vassals of the King of Fez, was 
delivered as a pledge of their security. 

When the delegates returned to the Prince, they informed 
him that the Moors had conceived the treacherous plan of 
taking all the Portuguese prisoners, if they availed them- 
selves of the conditions of the capitulation to enter the town 
with the view of embarking. Prince Henry consequently 
gave orders for every preparation to be made for embarking 
as quickly as possible. In the attempt, however, to reach 
the boats, about sixty men of the rear-guard were slain. 

On Sunday, the 20th of October, the fleet set sail. Out 
of thirty-seven days that they had been under the walls of 
Tangier, twenty-five had been occupied in besieging the 
Moors, but during the remaining twelve they had been them- 
selves besieged. Their losses, however, they reckoned at 
only five hundred men, while the Moors must have counted 
at least four thousand slain and many thousands wounded. 
To the latter this loss was insignificant when compared with 
the extent of their population, whereas Portugal, with its 
limited range of territory, had no superfluity of men to 
spare; but, worst of all, the Portuguese had failed in their 

Such was the disastrous termination of this imprudent 
enterprise, and however much we may admire the distin- 
guished heroism of Prince Henry, or honour the nobility of 
the motives which overruled his judgment, it must be con- 
fessed that to him the blame of the disaster must be mainly 
attributed. The foresight and wisdom Avliichlie had so often 
exhibited in matters of detail were wanting in his con- 
sideration of the requisites for an enterprise which was dic- 
tated to his feelings and his fancy by the prevailing instinct 
of his nature, viz., a chivalrous devotion to what he con- 
ceived to be religious duty to God and to his country. It 
was, in the first place, unjustifiable to imperil on a foreign 
shore the lives of a courageous little army so inadequate in 
their numbers to the work set before them, and, in the 


second place, it was an imperative duty to secure, as far as 
possible, the safety of such coura£:eous followers by every 
prudent precaution ; and proportionately culpable was the 
dereliction from that duty when enforced by the most em- 
phatic injunctions, e\^n in the handwriting of the sovereign. 
Of the indomitable energy and valour of the Prince we have 
already witnessed proofs of an extraordinary kind, 3^et even 
these, supported by efforts to which they proved a most en- 
couraging example, were insufficient to avert the melancholy 
result which we have had to describe. But this was not the 
end of the tragedy. We have now to recount the sad story 
of the sufferings and death of the devoted but hapless Dom 
Fernando, who was left behind as a hostage in Barbary. 

After the departure of the army, the prince and his com- 
panions were conducted by Zala ben Zala, on the 22nd of 
October, 1437, to Arzilla. On their road they were treated 
with every insult by the Moors, who were still smarting from 
the losses they had suffered from the Portuguese. Mean- 
while Prince Henry, having dispatched the Bishop of Evora 
and the Count of Arrayolos to Portugal, retired to Ceuta to 
await his brother's release, but on his arrival there his 
fatigues and grief induced an illness which entirely pros- 
trated him. About this time he was joined by his brother, 
D. Joao, who agreed to negociate with Zala ben Zala the 
exchange of the Moorish prince, his son, for Dom Fernando, 
and if the terms were rejected to release his brother by force 
of arms. He set sail on the 20th October, but his project 
was frustrated by a violent tempest, which forced him, after 
many perils, to take refuge in the Algarves. 

The King, in great grief at the sad fate of his brother, and 
desiring to save him, even at the cost of Ceuta, convoked the 
Cortes in the beginning of 1438, that he might have tlieir 
consent and counsel on the subject. The members were desired 
to give their votes separately and by writing, and after much 
deliberation they finally resolved that Ceuta should not be 
abandoned, but that every other possible step should be taken 
for the release of the prince. King Duarte, in despair at 



this decision, applied to the Pope, the King of France, and 
other friendly powers, for active assistance, and received 
from them nothing but condolence and words of consolation. 
His attempt to ransom his brother was also fruitless. 

After seven months of suffering and illness Dom Fernando 
and his followers were transferred by Zala ben Zala to the 
King of Fez, May 25th, 1438. The journey to Fez lasted 
six days, and was accompanied by even greater insults than 
had been offered on the road to Arzilla. Arrived at their 
destination, they were confined in the Darsena^ a species of 
castle, in rooms from which every ray of light had been 
carefully excluded. 

The unhappy prince and his companions were now in the 
power of the ferocious Lazurac, an unscrupulous monster, 
who, in the name of Abdallah the young King of Fez, 
exercised unlimited authority over the State. 

After three months' captivity, during which they owed 
the very food they ate to a Majorcau merchant, they were 
set to work loaded with chains in the royal gardens. The 
only food the prisoners were allowed was two loaves daily 
without meat or wine. Their bed was composed of two 
sheepskins, their pillow a bundle of hay, and they had no 
covering but an old cloak. The prince slept with eleven 
persons in a room only large enough for eight, and they 
suffered much from tilth, vermin, and hunger. Dom Fer- 
nando, however, suffered greater grief at the news of the 
King's death, than had been caused by any of his own 

In the May of 1439, the King of Portugal offered Ceuta 
in exchange for the Infant, but Lazurac, hoping for a large 
ransom, contrived to protract the negociations. Meanwhile 
the unliappy Prince was treated with even greater cruelty, to 
which Lazurac was excited by the ulemas or holy men of the 
country. On one occasion letters directed to him from 
Portugal were intercepted, and the unhappy Moor who was 
the bearer of them was scourged and stoned. Some of Dom 
Fernando's companions narrowly escaped the same fate, and 

TANGIER. ] 05 

lie was separafed from them and placed in a more wretched 
dungeon than before. In this miserable hole he languished 
during the remaining fifteen months of his existence. 

At length he was attacked with dysentery, and his 
enfeebled frame being unable to struggle against Ihe 
malady, the Constant Prince, for such was the title which 
his pious resignation has won for him, breathed his last on 
the evening of the 5th of June, 1443. 

Even the ferocious Lazurac was forced to offer tardy 
homage to his virtues, and to declare that, had he been a 
Mahometan, he would have been a saint, and that the 
Christians were much to blame in leaving him thus to die. 

The doctor and chaplain watched over the remains till the 
next evening, when they were conveyed into the common 
prison, that his followers might remove his chains. But so 
overwhelmed were they by their grief that they were unable 
to perform this office. Lazurac had the body embalmed, 
that it might be preserved till he saw what the Portuguese 
would do to regain the body of their Prince. But his com- 
panions carefully preserved the heart, and kept it in a secret 
place till an opportunity should occur of conveying it in 
safety to Portugal. The corpse was hung up at the gate of 
the city head downwards, and exposed to the brutal insults 
and mockeries of the people for four days. It was then 
placed in a wooden coffin fixed in the same place on two 
stakes fastened into the wall ; where it remained for a long 

His faithful servants, with the exception of five who died 
soon after him, returned to Portugal on the death of Lazurac, 
and brought with them the heart of their dear master on the 
ist June, 1451. By order of the King it was conveyed with. 
great solemnity to Batalha, and placed in the tomb destined 
for the prince by his father. The melancholy procession 
was met at Thomar by prince Henry, who was about to 
undertake a journey. When he saw them he dismissed his 
equipages and joined with them in rendering the last tribute 
of love and respect to his devoted brother. Two-and-twenty 


years afterwards, the corpse of tlie Prince was recovered from 
the Moors, and brought with much pomp to Batalha, and 
laid in the tomb which already contained his heart. 

The thought of the hapless condition of his unfortunate 
brother had weighed so heavily on the mind of Dom Dnarte 
that it shortened his life. The recollection that, in spite of 
his own convictions and the counsels of Dom Pedro and the 
wisest of his grandees, he had sanctioned the attempt on 
Tangier, was an unceasing torment to him. Nor Avas his 
brotherly affection, wounded as it was by the pitiable suffer- 
ings to which Dom Fernando was exposed, the only cause of 
his distress, for he was contravened in his desires to rescue 
his brother from captivity by the expressed wish of the Pope, 
the clergy, and his ministers of state. A weak and sickly 
prince was by them regarded as of little worth in comparison 
with the retention of Ceuta, the key to the extension of 
Portuguese conquest on the continent of Africa, the portal, 
already in their possession, to the introduction of Christi- 
anity amongst the infidels, and the brightest jewel in the 
crown of Portugal. To him these considerations, while not 
without their w^eight, were ineffectual in removing remorse 
for what he regarded as an unpardonable weakness in him- 
self, and he would thankfully have resigned his crown if he 
could thereby have secured the restitution of his unfortunate 
brother. Prince Henry, when appealed to for advice, brought 
no relief to the mind of the embarrassed King, for with that 
firm adherence to the course of duty which marked liis 
character, great as was his love for his brother, he set aside 
every personal consideration when weighed in tlie balance 
with the advancement of Cln-istianity and the welfare of his 
country. The surrender of Ceuta therelbre was not to be 
thought of as the means of delivering Dom Fernando. 

Two courses alone remained open for accomplishing that 
object ; ransom, or a crusade against the Moors. The former 
was impracticable, and the latter by no means promised 
success. The deep cliagi'in experienced by the King at 
length completely undermined his health. It has been 


g"enerally believed that lie was struck with the plairue by 
means of an infected letter, and that his frame, enfeebled by 
mental trouble, was unable to contend against the attacks of 
so serious a malady.* In his last will, however, he left 
injunctions to his successor that the freedom of Dom 
Fernando should be secured at all costs, and, if every other 
means failed, even by the surrender of Ceuta.f 

This o-ood but unfortunate King died on the 9th of Sep- 
tember, 1438, after a reign of five years, a reign remarkable 
for well-intentioned efibrt, and as remarkable for unvarying 
misfortune and disappointment. Active and powerful of 
frame, he was unsurpassed by any of his day in feats of arms 
and horsemanship, yet kindliness and grace were far more 
noticeable in his appearance than the power and energy 
which he really possessed. This effect may have been in 
some degree increased by his habit of wearing his hair long 
and floating', and by his round and almost beardless face. 
His love of justice and of truthfulness was so great that 
" the King's w^ord " became a proverbial expression for that 
which could be implicitly relied upon. The love of study 
had been inculcated and cultivated in him betimes by his 
excellent mother. AVith a mind well stored with information 
and manners graceful in the extreme, the keenness of his 
intelligence and correctness of his judgment gave to him a 
power of expression which won all hearts, and thus he ob- 
tained the cognomen of " the Eloquent." Nor did he con- 
tent himself with communicating pleasure and instruction 
to his cotemporaries ; as an author he has left a valuable 
legacy to posterity in a variety of treatises on ethics and 
philosophy, not so much distinguished by any profoundly 
scientific investigation into the principles and bases of these 
sciences as the expression of a warm and noble nature whose 
instincts were directed by integrity and clearness of judgment. 
They embody views upon the right conduct of life and maxims 
for good government, derived not only from his own thoughts 

* Euy de Tina, cap. 43, p. 187. 
t lb., cap. 44, p. 189. 


and experience, but from maxims and opinions received from 
his father, King Joeio I.* 

One great anxiety of King Duarte was to replace the 
royal revenues iu the same position that they had been in 
before reduced by the excessive liberality of his father King 
Joao. This was an undertaking of the greatest difficulty. 
Donations made by his father had to be revoked, and it was 
not an easy matter to manage this with any appearance of 
equity. King Joao, being illegitimate, had been compelled 
when Eegent to buy the influence of the grandees, whose 
votes were indispensable, by large concessions of land, which 
were held to be irrevocable. In this dilemma Don Joao das 
Regras, whose subtle intellect had turned the scale when it 
was a question of raising King Joao to the throne, lighted 
on an expedient for saving the honour of the late king as 
well as that of his successor. He counselled the latter to 
make known the declaration, made by King Joao on his 
death-bed, that it was his intention when he alienated such 
large estates from the Crown that they should descend to the 
male heirs only, born in the direct line from the original 
grantees, but that, such male line failing, the estates were to 
revert to the Crown. But in order the more fully to make 
known this intention of King Joao, which he had always 
kept secret, and had only declared immediately before his 
death, JoJIo das Eegras recommended the king to proclaim 
a new law which should be named the Lei Mental or Mental 

This celebrated law became established in Portugal, and 
by the plan tlienceforth adopted life donations made to indi- 
viduals for si)ecial services would from time to time fall back 
into the possession of the Crown. Joao das llegras was the 
first to feel the effect of this law. lie had but one child, 
and that a daughter, and all his fortune had been derived 

* Among these tlie obligations of a monarch are thus compactly expressed : 
"The fear of ruling amiss; justice combined with love and moderation; the 
reconciliation of divided affections ; the achievement of great deeds with small 
means," &c. " Temor de mal reger ; justi9a com amor e temperancja ; eoutentar 
cora9oes desvairados ; acabar grandes feitos com pouca riqueza," &c. 


from the King's liberality, so that he was compelled to ask 
for a dispensation to insure to his daughter her right of suc- 
cession. He appears to have been the only one however who 
sued for this favour, which was conceded, and the lav/ was 
accepted without remonstrance. 

After the disastrous affair of Tangier, the Prince retired 
to Sagres, and continued there until September of 1438, 
when the King Dom Duarte fell ill at Thomar. So soon as 
Prince Henry heard of his brother's illness, he hastened to 
his side, and after the King's death was charged by the 
Queen, his widow, to consult with Dom Pedro and the 
grandees of the kingdom as to the best means of meeting 
the difficulties into which the state was thrown by this un- 
happy event. This was done, and it was resolved that the 
Cortes should be convened to take such measm-es as should 
he deemed convenient. 

It was Prince Henry's opinion that the letters convoking 
the Cortes should be signed by Dom Pedro, but as the latter 
refused to do this, all the papers were signed by the Queen, 
but with an intimation that she would continue to sign, until 
the assembly of the States General should adopt a regulation 
on the subject. Meanwhile, Prince Henry, on account of 
his habitual prudence, was selected as interlocutor between 
the Queen and Dom Pedro. It accordingly resulted, from 
the propositions made by Prince Henry and discussed at 
different conferences, that the Queen' was charged with the 
education of her children and the management of their pro- 
perty, and that Dom Pedro was to undertake the adminis- 
tration of the government of the kingdom, with the title of 
" Defender of the Kingdom for the King." As, however, 
there was a considerable party who would not consent to 
this arrangement, and much discord arose. Prince Henry 
again endeavoured to conciliate the opposing factions, by 
obtaining the consent of the Council and Deputies of the 
people to the following resolutions, which were proclaimed 
on the 9th of November, 1-438, viz. : — 

1. That the education of the King, while a minor, and of 


his brothers, as well as the power of nominating to places 
in the Court, should be left in the hands of the widowed 
Queen Leonora, and that a suitable sum should be assigned 
to her for the ]3ayment of the expenses of the royal house- 

2. That the royal Council should consist of six members, 
who should — each in turn at certain fixed periods — have 
charge of the affairs of the State within their powers, which 
should be regulated by the order of the Cortes. 

3. Besides this Council, there should be elected a per- 
manent deputation from the States to reside in the Court. 
This was to consist of one prelate, one fidalgo, or gentleman 
of family, and one citizen, each elected for one year by his 
respective chamber. 

4. All the business of the Council should be dealt with by 
the six councillors and by the deputation from the three 
estates, under the presidency of the Queen, and with the 
approval and consent of Dom Pedro. If the votes were 
equal upon any question of business, it should be referred to 
the Princes, and Counts, and to the Archbishop, and the 
majority should decide. If the Queen and Dom Pedro 
should be of the same opinion, their vote would be decisive, 
even if the whole Council thought differently. 

5. All matters of revenue, except such as fell within the 
administration of the Cortes, should be dealt with by the 
Queen and Dom Pedro, and decrees and orders should be 
signed by both, and the Comptrollers of the revenue should 
be charged with its execution. 

6. It was finally determined that the Cortes should meet 
every year to resolve such doubts as could not be settled by 
the Council alone, as for example — " The death of grandees, 
the deprivation of high oiiices, the loss of lands, the cor- 
rection or forming of laws and ordinances, and that in future 
Cortes any defect or error that might have existed in past 
Cortes might be corrected or amended." 

The Queen, instigated by a violent party, refused to accept 
or sanction these resohitions in spite of the earnest per- 


suasions of Prince Henry. This refusal produced great 
excitement in the public mind, and finally in the Cortes 
themselves, so that they began to contemplate investing 
Dom Pedro with the authority of Regent. 

It is to be observed that Prince Henry invariably expressed 
his disapprobation of the deliberations of the Chambers at 
Lisbon, and other meetings, and publicly declared that such 
assemblies were illegal, in assuming a power which belonged 
only to the Cortes. Guided by an enlightened policy, and 
by prudence resulting from experience, this wise Prince 
showed cqiial indignation when he learned that the Queen 
had fortified herself in Alemquer, and had sought for help 
from the Princes of Aragon. But this did not prevent him 
from going to Alemquer to persuade the Queen to return to 
Lisbon, to present the young King to the Cortes (1439), 
and so great was the respect entertained for his opinion, that 
the Queen, who had obstinately resisted the persuasions of 
all others, yielded to those of the Prince. 

In the following year the troubles which existed in the 
kingdom obliged the Prince to occupy himself with public 
aftairs and the reconciliation of parties, in order to avert a 
civil war. Such were the events that interrupted the course 
of the expeditions and discoveries in the interval from 1437 
to 1440. 



After the voyage of AfFonso Gonsalves, recounted in Chapter 
VL, nothing noteworthy occurred for three or four years. 
Two shijDS set out for those parts, hut one returned on 
account of bad weather, and the other went only to the Rio 
d'Ouro for the skins and oil of sea-calves, and, having com- 
l)leted tlieir cargo, returned home. In this year, as has been 
seen. Prince Henry went over to Tangier, and therefore was 
too fully occupied to send any more ships to the west coast. 
In the year 1 438 the disturbances consequent on the death of 
Dom Duarte (on the 9th of September at Thomar) called 
imperatively for the Prince's presence, and he lost sight of 
everything else in his efforts to remedy the dangers and 
troubles in which the country had become involved. In the 
year 1440 two caravels were fitted out for the west coasts, 
but the voyage was an utter failure. 

In 1441 the affairs of the kingdom becoming somewhat 
tranquillised, Antam Gonsalves, the Prince's Master of the 
Wardrobe, was sent out in command of a small ship, but 
solely with the order to bring home skins and oil of sea- 
calces as before, for as he was but young, the Prince put less 
charge u})on him than upon his predecessors. When he 
had taken in his cargo, (Jousalves proposed to continue the 
voyage, in the hope that some of the natives might come to 
the sea-side for traffic, and so he miglit be the first to take 
captives to present to the Prince. Accordingly he selected 


nine of the most active of his crew, and proceeded with 
them inland. He succeeded in taking two, and as he was 
about to set sail on the following day, there arrived an 
armed caravel, commanded by Nuno Tristam, a young 
knight who had been brought up from his boyhood in the 
Prince's household, and was full of zeal in his master's 
service. He had come out with a special command from 
the Prince to pass as far as he could beyond the port of 
Gale, and to endeavour by all means to make some 

Nuno Tristam had brought with him a Moor, a servant of 
the Prince's, to act as interpreter. It proved, however, 
that the language of the captives was entirely different. 
The small capture made by Gonsalves by no means con- 
tented Nuno Tristam, and after some discussion he agreed 
with Gonsalves to set out in search of natives, with men 
selected from their respective crews, and the result was the 
capture, after a sharp contest, of ten natives, one of whom 
was a chief. When the conflict was over, at the unanimous 
request of his companions, Gonsalves was knighted by 
Tristam, in spite of his modestly disclaiming his right to 
such honour. Hence the place was named the " Porto do 

The chief alone among the captives understood the 
Moorish language, and was able to converse with the in- 
terpreter. The rest spoke the Azanegue language. Hoping 
to treat for the ransom of some of the prisoners, the in- 
terpreter went on shore with one of the female captives, but 
he was detained prisoner, after having in vain tried to 
negociate with the natives. 

Gonsalves now returned to Portugal, but Tristam, having 
orders to proceed farther, and finding that his caravel needed 
repairs, put into land and careened her, keeping his tides as if 
he were in Lisbon roads, a bold feat which astonished many 
of his crew. He then pursued his voyage, and passing the 
port of Gale, came to a cape to which from its whiteness he 
gave the name of Cabo Branco. Here they found tracks of 


men and some nets, but gained speech of no one. And as 
Tristam ob;ierved that the coast took the form of a bay, in 
which the currents seemed likely to impede their progress 
beyond the time that their provisions would last, he resolved 
to return to Portugal. 

Prince Henry was in the highest degree gratified by the 
prospect thus opened of bringing these barbarous natives 
under the influence of Christianity, and extending the 
honour and prosperity of his country, and rewarded the two 
captains commensurately with the value which he set upon 
this successful issue of their labours. 

Although the language of the captives was unintelligible 
to other Moors in that country, the Prince was nevertheless 
able to gather from the chieftain whom Gronsalves had 
captured considerable information respecting the country 
where he dwelt. Foreseeing that he would have to send out 
many expeditions to contend with the infidel natives of that 
coast, he sent to the Pope the news of this discovery as the 
first fruits of his long-continued exertions, and prayed for a 
concession in perpetuity to the Crown of Portugal of what- 
ever lands might be discovered beyond Cape Boyador to the 
Indies inclusive, especially submitting to His Holiness that 
the salvation of these people was the principal object of his 
labours in that conquest. In addition to these important 
requests the ambassador Fernando Lopez d'Azevedo was 
charged to beg of the Pontiff indulgences for the Church of 
Santa Maria da Africa which the Prince had founded in 
Ceuta. The news of this discovery was considered so valu- 
able by the Pope and the College of Cardinals that the Holy 
Father readily com})lied and issued a Bull to that eftect, 
which was subsequently confirmed by the Poi)es Nicholas V. 
and Sixtus IV. The Regent Dom Pedro also granted to his 
brother Prince Henr}^ a charter, authorizing him to receive 
the entire fifth of the produce of the expeditions a})pertain- 
ing to the King, and in consideration of the great labour 
and expense which the Prince undertook at his own sole 
cost, issued a mandate that none should s"o on these 


expeditions without Priuco Henry's license ami especial 

The captive chieftain, althongli treated with all gentleness, 
chafed under his servitude much more than those of lower 
condition, and repeatedly begged Gronsalves to take him back 
to his country, where he engaged to give as ransom live or 
six negroes. He also said that there were two boys among 
the captives, for whom a liberal ransom would be given. 
This and the hope of gaining farther information induced 
Gonsalves to ask permission to return to Africa. 

He was accompanied in his voyage by a nobleman named 
Balthazar, of the household of Frederick III., Emperor of 
Austria, the husband of the Infanta Leonora of Portugal. 
This Balthazar had joined the household of Prince Henry 
with the intention of winning his spurs at Ceuta, and 
gallantly he won them. He had often expressed a desire to 
witness a storm off the coast of Africa, for he had been told 
that storms on that coast were very different from those on 
the coasts of Europe. In this wish he was gratified to his 
heart's content, for they encountered so severe a tempest 
that Gonsalves and his crew narrowly escaped with their 
lives, and were compelled to put back to Lisbon. Once more, 
however, they set forth on their expedition, and when they 
reached the point where the ransom was to be effected, they 
landed the chief, and Gonsalves agreed with him where they 
should meet after he had made his arrangements. The chief 
was handsomely dressed in clothes which the Prince had 
given him, for Prince Henry hoped thereby to induce the 
natives to enter into commercial relations with him. 
Gonsalves was blamed for the trust he placed in the chiefs 
faith, and a detention of seven days at the appointed place, 
four leagues up the Rio d'Ouro, seemed to justify the blame. 
At the end of the week, however, a Moor on a white camel 
appeared with full a hundred slaves, out of which number 
ten negroes of both sexes were given up in exchange for the 
two boys. Martin Fernandes, the Prince's messenger, acted 
as interpreter, and proved himself an excellent linguist. 


Besides the negroes, Gonsalves received in that ransom a 
small quantity of gold dust, a leathern buckler, and a great 
number of ostrich eggs, three dishes of which rarity were 
one day served at the Prince's table perfectly fresh and good. 

The natives stated that there were merchants in those 
parts who trafficked in gold, which the chronicler Azurara 
evidentl}^ supposed was found in their own country. He 
was, however, not aware that gold was brought thither 
from the interior by the caravans which for many 
years had carried on that trade across the desert, and 
principally since the invasion of the Arabs. During the 
sovereignty of the Caliphs this commerce with the interior 
of Africa extended nor only to the western boundaries of 
that continent, but even as far as Sjiain. The caravans 
crossed the valleys and plains of Sus, of Darah, and of 
Tafilet to the south of Marocco. Tliibr, the Arabic name for 
gold, was brought from Wangara. The Eio d'Ouro, or River 
of Gold, received its name from the fact that gold was there 
first received in barter by the Portuguese. It has retained 
that name ever since, although it is in fact no river at all, 
but simply an estuary occupying an indentation in the coast 
of about six leagues in dejjth. Gonsalves now returned to 
the Prince, and met with a grateful reception, as did also the 
German knight, who afterwards returned to his country 
with much honour to himself and large reward from the 
Prince's bounty. 

In the year 1443, the Prince fitted out another caravel, 
the command of which he gave to JSTufio Tristam, the crew 
consisting principally of people of his own household. 
They reached to twenty-five mi^es beyond Capo Branco, and 
found a small island, to which they gave the name of Gete.* 
Here twenty-five canoes put out from shore, containing a 
host of natives entirely naked. This was not on account of 

* The Island of Arp;uim. Barros says (Decade i. c. 7), Ntino Tiistam in this 
voyage reached un island which the natives called Adcpet, but which is one of 
those that we now call Arguim. The Arabs v.all it Ghu-, which Azurara changed 
iuto Gete, and Barros into Adeget or Adeger. 


their being in the water, but it was their habitual custom. 
Each canoe held three or four who hung their legs over in 
the water and paddled with them as with oars. The 
Portuguese at first took them for birds of monstrous size, 
but when they found their mistake they pursued them to 
the island and captured fifteen of them. They would have 
taken more but for the smallness of their boat. The 
discovery of this point was of great importance to the 
Portuguese. It facilitated their obtaining information and 
establishing intercourse with the negro states on the Senegal 
and Gambia. The Prince subsequently had a fort built 
there, the foundations of which were laid in 1448.* 

Near the island of Gete they found another, on which was 
an infinite number of herons which came there to breed, 
and many other birds which afforded them a good supply of 
provisions. They gave this island the name of Ilha das 
Gar(^as, or Heron Island. ISTuilo Tristam returned the same 
year with his booty, which was a greater source of satisfaction 
to him than on his former adventure, for not only had he 
taken more, but he had reached to a greater distance, and 
moreover had not to divide his gains with any one. 

When the Prince began to colonize the islands which he 
had discovered, and to open a road to the people to turn the 
discoveries to profit, those who had been loudest in their 
censure were the first to turn their blame into praise. After 
the return from Tangier the Prince was almost always at 
his own town, which he then had built in the kingdom of 
Algarve near to Lagos, where vessels discharged the prizes 
which they brought ; and the first to beg permission to make 
a voyage at his own cost to the newly-discovered country 

* As vnl\ hereafter be seen, Cadamosto gives us considerable information con- 
cerning the state of the commercial relations which the Portuguese had in the 
course of seven years established with the inhabitants of the interior. In 1638, 
this fort was taken from the Portuguese by the Dutch. In 1665 the English 
took it, but again lost it. In 1678 the French gained possession of it, and 
destroyed the old forti-ess built by the Portuguese. The Dutch recovered the 
place in 1685, and retained it tUl 1721, when the French took it by surprise, 
but were once again driven out by the Dutch in the following year. 



was Langarote, an esquire who had been educated from his 
childhood in the Prince's househohl, but who was now married 
and held the post of King's almoxarife or receiver of customs 
in that city of Lagos. 

Having fitted out six caravels, he sailed from thence in 
1444, taking with him as commanders Gil Eannes, the same 
who had first passed Cape Boyador, Stevam Aifonso, Rodrigo 
Alvares, Joao Dias, and JocTo Bernaldes. After a successful 
expedition he returned with about two hundred captives, 
chiefly taken from the Islands of Naar and Tider in the Bay 
of Arguin. The Prince received him with great honour, 
and knighted him at the instance of the companions of his 
exploit. The captives, who presented every variety of colour 
from nearly white to the deepest black, very soon became 
Christians, and were treated with great kindness by their 
Portuguese masters. Some of the young girls were adopted 
by noble ladies, and brought up as their own children.* 

* The island of Argiiin, as well as those just mentioned under the respective 
names of Cartas or Ileron Island, Naar, and Tider, all lie on the great Arguin 
Bank comprised between Cape Blanco and Cape Mirik, but these latter lie in a 
group some five-and- forty miles to the south of Arguin Island, which is in 20" 28'. 
Cadamosto later speaks of this groiip as being named by the Portuguese thus : 
"The first Ilha Branca, the second Garza or Heron Island, and the third Cuori." 



The old chronicler, Aznrara, in a chapter full of eloquent 
pathos, gives expression to his feelings of commiseration for 
the poor captives on the occasion of their being distributed 
amongst their several owners or purchasers, and thereby 
separated from those most closely bound to them by the ties 
of nature. He thus describes the scene : — "On the 8 th of 
August, 1444, early in the morning on account of the heat, 
the sailors landed the captives. When they were all mus- 
tered in the field outside the town they presented a remarkable 
spectacle. Some among them were tolerably light in colour, 
handsome, and well-proportioned; some slightly darker; 
others a degree lighter than mulattoes, while several were as 
black as moles, and so hideous both in face and form as to 
suggest the idea that they were come from the lower regions. 
But what heart so hard as not to be touched with compassion 
at the sight of them ! Some with downcast heads and faces 
bathed in tears as they looked at each other ; others moaning 
sorrowfully, and fixing their eyes on heaven, uttered plaintive 
cries as if appealing for help to the Father of Nature. 
Others struck their faces with their hands, and threw them- 
selves flat upon the ground. Others uttered a wailing chant, 
after the fashion of their country, and although their words 
were unintelligible, they spoke plainly enough the excess of 
their sorrow. But their anguish was at its height when the 
moment of distribution came, when of necessity children 

N 2 


were separated from their parents, wives from their husbands, 
and brothers from brothers. Each was compelled to go 
wherever fate might send him. It was impossible to effect 
this separation without extreme pain. Fathers and sons, 
who had been ranged in opposite sides, would rush forward 
again towards each other with all their might. Mothers 
would clasp their infants in their arms, and throw them- 
selves on the ground to cover them with their bodies, 
disregarding any injury to their own persons, so that they 
could prevent their children from being separated from 
them. Besides the trouble thus caused by the captives, 
the crowds that had assembled to witness the distribution 
added to the confusion and distress of those who were 
charged with the separation of that weeping and wailing 
multitude. The Prince was there on a powerful horse, sur- 
rounded by his suite, and distributing his favours with the 
bearing of one who cared but little for amassing booty for 
himself. In fact he gave away on the spot the forty-six 
souls which fell to him as his fifth. It was evident that his 
principal booty lay in the accomplishment of his wish. To 
him m reality it was an unspeakable satisfaction to contem- 
plate the salvation of those souls, which but for him would 
have been for ever lost. And certainly that thought of his 
was not a vain one, for as soon as those strangers learned 
our language they readily became Christians, and I have 
myself seen in the town of Lagos young men and women, 
the children and grandchildren of these captives, born in 
this country, as good and true Christians as those who had 
descended generation by generation from those who had 
been baptized in the commencement of tlie Christian dis- 
pensation. Nevertheless there was abundant tear-shedding 
when the final separation came, and each proprietor took 
possession of his lot. A father remained at Lagos, while the 
mother was taken to Lisbon and the child elsewhere. This 
second separation doubled their despair. However, they 
were not long in l)econiing acquainted with the country, and 
in lindinu' in it great abundance. Thev were far less obstinate 


in their creed than the other Moors, and readily ado[)ted 
Christianity. They were treated with kindness, and no 
ditierence was made between them and the free-born servants 
of Portugal. Still more : those of tender age were taught 
trades, and such as showed aptitude for managing their 
property were set free and married to women of the country, 
receiving a good dower just as if their masters had been 
their parents, or at least felt themselves bound to show this 
liberality in recognition of the good services they had 
received. Widow-ladies would treat the young captives that 
they had bought like their own daughters, and leave them 
legacies in their wills, so that they might afterwards marry 
well and be regarded absolutely as free women. Suffice it 
to say that I have never known one of these captives put in 
irons like other slaves, nor have I ever known one who did 
not become a Christian, or who was not treated with great 
kindness. I have often been invited by masters to the 
baptism or marriage of these strangers, and quite as much 
ceremony has been observed as if it were on behalf of a child 
or relation." 

It is impossible to read this eloquent expression of sym- 
pathy with the suflerings of the negro captives at the time 
of their partition without deep compassion for the disrup- 
tion of natural ties which then of necessity took place. The 
scene then described was the consequence of the explorations 
instituted by Prince Henry. He was present thereat; and 
the first result in the mind of an Englishman hating, 
and righteously hating, the very name of slavery and the 
sale of human beings, would be that of reprobation of the 
Prince and of the people sent out under his auspices, liy whom 
these slaves wei'e thus brought in large numbers to Portugal 
from the African coast. There are many, however, who will 
see, in the conclusion of the chapter just recited, ample reason 
for withdrawing that reprobation, when they consider the 
motives, full of beneficence, which influenced the Prince in 
these transactions. The comprehensive purposes which he had 
in view, in the matter of exploration alone, made the capture 


of natives of the west coast necessary, in tbe first instance, 
for tbe sake of acquiring local information. The mere pro- 
cess of capture is in itself in the highest degree offensive to 
us, as we sit in our easy chairs, free from the necessity of 
making any exertion in subduing the evils of barbarism 
beyond a little loosening of tbe strings either of the heart 
or of the purse. But no sooner do we take a survey of the 
active processes which, through all history even up to the 
present time, have been brought to bear in the extension 
of civilisation by encroachment on barbarian soil, than we 
find that violence, the details of which, if presented to us 
equally closely, would be equally offensive, has invariably 
had to be resorted to. It will, however, be observed that 
this violence was highly repugnant to the Prince's nature. 
In Azurara, we find that, so soon as he found himself 
in a position to do so with a fair hope of safety to his 
mariners, he charged them to resort to peaceful means with 
the natives, and to refrain from doing them injury. We 
have the same testimony from Diogo Gomez de Cintra, 
and the same from Cadamosto. It must be acknowledged 
that three independent cotemporary witnesses are sufficient 
to clear the Prince from the imputation of cruelty as to the 
mode of deportation of these negroes. 

As to the ohject of the Prince, in allowing his sailors in 
the first instance to capture and afterwards to purchase 
slaves, there can be no question that his first motive was to 
rescue them from their original condition of spiritual, moral, 
and physical degradation, and his second to add to the wealth 
of his own country by an accession of valuable labour cheaply 
paid for by the real advantages bestowed upon these captured 
negroes. But there are some who, in their justifiable hatred 
of the slave trade as tliey know it in connection with 
America and the West Indies, will not patiently listen to any 
such reasonings, but simjjly object that since the Western slave 
trade originated in the deportation of negroes from Africa, 
if such negroes were for the first time brought wholesale 
from the African coast by the sanction of Prince Ilenry, 


upon his head must undeniably rest the odium and the 
gravamen of what we abominate in that slave trade. But 
here I must demand a pause. The opprobrium thus attri- 
buted must consist either in the intrinsic immorality of the 
transaction, or in priority in introducing that which, even if 
in any v/ay excusable at the time, has since become detest- 
able. As regards its intrinsic morality, I think enough has 
been said to demonstrate the integrity of Prince Henry's 
intention, and, where integrity of intention exists, I conceive 
it is impossible to bring the charge of immorality. That 
there were co-existent evils, and that such evils have in later 
days been aggravated to the most painful extreme, no one 
can doubt ; but in what phase of human life do not such 
appear? And if they awaken our sympathy or our regret, 
we have assuredly no reason to question the existence of 
such sympathy or such regret in the character of one so 
eminent, not only for the benevolence of his natural disposi- 
tion, but for his exalted views of Christian duty. 

It therefore only remains for us to inquire — 

1st. Respecting the origin of the traffic in slaves ; 

2ndly. Respecting the first deportation of slaves from the 
west coast of Africa ; and 

3rdly. Respecting the originators of what we now know 
as the slave trade to the western world. 

And in each of these we shall find that Prince Henry had 
no share. 

1. And first respecting the origin of the traffic in slaves. 

History from the remotest ages tells us of men being 
bought and sold as slaves and often reduced to a condition 
more wretched even than that of the brutes. The Penta- 
teuch, which, apart from its divine origin, is the most ancient 
and venerable record of history and legislation, makes fre- 
quent mention of slaves among the Hebrew people ; some 
who under the pressure of their necessities made themselves 
such; others who were sold by their own fathers; others 
captives of war, &c. It refers also to several laws, given by 
God for the same people, some for the regulation of the 


rights and obligations of masters and slaves, others to miti- 
gate by all means the miserable condition of the latter. 
(See Gen. xxxvii. 26-28 ; xlvii. 18-22 ; Exodus xxi. 2-7 ; 
Levit. XXV. 39-54; Deut. xv. 12-18, &c.) That these 
unfortunate people were bought and sold for fixed prices like 
any other marketable commodity, and that in such traffic 
existed what we reprobate in the "'slave trade," there can be 
no doubt. We are supplied with a notable instance of this 
in the case of Joseph, who was sold by his brothers to the 
Ishmaelitish merchants, and by them again sold into Egypt 
(Gen. xxxvii.) 

The Greeks and Romans also, the most civilised and refined 
of the nations of antiquity, not only practised slavery to an 
almost incredible extent, but treated their slaves with a 
barbarity and ferocity hardly to be equalled among modern 
nations. Every schoolboy knows the unmitigated cruelty of 
the Spartans to the unfortunate Helots. And as to the Romans, 
Lucius Florus in his De tola historid Titi Livii Epito7ney 
lib. 3, cap. 19, attributes the revolt of the slaves in Sicily 
headed by Eurus Syrus, to the barbarous treatment of these 
poor wretches, who were forced to plough the earth, tethered 
together {eatcnati cultores) like brute beasts. Seneca, in 
his treatise De ird, lib. 3, cap. 40, tells us of one Vedius 
Pollion, who ordered a slave to be thrown into the tank in 
which his lampreys were fattening, because he had broken a 
crystal vase. The virtuous Cato was not ashamed of being 
a slave merchant ; and Trajan, that admirable prince, nho 
only had the neakness of great hearts, an excessive love of 
glory, gave public games at which ten thousand gladiators 
and eleven thousand animals slaughtered each other for the 
amusement of a cruel peoi)le who dared to stigmatise other 
nations with the name of barbarians, &c., kc (Diodor., 
lib. 48.) 

When Paulus ^milius conquered Macedonia, says Pliny, 
he decreed in one day the ruin of seventy-two cities. 
(Historia Naturalis, lib. 4, c. 10.) A hundred and fifty 
thousand Epirotes and Macedonians were sold at that time 


in Rome, by auction, in the same place where afterwards 
were exposed to public sale the no less unfortunate remnant 
of the Hebrew people ; and Seneca tells us that in his time 
there were in Home slave-warehouses in which the slaves 
were kept by the dealers in that kind of stock, and from 
which they were taken to the public markets to be sold like 
brute beasts. 

On the dismemberment of the Roman Empire, the nations 
which took possession of its provinces continued the traffic 
in men which they found established, and to which they 
themselves were not strangers. Christianity, it is true, tended 
greatly to ameliorate the condition of the slaves, and was 
for many centuries, by the tendency of its eminently human- 
izing principles, one of the most powerful causes of the 
diminution and decadence of this inhuman commerce. It 
did not, however, altogether abrogate the universally adopted 
practice, nor did its Divine Author alter, or appear to wish 
to alter directly, the established order of human society, or 
the diiferent gradations and respective civil conditions which 
the laws and customs of the people had adopted. (See Eph. 
vi. 5, 9; Colos. iv. 1 ; Philemon 1 ; 2 Pet. ii. 18.) 

The churches and monasteries had slaves. The old grants 
mention them constantly among the donations. The councils 
of different centuries and nations were full of canons rela- 
tive to slaves, taking for granted the existence of slavery 
without reproof or condemnation. Some forbade that slaves 
should be admitted to holy orders or any ecclesiastical 
ministration. Others made provisions for the giving up to 
their masters of slaves who might have sought the protection 
of the Church with the view of obtaining their liberty. 
Others ordered that Jews should not have Christian slaves. 
Others established rules for the manumission of slaves be- 
longing to Churches, &c. The Venetian merchants in the 
eighth century, traded in Christian slaves. History has left 
us an account of the pious zeal of Pope Zacharias, who in the 
)'ear 748, knowing that these merchants had bought in 
Rome many slaves of both sexes, that they might sell them, 


after mutilating them, to the infidels of Africa, redeemed a 
great number of these unfortunates and restored them to 
liberty. In the year " 785 Charlemagne exj^elled from his 
territory the Greeks who came to buy Christian slaves to sell 
them to the Mussulmans of Spain and of the East. In 
the year 820 and in all the following century, the merchants 
of Verdun also applied themselves to this traffic, selling their 
own fellow-citizens, after mutilating them, to the Kaliphs 
and Moors, to be employed in guarding their seraglios.* 

At a council at London in 1102 it was determined, that 
no one should sell men like hrute beasts, as had been done 
formerly in England, says Fleury.f Nevertheless this pro- 
hibition was still in force in the year 1171, when Henry II., 
having conquered Ireland, convened the bishops of that 
island to a council, in which it was ordered that all English 
slaves should be set at liberty, so that (says a cotemporary 
writer) the Fathers were persuaded that Divine Justice had 
subjected them to the English as a punishment for their 
crimes, and especially because tJiey used to sell EnglisJimen as 
slaves to merchants and 2nrates.X 

In the thirteenth century, in the midst of Europe, among 
Christian nations, were sold not only prisoners of war, but 
also at times the peaceful and unarmed inhabitants of con- 
quered cities or places. The letter which Pope Gregory IX. 
Avrote to the Archbishop of Estrigonia in 1231, blaming 
certain unworthy things practised in Hungary, as showing 
contempt of religion, mentions, that the Saracens went there 
to buy Christian slaves, which was an affront to his authority ; 
and that the Christians, forced by want and povert}', sold 
their own children as slaves to the infidels. Pope Gregory 
IX., in his apostolical letters of the 20th of April, 1376, 
directed against the Florentines, added to other grave penal- 
ties and censures which he fulminated against them, that 

• See "M^moire historique et diplomatique siir le commerce et les etablisse- 
ments frangais au levant," read at llie public session of the Institute in 1827- 
t See his Histoire Ecclesiasliqiie, lib. 65, \ '11. 
\ Flcury, Ilistoire Ecules., lib. 'i1, \ 38. 


for as many as they had seized, so many of themselves should 
be reduced to slavery, and says the historian, many of these 
then in England were in fact made slaves to the king, and 
had their goods confiscated. These facts, and many others 
abundantly furnished by history, are enough to show that 
the Portuguese were not the originators of the slave trade, 
unless it be maintained that there is any substantial differ- 
ence between the traffic in negro slaves and in white ones, 
or between buying them in Africa to take them to America, 
and buying them not only in Africa, but in France, Venice, 
and Rome, to take them to Spain, Africa, or the East. 

Let it only once be granted on both sides that the suffer- 
ings incident to slavery take the full range from the regret- 
able to the execrable, and it may be fairly asserted that, 
cceteris paribus, the introduction of negroes into the benefi.ts 
of Christianity and civilization was an act very far from 
blamable, although the concomitant miseries were to be 
regretted ; while the sale of Christians into eastern slavery 
was nothing short of execrable. 

2. So much for our first question respecting the origin of the 
traffic in slaves : we will now proceed to the second, respect- 
ing the first deportation of slaves from the west coast of 
Africa. The enslaving of and trafficking in negroes in 
general may safely be said to be as old as the knowledge that 
there were negro nations, since the trading in men has been 
a custom in all countries and in all ages, and there is no 
reason why the negroes should have been exempt from the 
common fate, as soon as there was an opportunity of taking, 
selling, and buying them. The facts of history confirm this 

One of the relievi which Mr. Champollion, jun., a few 
years ago observed in the temple of Isambul in Nubia, 
represents the triumphal car of one of the Pharaohs accom- 
panied by troops of negro prisoners from Nubia, which proves 
that the negroes from, Africa were from the remotest ages 
subject to the same laws of slavery which were practised 
among the white nations in all the world. Josephus in his 


work on Jewish Antiquities, lib. 8, speaking of the merchant 
ships of Solomon, says, that among the objects which they 
imported were gold, silver, ivory, Ethiopian slaves, and 
apes. " Pro rebus exportatis aurum, argentum, regi refere- 
bant, multumque eboris, et mancipia cethiopica, et simias." 
So old, so inveterate, and tenacious is this practice, which 
derives its origin, its continuance, and inveteracy to the 
inspirations of avarice and barbarity. 

But, not to dwell on so remote a period, it is known that, in 
the time of the Crusades, the use of negro slaves spread 
much in Europe, and became a fashion among the great 
lords who were engaged in those romantic expeditions. The 
reader may also be reminded that long before the Portuguese 
discoveries, as stated in page 114, the malagiiette pepper of 
Guinea was known in Italy, and consequently must have 
been brought fi'om Gruinea by the Moors, who crossed the 
country of the Mandingoes, and the deserts of Libya, to the 
port of Barca, on the Mediterranean ; and we have the 
distinct evidence of Azurara that captured negroes were 
among the commodities brought to Barca for sale by the 
Moors. Azurara, it is true, was a cotemporary of Prince 
Henry's ; but it is manifest that he spoke of a practice of 
long standing, and which could by no possibility have any- 
thing to do with the Prince's expeditions to the west coast of 
Africa. Cadamosto, also, whose explorations in the service 
of the Prince will hereafter be related, mentions the same 
fact. It will further be recollected that (as shown on page 
175), Antam Gonsalves received from the Moors negroes in 
ransom of the Moors which he had himself captured, which 
shows that among the Moors was already practised not only 
the endamng of vcyrocs, but also the traffic in them, since they 
promised and gave them as ransom for their own persons 
and pro})erty in the same way as they gave gold or ivory, or 
any other mercliandise of their country. And should any 
objector amuse liimscll' with the frivolous argument ihat at 
least the ships of Prince Henry were the lirst to deport 
negroes by sea Irom the west coast of Africa, as if deporta- 


tion from that coast in ships were more criminal than the 
conveyance of slaves across the desert for sale in the Gulf 
of Tmiis, even this fanciful stigma will be found not to 
attach to the Prince's nnme. Although not preceded by 
Jean de Bethencourt in the rounding of Cape JBoyador, lie 
was preceded by him in the capture of natives from the 
west coast (see ante page 133). So much for the second 

ordly. That the importation of negroes into the West 
Indies and America is not due either directly or indirectly to 
Prince Henry is indisputable. The very time when that 
importation commenced is not known, but the earliest date 
that any one has ever ventured to suggest was half a century 
after the death of the Prince. The country was Spanish, and 
jealously exclusive of Portuguese encroachment of any kind. 
The most probable conclusion to be formed on a point not 
already settled by history is, that when Lisbon was full of 
negro slaves from Africa, the Portuguese exported them to 
Seville for sale, and that at a later period the Spaniards, 
who were interested in the exploration and working of the 
mines in the New World, sent their slaves thither, at ^rst in 
small numbers, to be employed in these works. As the 
number of slaves brought from Africa increased, the transport 
of them to America would become more general, till at 
length the public authorities would find themselves obliged 
to legalize it, and to control its practice by laws and 
established re2:ulations. 


S E N E G A M B I A. 


In the year 1445, some time after the return of LaiK^arote, 
the Prince gave the command of a caravel to Gonsalo cle 
Cintra, an esquire of his household, with strict orders to go 
straight to Guinea without putting in anywhere on the road. 
He, however, allowed himself to be deceived by the natives 
and his own ambition into disobedience of these orders, and 
landing on the island of Naar for the purpose of taking 
captives, was slain in a fight on the shore, not being able to 
swim back to his boat. The unwieldy name of Angra de 
Gonsalo de Cintra has been given to a bay some forty miles 
south of the Rio d'Ouro as commemorative of the death of 
the unfortunate commander, but the island of Naar is in the 
Bay of Arguin. 

In the same year, 1445, Prince Henry again sent out 
Antam Gonsalves in a caravel to the Rio d'Ouro with one of 
his own servants, Diogo Afifonso, in another. They were 
accompanied by Gomes Pires, who was sent out by the 
Regent, Dom Pedro, in a third caravel. The express purpose 
of the voyage was to treat with the natives and endeavour 
to make converts to Christianity, but they returned without 
effecting anything worth notice. Joiio Fernandes went out 
with this expedition, and remained seven months alone in 
the wilds of the interior, in order to gain information for the 
Prince respecting the language and manners of the people. 

An old Moor returned voluntarily with Gonsalves, wishing 
to see Prince Henry, who received him with great kindness, 
and afterwards sent him back to his own country. 


About tills same time Niulo Tristam made another voyage, 
in which he went straight to the Ishmds of Gai-(;;as in tlie 
great bank of Arguin. These were now left desolate, for 
the natives had withdrawn for fear of the invaders. The 
Portuguese therefore went further on and came to a country- 
very different from the sandy wilderness they had left, for it 
abounded in palms and other trees of great beaut3\ The 
roughness of the sea prevented their reaching the shore, and 
they were driven further south, where having effected a 
landing, they came upon a village and took one-and-twenty 
captives. The old chronicler, Azurara, who set a higher 
value upon such details than the reader is likely to do, 
remarks that the circumstances of this capture will never be 
knowm, because Nuno Tristam was dead at the time that 
King Affonso ordered his history to be written. The expres- 
sion is of value as showing that Azurara did not confine 
himself to written documents in compiling his history, but 
consulted the discoverers themselves. The Vicomte de 
Santarem calls attention to a comparison which he made of 
the description of this voyage with certain early manuscript 
maps which he had the opportunity of consulting. He 
shows that after visiting the islands of Arguin, Tristam 
sailed southwards past places which bear on those maps the 
following names : — Ilha Branca, R. de S. Joao, G. de Santa 
Anna, Moutas, Praias, Furna, C. d'Arca, Resgate and Pal- 
mar, which last is doubtless the spot where he found the 
many palms. It is also particularly worth notice that 
Azurara, at the commencement of his very vague description 
of this voyage, historically asserts that Nufio Tristam was 
tlie first who saw the Country of the Blacks, whereas later in 
the book, at page 237, he assigned that honour to Diniz 
Dias,* the account of whose voyage immediately follows. 

This bold adventurer, who had already distinguished him- 
self in the service of King Joao, was the next to beg 

* Barros calls him Diniz Fernandez, and as he wrote before the publication of 
Azurara, his original authority, he has been copied by all succeeding historians 
and geographers. 


permissioii to make explorations in the service of Prince 
Henry, who fitted out a caravel for him. Diniz had made 
lip his mind to sail further than any of his predecessors, and 
this resolution he carried into effect, for he never struck sail 
till he reached the land of the Negroes. It was not till now 
that the mouth of the Senegal was passed, which separates 
the Azanegues or Tawny Moors from the Jaloffs, the first 
real Blacks. 

The Portuguese looked upon the Senegal as identical with 
the Niger, and afterwards, when they found that the Man- 
dingoes gave to the Upper Senegal the name of Bafing or 
Black River, they unhesitatingly concluded that it was the 
Niger of Herodotus, Pliny, and Ptolemy, although Barros 
was surprised that the Qanaga or Senegal should have so 
little water. It was not till 1698 that the old error respecting 
the western course of the Niger received its rectification, 
when Brue, the Director of the French African Company, 
became informed that that river flowed eastward and passed 
near the city of Timbuctoo. It was not, however, till 1714 
that this rectification was geographically laid down. This 
was on the mappemonde of Del isle, on which we see the 
Niger and the Senegal for the first time represented as 
issuing from two neighbouring lakes, the one flowing west- 
ward, the other to the east. The name of Niger is itself 
entirely unknown in Africa. It was introduced by Edrisi, 
and afterwards employed by Leo Africanus. The Arab 
geographers still regard it as the same as the Nile, but to 
distinguish it from the Nil-as-Massr, or Egyptian Nile, they 
call it the Nil-as-Soudan, and also the Nil-el-Kebir, or Great 
Nile, the latter being regarded as the greater of the two. 
Mollien in his vocabulary gives Baleo, as the Poula word for 
Black, and in that language the Senegal is called Baleo or 
the Black Piver, while in Mandingo it is called Bafing, which 
has the same signification, and it seems to have been an 
error in ]\Iungo Park to ascribe to the Joliba or Quorra the 
name of the Niger, which had always been declared by the 
ancient and Arabic geographers to flow westward into the 


Atlantic, while it contained, as shown by IM. Golherry, '' in 
the shallower parts of the river hippopotami and crocodiles, 
or rather the caymans of prodigious size " (see page 98 of 
" Modern Traveller," vol. 22), attributed to it by the ancient 
geographers. The largest seen by Adanson, the celebrated 
naturalist, were from fifteen to eighteen feet in length. 

The Portuguese gave the name of Guinea to the western 
country of the Senegal or Senegambia, whereas it is now 
confined to the southern coast. In fact, originally Guinea 
was supposed to commence at Cape Non. Even so late as 
the beginning of the sixteenth century, in a treaty between 
Spain and Portugal about the boundaries of their respective 
conquests in Africa, the opinion was held that the borders 
of Guinea began between Capes Non and Boyador. Azurara 
was the first to make the Senegal the northern boundary of 
Guinea. He says the negroes were called Guineus, showing 
that if he sometimes called the country of the i\zanegues 
Guinea, it was in obedience to custom, and not because he 
did not recognise the difference between the two countries. 
The town of Jinnie, on the river Genua or Niger, was 
founded in 1043-4, and soon became wealthy, owing to the 
trade in salt from Tegazza and gold from Bitu, and continues 
to be an emporium for the commerce carried on by the Man- 
dingoes between Soudan and the west coast near Senegal 
and Arguin. The negroes call the country lying on the 
Niger Genua, Gheuea, Ginea, as well as Jennii, Gennii, 
and Jinne, but it is not certain whether the name originated 
with the country or the town. The Guinea Coast, as now 
understood, began to l)e known by that name after the con- 
struction of the Fort da Mina by the Portuguese in 1481, 
when the King of Portugal assumed the title of Lord of 
Guinea. But we must return from our digression. 

As Diniz Dias coasted along this newly-visited shore, the 
caravel caused great astonishment among the natives, till at 
length four of the latter, being unable to decide whether it 
was a fish, a bird, or a phantom, took courage and approached 
it in a canoe, but when they found it contained men they fled 



with such speed that the Portuguese coukl not overtake them. 
As, however, it was far more Bias's purpose to discover land 
for the service of the Prince than to take slaves for his own 
profit, he proceeded still south till he reached a remarkable 
headland, to which he gave the name of Cabo Verde. Little 
more is known respecting this voyage, but as the Prince set 
very great value on this new discovery of the negro country, 
he largely rewarded Diniz Dias and his companions. 

Seven months had now passed since Joao Fernandes had 
been left by his own desire among the Moors at the Rio 
d'Ouro. Antam Gonsalves therefore reminded the Prince 
of the circumstance, and volunteered^ if the Prince should 
think fit to provide him with ships, to do his best not only 
to bring Fernandes back, but to make the voyage repay its 
expenses. These ships were promptly provided, and the 
principal command given to Antam Gonsalves. The other 
two captains were Garcia Homem and Diogo Affonso, of the 
Prince's household. Being separated by a violent storm, the 
first that reached Cape Blanco was Diogo Aftonso, who set 
up a large wooden cross as a notice to the rest, if they should 
arrive after him, that he had gone on in advance. This cross 
was fixed so firmly that it lasted there for many years, and 
as Azui-ara was informed, was still there at the time that he 
wrote. " Well," he says, " might it astonish any one of 
another nation that might chance to pass by that coast to 
see such a signal among the Moors, if he should happen to 
be entirely ignorant of the Portuguese navigations along 
that coast."* The other vessels soon joined him, Gonsalves 
being the last to reach the Cape. As the first vessels had 
had no success, in consecpience of the natives fleeing fi'om 

* This sentenfCM)f Azurara's 1ms been adduced liy i\[. d'Avczau as a proof that 
vessels of other nations wore in the habit of passing that way. I submit that 
it demonstrates the exact contrary. Had the vessels of any other Christian 
nation been in the habit of passinp; that coast, a similar elevation of a cross 
■would have been a matter of perfectly easy occurrence, and would be far from 
the matter of extreme astonishment pictured by Azurara. Nor could such 
frequenters of the coast by any possibility be ignorant, as Azurara in fancy 
ttuggests, of the navigations oi the Portuguese. 


tliera, Gonsalves proposed that they should leave the shijis 
in charge of lieutenants, and go in their boats to the island 
of Arguin, but they found no one there, except one native 
and his daughter, whom they captured. In consequence of 
information received from this man, they took twenty-five 
more, and here Azurara remarks : — " It was a marvellous 
thing that as soon as one of these people was taken, he took 
refuge in pointing out to the enemy not only other natives, 
but his friends, and even his wife and children." They then 
returned along the coast in search of the caravels, from 
which they had been absent three days. The caravels, 
meantime, according to orders, sailed for the island of 
Arguin, but, not knowing its position, passed beyond it to the 
country farther south. Here they cast anchor, and in little 
more than an hour observed a man on the shore opposite. 
This proved to be Fernandes, who had been watching with 
anxiety on the coast to see if any vessel were coming to 
fetch him away. As the caravels could not come close to 
the land, he ran along the shore till he met the boats 
returning, and was received with great rejoicing. 

It appeared that he had engaged the affections of the 
natives during his sojourn amongst them, and he told 
Gonsalves of a chief named Ahude Maymom, who wished to 
barter with him some negroes whom he had taken captive. 
Gonsalves received the offer gladly, and exchanged articles 
of trifling value for negroes and gold. The place was called 
Cabo do Resgate, or Cape of the Ransom. Here Gonsalves 
knighted an old man of noble family from Madeira, named 
Fernando Tavares, who considered it an especial honour to 
be dubbed knight on the newly discovered land. The 
caravels then proceeded to the island of Tider, where they 
had an encounter with the natives, and narrowly escaped 
great danger from an ambush. In his homeward passage 
Gonsalves put in at Cape Branco, and made a capture of 
about sixty natives, after which he made his way to Portugal 
and reached Lisbon in safety. 

Prince Henry was at the time in his duchy of Viseu, 



whence lie sent to claim his fifth, and the rest of the slaves 
were disposed of in the city by the captains, to the great 
benefit of all concerned. 

However pleased the Prince may have been with the 
general success of this voyage, his principal satisfaction was 
in seeing Joao Fernandes back safe and sound, and able to 
give him information respecting the country and the people. 
Fernandes related that the first thing the natives did was to 
strip him of his clothes, and give him a mantle such as the 
rest of them wore. The people among whom he lived were 
shepherds, who wandered with their cattle wherever they 
could find pasture. The fodder was scanty, the land desert 
and sandy, with no trees except small ones, such ii^Jigiiieras 
do inferno {Pahna Christi), thorn trees, and a few palms. 
There were very few flowers. All the water was from wells, 
except a very few running streams. 

The people were called Alarves, Azanegues, and Berbers. 
They were Mohammedans. Their language, wi'itten and 
spoken, differed from those of other Moors.* They had 
neither law nor lordship, and waged war with the negroes, 
who were stronger than they, more by craft than strength. 
Some of these negroes they would sell to the Moors, who 
came to their country for that purpose. Others they would 
take to Barca, beyond Tunis, to sell them to the Christian 
merchants who resorted thither, receiving in exchange bread 
and other commodities, just as they did at the Rio d'Ouro. 
The people had negro prisoners in their possession when 
Fernandes was among them, and some gold which was 
obtained from the land of the negroes. Their camels were 
very numerous, and could travel fifty leagues in a day, and 
they had plenty of cattle in spite of the thinness of the 
pasture. There were a great number of emus, antas, and 
gazelles, partridges, and hares. The swallows leave in the 
spring and return to winter on the sands ; the storks go to 
the land of the negroes to winter. 

* This wmiM seem to indiciite that the Berhors had not at this time adopted 
the Aiahic charaetcr. • ' . 


This country extended from Tagaoz or Tagazza to tlie land 
of the negroes, in one direction, and to the Mediterranean 
at the end of the kingdom of Tunis, at Barca, in the other. 

Fernandes further rehited that one day two horsemen 
came up to him, who were going to join the before-mentioned 
chief, Ahude Maymom, and asked him to accompany them. 
He accepted their invitation with pleasure, and they 
mounted him on a camel and went their way. On the road 
their water failed them, and for three days they had nothing 
to drink. There was no certain road except by the sea- 
shore, and they guided themselves by the signs of the sky 
and the flight of birds. At length, after bearing their thirst 
as best they could, they came up to Ahude Maymom and 
his family, which, with their retinue, were about one hundred 
and fifty in number. Fernandes made his obeisance, and 
was welcomed by the Moor, who ordered milk to be given 
him, and treated him so well that when he was received by 
the caravels he had recovered his good looks and was in his 
usual health, though he had suffered much from the heat of 
the country and the sand of the desert. 

Azurara gives further particulars respecting the Azanegues 
among whom Fernandes dwelt. Their food was chiefly 
milk, and sometimes a little meat with seeds of wild herbs 
gathered on the mountains. Wheat was considered a 
luxury. For many months they and their horses and dogs 
lived entirely on milk. Those on the sea-shore ate nothing 
but fish, mostly raw or dried. Their garments were vests 
and breeches of leather, the better classes wore mantles. 
They had a few good horses, with saddles and stirrups, and 
some few of the chiefs kept brood mares. The women wore 
mantles over their faces, but the rest of the body they left 
uncovered. The women of the chiefs wore rings of gold on 
their ancles, and other jewels. Their merchandise, besides 
the slaves and gold which they get from the negro country, 
consists of wool, butter, cheese, dates, which they imported, 
amber, civet, gum anime, oil and skins of sea-wolves, which 
are abundant at the Rio d'Ouro. 


The success of Antam Gonsalves' expedition induced a 
gentleman of Lisbon named Gonsalo Pacheco, who belonged 
to the household of the Prince, to request permission to 
make the voyage. He obtained leave to equip a caravel 
which he had built for himself, and two others which he 
wished to accompany him. He took with him as captains 
Diniz Eannes da Graa, his wife's nephew, an esquire of the 
Regent, Alvaro Gil, assayer of the mint, and Mafaldo of 
Setuval. When they reached Cabo Branco, they found an 
inscription left by Antam Gonsalves, warning them not to go 
to the neighbouring village, as it was deserted. They then 
went to the island of Arguin, in which, and on the mainland 
near, Mafaldo, guided by the pilot Goncalves Gallego, who 
had been there with Antam Gonsalves, made a capture of 
iifty-three natives in one night. They then went south, 
and at a place thirty-five leagues south of Tider, Alvaro 
Vasques took seven captives, and the next day Luis Affonso 
Cayado took ten. They coasted along some distance and 
came to a cape which they named " Cabo de Santa Anna," 
where Alvaro Vasques and Diego Gil took thirty-five more. 
Finding they could make no more captures, as the natives 
were aware of their presence and fled from them, they 
sailed eighty leagues yet further south, and would have 
landed, in spite of the hostile appearance of the people, but 
were prevented by the roughness of the sea. From the 
distance they could see that the land was very verdant, with 
a large population, and abundance of domestic cattle. They 
would have proceeded further south, but a storm which 
lasted three days drove them back, and when the weather 
set in fair they found themselves at the place where Alvaro 
Vasques had taken his seven captives. Encouraged by their 
former success, the boats were sent on shore ; and they took 
twelve prisoners. 

Between Cabo Branco and Cabo Tira they saw a small 
sandy island, where they found traces of men, fishing nets, 
and abundance of turtles. 

Tlie next day they returned and found the nets had been 


removed, but there were some turtles with ropes round them 
just as they had been caught. Observing another island 
near, they went to it, little suspecting an ambush. They were 
attacked by a large body of natives, and compelled to retreat 
with the loss of seven men killed, and one of the boats, which 
was taken to Tider and broken up for the sake of the nails. 
The ships then proceeded to Arguin to take in water. The 
Portuguese were afterwards told by some captives taken from 
that place that the natives ate the Portuguese whom they 
had killed, but others denied that such an enormity had 
been committed. Azurara declares that it was certainly their 
custom^ when they revenged the death of a relative, to eat 
the liver and drink the blood of the murderer— but only as 
an act of vengeance. 

Meanwhile the recollection of the death of Gonsalo da 
Cintra caused the inhabitants of liagos to appeal to the 
Prince for his permission that an expedition should be sent 
out, of sufficient strength to intimidate the natives, who 
were in such great numbers at the island of Tider and the 
neighbourhood, and so to quell their force that Portuguese 
vessels might henceforth pass along any part of that coast 
without jeopardy. To this Prince Henry gave his approval, 
and fourteen vessels were forthwith equipped for that 

At this time (1445), Prince Henry was summoned to 
Coimbra by his brother, the Regent Dom Pedro, to invest 
with knighthood his eldest son Pedro, who was Constable 
of the Kingdom and under orders for Castile ; for in such 
profound esteem did the Regent hold Prince Henry, 
that he regarded it as the greatest honour that could be 
conferred upon his son to receive knighthood from such 

Before Prince Henry started from Lagos, he entrusted the 
chief command of the fourteen caravels to Langarote, who had 
already proved himself so able a^ad successful a navigator on 
the African coast. This was a great distinction, for the other 
commanders were men of great eminence — Soeiro da Costa, 


Alcaide of Lagos, LaiKjarote's father-in-law, a fine old 
soldier ; Alvaro de Freitas ; Gomes Pires, captain of the 
King's caravel ; Rodrigueannes de Trava^os, of the Regent's 
household ; Fallen 90, who had distinguished himself in the 
wars against the Moors ; Gil Eannes, who first passed 
Cape Boyador; Stevam Afi"onso, and other distinguished 
natives of Lagos. Besides these fourteen ships, there were 
sent out from Madeira three others, the captains of which 
were Tristam Vaz, commander of Machico, and Alvaro 
Dornellas, each in his own caravel, but these were driven 
back by the weather before they reached Cape Branco. Alvaro 
Fernandes also came out in a caravel, belono:ino- to his uncle 
Joao Gonsalves Zarco, commander of Funchal. From Lisbon 
Diniz Dias (who first reached the land of the negroes) went 
out in a caravel of D, Alvaro de Castro, chief chamberlain 
of King Affonso, and Joao de Castilha in another belonging 
to Alvaro Gonsalves d'Ataide, the King-'s tutor. Altoo-ether 
there were six-and-twenty caravels, besides the pinnace in 
which Pallen90 went out. 

The fourteen from Lagos set sail in company, on the 
10th of August, 1445, having agreed, if they were separated, to 
meet at Cape Branco, and as wind and tide were favourable 
they tried which had the advantage in speed, and LourenQO 
Dias, one of the captains, soon began to take the lead. He first 
reached the island of Arguin, where he found the three caravels 
of Pacheco's expedition en the eve of returning to Lisbon after 
their discomfiture. From him they heard of the fleet that 
was on its way thither^ and of the purpose with which it had 
been sent out, and they promised themselves ample vengeance 
for the loss they had sustained. They had already made a 
fair capture for the one voyage, and their provisions were 
running short, but rather than not accompany the new ex- 
pedition, they preferred to live on short rations for a time- 
Accordingly, they proceeded in company with Louren^o Dias 
to the Ilha das Gar9as, where they remained for three days 
in expectation of the otlier caravels. 

They there found birds in great number, which heljied 


their stock of provisions, and some peculiar to that part, 
called crooes, entirely white and larger than swans. Their 
beaks were more than a cubit long- and three fingers in 
breadth, and looked as highly polished as a pacha's scabbard. 
The mouth and gullet were large enough to take in a man's 
leg of the largest size up to the knee. There is evident 
exaggeration in the descri})tion, but the bird appears to be a 
kind of Marabou Jabiru. 

"When some of the vessels had arrived, and among them 
those of Lan^arote, Soeiro da Costa, Alvaro de Freitas, Gil 
Eannes, and Gomes Pires, two hundred and seventy-eight 
men were selected for the attack and sent on shore in three 
boats, steered by pilots who had been there before and knew 
the locality. They had intended to take the natives by 
surprise, but everything went against them. The pilots 
proved unequal to their work, the night was dark, the water 
was low. The boats stranded and were obliged to wait for 
the tide, and the sun was well up before they reached the 
island. They proceeded for three leagues along the shore 
till they reached Tider, near which they perceived a host of 
natives showing every readiness to fight. A conflict ensued, 
in which eight natives were killed, and four taken. They 
then took to flight, leaped into the water and swam to the 
mainland, having already sent away their wives and 
children. Before returning to the ships the Portuguese 
went to the village which the natives had deserted, and to 
their great delight discovered water, for they were nearly 
perishing of thirst. They also found a few cotton trees. 

Here Soeiro da Costa and Diniz Eannes de Graa received 
knighthood from the hands of Alvaro da Freitas, and De 
Graa then returned, with the three caravels of Pacheco's ex- 
pedition to Lisbon. 

On the following day the natives returned to about a 
stone's throw from the caravels, and danced on the shore as 
if in defiance. A number of Portuguese, headed by a brave 
lad of the Prince's household, named Diogo Gonsalves, and 
Pero Alleman, of Lagos, swam ashore and soon put them 


to flight. Fifty-seven were captured. They pursued the 
fugitives as far as a village called Tira, on the sea-coast, at 
about eight leagues distance, but found that and two other 
villages deserted. 

On the next day, the commanders of the fleet being all 
assembled, Langerote announced to them that as the object 
for which they had come out was now accomplished, inas- 
much as the island of Tider had been conquered, and its 
inhabitants dispersed, his duty as captain-general ceased; 
for the Prince's orders were, that after that island was taken, 
each of the captains should be free to take his course in any 
direction that might seem to promise best. Then, after 
making a fair distribution of the captives, he inquired of the 
different captains what they proposed to do. Soeiro da 
Costa, Vicente Dias (the outfitter), Gil Eannes, Martim 
Vicente, and Joao Dias, decided upon returning to Por- 
tugal, as their caravels were small, and the winter was 
coming on. 

On their way back, they determined to explore to its 
extremity that arm of the sea which is formed by Cape 
Blanco. They anchored near the entrance of this estuary, 
and after pulling four leagues in, the boats reached the head 
of it, and there landed. They found a few huts, from which 
they captured eight natives, who told them there were no 
other inhabitants near. Soeiro da Costa now altered his 
mind, and went back to Tider with the view of obtaining a 
ransom for a woman and a chief's son of that place. He 
had cause to repent his, determination, for after he had 
handed over a Moor and a Jew as a guarantee of his good 
faith, the woman leaped overboard, and swam to land, and 
the natives would only surrender the three on condition that 
three others were given in exchange. The alternative was 
hard, but Da Costa was obliged to put up with the loss, and 
return to Portugal. 

Gomes Pires, who was captain of the King's caravel, in 
answer to Lanrerote's inquiry, declared his intention to 
proceed to the land of the negroes, and especially to the 


river Nile,* about which the Prince was very anxious to gain 
information. In this purpose he was joined by Lan^erote 
himself; and Alvaro de Freitas not only declared his hearty 
good-will to join them, but to follow them if possible to the 
Terrestrial Paradise. It must not be supposed that this was 
mere empty talk. In some of the maps of the middle ages 
the Terrestrial Paradise was laid down in the most eastern 
part of Asia, but if the reader recalls the connection of the 
rivers Gihon and Euphrates, two of the four rivers issuing 
from Eden, with the medifeval notions of the Nile, he will 
perceive the meaning of the words of De Freitas. Of the 
same opinion were Rodrigueannes de Trava^os, Lourengo 
Dias, and Vicente Dias (the merchant), and forthwith they 
set out on their voyage. Two of the other caravels now 
parted company with them, one from Tavila, and another 
called the Picaiigo, or the Wreji, belonging to a man of 
Lagos, but as they did not reach the land of the negroes, 
they will be spoken of hereafter. 

The six caravels sailed along the coast till they found the 
land of Zaara, or desert, the country of the Azanegues, and 
came to the two palm trees which Diniz Dias had found, 
and by which they knew that they were very near the land 
of the negroes. They would have landed, but the surf on 
the coast prevented them. The smell from the shore was so 
fragrant that it was as if some delightful fruit garden had 
been placed there for their especial delectation. The Prince 
had told them from information he had received from the 
Azanegue prisoners, that twenty leagues beyond the palms 
they would find the western outlet of the river Nile, called 
by the natives Qanaga. As they proceeded along the coast, 

* This expression shows how full of pui-pose these explorations were, and 
that the Prince did not seek simply to add to his knowledge of the "West African 
coast, but to compare the information which could be gathered from the natives 
themselves with the scientific, historical, and geographical notions of ancient and 
mediifval times, so as ultimately to reach the east. The reader wiU have already 
seen that the river here spoken of is the Nile of the Negroes, or the Senegal, to 
which river the name of Niger adhered even so late as to the close of last 


keeping a look-out for the river, they observed before them 
at about two leagues distance from the land a colour in the 
water different from the rest, which was mud coloured. 
This proved to be the fresh water from the river, and they 
soon came to the river's mouth, where they anchored. 
Eight of the sailors of Vicente Dias' caravel pulled 
ashore, and among them Stevam Affonso, who had partly 
fitted out the caravel. One of them pointed out a cabin 
near the mouth of the river, and proposed that they should 
try to take the inhabitants by surprise. Stevam Affonso and 
five others landed, and hiding near the cabin, saw issue from 
it a negro boy quite naked, who was immediately taken ; 
and when they went up to the cabin, they found his sister, a 
girl of about eight years old. 

The Prince afterwards had this boy educated, and it was 
supposed that he intended him fcr the priesthood, that he 
might go and preach Christianity to his people ; but the 
youth died before he came of age. 

When the Portuguese went into the cabin, they found 
a shield made of leather from the ear of the elephant, quite 
round, somewhat larger than the ordinary size, with a boss 
in the middle made of the same leather. They afterwards 
learned from the natives that all their shields were made 
from the hide of this animal. When the skin is thicker 
than they require, they stretch it more than half its original 
size by means of contrivances which they have for that 
purpose. They made no use of the ivory, but exported it. 
'' I learned," says Azurara, "that in the Levant one of these 
bones was worth on an average a thousand dobras " — a 
remark which shows thsit his knowledge of the ivory trade 
extended only to the ports of the Mediterranean, and not to 
any exportation of that commodity from the coasts of Guinea. 
They presently came upon the father of the children, who 
was busy carpentering, and did not perceive them. 8tevam 
Affonso a})proached him stealthily, and springing on him 
clutched him by the hair, and as he himself was a little man 
and the African very tall, when the latter stood upright he 


lifted his assailant off his feet. Powerful as the negro was, 
he conld not rid himself of his antagonist, but tossed himself 
about like a bull that some fierce dog had seized by the ear. 
The Portuguese then came up and held his arms, intending 
to bind him, and Stevam Affonso, imagining that he was 
secured by the others, loosed his hold, but no sooner did the 
African find his head free than he shook off the others from 
his arms, and fled. He was much swifter of foot than the 
Portuguese, and soon plunged into a forest of underwood, 
and while the rest were trying to find him, he made his way 
to his hut in search of his children and of his weapon which 
he had left with them. The bereaved father was furious 
when he could not find them, and as he looked along the 
shore in search of them, he saw Vicente Dias walking 
towards him with nothing but a gaff in his hand. The 
enraged African fell upon him with his azagay and inflicted 
a severe wound on his face ; after which they closed in a 
deadly struggle. A negro youth came to the assistance of 
his friend, and obliged Dias to loose his hold ; but at the 
approach of the other Portuguese, the two negroes made 
their escape. 

The caravels now made their way to Cape Verde, and all 
reached it, excepting that of Eodrigueannes de Travacjos, 
who lost company, and whose adventures will be related 

Off the Cape they saw an island, on which they landed to 
see if it were inhabited, but found only a great number of 
long-eared goats, some of which they took for food. Having 
taken in water, they went on and found another island * in 
which they saw fresh goat skins and other things lying 
about, which showed that other caravels were in advance of 
them, a fact which was confirmed by their seeing carved 
on the trees the arms of Prince Henry and the words 
of his motto, "Talent de bien faire." They afterwards 
learned that the caravel which had preceded them was 
that of Joao Gonsalves Zarco, commander of the island 

* These were the Madeleine Islands off Cape Verde. 


of Madeira. The number of the natives on shore was so 
great that they had no chance of landing either by day or 
night ; but Gomes Pires, by way of trying to bring about 
some intercourse, placed on shore a ball, a mirror, and a 
sheet of paper on which was drawn a crucifix. These the 
negroes broke and destroyed as soon as they found them. 
The Portuguese now drew their bows on them, but they 
returned the compliment both with arrows and azagays. 
The arrows were not feathered and had no notch for the strinsr. 
They were short and made of reeds or canes Avith long iron 
heads, and some of the shafts were of charred wood. All 
their arrows, without exception, were tipped with vegetable 
poison. Each azagay had seven or eight barbed points. 
The poison used was very deadly. 

In that island in which Prince Henry's arms were found 
cut on the trees, they found many large trees of a very 
peculiar kind, and among them one which measured a 
hundred and eight palms round in the stem. The stem of 
this tree is not higher than a walnut tree, and with its fibre 
they make very good thread for sewing with, and it burns 
like flax, its fruit is like a gourd, and its kernels like chest- 
nuts. These they dried, and as they were in great quantity, 
Azurara supposed that it was used by them for food, when 
the season for the fresh fruit was over. Doubtless the tree 
was the baobab. 

From this point they made sail for Lagos, but Gomes 
Pires became separated from the other caravels, and on 
his way homewards, after taking water at Arguin, put in 
at the Eio d'Ouro, where some of the natives came to him 
and sold him a negro for five doubloons. They also gave 
him water from the camels, and meat, and in other respects 
gave him a good reception. Indeed, they were so confiding, 
that they came without hesitation on board his caravel, 
which he had rather they had not done. At length he 
managed to have them put on shore without the occurrence 
of any unpleasantness, and promised them that in July of 
the following year, he would return and treat further with 


them. He also laid in a good cargo of phoca skins, and 
tlien made his way home. 

After the others had departed, Lan^arote, Alvaro de 
Freitas, and Vicente Dias put in at the Bay of Arguin for 
water, and captm^ed more than sixty natives. Contented 
with this success, they returned together to Portugal. 

PallenQO, in company with Diniz Dias, after taking in water 
at the isle of Arguin, made for the land of the negroes. 
Having passed a good distance beyond the point of Santa 
Anna, one day when it was calm, Pallen^o proposed to send 
some of the men on shore to make a capture. After some 
discussion with Dias, who wished to go straight to Guinea, 
the men were sent on shore. There was a heavy surf in 
spite of the calm, but twelve who could swim well succeeded 
in landing through it and caj^turing six of the natives. 
"When they recommenced their voyage, the wind freshened, 
and Pallengo's pinnace beginning to leak, they were obliged 
to desert it. 

After Rodrigueannes de Travagos lost company of the 
other caravels on their way to Cape Verde, he joined 
Diniz Dias. They reached Cape Verde and went to the 
islands (the Madeleine Islands) to take in water, and 
found by the same traces that Lan^arote had found, that 
other vessels had been there before them. He observed on 
the island among the cattle there, two that seemed different 
from the rest, larger and not so tame, which he took to be 
buffaloes. They had a severe encounter with the natives, 
who far outnumbered them, but were routed at last, leaving 
one of their chiefs dead on the field. A young man of the 
Prince's household, named Martim Pereira, distinguished 
himself greatly. His shield was stuck full of arrows like a 
porcupine's back. After this encounter they returned to 
Portugal, stopping only at the Cabo de Tira, where they 
captured one man. 

Hitherto it has been seen how almost all these explorers 
had been intent on their own gains in addition to the Prince's 
service ; but Joao Gronsalves Zarco was an exception to this 


rule. He had fitted out a splendid caravel, and gave the com- 
mand of it to his nephew Alvaro Fernandes, who had been 
brought up in the Prince's household, with injunctions to 
forego all thought of gain, and not to land in the country 
of the Azanegues, but to proceed straight to the negro 
country, and make his way as far as he could with the view 
of bringing back some new information that should give 
pleasure to the Prince. The caravel was well victualled, had 
a crew well disposed for work, and Alvaro Fernandes was 
young and zealous. They proceeded as far as the Senegal, 
where they filled two pipes with water, one of which they 
afterwards took to Lisbon. They then passed Cape Verde 
and came to an island, where they landed and found some 
tame goats, without any one tending them, of which they 
took some for food. It was they who left those indications 
of the arms of the Prince, and his device and motto cut on 
the trees which were seen by Langarote and his companions, 
for this Alvaro Fernandes was the first who came there. 

They anchored about a third of a league from the Cape, 
hoping to communicate with the natives, though only by 
signs, for they had no interpreter. Two boats containing 
ten negroes put off from the shore and made straight for the 
ship, as if with peaceful intentions. As they approached 
they made signs asking for assurance of safety, which Avas 
given, and immediately five of them entered the caravel. 
Alvaro Fernandes received them with all possible kindness, 
gave them plenty to eat and drink, and showed them every 
attention in his power. They left with every sign of being 
greatly pleased. When, however, they reached the shore 
they encouraged other natives to make an attack, and six 
boats put out with thirty-iive or forty men in them prepared 
for fighting ; but they did not venture to come close to the 
caravel, but remained at a little distance. When Alvaro 
Fernandes saw this, he launched his boat on the opposite 
side of the caravel so as not to be seen by the negroes, 
ordered eight men into it, and waited for the negroes to 
come nearer. At length, one of the boats containing five 


powerful negroes, took courage to approach. "When Fernandcs 
observed that it was in such a position that his own boat 
could reach it before the others could bring help, he ordered 
his men to sally forth suddenl}'^ and row down upon them. 
From the great advantage they possessed in their mode of 
rowing, the Portuguese were speedily on the enemy, who 
being thus taken by surprise and having no hope of defend- 
ing themselves, threw themselves into the water, and the 
other boats pulled for the land. The Portuguese had great 
difficulty in catching them as they were swimming, for they 
dived like cormorants, so that they could get no hold of them. 
However, they took two and brought them on board. 

Alvaro Fernandes saw clearly that, after this, no advantage 
was to be gained by staying there. He therefore proceeded 
further south and reached a cape where there were many dry 
palm-trees without any branches, and to which he gave the 
name of Cabo dos Mastos (the Cape of the Masts). As they 
proceeded, Alvaro Fernandes sent out a boat with seven men 
to go along the shore, and, as they went, they lighted on four 
negroes sitting on the beach, who were out on a hunting 
expedition, and armed with bows. When these saw the 
Portuguese, they rose quickly and fled, not giving them- 
selves time to adjust their bows, and as they were naked, 
and had their hair short, the Portuguese could not catch 
them, but they took the bows and arrows, together with 
some wild boars which they had taken. Among the larger 
animals found there was the antelope, which on account 
of its tameness they would not kill. They now returned 
to the ship and sailed back to Madeira, and thence to Lisbon. 
There they found the Prince, who received them with very 
great favour, and showed especial honour to Zarco, who had 
thus at his o^vn expense set on foot an exploration which 
went further than any of the others that made the voyage 
to Guinea that year. 

It has already been stated that after the six caravels 
had sailed for Guinea, • two separated from them and 
turned northward, viz., that from Tavila, and the Pican^o. 



On their way they met with the caravel of Alvaro 
Grousalves de Atayde, the captain of which was one Joao 
de Castilha, going to Guinea, whom they dissuaded from 
that voyage, and induced him to join them in an expedition 
to the island of Palma. On reaching Gomera they were 
well received, and two chieftains of the island, named 
Bruco and Piste, after announcing themselves as grateful 
servants of Prince Henry, from whom they had received the 
most generous hospitality, declared their readiness to do 
anything to serve him. The Portuguese told them they 
were bound to the island of Palma for the purpose of 
capturing some of the natives, and a few of the chieftain's 
subjects would be of great use as guides and assistants, 
where both the country and the people's mode of fighting 
were alike unknown. Piste immediately offered to ac- 
company them, and to take as many Canarians as they 
pleased, and with this help they set sail for Palma, which 
they reached a little before daybreak. Unsuitable as the 
hour might seem, they immediately landed, and presently 
saw some of the natives fleeing, but, as they were starting 
in pursuit, one of the men suggested that they would have a 
better chance of taking some shepherds, chiefly boys and 
women, whom they saw keeping their sheep and goats 
among the rocks. These drove their flocks into a valley 
that was so deep and dangerous that it was a wonder that 
they could make their way at all. The islanders were 
naturally sure-footed to a wonderful degree, but several of 
them fell from the crags and were killed. The page Diogo 
Gonsalves, who had been the first to swim to the shore in 
the encounter near Tider, again distinguished himself. It 
was hard work for the Portuguese, for the Canarians hurled 
stones and lances with sharp horn points at them with great 
strength and precision. The contest ended in the capture 
of seventeen Canarians, men and women. One of the 
latter was of exti-aordinary size for a woman, and they said 
that she was the (|uecMi of a part of the island. In retiring 
to the boats with thoii' cnjiture they were closel}' followed 


by the Canarians, and were obliged to leave the greater part 
of the cattle that they had had so much trouble in taking. 

On their return to Gomera they thanked the island 
chieftain for the good service he had rendered them, and 
afterwards, when Piste, with some of the islanders, went to 
Portugal, they were so well received by the Prince that he 
and some of his followers remained for the rest of their lives. 

As Joiio de Castilha, the captain of the caravel of Alvaro 
Gilianez Datayde, had not reached Guinea as the others had 
done, and consequently had less booty than they to carry back 
to Portugal, he conceived the dastardly idea of capturing 
some of the Gomerans, in spite of the pledge of security. 
As it seemed too hideous a piece of treachery to seize any of 
those who had helped them so well, he removed to another 
port, where some twenty-one of the natives, trusting to the 
Portuguese, came on board the caravel and were straight- 
way carried to Portugal. When the Prince heard of it he 
was extremely angry, and had the Canarians brought to his 
house, and with rich presents sent them back to their own 

Alvaro Dornellas, after an unsuccessful attempt to make 
a capture in the Canary Islands, which resulted in his only 
taking two captives, remained at the islands, not caring to 
return to Lisbon without more booty. He sent Affonso Marta 
to Madeira to procure stores by the sale of the two Canarians. 
The weather prevented Marta making the island, and he 
was obliged to put in at Lisbon, where at that time was 
Joao Dornellas, squire to the King, and cousin to Alvaro. 
Joao had a joint interest in the caravel, and hearing of his 
cousin's difficulties, hastened to his assistance. Together 
they made a descent upon the island of Palma, having 
obtained help from the people of Gomera in the name of 
Prince Henry, and in a night attack, after a fierce encounter, 
took twenty captives. They returned to Gomera, where 
Alvaro had to remain, and his cousin left for Portugal. In tlie 
homeward passage such a dearth of victuals supervened that 
they were well-nigh compelled to eat some of their captives, 

T> o 

1 /w 


but happily, before they were driven to that extremit}', 
they reached the port of Tavila, in the kingdom of Algarve. 

It has been seen in a former chapter that the Norman, 
Jean de Bethencourt, retiring to France in 1406, had left his 
nephew, Maciot de Bethencourt, as governor-general of his 
conquests in the Canaries, comprising Lan9arote, Forte- 
ventura, and Ferro. Azurara gives the Christian population 
of these three islands in his time as follows : — In Lan9arote 
sixty men, in Forteventura eighty, and in Ferro twelve. 
They had their churches and priests. 

In the Pagan islands the numbers were, in Gromera* about 
seven hundred men, in Palma five hundred, in Teneriffe six 
thousand bearing arms, and in the Great Canary five thou- 
sand fighting men. These had never been conquered, but 
some of their people had been taken, who gave information 
respecting their customs. 

The Grreat Canary was ruled by two Kings and a Duke, 
who were elected, but the real governors of the island were 
an assembly of Knights, who were not to be less than 
one hundred and ninety, nor so many as two hundred, 
and whose numbers were filled up by election from the 
sons of their own class. The people were intelligent, 
but little worthy of trust ; they were very active and 
powerful. Their only weapons were a short club and 
the stones with which their country abounded, and which 
supplied them also with building materials. Most of them 
went entirely naked, but some wore petticoats of palm 
leaves. They made no account of the precious metals, but set 
a high value on iron, which they worked with stones and 
made into fishing-hooks ; they even used stones for shaving. 
They had abundance of sheep, pigs, and goats, and their 
infimts were generally suckled by the latter. They had 
wheat, but had not the skill to make bread, and ate the 
meal with meat and butter. They had plenty of figs, 
dragon's blood, and dates, but not of a good quality, and 

* Maciot attempted, with the assistance of some Castilians, to subdue the 
imaiid of (iDinora, Im! willunit success. 


some useful herbs. They held it an abomination to kill 
animals, and employed Christian captives as butchers when 
they could get them. They kindled fire by rubbing- one 
stick against another. They believed in a God who would 
reward and punish, and some of them called themselves 

The peo})le of Gomera Avere less civilized. They had no 
clothing, no houses. Their women were regarded almost as 
common property, for it was a breach of hospitality for a 
man not to offer his wife to a visitor by way of welcome. 
They made their sisters' sons their heirs. They had a few 
pigs and goats, but lived chiefly on milk, herbs, and roots, 
like the beasts ; they also ate filthy things, such as rats and 
vermin. They spent their time chiefly in singing and 
dancing, for they had to make no exertion to gain their 
livelihood. They believed in a God, but were not taught 
obedience to any law. The fighting men were seven 
hundred in number, over wdiom was a captain with certain 
other officers. 

In Tenerifle the people were much better off, and more 
civilized. They had plenty of wheat and vegetables, and 
abundance of pigs, sheep, and goats, and were dressed in 
skins. They had, however, no houses, but passed their 
lives in huts and caves. Their chief occupation was war, 
and they fought with lances of pine-wood, made like great 
darts, very sharp, and hardened in the hre. There were 
eight or nine tribes, each of which had two kings, one dead 
and one living, for they had the strange custom of kee2)ing 
the dead king unburied till his successor died and took his 
place : the body was then thrown into a pit. They were 
strong and active men, and had their own wives, and lived 
more like men than some of the other islanders. They 
believed in the existence of a God. 

The people of Palma had neither bread nor vegetables, 
but lived on mutton, milk, and herbs ; they did not even 
take the trouble to catch fish like the other islanders. They 
fought with spears like the men of Teneriffe, but pointed 


them witb sharp horn instead of iron, and at the other end 
they also put another piece of horn, but not so sharp as 
that at the point. They had some chiefs who were called 
Kings. They had no knowledge of God, nor any faith 

In 1414 the exactions and tyranny of Maciot de Bethen- 
court had caused Queen Catherine of Castile to send out 
three war caravels under the command of Pedro Barba de 
Campos, Lord of Castro Forte, to control him. Maciot^ 
although only Regent, for Jean de Bethencourt was still 
alive, ceded the islands to Barba and then sailed to Madeira, 
where he sold to Prince Henry these very islands of which 
he had just made cession to another, together with those 
which still remained to be conquered. Maciot subsequently 
sold them to the Spanish Count de Niebla. Pedro Barba 
de Campos sold them to Fernando Perez of Seville, and the 
latter again to the aforesaid Count de Niebla, who disposed 
of them to Guillem de las Casas, and the latter to his son-in- 
law Fernam Peraza. Meanwhile the legitimate proprietor, 
Jean de Bethencourt, left them by will to his brother 
Eeynaud. But as yet there still remained unconquered the 
Great Canary, Palma, Teneriffe, and the small islands about 
Lan9arote, and, in 1424, Prince Henry sent out a fleet 
under the command of Fernando de Castro, with two thou- 
sand five hundred infantry and a hundred and twenty horse, 
to effect the conquest of the whole of the islands ; but the 
expense entailed thereby, combined with the expostulations 
of the King of Castile, caused him to withdraw for a time 
from the undertaking. 

Subsequently, in the year 1446, he resumed his efforts at 
this conquest, but before taking any step he applied to his 
brother, Dom Pedro, who was then Eegent, to give him a 
charter prohibiting all Portuguese subjects from going to 
the Canary Islands, either for purposes of war or commerce, 
except by his orders. This charter was conceded, with a 
further grant of a fifth of all imports from those islands. 
The concession was made in consideration of the great 


expenses which tlie Prhice liad incurred. In the following- 
year, 1447, the Prince conferred the chief captaincy of the 
island of Lan(:;arote on Antam Gronsalves, who went out to 
enforce his claim ; but unfortunately, Azurara, from whom 
we derive this date, and who, as it was very near the period 
of his writing, would be little likely to be in error, fails to 
tell us the result of Gonsalves' expedition. If we were to 
follow^ Barros and the Spanish historians, the date of this 
expedition would be much earlier. Be this as it may, when 
in 1455 King Henry IV., of Castile, was married to 
Joanna, the youngest daughter of Dom Duarte, King of 
Portugal, Dom Martinho de Atayde, Count d'Atouguia, 
who escorted the Princess to Castile, received from King- 
Henry the Canary Islands as an honorary donation. De 
Atayde sold them to the Marques de Menesco, who again 
sold them to Dom Fernando, Prince Henry's nephew and 
adopted son. In 1460 Dom Fernando sent out a new ex- 
pedition under Diogo da Silva, but if we are to believe 
Viera y Clavijo, it was as unfortunate as its predecessors. 
But meanwhile, at the death of Fernam Peraza, his 
daughter liiez, who had married Diogo Garcia de Herrera, 
inherited her father's rights in the Canaries, and one of her 
daughters married Diogo da Silva. Still Spain maintained 
its claims, and it was not till 1479, when, on the 4th of 
September, the treaty of peace was signed at Alcapova, 
between Alfonso V., of Portugal, and Ferdinand and 
Isabella of Castile, that the disputes of the two nations on 
this point were settled. The sixth article of that treaty 
(Torre do Tombo, Gav. 17, Mac. 6, n. 16) provided that 
" the conquests from Cape Non to the Indies, with the seas 
and islands adjacent, should remain in possession of the 
Portuguese, but the Canaries and Granada should belong to 
the Castilians." 

Hitherto both the gains and the losses of the Portuguese 
in these various expeditions had been but small. Dangers 
had been surmounted and captures had been made, but it 
may be (Questioned whether the greed of gain alone would 


have kept alive the spirit of exploration, in the face of 
dangers which greatly outbalanced the profit secured to 
individual adventurers. To the far-sighted vision of Prince 
Henry, the results, though small and slowly conquered, 
were far more promising than to those whose object was 
immediate profit, and hence his resolution never wavered, 
his zeal in the prosecution of his purpose never flagged. 
It needed all that zeal, supported by his princely position, 
and the great weight of his personal authority, to induce 
men to prosecute yet further search through unknown seas 
for lands which, with no certainty of profit, might so easily 
ofi"er dangers entirely unanticipated. Such dangers were 
now to be encountered, and with disastrous result. 

In the year 1446, Nmio Tristam set sail in a caravel, by 
the Prince's command, to make explorations beyond the 
Cabo dos Mastos, which had been discovered by Alvaro 
Fernandes, and, being a resolute man, he passed some sixty 
leagues beyond Cape Verde, and reached what is now called 
the Rio Grrande. Anchoring at its mouth, he took two 
small boats with two-and-twenty men, intending to pull up 
the river in search of a village. The tide soon carried him 
up a considerable way beyond the bar, when he encountered 
twelve canoes containing some seventy or eighty negroes 
with bows in their hands, who, having seen the boat when 
it first entered the river, had assembled to meet him. As 
the tide rose, one of the native boats passed him, and 
landed its crew, who began discharging their arrows at the 
Portuguese. The others who remained in the boats came 
near, and also discharged their poisoned arrows at the new- 
comers. The Portuguese hastened back to reach the 
caravel, but before they got on board, four men were dead 
from the effect of the poison. They then made all haste to 
get out to sea, and were obliged to cut their cables and 
leave their anchors and boats behind, so fierce was the 
shower of arrows with which they were assailed. Of the 
two-aiid-twcnty that had set out, two only escaped, one 
named Andre Dias, and the other Alvaro da Costa, both 


squires of Prince Henr}", and natives of Evora. The other 
nineteen died, the poison being so subtle that the slightest 
wound touching the blood caused death. 

So perished the brave knight, Nuno Tristam, who would 
have coveted a more glorious death, and with him another 
knight named Joao Correa, and three other gentlemen of 
the Prince's household, named Duarte d'Olanda, Estevam 
d'Almeicla, and Diogo Machado. In all oue-and-twenty 
were killed, for two were struck in endeavouring to raise the 
anchors. Five only remained in the ship : a common sailor 
who knew little enough of the art of navigation ; a lad 
named Aii'es Tinoco, one of Prince Henry's grooms of the 
chamber, and who went out as scribe to the expedition : an 
African boy, one of the earliest captures in that country; 
and two little fellows who had been attached to the persons 
of some of the deceased adventurers. The pitiful position of 
this feeble crew on that inhospitable shore may be imagined. 
They naturally turned their hopes to the sailor, as the best 
navigator amongst them, but he freely confessed his want 
of skill. Aires Tinoco, however, had the good judgment to 
direct him to steer to the north with a little bearing to the 
east. For two months they knocked about without seeing 
land, at the end of which time they caught sight of an 
armed vessel, which terrified them considerably, for they 
feared it was a Moorish ship. It proved, however, to 
belong to a Gallician corsair, named Pero Falcom, who, to 
their great delight, told them that they were ofi' a place 
called Sines, on the coast of Portugal. They then lost no 
time in making for Lagos. The grief of the Prince at the 
melancholy story related by the boys was enhanced by the 
fact that nearly all that had perished had been brought up 
from childhood in his own household. He therefore made 
it a duty to take the wives and children of all. of them 
under his especial care and protection. 

In proportion as Nuiio Tristam had been unfortunate, 
good fortune seemed to await on Alvaro Fernandes, the 
nephew of Joao Gonsalves Zarco, commander of Madeira, 


for in that same year he returned to the coast of Gruinea, 
and passed a hundred leagues beyond Cape Verde. At some 
distance beyond the Cabo dos Mastos they landed and came 
to a village, the inhabitants of which showed a great in- 
clination to fight, and one of them came forward armed 
with an azagay. Seeing this Feruandes hurled his lance 
at him and struck him dead, upon which the rest took to 

On the next day they came to an estuary, where they saw 
some women. They took one about thirty years old with 
her child of about two, and a girl of fourteen. The woman 
was so strong that they could not force her to the boat, 
and they were afraid that the delay would bring the natives 
down upon them. At last they thought of taking the child 
to the boat, when the afi:ection of the mother caused her to 
follow without any difficulty. They next came to a river,* 
which they entered in a boat, and meeting four or five canoes 
full of negroes, had an encounter with them, in which Alvaro 
Fernandes received a wound from an arrow in his leg. As 
he was aware of the poison, he drew the arrow out instantly 
and bathed the wound with acid and oil, and afterwards 
anointed it well with theriackf as an antidote, and by dint 
of great care he recovered, but for some days was in great 
peril of his life. 

In spite of their captain being thus wounded, the caravel 
pushed on to the south and reached a point of sand in front 
of a great bay, where a boat was sent out to explore. As it 
approached the shore, some hundred and twent}^ negroes 
made their appearance, some armed with shields and azagays 
and others with bows, and when they reached the water-side 

* Barros says this river is now called Tabite. The Vicomtc dc Santarem 
identifies it with that laid do^^^l on the maps of Juan de la Cosa, and Joao Frcire 
as Rio do Lagos. 

t This now dLsused antidote, the name of which means treacle (Grxce), 
was a compound of a groat number of drugs with a basis of viper's flesh. It 
was held to be sovereign against the bites of venomous beasts. The name, which 
was given by Anchomachus, Nero's physician, doubtless arose from the preserva- 
tive nature of treacle against ])uti'id air and other deleterious agents. 


began to play and dance in the merriest fashion, but the 
boat's crew not feeling any particular wish, under tlie cir- 
cumstances, to share in their jollity, thought best to return 
to the ship. This was a hundred and ten leagues south of 
Cape Verde. But for the wound of Alvaro Fernandes they 
would have gone further. 

On their return they put in at Arguin, and afterwards at the 
Cabo do Resgate, where they fell in with that same Ahude 
Meimom who had kindly treated Joao Fernandes. Unfor- 
tunately they had no interpreter, but by signs they negotiated 
with him the exchange of a negress for some cloths, and 
if they had had a greater quantity, the Moors would gladly 
have made a larger traffic with them of the same kind. 
This caravel made more way to the south than any of 
its predecessors, and received as a reward for so doing two 
hundred doubloons, one hundred from the Regent Dom 
Pedro and another hundred from Prince Henry. 

These rewards encouraged many who would otherwise have 
been deterred from these explorations bythe sad fate of Nuno 
Tristam, and accordingly in this same year nine caravels were 
fitted out, the captains of which were Gil Eannes, who first 
passed Cape Boyador; Fernando Valarinho, who had distin- 
guished himself at Ceuta ; Stevam AfFonso, Louren^o Dias, 
Lom'engo d'Elvas and Joao Bernaldes, an esquire of the Bishop 
of Algarve, commanding a ship belonging to the bishop ; and 
three others, residents of Lagos. They first proceeded to 
Madeira to victual, where they were joined by two caravels, 
one belonging to Tristam Vaz, the commander of Machico, 
the other to Garcia Homem, son-in-law of Joao Gonsalves 
Zarco, commander of Funchal. Thence they sailed for 
Gomera, where they landed the Canary men who had been 
taken off by Joao de Castilha, and who returned very pleased 
with the treatment and presents which they had received 
from Prince Henry. But first they proposed to these 
Can^iry men to help them in making a capture at the island 
of Palma, and for the Prince's sake they would gladly have 
done so, but the plan was frustrated by the Palmarenes 


having been put on the alert by the arrival of the caravel of 
Louren^o Dias some days before. The Madeira vessels 
accordingly returned, as also did Gil Eannes, but the rest 
made their way to the Guinea coast, and passed sixty leagues 
beyond Cape Verde. 

Here they came to a river of great size [Rio Grande], 
which they entered with their caravels ; but the bishop's 
vessel stranded on a sand-bank and was lost, although the 
crew and contents were saved. While some of them were 
engaged on the salvage, Stevam Affonso and his brother 
followed some tracks that they lighted on, and found some 
plantations of cotton-trees and rice, and other trees of various 
kinds. The land around was hilly and had the appearance of 
loaves. They presently entered a thick wood, from which issued 
some natives armed with azagays and bows. Seven of the 
foremost of those who went to meet them were wounded, and 
of these five fell dead, two Portuguese and three foreigners. 
When Stevam Aifonso and the others saw the peril of their 
position, they retreated and escaped with great difficulty, for 
the natives were there in numbers. On reaching their ships, 
they determined to return. The}^ therefore proceeded to the 
island of Arguin to take water, and thence to the Oabo do 
Resgate, where, finding tracks of natives, and being un- 
willing to return without a capture, they followed them and 
succeeded in taking eight-and-forty, with whom they made 
their way to Portugal. 

Stevam Afi'onso only went to the island of Palma, where 
he took two women, a transaction which had like to have cost 
the lives of the whole party had not Diogo Gonsalves boldly 
snatched a crossbow from the hands of one of the Canary 
men, and quickly shot seven of them. One of these was a 
chieftain, as was known by his canying a palm branch in his 
hand. The rest, seeing tlieir leader Ml, surrendered. The 
party then returned in safety to Portugal. 

In this year (1446) Gomes Pires did not forget his promise 
to the Moors in the year before, that he would return to 
the Rio d'Ouro, and on his petition the Prince gave him 


two caravels, with twenty men, among whom was a youth 
of the Prince's household named Joao Gorizo, who had 
charge of the accounts of the receipts and expenditure 
which occurred in the Moorish trafhc. It was now the 
custom for all the vessels bound to the west coast of 
Africa to go first to Madeira to victual, and on their arrival 
Gromes Pires desired Gorizo to remain and take in the stores, 
while he proceeded straight in the smaller vessel to the 
Rio d'Ouro. The Moors not appearing near the entrance, 
he made for the head of the estuary, and anchored in a 
harbour named Porto da Caldeira, a name which does not 
survive in any existing maps, but appears to have been 
given by other Portuguese who had previously visited the 
estuary. Although he burned fires night and day on a hill 
near the harbour, it was three days before any Moors made 
their appearance. When they came, he proposed to them 
by his interpreters to barter cloth with them for Guinea 
slaves. They answered that they were not merchants nor 
were there any thereabouts, though inland there were 
traffickers in merchandise who had abundance of gold and 
Guinea slaves, but to reach the spot where they were would 
involve a very laborious journey. Gomes Pires requested 
the Moors to fetch these merchants, and gave them in 
advance a remuneration fo? their trouble. They pretended 
to go, but although he waited for them one-and-twenty days 
they never returned. Meanwhile Gorizo arrived with the 
other vessel, and they then set sail, and landing at different 
points within a range of only eleven leagues of coast 
with considerable toil and fatigue, contrived to capture 
seventy-nine Moors. As they had brought out a large 
quantity of salt for the purpose of salting the phoca skins in 
the event of their failing to make a better capture, they 
were compelled to discharge the salt in order to make 
stowage room for their caj)tives, and so they returned to 

" Up to that period, 1446," says Azurara, " there had 
been fifty-one caravels to these parts. These caravels went 


four hundred and fifty leagues beyond the Cape. It was 
found that that coast ran southward with many points, 
which the Prince caused to be added to the sailing chart, 
and it is to be observed that what was known for certain of 
the coast of the great sea was six* hundred leagues, which 
have been increased by these four hundred, and what had 
been shown upon the mappemonde with respect to this 
coast was not truth, for it had been only delineated at hap- 
hazard, but that which is now laid down on the charts is 
from ocular observation, as has been already shown." 

In the following year, 1447, in consequence of the failure 
in establishing friendly relations with the Moors at the Eio 
d'Ouro, where Gomes Pires made the capture just recorded. 
Prince Henry resolved to try if better success might be met 
with at Messa, a town in the province of Sus, in the empire 
of Marocco.f With this object he fitted out a caravel which 
he put under the command of Diogo Gil, a man who had 
already done good service against the Moors, both by sea 
and land. And at this time it happened to come to the 
Prince's knowledge that a Spanish merchant named Marcos 
Cisfontes had in his possession twenty-six Moors from that 
same place, the bargain for whose ransom had been already 
stipulated for in exchange for some negroes of Guinea. To 
turn the outward voyage to advantage, the Prince caused a 
proposal to be made to the merchant to carry out those 
Moors to Messa in the vessel which had been fitted out with 
that destination, with the understanding that he should 
receive in return a certain number of the negroes that were 
to be given in ransom. 

As may readily be supposed, this proposal was not made 
by the Prince for the sake of the trifling profit that would 
result from the transaction. He had a double object in 
view of a far higher kind. He not only wished to gain 
information respecting the mode of traffic in that country, 

* It should bo two humlred, evidently an error into which the peunian was 
led by adding iiieiitally the two to the four hundred. 

t Leo Al'ricanus says, liv. 2, that it was built by the early inhabitants of 


but his great anxiety, in accordance with the earnest piety 
which distinguished his whole life, was to rescue these 
negroes from heathenism, and confer on them the blessings 
of Christianity. The proposal was readily accepted, and 
Joiio Fernandes, the same who had lived seven months 
among the Moors at Arguin, accompanied the party, and 
on arriving volunteered to negotiate the ransom. He was 
so successful that he procured fifty-one negroes in exchange 
for eighteen of the Moors.* It so happened that while he 
was yet on shore there came on so strong a wind from the 
south that they were compelled to trip their anchor and 
sail for Portugal. They brought back with them for the 
Prince a lion, which he afterwards sent to Gal way by way 
of a present as a curiosity to an Englishman who lived 
there, and who had been formerly in his service. Joao 
Fernandes remained till another ship returned for him. 

In this same year also Antam Gonsalves returned to the 
Eio d'Ouro to try if it were possible to bring the Moors of 
that part to terms. He anchored at some distance within 
the estuary, and a number of Moors came to the shore, 
among whom was one who was evidently a chief. This 
man spoke assuringly to Gonsalves, but warned him not 
to trust the rest unless he were present. It happened 
once that while he was at a distance, the other Moors made 
a show of friendliness to the Portuguese, and Gonsalves, 
thinking the chief was among them, was about to land, 
but the boats no sooner neared the shore than the Moors 
attacked the Portuguese with their azagays, and, but lor 
the promptitude of Gonsalves, they would all have been 
slain. They managed, however, to effect their escape, but 
with one of their men so seriously wounded that he died 
in a few days. Another expedition to the Rio d'Ouro under 
the command of Jorge Gonsalves, in which he brought 
back a large quantity of oil and skins of sea-wolves, com- 
pleted the list of voyages in the year 1447. 

* This proves the influence that Joao Fei-nandes had acquired over the natives, 
no douht from his knowledge of Arabic. 


In January, 1448, the fame of these expeditions brought 
out to Portugal a nobleman of the household of the King of 
Denmark,* named Vallarte, who begged the Prince to grant 
hira a caravel to go to the land of the negroes. It was the 
kind of request that Prince Henry was always ready to listen 
to, and accordingly he had a caravel quickly fitted out to go 
to Cape Verde. To Vallarte he gave the principal command, 
but as he was a foreigner he sent with him one Fernando 
d'Affonso, not only to aid in the command of the vessel, but 
as a sort of ambassador to the king of the country. With 
them also went two natives of that country as interpreters, 
by whose means the Prince hoped that something might be 
done towards the conversion of the jjeople. The weather 
was so exceedingly adverse that it took them six months 
from the time they left Lisbon to reach the island of Palma, 
near Cape Verde. But as that was not their destination 
they proceeded further, and anchored at a place called by 
the natives Abram, where Vallarte went on shore with some 
others, and found a considerable number of negroes assem- 
bled. To these Vallarte proposed that as a guarantee for 
friendly intercourse they should give him one of their people 
in exchange for one of his. This was agreed to by the per- 
mission of Guitanye, the governor of the country. As soon 
as they had one of the negroes on board the caravel, Fer- 
nando d'Affonso told him that their object was to instruct 
him to inform his master that the Portuguese were servants 
of a great and mighty Prince of the west of Spain, f and were 
come by his command to treat for him with the great king 
of that country. The negro told them in reply, that the 
residence of their King Boor was six or seven days' journey 
off, and that the king was then at a great distance lighting 
against a rebel. 

* The king in question is called bj' Aziirara King of Denmark, Sweden, and 
Norway, and as on the death of King Christopher on the 6th of Jannar)', 1448, 
these three crowns were separated, we have proof both of the name of the 
sovereign referred to, and of the date of the occurrence. 

t The word Spain was fre(]uenlly used in those times for the wliole iicniusula. 

SENEGAMniA. 225 

Fernando still desiring- to treat with the king himself, the 
governor Guitanye, who seems to have been very friendly 
with the Portuguese, promised, after some delay, to send 
the message. During the absence of the governor, Vallarte 
ventured on shore with a boat's crew, and fell into an ambush 
of the natives, who attached them with their azagays to 
such effect that, of the whole number, only one saved him- 
self by swimming and returned to the ship. Of the end of 
the rest no news survived, except that the man who swam 
away declared that he only saw one killed, and the three or 
four times that he looked round as he was swimming, he 
always saw Vallarte sitting at the stern of the boat. But at 
the time that Azurara was writing his chronicle in 1448, 
some natives of that part came into Prince Henry's pos- 
session, who stated that in a fortress far in the interior, there 
had been four Christian prisoners, one of whom had died, 
but three were still alive, and these were supposed to be the 
remnants of the boat's crew. After this miserable adventure 
Fernando d'Affonso, not having even a boat remaining, re- 
turned to Portugal. 

The people of Lagos had gained too much experience of 
the west coast of Africa to be insensible of the value of its 
fisheries, and they obtained permission from the Prince, on 
payment of a royalty, to turn their knowledge to account in 
that respect. Off the Cabo dos Ruyvos they found a large 
abundance. After they had been there some days, and had 
taken a great quantity of fish, some of which they had 
dried, and the rest were drying, the Moors came down upon 
them, and they only narrowly escaped with two men 

In the course of the above explorations, to the period of 
Azurara's completing his chronicle, nine hundred and 
twenty-seven souls had been taken to Portugal. 




We left Dom Pedro on his return to Portugal in 1428. On 
the 13th of September in the same year he married Isabel, 
the eldest daughter of Don Jaime, second Count of Urgel, 
and of Isabel, Infanta of Aragon. After the death of King 
Joao, his brother, King Duarte, by a charter dated from 
Santarem, Nov. 6th, 1443, appointed him, conjointly with 
Prince Henry, guardian to his son the Infant Alfonso, heir- 
apparent to the throne. 

During the lifetime of Dom Duarte, Dom Pedro had had 
the misfortune not only of incurring the ill-will of Queen 
Leonora, but also of having to oppose, from a sense of duty 
to his country, the strong desire of his brothers, Prince 
Henry and Dom Fernando, to make the attack upon Tangier 
which ended so disastrously. But worse misfortunes than 
these were in store for him. If Dom Duarte by the virtues 
of his life had been unable to save his kingdom from mis- 
fortune, he left behind him a legacy which entailed upon it 
yet greater troubles. By his will he appointed his widow, 
Leonora, Regent during the minority of his son, Aflonso, 
who at the time of his father's death was but six years old. 
This arrangement was obnoxious to the peojile, not only 
because the Queen was a Castilian, and had moreover insti- 
gated the disastrous expedition to Tangier, but because her 
appointment set aside the claims of Dom Pedro and Prince 
Henry, who were in every respect far better fitted for so 


responsible a post. The more devoted and pruden t adherents 
of the Queen dissuaded her from assuming the Regency ; but 
their advice was overruled by those who insinuated that if 
the government were to fall into the hands of Dom Pedro, 
the king's life would be very insecure, inasmuch as the 
Prince was powerful and popular, and had sons on whose 
behalf he might aim at the crown. 

Meanwhile the funeral of King Duarte was to be solem- 
nized in the monastery of Batalha, and while awaiting at 
Thomar the arrival of those who were to be present at the 
ceremony, Dom Pedro availed himself of the presence of so 
large a number of grandees to suggest that, in consideration 
of the king's youth, and to remove all doubt as to the suc- 
cession, Alfonso's brother Fernando should be sworn here- 
ditary prince of the kingdom, until the King should have a 
son. The whole of the council approved of the proposition, 
and Dom Fernando was sworn heir-apparent, and thence 
forward bore the style and title of Prince of Portugal. 

On the 1st of Noveml)er, 1439, Dom Pedro was nominated 
Regent of the Kingdom by the States General of the 
Realm, to whom, and not to the King, the prerogative really 
belonged. In this high position he showed great prudence 
and justice, and materially assisted the labours of Prince 
Henry, but without lending his name to them. He was a 
great patron of literature, and instilled this taste into the 
young King and his own family. In spite, however, of all 
these excellencies, he was not destined to enjoy his dignities 
in peace. A disagreement with the Duke of Braganza about 
the office of High Constable, was the prelude to a long series 
of disputes, in which the latter, who was a great favourite 
with the people, on account of his having married the 
daughter of the Holy Constable, was frequently enabled to 
make his malice triumphant. 

On the ISth of February, 1445, Queen Leonora died, and, 
as has been supposed, by poison. In the following year at 
the age of fourteen Affonso attained his political majority, 
and the Regent accordingly resigned to him the sceptre ;it a 

Q 2 


convocation of the states of the kingdom, held at Lisbon 
for that purpose. The King requested his uncle still to direct 
the affairs of the kingdom in his name, feeling it to be a 
charge too responsible for his yet unpractised youth, and a 
proclamation to that effect enjoined entire obedience to the 
command of Dom Pedro. The King further declared that 
his betrothal with his uncle's daughter, which had taken 
place at Obidos during his minority, was entered upon at his 
own earnest desire, and he called upon the nobles and 
deputies present to confirm the marriage. 

Thus far well ; but the enemies of Dom Pedro, who did 
their best to frustrate his re-appointment as Regent, were 
the more embittered by their want of success. His bas- 
tard brother, the Count de Barcellos, now Duke of Braganza, 
with his son Alfonso, Count d'Ourem, spared no pains to 
prejudice the young King against his uncle, and at length 
they persuaded him to assume the reins of government 
himself. This Pedro willingly conceded, at the same time 
urging on the King the propriety of carrying into effect the 
contemplated marriage with his daughter. The King agreed 
to this without hesitation, but before the preparations for 
the marriage could be completed, at the instigation of the 
Prince's enemies, he demanded of him the surrender of the 
Kegency in advance of the stipulated period. To prevent 
ill-consequences the Prince again yielded, and in May, 1447, 
Alfonso established his Court at Santarem, and celebrated 
his marriage with Dom Pedro's daughter, though without 
the magnificence and rejoicings which the fiither of his 
bride would naturally have desired. The Duke of Braganza 
now sought to prejudice the people against Dom Pedro. 
With this object he expelled with insult all the adherents 
of the Prince from the offices which had been given them 
by the King, and placed guards in their vacant castles and 
houses, as though the King had alrciidy declared war against 
his uncle. Meanwhile the Prince was forbidden access to the 
King, and thus de})arred from the only means of defence open 
to him. The dangerous of his enemies was a young 


Portuguese of noble birth, named Berredes, who had retired 
from Rome with the rank of Pontifical Protonotary, by whoso 
machinations the King was induced to resolve upon the 
dismissal of his uncle from the Court. His design, how- 
ever, reached the ears of Uom Pedro, who wisely resolved 
to do voluntarily that which was about to be forced upon 
him. He therefore presented himself without any show of 
agitation before the King, and requested that, in considera- 
tion of his long and faithful services, he might be permitted 
to seek repose on his own estate, adding that, in any emer- 
gency, those services were at the King's disposal, as they had 
always been throughout his Regency. The King received 
with delight this proposition, which spared him the pain of 
giving his uncle a dismissal. He not only acceded to the 
Prince's request, but parted from him with expressions of 
affection and regret, and promised him faithfully to approve 
and confirm all that he had done during his Regency. 

Towards the end of July, Dom Pedro retired to Coimbra, 
but was pursued by his enemies with untiring malignity. 
And he soon found himself accused of nothing less than 
having caused the death of King Duarte, his sister-in-law 
Leonora, and his brother Joao. The apathy of those who 
might have befriended the Prince was as remarkable as the 
malignity of his enemies. There was one noble exception, 
however, in Alvaro Vaz de Almada, the Prince's sworn 
brother-in-arms. This gallant nobleman had, like Dom 
Pedro himself, travelled much in Europe, and had every- 
where been treated with great distinction. In England he had 
received the high honour of the Knighthood of the Garter. 
In Germany the Emperor had shown him especial marks of 
favour, and Charles VII., King of France, had conferred 
upon him the title of Count d'Avranches. In spite of the 
coldness shown him on account of his friendship for Dom 
Pedro, he became his warm and persevering advocate, and 
so powerful was his influence, that the King's evil coun- 
sellors thought it necessary to withdraw him to Cintra. 
A series of bitter persecutions followed, the Prince only 


opposing remonstrance to the injustice of his enemies. The 
strongholds which were in possession of his adherents were 
taken from them. His eldest son was deprived of the 
dignity of Constable, and the arms in the arsenal of Coimhra 
were demanded in the name of the King. Dom Pedro, 
whose only hope of obtaining justice lay in his nephew's 
learning the truth undistorted by his evil advisers, wrote 
several letters to the King by his confessor. It is supposed 
that the answers he received were not those dictated by 
the King, for they were written as a King would write to a 
rebellious subject, and he had always formerly written as a 
son to a father. 

Soon after this Dom Pedro received intelligence that the 
Duke of Braganza intended to pass through his domains 
without his permission, so that, if he submitted to this 
indignity, the stigma of cowardice would fall upon him; 
while, on the other hand, if he resented it, he would be 
accused of breaking the peace. The Prince resolved to go 
to Penella to stop the Duke's march, and as soon as the 
news reached Santarem, he was joined by many nobles of the 
court. Meanwhile, a message from the King reached the 
Prince, commanding him to return to Coimbra, and to offer 
no hindrance to the march of the Duke of Braganza. Dom 
Pedro replied, that if the Duke came peaceably, he would 
welcome him cordially, but if otherwise, his honom* as a 
prince forbade him to submit to so gross an indignity. He 
therefore ranged his troops in order of battle at Penella, and 
awaited the Duke. The latter, who by this time had reached 
Villarinho, did not believe that the Prince would dare to 
oppose the King's orders with so few troops, but when he 
found that such was the case, and that many of the knights 
of his suite, being secretly attached to Dom Pedro, were 
unwilling for the encounter, he resolved to secure his own 
safety, and escaped in the night accompanied by only two 
persons. The next morning, when the soldiers found that 
they were deserted by their leaders, they were seized with 
panic, and fled. The Duke rallied his troops with difflculty 


lit Covilliam, and found he had sustained considerable loss. 
lie now persuaded the King to declare war personally 
against his uncle. 

On his return to Coimbra, Dom Pedro received from 
Dona Isabel, his daughter, an intimation of the King's 
intention, which induced him to call a council to deliberate on 
his future plans. The course which he finally adopted was 
that proposed by the Count d'Avranches, viz., that they 
should march peaceably towards the King, and solicit an 
audience, and if that were denied, to die as gentlemen and 
soldiers. A few days after this, Dom Pedro and the Count 
d'Avranches, being sworn brothers in arms, made a vow 
to be together in death as they had been in life, and 
solemnly sealed the compact by a reception of the blessed 

Meanwhile, Doila Isabel had made a last despairing effort 
to preserve the peace between her husband and her father, to 
both of whom she was devotedly attached. By her tears and 
entreaties she had extorted from the King a promise to 
pardon her father, if he would consent to ask forgiveness, 
and had also succeeded in wringing that concession from the 
Prince. But the first burst of generosity having passed, 
Affonso contrived, by taking exceptions to certain portions 
of Dom Pedro's letter, to find a pretext for breaking his 
promise to the queen, and preparations for the war were 

On the 5th of May, 1449, the Infant left Coimbra with 
an army of one thousand horsemen and five thousand foot 
soldiers. At the convent of Batalha, Pedro visited the 
royal tomb, and gazed sadly at the open sepulchre prepared 
for him by his fiither, little thinking that the malice of his 
enemies would deprive him for a time of even this last 
resting-place. At Rio Mayor, five leagues from Santarem, 
he took counsel on his future conduct, and, contrary to the 
advice of most of his followers, decided to march against 
Lisbon, in the hope that his enemies would attack him 
before the arrival of the King, with whom he dreaded an 


hostile encounter. If tliey did not attack him he resolved 
to return to Coimbra. 

The King hearing of Dom Pedro's intentions, sent a 
division of troops to secure Lisbon, and set out in person from 
Santarem with an army of thirty thousand men, the largest 
army till then raised in Portugal. Dom Pedro selected a 
good position near Alfarrobeira, above the town of Alverca ; 
and awaited the King's army, which came up with him on 
the 20th of May. During the sharpshooting preliminary to 
the attack, a badly aimed missile from the Infant's camp 
struck the King's tent. The report spread that the King 
was hurt. This so roused the indignation of his soldiers, 
that they rushed with headlong fury on the enemy, who, 
unprepared for such an attack, yielded on all sides. The 
Prince, to inspire his soldiers with courage, leaped from his 
horse, and pressing upon the enemy dealt terror and death 
among them, till he fell, pierced by an arrow, and died 
shortly after. When the Count d'Avranches heard of his 
death, he threw himself into the conflict, and fought with 
desperation till, as it is reported of him, worn out with 
fighting, he sank down among the heaps of slain more con- 
quered by his own exertions than by the enemy. A soldier 
immediately cut off his head and carried it to the King, 
hoping thereby to merit the order of knighthood. The 
natural brother of the hero with difficulty obtained per- 
mission to bury the mutilated trunk on the field of battle. 
The body of the Infant remained all that daj on the field, 
and in the night some common soldiers carried it on a 
shield to a hut, where it remained for three days unburied.* 

After his death the enemies of the Infant sousrht in vain 
among his papers for proofs of guilt. His daughter Dona 
Isabel now became the object of his enemies' persecution, 
and they sought to persuade the King to put her away, but 
the prudence of her conduct at this trying juncture, and 

* In this battle perished Sir William Arnold, an Ensrlish knight, who had 
been Major Domo to Queen Philippa, and after her death had passed into the 
service of Dom Pedro. 


tlie affection which the King bore to her, prevented their 
wicked counsels from taking- effect. 

The courts of Europe were unanimous in reprobation of 
the King's conduct to his uncle. The Duke of Burgundy, 
and the Duchess Isabel, the sister of the unhappy Prince, 
sent an ecclesiastic of high standing to Portugal, who, in 
their name, severely reproved the King, and demanded that 
the body of Dom Pedro should either be buried in the tomb at 
Batalha destined for him by Dom Joao I., or delivered to him 
to convey to Burgundy, where it should receive honourable 
sepulture. Not wishing that his uncle's remains should be 
taken out of the kingdom, the King had them exhumed 
from the church of Alverca, where some common people had 
buried them under a staircase, and had them conveyed to 
the castle of Abrantes. The Burgundian priest insisted on 
the restoration of the children of Dom Pedro to their 
jiroperty and dignities. For some time the King refused 
out of consideration for the Duke of Braganza and the 
Count d'Ourem, but finally acceded to the demand, and 
further at the queen's request pardoned nearly all those who 
had fought for the Infant. 

In the same year, the Queen having given birth to a son, 
took advantage of the favourable disposition of the King at 
this event, to obtain his permission for the honourable 
burial of her father. Accordingly the remains of the Prince 
were accompanied to the tomb by a long train of ecclesiastics 
and nobles, headed by his brother Prince Henry, and were 
solemnly deposited in his tomb at Batalha. 

This was the last satisfaction enjoyed by Dona Isabel, and 
probably cost her her life, for immediately on her return to 
Evora with her husband from the funeral, she fell ill and 
died. Her sudden death was attributed by the people to 
poison administered by her father's enemies, who feared 
her influence over the King, which had just proved so 

The death of the Prince having removed the great o1)stacle 
to their ambition, his enemies persuaded the King 1o grant 


them the domains which, in order that the crown lands might 
not be alienated, the Regent had always steadfastly refused 
them. Thus the Duke of Braganza obtained the town of 
Guimaraens, and would have had Oporto but for the deter- 
mined oj^position of the inhabitants. 

So much was Dom Pedro honoured in Portugal, that in 
spite of the powerful faction raised up against him, there 
were yet many writers of his own time who dared to use 
their pens in his defence, while in the fifteenth and sixteenth 
centuries there were not wanting men like Camoens and 
Luis da Souza to sing his praises. And well did he deserve 
their advocacy, for not only was he a liberal patron to men 
of letters, but himself was an author and a poet of no mean 
capacity. It has been said that the first book ever printed 
in Portugal was a collection of " Coplas," or couplets, by 
him. There is no date or place of imprint in the earliest 
edition known to exist, but the learned academician Antonio 
Ribeiro dos Santos has conjectured the date of 1478. It 
was, however, brought out by a Spaniard, Antonio d'Urrea, 
and there is nothing to show that it was printed in 



1431— 146G. 

That tlie middle and eastern groups of the Azores, like the 
Madeira group, were discovered by Portuguese vessels, under 
Genoese pilotage, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, 
is proved by the simple fact, that the}^ also appear in the 
Laurentian map of 1351. The same facts which have 
enabled us to unfold the history of the discovery of the 
Madeira group, apply with equal force to the others. 

Although on the Laurentian map each island of the Azores 
has not a sej)arate name, the group is laid down with con- 
siderable accuracy for the period, the orientation only being 
at fault, and has collective designations, thus : — the two 
islands of San Miguel and Santa Maria are called " Insule 
de Cabrera ;" the islands of San Jorge, Fayal, and Pico, are 
called, " Inside de Vetitura sive de Colomhis" while Terceira 
is called, '•"Insula de Brazi." Subsequent charts, but 
anterior to the effective discovery of these islands in Prince 
Henry's time, show their names in detail, some being identical 
with those which they at present bear, and others remark- 
ably interesting as showing the observations or impressions 
which influenced the first discoverers in naming each island. 
At the same time they illustrate the application of the names 
on the Laurentian map. Thus, in the Catalan map of 1375, 
we have San Zorzo, the Catalan form of the present name of 
the island San Jorge, doubtless indicative of the discovery 
having been made on St. George's day. Fayal, which the 


Portuguese afterwards so called from its forests of beech 
trees, is here called Insula de la Ventura, implying its dis- 
covery by an accident. Terceira received the name of Insula 
de Brazil from the dyewood with which it abounded, thus 
preceding its famous namesake in South America by nearly 
two hundred years. The island of Pico would seem to have 
been frequented by wild ijigcons at the time of its discovery, 
since, on the Catalan map its bears the name of Li Columbi. 
Cabrera, or the island of goats, is a name which, on the map 
of Andrea Bianco of 1436, we find given to the island of St. 
Miguel. We thus get full explauation of what islands were 
indicated by the collective names which occur on theLauren- 
tianmap. The islands of Graciosa, Corvo, and Flores, are not 
laid down on that map, if we are to trust to the extract sup- 
plied to us by Count Baldelli Boni. Corvo had its present 
name given to it, on the Catalan map, under the form of 
Insula de Corvi Marini, and Flores was called Li Conigi, 
from which we must presume that it abounded in rabbits. 

It has been already seen that the discovery of the M adeha 
group, as exhibited on the Laurentian map, produced no 
beneficial results in the way of colonization. We have inci- 
dental evidence that the same, as might be expected, was 
the case with the Azores. Father Antonio Cordeyro, a native 
of Terceira, who, in his " Historia Insulana," supplies us 
with information derived from the early and still unpublished 
MS. History of the Discovery of the Azores, by Father 
Gasi)ar Fructuoso, a native of San Miguel, records a tradi- 
tion that, about the year 1370, a Greek Avas driven on the 
latter island by a tempest, and resolved on colonizing it, but 
failed in his first experiment. He brought back to the 
island a considerable quantity of cattle, but they soon died, 
and he gave up his project. 

There can be no doubt that the knowledge of the existence 
of the Azores, as laid down in the Laurentian map of 1351, 
was preserved on the map brought from Venice in 1428, by 
Dom Pedro, and enabled Prince Henry to give directions to 
his navigators for (he re-discovery of these islands. Thus, 

THK AZORKS. 2''^7 

we find on tlie Catalan map of Gabriel de Valscca, dated 
]48V>, the entire group laid down, aecompanied hy tlie I'ol- 
lowing significant legend : " These islands were found [not 
dhcoverecl] by Diego de Sevill, pilot of the King of Portugal, 
in the year mccccxxvii.," or mccccxxxii., according as one 
Tcmj read the last figure but two as a v or an x. 

As in 1439, the island of Santa Maria and the Formigas 
were all that had been re-discovered in Prince Henry's time, 
Valseca's word " found^' would imply the lighting on the 
group, which he was able geographically to depict from other 
sources. Of the two readings of the date of that discovery, 
I incline to think that the latter, 1432, is correct, inasmuch 
as, in 1431, Prince Henry had sent out Gonzalo Vellio 
Cabral, a gentleman of illustrious family, in search of these 
islands. He then discovered the Formigas only, but in the 
following year, on the 15th of August, the Feast of the 
Assumption, he fell in with the island which, on the Italian 
maps, had been named Uovo, or the Egg, and named it 
accordingly Santa Maria. In all probability Diego de Sevill, 
the King's pilot, menti(^ned in Valseca's map, was the pilot 
in this expedition. Prince Henrj^ resolved to colonize the 
island, and gave Cabral the rank of Captain Donatary, with 
full powers to collect, even from his own household, as many 
volunteers as he could, with all the requisites for that object. 
Cabral devoted three years to recruiting, and finally suc- 
ceeded in taking out to the island a great number of men of 
rank and fortune. 

Many years afterwards, a runaway negro slave, who had 
escaped to the highest mountain on the north of the island, 
perceived in the distance, on a clear day, another island, and 
he returned to his master with the news, which he hoped 
would secure him his pardon. After the fiict had been 
verified, intimation thereof was transmitted to Prince Henry, 
and as it tallied with the information afibrded by the ancient 
maps which he possessed, he commissioned Cabral, who 
happened at that time to be with him, to go in search of the 
new island. His first essay was fruitless, but the Prince 


showed him that he had passed between Santa Maria and the 
island he was in search of, and sent him out again. This 
time he was successful. Cordeiro states that he reached the 
island he sought on the <Sth of May, 1444, which being the 
day of the apparition of St. Michael, he named the island 
San Miguel. But Azurara tells us that Dom Pedro, who, 
with Prince Henry's acquiescence, interested himself much in 
the colonization of this island, gave it the name of San 
Miguel from his own peculiar devotion to that saint. 

The Prince gave Cabral the command of this second 
island, also with instructions to colonize it, and a year 
having been spent in the needful prej)arations, the explorer 
returned thither on the 29th of September, 1445. In the 
previous voyage he had taken out with him some Moors 
belonging to the Prince, for the purpose of tilling the soil, 
but on his return he found them in such a state of alarm 
from the earthquakes that were taking place in the island, 
that if only they had had a boat to escape in, they would 
certainly not have awaited his return. Moreover, the ship's 
pilot, who had accompanied him in both voyages, remarked, 
that, whereas in the former voyage he ,had seen a very lofty 
peak at the east end of the island and another at the west, 
that at the east only now remained. 

It was at this time that the name of Azores was first 
given to these two islands of Santa Maria and San Miguel, 
from the circumstance that the explorers had found azores, 
or hawks, there, or, what is more probable, kites, which 
they may have taken for hawks. Prince Henry subse- 
quently bestowed on the Order of Christ the tithes of the 
island, and one-half of the sugar revenues. 

The third island discovered in the Archipelago of the 
Azores, and on that account named Terceira or '' the third," 
would seem to have been sighted by some sailors, probabl}'' 
returning from Cape Verde to Portugal, whose names were 
not deemed of importance enough to be attached to the 
discovery. Nor is the date of the discovery known, but it 
occurred between the years 1444 and 1450, and on some 


festival especially dedicated to our Blessed Lord, since it at 
first received the name of the Island of Jesu Christo, and 
bore for its arms the Saviour on the Cross. 

The Flemings, however, claim for themselves the exclusive 
discovery, to which they give the date of 1445 as made by 
Josue van den Berge, a native of Bruges. This pretension 
is not corroborated, but rather disproved by contemporary 
evidence. Cordeiro has given us a copy of Prince Henry's 
grant of the Captaincy of the island on the 2nd of March, 
1450, to Jacques de Bruges, whom he describes as his 
servant, who had rendered him some services, but says 
nothing of the island having been discovered either by him 
or any one of his countrymen. The sole reason given by the 
Prince for making the grant was that Jacques came to him 
and stated, that as in the memory of man the Azores had 
been under the aggressive lordship of no one except himself, 
and as the Island of Jesu, the third of these islands, was 
entirely uninhabited, he begged permission to colonize it. 
As he had no legitimate sons and only two daughters, the 
Prince allowed the inheritance to descend to the female line. 
This unusual grant is readily explained by the fact that the 
new Captain Donatary was very rich, fitted out the arma- 
ment and requisites for this rather distant colonization at 
his own expense, was a good Catholic, had married a noble 
Portuguese lady, and in all probability had entered the 
Prince's service under the recommendation of his sister, the 
Duchess of Burgundy. 

The islands of San Jorge and Graciosa, being within sight 
of Terceira, soon became participators in the colonization 
which had been brought to the latter. The first colonizer of 
Graciosa was Vasco Gil Sodre, a Portuguese gentleman, 
who, while on service in Africa, hearing of the newly 
colonized island of Terceira, went thither with all his family, 
but soon passed over to Graciosa, where he was joined by 
one Duarte Barreto, who had married his sister, and who 
had come out with the rank of Captain Donatary of half of 
the island. This Barreto being afterwards carried off by 


some Spanish pirates, the Captaincy of the entire island fell 
into the hands of one Pedro Correa da Cunha, who had been 
Governor of the Island of Porto Santo during the minority 
of his wife's brother, the son of that Bartholomew Perestrello, 
whom Prince Henry had originally appointed Captain of that 

One of the companions of Jacques de Bruges, a wealthy 
and noble Fleming, named Willem van der Haagen, whose 
northern name sounded so harsh to Portuguese ears, that 
they translated it into Da Silveira, which means the same 
thing, viz., " Hedges " or " Underwood," took from Flanders, 
at his own cost, two ships, full of people and artisans of 
different kinds, to make a trial of the island of San Jorge. 
Selecting a point of the island which they called the Topo, 
he founded the city wdiich afterwards bore that name, but 
the sterility of the island at a later period made him remove 
to Fayal, which had been discovered in the interval. 

On what day or in what year the island of Fayal was 
discovered, or who was the discoverer, no research has ever 
succeeded in finding. There is no doubt that the first 
Captain Donatary was Jobst van Heurter, in Portuguese 
named Joz de Utra, Lord of Moerkerke in Flanders, 
father-in-law of the celebrated Martin Behaim, from a 
legend on whose famous globe, made in 1492, and still 
preserved in the ancestral house in Nuremburg, we gather 
the following statement respecting the bes tower of the 
Captaincy : — 

"The islands of the Azores were colonized in 14G6, when 
they were given by the King of Portugal, after much 
solicitation, to his sister Isabel, Duchess of Burgundy. A 
great war was at that time being carried on in Flanders, 
accompanied by severe famine, and the Duchess sent out to 
these islands a great number of men and women of all 
classes, with priests and everything requisite for the main- 
tenance of religious worship. She also sent out several 
vessels laden with materials for the cultivation of the soil 
and for building houses, and during ten years she continued 


to send out means of subsistence. In 1490 there were some 
thousands of souls there who had come out with the noLle 
knight, Job de Huerter, Lord of Moerkirchcn in Flanders, 
my dear father-in-law, to whom and his descendants tliese 
islands were gimn by the Duchess of Burgundy. In them 
grows the Portuguese sugar. There are two crops in the 
year, for there is no winter. All food is cheap, and there 
would be abundance of subsistence for a large jDopulation. In 
the year 1431, when Prince Pedro was Regent, two vessels 
were equipped with necessaries for two years by Prince 
Henry to go to the countries beyond Cape Finisterre, and sail- 
ing due west for some five hundred leagues discovered these 
ten islands, which they found uninhabited, and as there were 
neither quadrupeds nor men, the birds were so tame that 
they were not frightened, whence they called these islands the 
Azores.* In the following year by the King's orders six- 
teen vessels were sent out with various kinds of domestic 
animals, that they might breed on each of the islands." 

This account does not exactly tally with other documen- 
tary evidence. Father Cordeyro, in his '' Historia Insulana," 
writing on the spot with documents before him, and at a 
time when such documents would be by no means scarce, 
says nothing of any cession of these islands to the Duchess 
of Burgundy. His words on the subject run thus : — " Fayal 
being now in some degree colonized by Portuguese from the 
island of Terceira, St. Jorge, and Graciosa, the Royal 
jyeii'sonages thought of appointing some Captain Donatary 
of the island, in order to add to the wealth and dignity of 
the colony, and as there was then at Lisbon, in the service 
of the Royal personages, a Fleming of high birth named 
Joz d'Utra, thie King of Portugal made him CajAoAn Donatary 
of the island of Fayal, and gave him in marriage a lady 
of the court named Brites, of the ancient family of the 

* According to the Portugiiese historians the Formigas only -n-ere discovered 
in this year. It was uil432 that Gonsalo Velho Cabral landed at Santa Maria. 
The rest were, as we have seen, discovered later. It is equally plain that Behaim 
blunders about the origin of the name. 



Macedos." Barros says of him that " he was a native of 
Bruges, a large landholder, and had come out as a young man, 
hearing of the fame of the Portuguese discoveries, with the 
view of seeing the world and learning languages, as was the 
custom of young men of high family to do. WAen he had 
received his charter of temure he returned to Flanders, sold 
all his property, and emharked with a number of relatives 
and friends for Lisbon, whence he took his wife and esta- 
blished himself at Fayal, where he had several daughters, 
one of whom married Martin Behaim." 

There is in existence another piece of evidence wdiich 
prima, facie would place in yet another light than the preced- 
ing the question as to the first bestower of the commander- 
ship of the island of Fayal. This document is a judgment 
in a lawsuit respecting the succession to that commander- 
ship which still exists in the Torre do Tombo (Gaveta 15, 
Ma^o 16, No, 5), under date of 16th of September, 1571. 
The claim lay against the crown on the part of Jeronymo 
d'Utra Cortereal, whose allegation was that his grandfather 
Joz d'Utra, at the instance of Dom Fernando, Master of the 
Order of Christ, had come to colonize these islands, which 
belonged to that order, and that tlie commandership had been 
given to liim and his descendants, and afterwards confirmed by 
Don Manuel, and that, by the death of the first commander, 
the commandership devolved on his son Manuel d'Utra 

From these various statements, no doubt is left of the 
appointment, but in each it has been made to emanate from 
a different source ; in one from the Duchess of Burgundy, 
in another from the crown, and in the third from the Grand 
Master of the Order of Christ. The sum of the evidence 
seems to be that the grant was made by Prince Ferdinand, 
Grand Master of the Order of Christ, at the request of his 
aunt, the Duchess of Burgundy, and confirmed by the 

In this lawsuit a confusion is made between Jobst de 
Huerter, the first captain of the island, who married a 


Macedo, and his son, who bore the same name as liis father 
and married a Cortereal. It was the grandson of the hitter 
who instituted the proceeding's. All the details tend to 
confirm the statement of Behaim, on his globe, that the 
appointment was made in 14GG. 

The grant of the newly-discovered islands made by King 
Duarte to Prince Henry in 1433, was transmitted by bequest 
of the latter to his nephew and adopted son Dom Fernando, 
and confirmed by Alfonso V., by a charter dated at Evora, 
December 3rd, 1460. 

At the same time it is reasonable to infer that the extra- 
ordinary expenses incurred by the Duchess of Burgundy, 
De Huerter, and other Flemings in colonizing these islands, 
would secure to them privileges and powers that would give 
some show of plausibility to Behaim's statement, that the 
islands had been given by the King of Portugal to the 
Duchess of Burgundy. As to the discrepancy between 
Behaim's account and that of Cordeyro with respect to the 
islands being inhabited or not at the time of Huerter's 
appointment, if credit is to be given to each for a wish to be 
truthful to the best of his ability, the palm must rest with 
the former, as his father-in-law was in every sense the 
highest possible authority on the subject. 

Some years after Jobst de Huerter had undertaken the 
colonization of Fayal, he obtained the commission of the 
Captaincy of Pico, which island, though lying at only a 
league's distance from Fayal, is supposed not to have been 
discovered for many years later than it. This is quite 
possible, for we have seen that it was some time before the 
dark spot observed from the island of Porto Santo was 
made out to be the important island of Madeira, though only 
at one league distant. 

Equal obscurity rests on the date of discovery of the 
islands of Flores and Corvo, as well as on tlie discoverer. It 
is only known that they were first conceded to a lady of 
Lisbon, named Maria de Vilhena. When the Fleming 
Willem van der Ilaagen, alias Da Silveira, went from Sau 



Jorge to Fayal, it was by invitation from his compatriot Jobst 
van Huerter, who had been now four years established there, 
and promised to give him part of the island. It happened, 
however, that Silveira became so popular by his virtues and 
distinguished personal qualities, that Van Huerter, under the 
influence of jealousy, broke his promise under the pretence 
that the lands he had referred to had been already given 
away. Silveira thence passed to Terceira, where he grew 
great quantities of corn and woad for dying blue, which he 
exported to Flanders. Returning from a visit to his native 
country by way of Lisbon, he became the guest of Dona 
Maria de Vilhena, who proposed to him that he should go 
out and colonize her two islands of Flores and Corvo, and 
rule over them in her name. This offer he accepted, but 
after a trial of seven years, found himself a loser both in 
property and position ; he therefore once again betook him- 
self to his original locality at the Topo in the island of San 
Jorge, where he realized great wealth from his corn plan- 
tations, and became the ancestor of some of the most noble 
families in the Atlantic islands. 

A tradition which we look for in vain in any Portuguese 
or Spanish historical document of the fifteenth or six- 
teenth centuries, has been widely disseminated in almost 
every work which speaks of the discovery of America, to the 
effect that an equestrian statue pointing with its right hand 
to the west, was discovered by the Portuguese in the island 
of Corvo. A circumstantial account of it is given in the 
Epitome de las Ilistorias Portuguezas, by Manoel de 
Faria y Souza, published in Madrid, 1628. fol. He says: 
" On the summit of a mountain called Cuervo was found the 
statue of a man on horseback without saddle, bare-headed, 
the left hand on the horse's mane, the right pointing to 
the west. It stood on a slab of the same stone as itself ; 
beneath it, on a rock, were engraved some letters in an un- 
known language." M. Boid, who resided a long time in the 
Azores, speakhig of Corvo in his work entitled " Description 
of the Azores," London, 1835, 8°, explains how a natural 


phenonemon has given rise to this fable. He says, " Among 
a great number of absurdities dealt in by the poor and 
superstitious inhabitants, they gravely assert that the dis- 
covery of the New World is due to their island, because a 
promontory which stretches far into the sea towards the 
north-west, presents the form of a person with his hand 
stretched out towards the west." They say that " it was the 
will of Providence, that this promontory should have tliis 
extraordinary form in order to indicate to European navi- 
gators the existence of another world, and that Columbus 
understood and interpreted this sign, and threw himself 
into the career of Western discovery." We can thus un- 
derstand how the grotesque configuration of a volcanic rock 
should have given rise to a story of an equestrian statue, 
which learned men have not hesitated to attribute to Car- 
thaginians and Phoenicians, who, we know but too well, 
were very little inclined to point out the road of discovery 
to rival nations. 




We now reach the period of a very important voyage, made 
by a Venetian gentleman named Alvise Cadamosto, under 
the auspices of Prince Henry, and of which a detailed 
account by himself was published at Vicenza, in 1507, 4**^, 
under the title of " La Prima Navigazione per L'Oceano 
alle terre de^Negri della Bassa Ethiopia di Luigi Cadamosto." 
Cardinal Zurla tells us that the name of Cadamosto is 
synonymous with Casa or famiglia da Mosto, while Alvise 
is the Venetian form of Luigi or Louis, so that in Alvise or 
Luigi Cadamosto, we have what in its simpler form might 
be called Luigi da Mosto. His narrative has always been 
highly commended for the carefulness of its detail, but I 
shall have occasion hereafter to show that an account of a 
second voyage by him to the west coast of Africa is very far 
from deserving that credit. Messer Alvise Cadamosto, though 
only twenty-two years of age, had already made one voyage 
to Flanders on a trading expedition, and his object being, as 
he expressly declares, to acquire wealth, a knowledge of the 
world, and, if possible, fame, he determined to repeat his 
venture. On the 8th of August, 1454, he set sail in one of 
the galleys belonging to the Republic, under the command of 
a Venetian cavalier, named Marco Zeuo.* 

* The period of this voyaj^e has been variouslj' stated by various authors, but 
not only is the above date tliat which is stated in Ramusio, but its correctness 
is confirmed by a decree of tlie Venetian senate of the same date to the following 
effect : — " As on the last voyage, all three of the galleys went to Sluya, for which 


Contrary winds detained the vessel off Cape St. Vincent, 

near which Prince Henry happened to be at the time, at a 

village named Keposeira, which being a retired and quiet 

spot, well suited for his studies, was a favourite residence of 

his. Wlien the Prince heard of their arrival, he sent his 

own secretary, Antonio Gonsalves, and the Venetian consul, 

Patricio de' Conti, with samples of Madeira sugar, dragon's 

blood, and other products of the newly-discovered countries 

which he had colonized, and commissioned them to assure 

the Venetians that great things were to be done by those 

who would make the voyage. All this awakened in Cada- 

mosto a strong desire to go, and he inquired what conditions 

the Prince made with those who undertook the adventure. 

He was told that either the adventurers were to equip and 

freight a caravel at their own expense, and on their returji 

pay the Prince a fourth part of the produce, and retain the 

remainder themselves ; or the Prince would supply the 

caravel and furnish it with every necessary, in which case 

the adventurers were to retain only the half of the i)roduce, 

the Prince, in the event of failure, being at the expense of 

the entire outlay. Cadamosto was, however, assured that the 

voyage could scarcely fail of realizing great ])rofits. He 

then had an interview with the Prince, who received him 

with great kindness, confirmed all that had been told him, 

and easily persuaded him to undertake the voyage. 

Having made inquiry as to the nature and quantity of the 
merchandise and provisions he would require, he made the 
arrangements necessary for his new undertaking, and the 
Venetian galleys went on their way to Flanders. The Prince 
kept Cadamosto with him at Reposeira, till he had fitted out 
for him a new caravel of ninety tons burthen. The sailing- 
captain was Vicente Dias, of whom we have heard already. 

port all the merchandise was loaded to evade the duty of two per cent, on goods 
passing between Venice and England, — the captain of the Flanders gallej-s, 
" Ser" Marco Zcno, knight, is ordered to make inquiries as to goods of Venetian 
subjects unloaded in England, and to exact the two per cent." 

See Calendar of State Papers and MS. Brown. Lond. 186 i, vol. i. 1202- 
1509, page 79- 


They set sail on the 22nd of March, 1455, and at midday of 
the 25th reached the island of Porto Santo. 

Cadamosto states that this island had been discovered 
twenty-seven years before by the caravels of Prince Henry. 
He should have said thirty-seven, but it is probable that 
the former figure has been incorrectly transcribed. This 
difference of ten years may have had to do with the widely- 
accepted mistake that Cadamosto's first voyage took place 
ten years earlier than it really did. He found the island, 
which thirty-seven years before was uninhabited, tolerably 
well peopled, producing sufiicient wheat and oats for the use 
of the inhabitants, and abounding in cattle, wild boars, and 
rabbits, which last were innumerable. The island produced 
dragon's blood,* and excellent honey and wax ; the coast 
abounded in fish. 

They left Porto Santo on the 28th of March, and the same 
day arrived at Monchrico (doubtless Machico), one of the 
ports of Madeira, where they landed. Cadamosto relates 
how Prince Henry had, twenty-four years before, colonized 
this island, which till then had been uninhabited. He found 
four settlements on the island, one named Monchrico 
(Machico), another Santa Cruz, a third Funchal, and the 
fourth the " Camara dos Lobos.'^ There were inhabitants 
elsewhere, but these were the principal localities. The 
island could furnish about eight hundred armed men, and of 
that number one hundred mounted. Cadamosto describes 

* Dragon's blood is first mentioned in tlie account of the voyage of Jean de 
Bethencourt to the Canaries in 1402. The produce oi the Dracceiia Draco of the 
Canaries has ceased to be the dragon's blood of commerce. That which is now 
used as such is the produce of the Calamus Draco, and is imported from the 
islands of the Indian Archipelago. The famous dragon tree at Orotava at the 
foot of the Peak of Tencrittc, the trunk of which ten men can scarcely embrace, 
is said to have been almost as large when first found in 1402 as it is now. This 
tradition is rendered probable by the slow growth of the tree. Next to the 
baobab trees it is regarded as one of the oldest inhabitants of the eaith. The 
learned botanist Locluse (Clusius), "Rariomm Plantarum Ilistoria," lib. i. cap. 1, 
saw one of these trees in L5C4 at lisbon growing amongst some olives on a hill 
behind the monastery of Nossa Senhora de Gra^a, a tree which had doubtless 
been brought over from Porto Santo or the Canaries by a navigator who valued 
it as a curiosity mure thau the monks, by whom it was ignored and neglected. 


the fertility as so great that the island produced an average 
of thirty thousand Venetian stara or nearly seventy thou- 
sand bushels of wheat yearly. The soil had at first yielded 
sixty fold, but at the time of his visit only thirty or forty, 
because the land had become impoverished, although well 

On eight or more small rivers which intersected the island 
they had set up saw-mills, which were kept constantly at 
work in cutting wood for making furniture of various kinds, 
which was sent to Portugal and elsewhere. Two kinds of 
wood used for this purpose were held in great esteem : the 
one a fragrant cedar like cypress, of which they made tables 
of great length and breadth, boxes and other articles ; the 
other a yew, which was also very exquisite, and of a red 

The sugar canes, which the Prince had caused to be 
imported from Sicily, and planted in the island, were pro- 
ducing so abundantly that four hundred cantaros * of sugar 
were made at one boiling, and the climate was so favourable 
that the quantity was likely to increase. White sweetmeats 
were made in great perfection. Honey and wax were pro- 
duced, but in small quantities. The wines were extremely 
good, considering the infancy of the colony. Among the 
vines which the Prince had imported thither were those of 
Malvoisie from Candia, which flourished so luxuriantly, in 
consequence of the richness of the soil, that they bore as 
many grapes as leaves, in bunches two or three or even four 
palms in length, which Cadamosto declared was the most 
beautiful sight in the world. There were wild peacocks, 
some of which were white ; no partridges, or other game, 
except quails, and wild boars on the mountains in 
great abundance. There had been immense numbers of 
pigeons, and still a great many were to be found, which they 
caught by the neck with a kind of lasso, with a weight at 
the end, and though they pulled them down from the trees, 

* In Portugal the cantaro is the same as the alqueira, which contains about 
three galloaa. 

250 rniNCE bekry the navigator. 

the birds, having never been hunted, were not frightened. 
There were plenty of cattle on the island. Many of the 
inhabitants were wealthy, for the whole country was like a 
garden. There were Friars Minors of the Observantine 
order, men of good and holy life. 

From Madeira they sailed southward and came to the 
Canary Islands. Four of them, Langarote, Fuerteventura, 
Gomera, and Ferro, were inhabited by Christians ; the other 
three^ the Grand Canary, Teneriffe, and Palma, by pagans. 
The governor of the former was a knight named Herrera, a 
native of Seville, and a subject of the King of Spain. They 
had barley-bread, goats' flesh and milk in plenty, for goats 
were very numerous, but they had no wine nor corn, except 
what was imported, and the islands produced but little fruit. 
There were great numbers of wild asses, especially in the 
island of Ferro. Great quantities of orchil for dyeing were 
sent from these islands to Cadiz and Seville, and thence to 
other parts both east and west. The chief products were 
goats' leather, very good and strong, tallow, and excellent 
cheeses. The inhabitants of the four Christian islands spoke 
different languages, so that they could with difficulty under- 
stand each other. There were no fortified places in them, 
only villages ; but the inhabitants had retreats in the moun- 
tains, to which the passes were so difficult that they could 
not be taken except by a siege. 

Of the three islands inhabited by Pagans two were the 
largest and most populous of the group, viz., the Grand 
Canary, in which were about eight or nine thousand 
inhabitants, and Teneriffe, the largest of all, which con- 
tained from fourteen to fifteen thousand. Palma was not 
so well peopled, being smaller, but a very beautiful island. 
The Christians had never been able to subdue these 
three islands, as there were plenty of men of arms to 
defend them, and the mountain heights were difficult of 

Teneriffe, of whose Peak Cadamosto speaks as being- 
visible accordinfi: to some sailors' accounts at a distance of 


two hundred and fifty Italian miles, and sixty miles liii;li * 
from the foot to the siTmmit, was governed by nine chiefs, 
bearing the title of Dukes, who did not obtain the succession 
by inheritance, but by force. Their weapons were stones, 
and javelins pointed with sharpened horn instead of iron, 
and sometimes the wood itself hardened by fire till it wa^s 
as hard as iron itself. 

The inhabitants went nalvcd, except some few who wore 
goats' skins. They anointed their bodies with goats^ fat, 
mixed with the juice of certain herbs to harden their skins 
and defend them from cold, although the climate is mild. 
They also painted their bodies with the juice of herbs, green,, 
red, and yellow, producing beautiful devices, and in this 
manner showed their individual character, much as civilized 
people do by their style of dress. They were wonderfully 
strong and active, could take enormous leaps, and throw 
with great strength and skilL They dwelt in caverns in 
the mountains. Their food was barley, goats' flesh, and 
milk, which was plentiful. They had some fruits, chiefly 
figs, and the climate was so warm that they gathered in 
their harvest in March or April. They had no fixed religion, 
but some worshipped the sun, some the moon, and otheivs 
the planets, with various forms of idolatry. 

The women were not taken in common among them ; but 
each man might have as many wives as he liked. No 
maiden, however, was taken till she had passed a night with 
the chief, which was held as a very great honour. These 
accounts were had from Christians of the four islands, who 
would occasionally go to Teneriffe by night, and carry ofi' 
men and women, whom they sent to Spain to be sold as 
slaves. It sometimes happened that the Christians were 
captured in these expeditions, but the natives, instead of 
killing them, thought it sufficient i)unishment to make 
them l)utcher their goats, and skin them, and cut them 

* The i)crpendicular height is twelve thousand one Lundrod and eighty feet, 
but the distance in ascending from the foot to the summit may fairly be com- 
puted at sixty miles. 


up, an occupation which they looked upon as the most 
degrading that a man could be put to ; and at this work 
they kept them till they might be able to obtain their 

Another of their customs was, that when one of their 
chiefs came into possession of his estate, some one among 
them would offer himself to die in honour of the festival. On 
the day appointed, they assembled in a deep valley, when, 
after certain ceremonies had been performed, the self-devoted 
victim of this hideous custom threw himself from a great 
height into the valley, and was dashed to pieces. The chief 
was held bound in gratitude to do the victim great honour, 
and to reward his family with ample gifts. Cadamosto was 
told of this inhuman custom, not only by the natives, but 
also by Christians who had been kept prisoners in the island. 

Cadamosto visited the islands Gomera and Ferro, and 
also touched at Palma, but did not land, because he was 
anxious to continue his voyage. 

Sailing southwards, in a few days they reached Cape 
Branco, eight hundred and seventy (gay rather five hundred 
and seventy) miles from the Canaries, during one-third of 
which passage they were out of sight of land. They then 
steered for the coast, lest they might pass the Caj^e without 
seeing it. 

Cadamosto here observes that from the Straits of Gibraltar 
to Cape Cantin, no habitations were found, and between 
Cape Cantin and Cape Branco, the desert of Sahara begins, 
which on the north is bounded by the mountains, and on 
the south by the country of the blacks. 

This desert, he states, is fifty or sixty days' journey on 
horseback, in some ]i)laces more, in others less. It reaches 
to the sea-coast, where it is sandy, white, and arid, and is a 
perfect level as far as Cape Branco. This Cape was so 
called by the Portuguese, who first discovered it, on account 
of the whiteness of the santl, on wliich rliere was no sign of 
grass or of any vegetation whatever. The Cape itself is a 
veiy beautiful object when seen from the front, and forms a 

CADAMOST^. ■ 253 

triangle, whose three points are about a mile distant from 
each other. 

On all this coast they found abundance of fish. The Gulf 
of Arguin is very shallow throughout, and there are many 
shoals in it both of sand and rock. The currents are so very 
strong that they did not venture to sail except in the day- 
time, and then constantly heaving the lead, and going with 
the current. Two ships had already been wrecked on these 
shoals. Cape Branco is situated S.E. of Cape Cantin. 

Beyond Cape Branco was a place named Hoden, about 
six days' camel-journey inland. It was not enclosed with 
walls, but was a place of resort for the Arabs and caravans 
trading between Timbuctoo and other places belonging to 
the negroes, and the western parts of Barbary. The inhabi- 
tants of this place lived on dates and barley, which they had 
in abundance. Then- drink was camels' milk. They kept 
cow^s and goats, but no great number, as the soil was so 
barren, and their cattle were small compared with those of 
Venice. The people were Mahometans, and great enemies 
of Christianity. They had no settled habitations, but 
wandered continually over the deserts, travelling between 
the country of the negroes and the western parts of Barbary. 
They travelled in great numbers, with long trains of camels, 
conveying brass and silver and other things from Barbary to 
Timbuctoo, and the country of the Blacks, and bringing 
back in exchange gold and malaguette pepper. These 
people were tawny, and both sexes wore white dresses with 
red borders, without any linen under ; the men wore turbans 
like the Moors, and always went barefoot. Lions, leopards, 
and ostriches abounded in these deserts, the eggs of the 
latter Cadamosto found very good food. 

Prince Henry farmed out the trade of the island of 
Arguin for ten years in the following manner. None were 
to enter the gulf to trade with the Arabs who came to the 
coast excepting those who held a grant from him, and who 
were to be residents in the island, and have agents for that 
purpose. Their merchandise consisted of linen and woollen 


cloths, silver, alkhizeli or cloaks, carpets, &c., but especially 
wheat, which was eagerly sought after. In return the 
Arabs gave slaves brought from the lands of the negroes, 
and gold. 

The Prince consequently had a fort built in the island that 
this trade might be permanently established, and with this 
object the caravels of Portugal made a yearly voyage to this 
island. The Arabs had a great number of Barbary horses, 
which they took to the land of the negroes to barter for 
slaves, a good horse being often valued at twelve or fifteen 
slaves. They brought also Moorish fabrics of silk made in 
Granada and in Tunis, with silver and a variety of other 
things, for which they received in exchange a great number 
of slaves and a small quantity of gold. These they took to 
Hoden to divide. Part went to Barca, and thence to Sicily, 
and part to Tunis and the whole coast of Barbary. The 
rest were taken to Arguin and there sold to the licensed 
Portuguese traders, who purchased every year seven or 
eight hundred slaves to send to Portugal. Before the 
establishment of this traffic the Portuguese sent out every 
year four or more caravels to the Bay of Arguin, the crews 
of which attacked the fishing villages, and carried ofi' both 
men and women to sell in Portugal. They did the same all 
along the coast from Cape Branco to the Senegah 

The Azanegues are tawny, or rather dark brown. They 
inhabit the part of the coast beyond Cape Branco, and their 
district is bordered by that of the above-named Arabs of 
Hoden. Their food was dates, barley, and camels' milk, 
they also procured millet and beans from their neighbours 
the negroes, and thus sui)})orted life, for they required but 
very little. The Portuguese, as just stated, used to seize 
and sell them, as the best kind of slaves, but Cadamosto 
bears witness that for some time this had been prevented 
by Prince Henry, and the traffic confined to merchandise, 
because the Prince ho])ed that by kindness these people 
might be converted to Christianity. These Azanegues have 
a curious custom of covering their mouths with a piece of 


linen, which is first twisted round their heads, and the end 
left to hang- over their mouths ; they do this because 
they say that the mouth is an unseemly thing, from wliich 
bad odours are emitted, and therefore ought to be concealed. 
They have no chiefs among them, but any that are better 
off than the rest are treated with deference and obedience. 
They are a poor race, and the most lying, thievish, and 
treacherous people in the world. They are of middle height 
and thin ; they wear their black hair flowing down over 
their shoulders, and anoint it daily with fish oil, which 
causes a most offensive smell, but is looked upon as a great 
embellishment. They had never seen any Christians but 
the Portuguese. They thought the ships were great birds 
with white wings floating on the sea, then seeing them with 
the sails furled, they took them for fish ; some thought they 
were phantoms wandering through the night, which caused 
them great fear, the more so that they could not understand 
being attacked at different places at a great distance, within 
so short a time. 

About six days' journey from Hoden, there is a place 
named Tegazza (which signifies a chest of gold), whence 
rock-salt is obtained in great quantities, and carried 
by the Arabs and Azanegues on the backs of camels to 
Timbuctoo, and thence to Melli, in the empire of the 
negroes, where it is sold at two or three hundred mitigals* 
the load, in exchange for gold. The Melli country is very hot, 
and affords but poor sustenance for cattle ; the climate is bad 
even for the natives, and many who go with the caravans 
■ never return. From Tegazza to Timbuctoo is forty days' 
journey on horseback, and from Timbuctoo to Melli is thirty 
days'. In reply to inquiries about the consumption of salt, 
the natives said, that it was used in great quantities by the 
people who lived so near the equinox, as a purifier of 
blood, because the excessive heat caused disease for which 
the salt was a remedy. 

A curious account is given of the transport of the salt 

* The mitigal or miscal is equal to about a drachm and a half 


when the heat becomes too great to be endured by camels. 
It is then carried by negroes, who go in a long proces- 
sion, each with a large block on his head, and carrying in 
his hand a fork on which he rests the block when he is tired. 
In this way they reach a piece of water which Cadamosto 
supposed to be river, and here a singular traffic commences 
with another tribe of negroes. When the iirst party reach 
the water, they pile the salt in mounds, each marking his 
own pile. They then retire half a day's journey to give place 
to the purchasers, who will not be seen or spoken to ; these 
come in large boats as if from an island ; they examine the 
salt, and put a quantity of gold by the side of it, and then 
retire leaving the gold and the salt together. When they 
have left, the others return and take the gold, if they find it 
enough ; if not, they again withdraw. The purchasers come 
back, take the salt for which the gold has been accepted, 
and leave more gold with the remainder, if they think it 
worth more. And so the traffic goes on till they are 
mutually satisfied, without either party seeing the other. 
This was an ancient custom of which Cadamosto was 
informed by Arab and Azanegue merchants, on whose word 
he could rely. Cadamosto inquired of the same merchants 
why the Emperor of Melli, being a great and powerful lord, 
had not tried to discover who tliese people were. They 
replied, that not long ago the attempt had been made, and 
one of the blacks was captured in order to bring him before 
their own prince, but the man would not utter a word, either 
not understanding them, or resolving not to speak, nor would 
he touch any food, so that after four days he died. The 
chieftain was greatly vexed at the result, but those engaged 
in the capture were able to give him some account of these 
people, and told him that they were very black and well 
made, taller than themselves by a hand's breadth, and had 
the upper lip small like their own, but the under lip was 
large and red, showing the gums, so that it seemed to have 
blood oozing out of it. Their teeth were large, and they 
had two on each side of extraordinary size. Their eyes were 


black, and very open, which gave them a very fierce and 
savage look. After the capture and death of this negro, the 
others were so much offended, that for three years they 
bought no more salt, and when they returned, the blacks of 
Melli concluded that they found they could not exist with- 
out the salt, which kept then" lips from corrupting. This 
was all that Cadamosto had been able to learn on this sub- 
ject, but he believed it from the number and credibility of 
the witnesses. 

The gold taken to Melli was divided into three parts. The 
first was sent by caravan to a place called Cochia,* which is 
on the road to Syria and Cairo ; the two others to Tim- 
buctoo, whence the one was sent to Toet, and so to Tunis ; 
the other part to Hoden, and thence to Oran and Hona, in 
Barbary within the straits, and to Fez, Marocco, Arzilla, 
Saffi, and Messa without the straits. It was taken hence by 
Italian merchants, in exchange for a variety of merchandise. 
The greatest advantage which the Portuguese obtained from 
the country of the Azanegues was the gold which was yearly 
sent from Hoden to the island of Arguin, and which they 
got by barter with the negroes. 

The Azanegues used no coin, but in some of the inland 
towns the Arabs used cowries for small purchases ; these 
were brought from the Levant to Venice, and sent thence to 
Africa. The gold was sold by the mitigal, as in Barbary. 
The women were brown, and they had little petticoats or 
alkkizeli, which were brought from the country of the 
negroes, and some wore these alkhizeli without any other 
dress. Those who had the longest breasts were considered 
the most beautiful, and so anxious were they for this dis- 

* Kukia, or Kugha, the ancient capital of the Songhay empire. It must not 
be confounded ^v-ith G6gu, the present capital, for El Bekri,. besides Gogu, givfs 
an account of Kugha, but unfoitunately says nothing of its situation, except the 
distance of fifteen days from Ghanata, nor does he show its position with regard 
to Gogo. Kukia, lying at the veiy outset of the Egyptian caravan road, was 
inhabited exclusively by Mahometans, while all around were idolaters. It was 
the greatest market for gold in all Negroland, although the quality of the gnld 
brought to Audagost was better than that exported from Kukia. 

See Barth, " Travels in North and Central Africa," vol. iv. p. 583. 



tinction, that girls of seventeen or eighteen submitted to 
have a cord drawn tightly round each breast, so as to break 
them, and make them hang down ; and by frequently pulling 
these cords, they made them grow so long that they some- 
times reached the navel. These people were good horsemen, 
like the Moors, but they could not keep many horses, on 
account of the barrenness of the land and the great heat, 
and those they had did not live long. There were no rains, 
except in August, September, and October. The locusts, 
which were of a finger's length, and of a red and yellow 
colour, sometimes rose in the air in such numbers that for ten 
or twelve miles nothing else could be seen on the earth or in 
the air, and nothing remained undestroyed wherever they 
j)assed. These creatures came only once in three or four 
years, or the country would have become unfit for habitation. 
When Cadamosto was there, he saw numbers on the ships. 

He now came to the Senegal,* which he describes as more 
than a mile wide at the mouth, and deep. A little further 
on it has another entrance, and between the two there is an 
island which forms a cape, running into the sea ; there are 
sand-banks at each mouth, that extend about a mile from 
the shore. The flux and reflux of the tide extends more 
than sixty miles up the river, as Cadamosto learned from 
Portuguese who had ascended it in their caravels. In enter- 
ing the river it is necessary to go with the tide to avoitl 
the sand-banks at the mouth. It is three hundred and 
eighty miles from Cape Blanco ; the coast is sandy for twenty 
miles up the river, and was called the Anterote coast, and 
belonged to the Azanegues. 

Cadamosto was surprised to find so great a difference 
between the inhabitants on the two sides of the river. On 
the south side the people were very black, stout, and well 
made, and the country verdant, woody, and fertile ; while, 

* Cadamosto says that five years before his voyage, this river was diseovcred 
by three of Prinee Henry's caravels, and that a conimcrcial treaty was made 
with the blacks, so that in his time many ships went there. He is inaccurate 
in this statement. According to Azurara the Senegal was discovered in l-i45. 


on the north side, the men were thin, tawn)", and short, and 
the country dry and sterile. It was believed by some that 
this river was a branch of the Gihon, which rises in the 
terrestrial Paradise. The ancients named this branch Niger, 
and say that after watering- Ethiopia it runs westward, and 
dividing into several branches, falls into the ocean ; and 
that the Nile is another branch, which waters Egypt, and 
falls into the Mediterranean. 

The first kingdom of the negroes bears the same name as 
the river, the Senegal, and the people are called JalofFs. 
The country is quite flat as fiir as Cape Verde, which is the 
highest land on the whole coast, and is four hundred miles 
from Cape Branco. The kingdom of Senegal is bounded on 
the east by the country of Tukhusor, on the south by the 
kingdom of Gambra, on the west by the ocean, and on the 
north by the river. When Cadamosto was there, the King 
of Senegal was named Zucholin ; he was about twenty-two 
years of age. The succession was not hereditary, but the 
nobles chose a king from among their number, who remained 
on the throne as long as he pleased them. If they were dis- 
satisfied, they dethroned him by force, unless he had made 
himself powerful enough to resist them. 

The people were poor and ferocious ; they had no walled 
towns, only miserable villages, with houses covered with 
(hatch. They did not understand masonry, or brick-making. 
Tlie kingdom was very small, being only about two hundred 
miles square. The king had no fixed revenue, but the nobles 
made him presents of horses and cattle, and different kinds 
of vegetables and grains. The principal part of his wealth, 
however, was got by pillage. He carried off the neighbouring 
people for slaves ; some to cultivate the land, and some for 
sale to the Azanegues and Arab merchants, in exchange for 
horses and other merchandise, besides the traffic with the 
Christians, since the trade was opened with them. Each 
negro was allowed as many wives as he pleased. The king 
had never less than thirty, who were honoured according to 
the rank of their fathers. These wives were distributed by 



tens and twelves in different villages, where each had a 
house to herself, with women to wait upon her, and slaves 
to cultivate the land assigned her by her lord. They also 
had cows and goats, with slaves to keep them. When the 
king visited them, he took no provision with him for himself 
or his retinue. At sun-rising, each wife at the place where 
he arrived prepared for him food and delicacies, and after 
the king had stayed his appetite, the remainder was dis- 
tributed among his followers ; but they were so numerous, 
that there were always some left unsatisfied. The king 
travelled in this way from place to place, to visit all his 
Avives in succession, and in consequence his children were 
very numerous. As soon as he knew one of his wdves to be 
pregnant, he left her ; which custom was observed by all his 

These negroes professed Mahometanism, but were not so 
strict as the white Moors. The nobles having most inter- 
course with the Azanegues or Arabs, paid more attention 
to religion than the people, but since they had become 
acquainted with Christians, they had less respect for Ma- 

The common people wore nothing but goats' skins made 
in the shape of breeches. The nobles w^ore shirts of cotton, 
spun by the women. The width of the cloth was only a hands- 
breadth ; they did not know how to make it wider, and were 
obliged to sew several pieces together to make it the required 
width. These shirts reached half way down the thigh, and 
had wide sleeves which covered half the arm. Beside this 
they had hose of the same cloth, which reached from the 
waist to the instep, and were exceedingly broad, some of them 
containing thirty or even forty hands-breadths of cloth, which 
hung in many folds, like a sack in front, and dragged on 
the ground behind. The women wore nothing above the 
waist. Whether married or not, they had only a short petti- 
coat reaching from the waist to the middle of the leg. Both 
sexes went l)ai-e-foot, and wore nothing on their heads. Their 
hail- was well-dressed, and fastened up tastefully, though it 


was very short. The men worked like the women, at spin- 
ning-, washing, &c. 

The ch'mato is very hot, their January being warmer than 
April in Italy, and later in tlie season the heat becomes 
insupportable. It was the custom to wash three or four 
times a day, so that the people were extremely clean in their 
persons, but the reverse in their food. Though they were 
very stupid and awkward in matters that they were not 
accustomed to, they showed considerable skill in those they 
had been used to. They were great talkers and great liars, 
but so hospitable that the poorest would give food and 
lodging to strangers, looking for no reward. They were 
often at war among themselves or with their neighbours. 
They fought on foot, the heat preventing them from keeping- 
war horses. The same cause prevented their wearing armour. 
They used round shields, covered with the skin of an animal 
called the danta, which Avas very difficult to pierce. Their 
offensive arms were azagays, or light darts, having barbed 
iron points, which they threw with admirable skill, and 
inflicted very dangerous wounds ; and a kind of scimitar, 
which they got from the negroes of Gambra ; they had iron 
in their country, but did not know how to work it. They 
had also a kind of javelin. Their wars were very deadly, 
because, their bodies being unprotected, all their blows took 
effect. They were a bold and savage peoide, with no fear of 
death, which they infinitely preferred to flight. They knew 
nothing of navigation, and never saw a ship till the coming 
of the Portuguese.* Those who lived on the banks of the 
river, or on the sea-shore, had canoes made of one piece of 
wood, the largest of which could contain only three or four 
men, and which they used for fishing and other purposes. 
They were the finest swimmers in the world. 

After having passed the river Senegal, Cadamosto reached 
the country of Budomel, which is about fifty miles farther. 
Budomel was the title of the Prince, but it gave the name 

• 111 tills short sentence we have a summary disproval of the claims to prior 
exploration by the Genoese, Catalans and Frenchmen. 


to the country, as in Europe we should say the territory of 
such a Count or such a Lord. The country is flat all along 
the coast. Cadamosto, having heard that the Prince was a 
courteous and honourable man, stopped here. He had on 
board the caravel some Spanish horses, much valued by the 
negroes, linen cloths, Moorish silks, and other merchandise. 
Having anchored in the bay called the Palma de Budomel, 
he sent his interpreter on shore, to give notice of his arrival 
and make proposals of commerce. 

The following day the negro Prince appeared with a 
retinue of fifteen horse and a hundred and fifty foot soldiers. 
He invited the Portuguese to land, and Cadamosto came on 
shore in a sloop, and was very well received by the Prince, 
to whom he off'ered seven horses in harness, and other 
merchandise to the value of about three hundred ducats. 
The payment was to be made at the house of the Prince, 
which was twenty-five miles inland, and Cadamosto was 
invited to receive it himself, and to be the Prince's guest 
for some days. Before setting out Budomel presented him 
with a young girl twelve or thirteen years old, to serve, he 
said, in his cabin ; she was very black, and on that account 
was considered very beautiful. The Prince also furnished 
him with horses and all things necessary for the journey. 
When they were within four miles of his house he consigned 
him to the care of one of his nephews named Bisboror, the 
lord of a neighbouring village, who received him into his 
house and entertained him honourably. 

It was now November. Cadamosto remained there 
' twenty-eight days, and made frequent visits to the 
Prince, which gave him excellent opportunities of observ- 
ing the customs of the country. He had still more 
opportunity of doing this when he was obliged to return 
to Senegal by land ; the weather was so stormy that he 
could not return to. the ships without danger, and in 
consequence he sent them to the entrance of the river, ami 
made the journey himself on horseback. In order to com- 
nmuicatc with his caravel, and send orders to his men to 


meet liim at Senegal, he bad to put the swimming powers 
of the natives to the test. He says the vessel was three 
miles out at sea, and it appeared impossible to execute his 
commission on account of tlie violence of the waves break- 
ing on the sand-banks, but in spite of this the negroes were 
eager in oifering their services to carry his letter on board. 
He asked two of them what he should give them for the 
enterprise, and they only asked two mavulgies of tin apiece, 
the mavulgi being worth something less than a pcnnj'. " I 
cannot describe," says the author, " the difficulty they had 
to pass the sand-banks in so furious a sea. Sometimes I 
lost sight of them, and thought they were swallowed up by 
the waves. At last one of the two could no longer resist 
the force of the water, turned his back on the danger, and 
retm-ned to the shore. The other, more vigorous, after 
battling- for more than an hour with the wind and the 
waves, passed the Lank ; carried my letter to the ship, and 
brought me the answer. I dared hardly touch it, looking 
upon it as a wonderful and sacred thing. And thus I 
learned that the negroes of Budomel are the best swimmers 
in the world." 

The negro kings and nobles had neither cities nor forts, 
their richest habitations were but miserable villages. The 
Prince Budomel's authority depended chiefly on the respect 
the negroes had for his riches, so little was the subordina- 
tion to rank understood. Personal merit, strength, sense, ' 
justice, courage, and good looks also produced an efltect, and 
Budomel possessed these advantages. He had assigned to 
him, for himself and his wives, a certain number of villages, 
which he visited in succession. The one in which Cada- 
mosto stayed contained between forty and fifty houses 
covered with thatch, built close to each other in a round, 
encompassed by a ditch and screens of large trees, with 
two or three passages for entrance ; each house had an 
enclosed court. Budomel had nine wives in this place, and 
more or less in his other villages. Each wife had five or six 
voung girls for her service, with whom their lord was 


permitted to live as with his wives, who ditl not consider 
this an injuiy, as it was the custom. Jealousy was a 
common vice among them, and it was an insult to a negro 
to enter the house of his wife ; even his sons were excluded. 

Budomel had always about two hundred negroes in 
attendance upon his person, when one left, another supplying 
his place ; beside which there were always a number of people 
who came to attend his court. Between the entrance of his 
house and his own private apartment there were seven 
courts, and in the midst of each was a large tree, to shelter 
those who waited for an audience. In these courts his 
retinue were distributed, according to their rank and employ- 
ments ; those in the courts nearest the Prince being the 
most distinguished. Few, however, dared approach the 
person of the Prince ; the Azanegues and the Christians had 
almost the exclusive privilege of entering his apartment, 
and speaking to him. He maintained great state towards 
his subjects, and showed himself only for one hour in the 
morning, and again for a short time in the evening near the 
door of the outermost court. 

He required great ceremony when giving audiences to his 
subjects. However high the rank of a suitor, he had to 
take off his garments, with the exception of a covering 
round the middle, and when he entered the last court he 
threw himself on his knees, with his forehead on the earth, 
casting sand over his head and shoulders. Even the Prince's 
relatives were not exempt from these humiliations. The 
suppliant remained a long time in this posture, sprinkling 
himself with sand. He approached his lord on his knees, 
still throwing sand on his bowed head; when about two 
paces from him, he stopped and offered his petition. The 
reply was given as shortly as possible, and with scarcely a 
glance towards him. Cadamosto witnessed this scene 
several times, and accounts for the excess of submission by 
the excess of fear ; tlie negroes knew that their tyrants 
could carry off their wives juid children, and sell them for 
slaves at their pleasure, and they trembled before them, and 


feared them more than God himself, with wliose name 
indeed they were scarcely acquainted. 

Budomel was so gracious to Cadamosto, that he allowed 
liim to enter his mosque at the hour of prayer. The 
Azanegues and Arabs, who were his priests, were summoned 
to attend, and Budomel performed his orisons in the 
following manner. Standing up, he raised his eyes towards 
heaven, then walked forward two steps, uttered a few words 
in a low tone, and prostrated himself on the ground, which 
he kissed respectfully. In all this he was followed by the 
Azanegues and the rest of his retinue. He continued in 
prayer about half an hour, repeating the same ceremonies 
ten or twelve times. Having finished, he turned to Cada- 
mosto, asked him what he thought of it, and desired him to 
give him some idea of the Christian religion. Cadamosto 
had the courage to tell him, in the j)resence of the priests, 
that the Mahometan religion was false, and that the Catholic 
was the only true faith. This enraged the priests, but 
Budomel only laughed, and said that the Christian faith 
must be good, because God alone could have bestowed such 
riches and knowledge as we possess. He added that he 
thought the Mahometan religion was good also, and that the 
negroes must have a better chance of salvation than the 
Christians, because God being a just master, and having 
given the Christians so many advantages in this world that 
they had a paradise here, it followed that great compensation 
awaited the negroes in the next world, and they might 
expect their paradise there. Budomel showed much good 
sense and reflection in his remarks, and took pleasure in 
conversing about religion. Cadamosto thought he would 
easily have been induced to embrace Christianity, had he 
not been afraid of offending the j^eople. His nephew told 
Cadamosto this, and took great delight himself in conversing 
on the subject. 

The table of Budomel was supplied in the same manner 
as that of the King of Senegal. The negro nobles ate lying 
upon the ground, without ceremony, and no one might eat 


with them but the Moors, whom they looked upon as 
instructors. The common people ate in companies of ten 
or twelve, round a copper full of meat, in which they all put 
their hands. They ate little at a time, but had frequent 

The climate is so hot that they could not grow wheat, rye, 
barley,, oats, or vines, for there is no rain for nine months, 
that is, from October to June. However, they had millet, 
large and small, and two kinds of beans. The beans were 
very fine, both red and white. They sow in July to reap in 
September, as this is the rainy season when the rivers 
overflow and fertilise the land; and thus all the work of 
agriculture was done in the three months. They only planted 
as much as they thought necessary for the year, not caring 
to raise provisions for sale, as they were bad economists and 
very idle. Their method of cultivating the ground was for 
five or six to work in a field, and they used their swords for 
tools ; they scarcely dug four inches deep, but the rains 
made the land so fertile that it gave an abundant harvest. 

Their drinks were water, milk, and palm-wine, which was 
distilled from a tree found in abundance in the country, 
but not the same that produces the date, though it is 
like it. This wine, which was called mignol^ was distilled 
into calabashes from two or three openings in the trunk of 
the tree : from morning till night a tree would not fill more 
than two calabashes. This liquor had a good flavour, 
and without any mixture was as intoxicating as wine. 
Cadamosto says that the first day it was as good as the best 
European wine, but daily it lost its flavour, till it became 
sour. It was, however, more wholesome on the third or 
fourth day than the first ; for in losing some of its sweetness, 
it became purgative. It was not so abundant that all could 
have as much as they liked, but as the trees which produced 
it were spread through the fields and forests, every one ])ro- 
curcd what he could by his labour, and the nobles employed 
people to collect it for fliem. 

The land produced many kinds of fruit, differing more or 


less from those of Europe ; they were excellent growing 
wild, but might have been much improved by cultivation. 

The country was very fertile and woody, and abounding in 
small but very deep lakes, full of fish and water snakes, 
called calcatrici. There was a kind of oil used by the 
natives to flavour their food, the ingredients of which 
Cadamosto was unable to discover. It had the scent of 
violets, the taste of olives, and the colour of saffron. There 
was also a tree which produced little red beans, with black 
specks, in great abundance. 

The country abounded with animals, and there were a 
prodigious number of serpents, some venomous, and some so 
large that they would swallow a goat whole. Cadamosto 
was told by the negroes that these creatures went in great 
numbers to the mountainous parts of the country, which also 
abounded in white ants. The ants by a wonderful instinct 
build houses for these terrible neighbours with earth, which 
they carry in their mouths. The negroes being great magicians, 
had recourse to charms on all occasions, especially to defend 
themselves against serpents. Cadamosto relates an anec- 
dote which he had from a Genoese, a trustworthy man, who 
told him that the year before he had been in the country of 
Budomel and was staying in the house of his nephew 
Bisboror. Once at midnight he was awakened by hisses all 
round the house, and saw his host rise and give orders to 
two negroes to bring his camel. The Genoese asked where 
he was going so late, and was only told that he was going 
on business, and would soon return. He came back early in 
the morning, and the Genoese, curious to know the end of 
the adventure, renewed his questions. " Did you not hear 
at midnight," said Bisboror, "hissings all round the house? 
It was surrounded by serpents, and if I had not employed 
charms to make them return to their own place, they would 
have destroyed much cattle." The Genoese was greatly 
surprised, but Bisboror told him that his uncle could do much 
more wonderful things. When he wanted to obtain venom 
to poison his arrows, he had a large circle formed, into which 


he charmed all the serpents in the neighbourhood ; and when 
he had selected the most venomous, he killed them with his 
own hands, and let the others go. He then mixed their 
venom with the seed of a certain plant, which made a poison 
so powerful that a wound from a weapon dipped in it was 
fatal in a quarter of an hour. The Genoese added that 
Bisboror offered to show him some charms, but he had no 
taste for such things, and declined having anything to do 
with them. Cadamosto says that he believed in the negroes' 
power of charming serpents the more readily, because in 
Italy there were Christians who practised enchantments. 

There were no domestic animals nor sheej) in Senegal, but 
there were oxen, cows, and goats. The cattle were thinner 
than in Europe, and red was a rare colour among them, the 
usual colours being black, white, or a mixture of both. 
There were great numbers of beasts of prey ; lions, panthers, 
leopards, wolves, and other wild animals. The wild elephants 
went in herds ; they were of great size, as the tusks im- 
ported into Europe j)roved. 

Cadamosto saw no other beasts than those here mentioned, 
but there were a great number of birds, especially paroquets, 
which the negroes hated because they destroyed their millet 
and vegetables. They said that there were several kinds, 
but Cadamosto only saw two : one like those of Alexandria, 
but a little smaller; the other much larger, with brown 
heads, and the rest of the body mingled with green and 
yellow. He took many of both kinds, but lost a number of 
them on the voyage home. The caravel which accompanied 
him took a hundred and fifty more, which sold for half a 
ducat each in Portugal. These birds build their nests very 
cleverly : they collect a quantity of reeds and twigs, and 
make them into the shape of a ball, with a hole for the 
entrance ; these they hang from the slenderest branches 
they can find, as a protection from serpents, the weight of 
these creatures preventing them from attacking the nests in 
such a position. There were great numbers of the birds 
called in Europe Pharaoh's hens, which came from the East. 


They were dark birds, and marked with black and white spots. 
They had likewise other birds, very different from those in Italy. 

During Cadamosto's sojourn with Bisboror, he Avent to a 
market or fair, which was held on Thursday and Friday in 
a meadow near, and which was attended by numbers of both 
sexes from five or six miles round. Those who lived at a 
g-reater distance had other similar markets. The poverty of 
the people was shown by their merchandise, consisting of 
cotton in small quantities, nets and cotton cloths, vegetables, 
oil, millet, wooden bowls, and palm mats. Sometimes they 
brought a little gold, but m very small quantities. They 
had no money, and all the traffic was by barter. The people 
who came from the interior were very much astonished at 
the whiteness of Cadamosto's skin, and the fashion of his 
dress. He wore a Spanish dress of black damask ; his 
mantle, being of wool, greatly surprised them, as they have 
no wool in their country; and some of them rubbed his hands 
with saliva to find out if they were painted white. His 
object in going to these markets was to see if any quantity 
of gold was brought there. 

Horses were valued by the negroes in proportion to their 
rarity. The Arabs and Azanegues imported them from 
Barbary and the countries bordering upon Eurojie, but the 
extreme heat soon killed them ; besides, the beans and 
millet, which were their only food, made them so fat that it 
became a disease. A horse with its harness was worth from 
nine to fourteen slaves, according to its beauty. When a 
noble purchased a horse, he went to the sorcerers, who 
lighted a fire of dried herbs, over the smoke of which they 
held the horse's head by the bridle, and repeated their charms. 
They anointed him with the best oil, shut him up for eighteen 
or twenty days, so that no one might see him, and tied 
round his neck certain charms folded square, and covered 
with red leather, and having done this the master believed 
him to be secured from danger. 

The negro women were very gay, especially the young 
ones, and very fond of singing and dancing. Their time lor 


dancing was at night, by moonlight, and their dances were 
quite different from the Italian. 

Nothing caused so much astonishment to the natives as 
the discharges of artillery from the caravel. Cadamosto 
caused a cannon to be fired when some of the negroes were 
on board, the noise of which terrified them extremely, but 
they were still more frightened when they were told that one 
discharge of this dreadful machine would kill a hundred of 
them. After they had recovered from their fright, they 
declared that so destructive an engine could only be the work 
of the devil. They were greatly pleased with the sounds of 
the bagpipe, and thought it was an animal which sung the 
difierent tunes. Cadamosto, amused with their simplicity, 
placed the instrument in their hands, and when they saw 
that it really was a work of art, they thought it must be 
made by divine skill, for they had never heard such sweet 
sounds. The most simple instruments about the vessel 
excited their admiration, and they thought the eyes painted 
on the prow of the vessel were real eyes by wdiich it saw its 
w\ay through the water. They repeated incessantly that the 
Europeans must have much more skilful sorcerers than 
theirs, and little inferior to the devil himself, for travellers 
by land found it difficult enough to keep the right road 
from one place to another, while they, in their vessels, could 
find their way on the sea, however distant they might be 
from the land. 

Though the country abounded in honey, the negroes had 
no idea of making any use of the wax, and Cadamosto 
greatly surprised and delighted tliem by making some 
honeycomb, drained of tlie honey, into candles before their 
eyes. " The white people," they exclainicd, " know every- 
thing." They had two kinds of musical instruments — the 
one was a sort of Moorish drum, and the otlier a kind oi' 
violin with two strings, played witli (lie fingers," but there 
was little music to be got out of them. 

After this long sojourn in Budomel's country, Cadamosto 
resolved, having l)oiiglit some slaves, to proceed on his way 


to double Cape Verde, and make further discoveries. lie 
remembered to have heard from Prince Henry that beyond 
Senegal there was another river called the Gambia, from 
which a quantity of gold had already been brought, and tliat 
no one could go there without amassing great riches. With 
this inviting prospect he took leave of Budomel, and again 
set sail. One morning he came in sight of two vessels, 
which proved to belong, the one to Antonio Uso di Mare, a 
Genoese gentleman, and the other to some Portuguese in 
the service of Prince Henry. They were going together 
towards the coast of Africa, with the intention of passing 
Cape Verde and making new discoveries. Cadamosto, whose 
objects were the same, joined company; they sailed together 
towards the south, keeping sight of land, and the day fol- 
lowing they came to the Cape. The name of Cape Verde 
had been given the year before,* when jt was discovered by 
the Portuguese, because they found it covered with trees 
which never lost their verdure. It projects far into the sea, 
and has two small mountains at the point. In passino- thev 
could see many villages of the Senegal negroes, consisting' of 
thatched cottages. Above the Cape there are sand-banks, 
extending for half-a-mile into the sea. After doubling the 
Cape, the ships came upon three islands, filled with lar-^e 
trees ; they anchored at the largest, hoping to take in 
water, but they could find no spring. However, as there 
were quantities of birds'-nests and eggs, of an unknown 
species, they stayed there one day, which they spent in 
hunting and fishing. They took an incredible number of 
fish, among which were dentali and orate vecchie, which 
weighed twelve or fifteen pounds. 

This was in the month of June. The following day they con- 
tinued their course, always in sight of land. Beyond the Cape 
was a gulf; the coast was low, and covered with fine large 
trees, which were always green, the fresh leaves supplying the 
place of those that fell, without the trees ever becoming bare, 

* This error ^vill bo readily noticed bj- the reader, M-ho has seen tliat llie dis- 
covciy was made by Diuiz Bias in 1445. 


as in Europe. They grow so dose to the sea, that they seemed 
to be watered l)y it. The prospect was so beautiful that 
Cadamosto declared that he had never seen anything to 
compare to it. The land was watered by several small rivers, 
but as it was impossible for the vessels to enter, they could 
not take in water. 

Beyond the little gulf, the coast was peopled by two 
nations of negroes, the Barbacini and the Serreri, both 
independent of the King of Senegal. They had no dis- 
tinctions of rank among them, but only of riches and 
personal qualities. They were idolaters, lawless, and very 
cruel. They fought with poisoned arrows, the least scratch 
of which that fetched blood caused instant death. They 
were very black, and very well made. The country was full 
of wood, lakes, and rivers, and could only be approached 
through very narrow defiles, which had helped them to pre- 
serve their independence. The Kings of Senegal had often 
tried to conquer them, but had always been foiled by the 
difficulties of the country. 

Advancing along the coast with a favourable wind, they 
discovered the mouth of a river, about a bow shot in width and 
very shallow (the Joal ?). They gave it the name of Barbacins ; 
which name it bears in Cadamosto's chart. This river is 
sixty miles from Cape Verde. They continued to follow the 
coast all day, and at evening cast anchor four or five miles 
from shore ; in the morning they continued their course, 
taking care to keep a man at the mast-head, and two in the 
fbre part of the vessel, to keep watch for rocks and sand- 
banks. They arrived at the mouth of another river as large 
as the Senegal (the Joombas), which was so beautiful, with 
the trees growing down to the water's edge, that they deter- 
mined to send one of their negro interpreters on shore. 
Each ship had some on board whom they had brought from 
Portugal ; slaves that had been taken in the first voyages, 
who having learned the language, had come out as inter- 
preters with the promise that they should be made free. 
They drew lots to find which oi' the three ships should send 

CA1>.\M0ST0. 273 

to the shore, and it fell to that of the Genoese. lie 
(les[)atchecl an armed bnr(iuc, with orders to his people not to 
land till the interpreter had obtained information respecting' 
the government and riches of the country. They set him on 
shore, and when they had put oif to a little distance, saw 
several neirroes advance to meet him, who had been waitint-- 
in ambush. After some questioning, which the men in the 
boat could not hear, they attacked and killed him, before the 
others could come to his rescue. The boat returned to tlie 
ships with the news, and the commanders thinking that a 
people who had shown themselves so cruel to one of their 
own countrymen would be still more barbarous to strangers, 
continued their course along the coast, which increased in 
beauty and verdure the further they went, but was very flat 
and low. 

At length they came to the mouth of a very large river, 
at the narrowest part not less than three or four miles wide, 
and the ships could enter it with safety. The next day they 
learned that this was the much desired Gambia. They sent 
on the smallest caravel, well equipped with men and arms, 
to sound the river, and find out whether the larger vessels 
could follow. Finding that at the shallowest it was four feet 
deep, they resolved to send sloops well armed with the caravel, 
with instructions that if the negroes came to attack them, 
they were to return without fighting, because, their object 
being to establish commerce, they could only do this by 
gaining the confidence of the people. Two miles up the 
river the sloops found twelve and sixteen feet of water. The 
banks of the river were extremely beautiful and covered with 
magnificent trees, but, as they proceeded, it became so winding 
that they did not care to go further. On their way back, they 
saw, at the entrance of a small river which ran into the large 
one, three canoes made each of a single piece of wood. Though 
the men in the sloops were strong enough to defend themselves, 
they rowed back with great speed, in accordance with their 
orders, and when they reached the caravel and had got on board, 
they saw the blacks about a bow-shot behind. The negroes 



v/ere about twenty-five or thirty in number, and seemed 
much: surprised at the sight of the caravel. They stayed 
some time to satisfy their curiosity ; but made no reply to 
the signs made to them, and at last departed as they had 

The following day, at three in the morning, the two 
caravels which had remained at the mouth of the river, 
took advantage of wind and tide being in their favour, to 
enter the river and rejoin their companion. They had 
scarcely gone three or four miles, one after the other, when 
they perceived that they were followed by a great number of 
canoes, but could not understand where they came from. 
Seeing this, they turned upon the negroes, and a battle 
a|)pearing inevitable, covered themselves as well as they 
could as a protection against the poisoned arrows. The 
canoes surrounded the prow of Cadamosto's ship, which was 
in advance of the rest. There were fifteen of them, con- 
taining about a hundred and fifty negroes, all tall, well- 
made men. They had on shirts of white cotton, and white 
hats with a plume, which gave them a war-like air. At the 
prow of each canoe was a negro on the look-out, with a 
round shield that seemed made of leather. When close to 
the caravel, they remained with their oars raised, looking at 
it with admiration, till the other caravels came hastening 
up at the sight of danger. As soon as they came quite 
near, the negroes laid down their oars, and took to their 
bows, from which they discharged a heavy shower of arrows. 
The three caravels remained stationary, but fired oft' four 
cannon, which astonished the negroes so much that they 
threw down their bows, and looked on all sides in the 
greatest terror for the cause of so frightful a sound. W'lien 
the noise ceased they again took courage, and resumed their 
bows, coming within a stone's throw of the ships, and 
bearing the fire of the crossbow-men very bravely. One of 
ihem was killed by a shot from the son of the Genoese 
gentleman, but they continued their attack till a great 
number had been slain, without the loss of a single man on 


board the caravels. When the nej^roes l)ecame aware of 
their loss, and found their canoes likely to sink, the\v threw 
themselves on the smallest caravel, which was badly armed, 
and attacked it violently. Cadamosto seeing their intention, 
placed the smaller vessel between the other two, and gave 
orders for a general discharge of artillery. Though they 
took care not to fire on the canoes, the noise and the 
agitation of the water so terrified the negroes, that they fled 
in disorder. The three caravels were then made fast to each 
other, and by means of a single anchor remained as firm as 
a vessel in the greatest calm. 

During several days following, Cadamosto sought occa- 
sion to convince the natives that he had no intention of 
hurting them. The interpreters went on shore in a canoe, 
spoke to the people, and asked them why they attacked 
strangers who only wished to make conditions of peace 
and commerce with them, as they had already done with 
the people of Senegal, and who had come from a far 
distant land with presents from the King of Portugal to 
them. They asked the name of their country and river, and 
invited them to come to the vessels and make exchanges of 
merchandise, according to their own will and pleasure. To 
all this the negroes replied, that they had heard of the 
arrival of the white people at Senegal, and that they 
despised their neighbours of Senegal for entering into any 
treaty with the Christians, who, they believed, lived on 
human flesh, and only bought negroes to devour them. 
They declared their intention to kill the Christians if 
possible, and take their spoil to their sovereign, who was 
three days' journey inland. Their country was called 
Gambra, and the large river had a name which Cadamosto 
could not remember. The wind having risen, during this 
conference, the caravels took advantage of it to bear down 
upon the negroes, who escaped to the shore, and thus 
ended the encounter. 

The commanders then consulted whether they should sail 
furtlier up the river, in the hope of finding some more hos- 

T 2 


pitable people, but the sailors were so anxious to return 
home, that they declared they would not go on. The com- 
manders were obliged to submit, fearing a mutiny. On 
the following day they set out on their homeward voyage 
and sailed towards Cape Verde on their way to Portugal. 

All the time they remained at the mouth of the river, they 
saw the north star only once, when it seemed to be low down, 
about a span's length above the sea. They observed also 
six other stars about the same height — large, clear, and 
brilliant — which were placed thus * * * » * ^ and which 
they took for the southern chariot, but they did not see the 
23rii]cij)al star, not being far enough to the south to lose 
sight of the north star. In the same place they found the 
night to be eleven hours and a half on the first and second 
days of July. The heat was excessive^ though it was a little 
more temperate during the short time which the natives 
called winter, from the beginning of July to the end of 
October. During this time it rained every day ; the clouds 
rose in the north-east quarter east, or east-south-east, and 
the rain was accom^^anied by violent thunder. This was the 
time for planting and sowing as among tlie negroes of 
Senegal. Their food was milk, honey, and vegetables. 
Cadamosto was told that in the interior the heat was so 
great, that even the rain was very hot. There was no 
twilight as in Europe, but the darkness did not disapj)ear 
at once when the sun rose ; for about half an hour the sky 
was obscured as by a thick smoke. Cadamosto believed that 
the flatness of the country was the cause of the sun appear- 
ing,- so suddenly. 




In the present chapter will be given for the first time in the 
English language the correct statement of the discovery of 
the Cape Verde Islands, and that by their first discoverer. 
Hitherto we have had to content ourselves with the narrative 
transmitted to us by Cadamosto in his description of his 
own second voyage to the west coast of Africa, to which has 
been erroneously assigned the date of 1450. But it will l^e 
my duty first to show that that narrative is so full of errors, 
contradictions, and incoherences that we must look else- 
where for the truth ; and secondly, to produce from a hitherto 
imtranslated manuscript, recently discovered in Munich, the 
truth as related to us by the original discoverer. It is a 
happy circumstance that the details supplied by this latter 
document coincide with and confirm the careful corrective 
criticisms on Cadamosto's narrative, which had been made, 
in entire ignorance of the MS. in question, by a learned 
Portuguese writer in 1844.* 

But while one ancient document is thus introduced to 
correct another, it would be unjust alike to the authors of 
those documents and to the reader not to give their own 
statements as far as is consistent with the avoidance of 
prolixity. A verbatim rendering of such documents would 

* See " Ensaios sobre a statistica das possessoes Portuj^uesp.s," &c., por Jug^ 
Joaquim Lopes do Lima, Lisbon, 1844. Liv. i., part 2, cap. 1, page 4. 


weary most readers, but it is at the same time necessary 
that no substantive statement be omitted. The following, 
with such limited modification, is the narrative of Cada- 
mosto's second voyage. Of its date we shall speak hereafter. 


The next year Cadamosto, together with the Genoese 
gentleman, Uso di Mare, undertook a second voyage, with 
the view of following up his discoveries in the country of 
Gambra, which had been frustrated before by the barbarity 
of the natives and the opposition of the Portuguese sailors. 
Prince Henry warmly approved of the expedition, and 
fitted out a caravel in his own name to accompany them. 

The three ships set out from Lagos in the beginning 
of May, and the wind being favourable, they reached the 
Canaries in a few days, and without stopping went on to 
Cape Branco. When they had doubled the Cape they put 
out into the open sea, but the night following were surprised 
by a storm from the south-west, which carried them west- 
north-west during three days and two nights. 

The third day they discovered land, to their great joy, and 
two men being sent to the mast-head saw two large islands, 
at which there was great rejoicing, for they believed them to 
be hitherto unknown, and hoped to find them inhabited. 
They sailed towards them, and having found good anchorage, 
sent on shore a skiff with men well armed to explore, but 
they found no sign of habitation. The next day, to make 
quite sure, Cadamosto sent ten men, armed with crossbows, 
with orders to ascend a mountain and see if there were any 
sign of liabitation, or if there were any other islands within 
sight. They could see no dwellings of any kind, but found 
an immense number of pigeons, so tame that they could be 
taken by tlie hand. From the mountain they could see 
throe other islands, one toward the north, and two in a 
soutliward direction. Tliey thought they could see islands in 
the west, but so far oil' that they could not distinguish them, 


and Cadaniosto did not care to spend the time required 
to go to them, as he thought the)'' would be all alike wild and 
uninhabited. Afterwards others, attracted by the discovery 
of the four islands, went further and found ten islands of 
diiferent sizes, inhabited only by pigeons and other birds. 

The three caravels then weighed anchor and went to one 
of the other islands, which appeared covered with trees, and 
finding the mouth of a river, they anchored there in order 
to get water for the ships. Some of the sailors went up 
the river a good distance in the sloop, and found some 
small lakes of salt, fine and white, which they brought into 
the vessel in great quantity, and took some of the water, which 
seemed very good. They found many turtles, and put some 
of them in the caravels, the upper shells of which were larger 
than a shield. The sailors killed a great number, and dressed 
them in different ways, observing that they had formerly 
eaten them in the Gulf of Arguin, where there are some of 
the same sort, but not so large. Cadamosto tasted them, 
and found them very savoury. They salted a good number, 
which proved very useful in their voyage. At the mouth 
of the river and further up, they found fish in incredible 
numbers and great variety. The river is very broad, so that 
a ship of one hundred and fifty tons can get into it easily, 
being a bow-shot in breadth. 

They remained two days to refresh themselves, agreeing 
to name the first island they had found Boavista, because 
it was the first they had discovered. The larger one they 
named Santiago, because they came to anchor there on the 
feast of St. James and St. Philip. 

They again set sail and came in sight of land at a place 
called Spedegar, and followed the coast till they came to The 
two Palms, a place situated between Cape Verde and the Kiver 
Senegal. Without any further difficulty they proceeded on 
their way to the River Gambra, which they entered without 
interruption. They sailed on, sounding the river for about 
ten miles, the few negroes that they saw not daring to 
approach. They then anchored ona Sunday near an island, 


where they buried one of the saihjrs who had died of a fever, 
and as he was much beloved and lamented, they named the 
island after him, S. Andre. They now continued their course 
up the river, followed by some canoes at a distance. Cada- 
mosto sent interjDreters to them to tell them they might 
come on board in safety. The interpreters showed them 
stufi's and toys which had been brought for the purpose, and 
offered to give them some if they would come on board. 

At length overcoming their fears, they came to the 
caravel, and one of the negroes was able to talk with Cada- 
niosto's interpreter. They were very much astonished at every- 
tliing thiij saw on board the caravel, and especially with 
the sails, for they had only been accustomed to use oars. 
The dress and colour of the Europeans amazed them, their 
own dress being only a white cotton shirt. Cadamosto 
received them with great kindness, and asked them the name 
of their country and of their prince, to which they replied that 
their country was called Gambra, and that their prince was 
named Forosangoli ; that he lived about ten days' journey 
from the river, between the south and south-west ; that he 
was a vassal of the Emperor of Melli, who was chief of all the 
negroes ; that there were many other princes who lived 
nearer, and that if Cadamosto wished it, they would take 
him to one named Batti Mansa {i.e. King Batti, Mansa 
being the Mandingo for king). This offer was thankfully 
accepted, and the caravel proceeded up the river according 
to the direction of the negroes, till they reached the re- 
sidence of this prince, which Cadamosto believed to be 
about sixty miles from the river's mouth. It must be 
remarked, that tliey sailed up the river in an easterly direc- 
tion, and saw many tributaries wliicih flowed into it; the 
place wliere they anchored was much narrower than the 
mouth, being only about a mile in breadth. 

When they had cast anchor, Cadamosto sent one of the 

i nterpreters w'ith the negroes to Batti Mansa, bearing a 

very handsome IMoorisli di-ess as a present, and charged with 

a niessai;v to tlieelVcct (b;it ihev b;iil cdnu' iVoui tlu> Christian 


Kin<^ of Portugal, to make a treaty witli liim. The mes- 
sengers were favourably received by Inatti Mansa, who sent 
some of his people to the caravel. A treaty was made, and 
European goods were exchanged for slaves and gold, but the 
(jnantity of gold was not at all equal to the expectations 
raised by the accounts given by the people of Senegal, who 
being very poor themselves, thouglit their neighbours 
richer than they were. The negroes valued their gold as 
highly as the Portuguese did, but showed how much they 
admired the European trifles by their willingness to give 
a large price for them. The Portuguese remained there 
eleven days, during which many negroes came on board, 
some only from curiosity, others to sell their merchandise, 
cotron cloths, white and striped nets, gold rings, &c. They 
also brought baboons and marmots, civet and skins of the 
civet cat, all which they sold very cheap. An ounce of civet 
they would give for forty or fifty marchetti. Others brought 
fruits, especially dates, which the sailors found very good, 
but which Cadamosto would not touch, fearing they were not 

Every day the caravels were visited by negroes differing 
in race and language, both men and women, who came and 
went in their canoes with the utmost confidence. They 
only used oars and rowed standing, having always a second 
in the boat to steer with his oar. The oars were in the 
form of a half lance, between seven and eight feet long, 
with a round board like a trencher at the end ; with these 
they managed their canoes very skilfully, keeping close to 
the coast, not venturing far for fear of being taken by the 
neighbouring people and sold for slaves. 

At the end of eleven days, they resolved to return to the 
river's mouth, as fever began to show itself among them. 
Cadamosto had not failed to make his observations on the 
religion and customs of the people. They were generally 
idolaters, and superstitious with regard to charms and 
enchantments ; but they believed in a God, and there were 
some Mahometans among them, who travelled al)0ut, and 


traded with other countries. There was but little difference 
between the food of these people and that of the natives of 
Senega], except that they ate dogs' flesh, which Cadamosto 
had never seen done elsewhere. They dressed in cotton, which 
they had in abundance, while the natives of Senegal, whose 
cotton was scarce, often wore nothing at all. The women 
dressed like the men, but for ornament tattooed their skins 
when they were young with a hot needle. Tiie heat of the 
climate was extreme, and increased towards the south ; and 
was greater on the river than on the sea, on account of the 
great quantity of trees which grew on the banks and kept 
the air confined. As an instance of the size of these trees, 
Cadamosto mentions one which measured seventeen fathoms 
round ; the trunk was pierced and hollowed out in many 
places, but the foliage was green, and the branches spread 
out so as to afford an immense shade. There were others 
still larger, showing that the country was wonderfully fer- 
tile and well watered. 

There were great numbers of elephants, which the natives 
did not know how to tame. While the caravels were at 
anchor, these elephants came out of the neighbouring 
wood, down to the banks of the river. Some of the sailors 
got into the skiff, but before they could reach the bank, 
the elephants saw them and went back to the wood. These 
were the only living elephants that Cadamosto saw. A 
negro chief named Guumi Mansa, who lived near the 
mouth of the river, showed him a small one that he had 
killed after a hunt of two days. The negroes hunted on 
foot with bows and poisoned darts or javelins. They hid 
behind the trees, and sometimes climbed up into them, and 
from their hiding-places threw their poisoned weapons at 
the animals, leaping from tree to tree in pursuit, and the 
elephants being large and unwieldy were struck many 
times before they could escape or defend themselves. They 
never dared attack an elephant in the open country, 
for however active a man might be, he could not hope 
to ()ut)-un him. Hut the eh'phant never attacks a man 


unless in self-defence, for he is naturally gentle and 

The tusks of the little elephant which Cadamosto saw 
dead were not more than three palms long, one-third of the 
length being buried in the jaw; this showed it, was quite 
a young one, for the full-grown animals have tusks from ten 
to twelve palms long. Young as this one was, it had as 
much flesh as five or six oxen. The negro chief presented 
Cadamosto with the best part, and gave the rest to the 
hunters. Cadamosto's portion was taken to the caravel to 
be cooked, as he was curious to taste the flesh of an animal 
so new to him, but he found it hard and disagreeable ; how- 
ever, he had some salted to take home to Prince Henry on 
his return. He sent on board the caravel one of the feet 
and a part of the trunk, with some of the skin, which was 
black and very coarse ; all of which with the salted flesh 
he presented to the Prince, who received them as great 

This chief also gave him another elephant's foot, 
which measured three palms and a finger each way, and 
a tooth twelve palms in length, which were afterwards 
presented by the Prince to his sister the Duchess of 

In the river Gambra and other rivers of the country, 
besides the serpents called " calcatrici,'^ and other ani- 
mals, Cadamosto saw the horse-fish (the hippopotamus), 
which he thus describes : " It is amphibious, and its body 
is as large as that of a cow, with very short legs and its feet 
cloven ; the head is large, and like that of a horse. It has 
two tusks like those of the wild boar, some two palms and 
a half long. It comes out of the water, and walks like 
other quadrupeds." Cadamosto says that it had not been 
seen by Christians before, except on the banks of the Nile. 
He saw also bats three palms long or more, a number of 
birds, different from those of Europe, and a multitude of 
fishes, also differing from the European, but almost all very 
<j:ood to eat. 


The sickness of tlie men now compelled them to leave the 
country of Batti Mansa. They descended the river, and 
being- well-furnished with provisions, determined to go 
further along the coast. The current of the Gambra 
carried them far beyond the mouth of the river, and the 
land stretched south-south-west, in the form of a cape (Cape 
St. Mary), They therefore stood out well to sea, but found 
the point of land was no cape to speak of, for the shore was 
quite straight beyond it. But as they saw breakers at four 
miles distance, they kept out to sea, to escape the sand- 
banks and rocks, and two men continued on the look-out, 
one at the prow, and one at the mast-head. Besides which 
they only sailed by day and cast anchor at night. To av(nd 
disputes, they every day cast lots which caravel should go 
first, and in this way they coasted along two days. On the 
tliird, they discovered the mouth of a river, half a mile 
wide, and towards evening they saw a little gulf, which had 
been taken for another river, but as it was late they cast 

The next morning they sailed on, and came to the mouth 
of a very large river, but somewhat smaller than the river 
Gambra, the banks of which were covered with trees of 
extraordinary size and beauty. They sent on shore two 
armed sloops, with interpreters, to reconnoitre, and they 
returned with the information that the river was called 
Casa Mansa, from the name of a negro chief, who resided 
thirty miles up the river and was then at war with a neigh- 
bouring chief. They departed the following day. The 
distance from the river Gambra was about a hundred 

They continued their course, following the coast, till they 
came to a cape about twenty miles further on, to which they 
gave the name of Capo Roxo, from the red colour of the 
earth. They next came to the mouth of a i-iver, about a 
bow-shot in width, which they did not enter, but gave it the 
name of llio de Santa Anna (the Cneheo). Further on they 
found anotlu'r river of the same size, which they named 


S. Domingo (the Rio de Jatte), which was about fifty-five 
or sixty miles from Cnpe Roxo. 

A day's journey beyond, they came to the mouth of a 
river, so wide that they thought it was a gulf; they were 
some time crossing, for it was twenty miles over. The south 
bank was covered with beautiful trees, and when they 
arrived there, they discovered some islands out at sea. They 
then cast anchor, resolving to gain more information before 
they went on. The following day two canoes approached 
the caravels, the largest containing about thirty negroes, 
and the other sixteen. All on board the caravels took to 
their arms, expecting an attack, but the negroes raised a 
piece of white linen fastened to an oar, in sign of peace. 
The Portuguese replied in the same manner, and the negroes 
came on board Cadamosto's caravel, where they showed great 
surprise at everything they saw, for all was new to them, 
the whiteness of the men, the form of the vessel, the masts, 
the sails, and cordage, &c. It was a great disappointment 
to find that the interpreters were no longer of use, for they 
did not understand the lano-uao-e of the natives. This 
induced Cadamosto to think of turning back, as they could 
not get any further information, and to this the other com- 
manders agreed. During their stay, which lasted two days, 
one of the negroes gave bracelets of gold in exchange for other 
things, without speaking a word, only making use of signs. 

They named the river. Bio Grande.* The north star 
appeared to them very low. They also found that the tides 
were difierent here from anything they had observed in 
other countries. Instead of the flux and reflux being six 
hours each, as at Venice and other countries of Europe, the 
tide here rose in four hours, and took eight to subside ; 
and so great was the impetuosity of the tide, that three 
anchors scarcely sufficed to keep each caravel steady, and 
they set sail with great danger, for the force of the sea was 
greater than that of the wind, though all the sails were set. 

* From the extreme breadth of its mouth this would seem to be the river 


In returning to Portugal, Cadamosto visited two large 
islands and some small ones, which they saw about thirty 
miles from the main land. The large islands were inhabited 
by negroes, the land was low and covered with fine trees, but 
the language of the people was unknown to the interpreters, 
so they made a very short stay, and steered homewards, 
arriving safely in Portugal after a good voyage. 

Now it will not be difficult to prove from the very words 
of the foregoing document, the utter impossibility of its own 
correctness as to the details of the asserted discovery of the 
Cape Verde Islands, while the incorrectness of the date can 
be demonstrated from other data. Cadamosto says, that 
he sailed from Lagos in the beginning of the month of May ; 
then went to the Canary Islands, thence proceeded to Cape 
Branco, off which he was assailed at night by a furious storm 
from the south-west. It went on increasing, and for two 
nights the ship was driven in a west-north-west direction, 
when on the third day they sighted two large islands, on 
one of which they landed and named it Boavista. From the 
top of a mountain in this island the explorers gained sight 
of three more islands, one to the north and two to the south, 
and they thought they saw others to the west. On the follow- 
ing day, Cadamosto says, that he came in sight of the two 
to the south, and went to one of them, which he named 
Santiago, because he cast anchor there on St. Philip and St. 
James's day. He found in that island a river of fresh 
water, so large that a ship of seventy-five tons could enter it 
with ease ; and along this river his men found some small 
lagoons of remarkably white and beautiful salt, a great 
quantity of which they brought away. They also found 
many turtles, which they cooked in various ways, and of 
which he tasted. 

Now all this is simply impossible. 1st. A man who sailed 
from Lagos in the beginning of May, could not, after a 
voyage of some days, an(^hor ofi one of the Cape Verde 
Islands on St. I'hilip and St. James's day, Avliich tliroughout 


Christendom is kept on the 1st of May. 2dly. Three days 
driving before a furious tempest in a west-north-west direc- 
tion, from Cape Branco, coukl not bring a vessel to the 
island of Boavista, which lies a hundred leagues to the south- 
west. 3rdly. From Boavista may be seen in clear weather 
the island of Sal, which is eiglit leagues off; but, from 
Cadamosto's time till now, no human being has been able 
from that island to sight Santiago, which is more than 
twenty-five leagues to the south-west. To the west lies St. 
Nicolas, nearly as far off as Santiago, so that the explorers 
could not possibly see from Boavista more than one island 
to the north. 4thly. Neither in Santiago, nor in any one 
of the Cape Verde Islands, is there a single river of fresh 
water, nor any stream big enough to float a canoe ; and the 
inhabitants of Santiago would be only too glad to realize the 
pleasant dream of Cadamosto, especially if their fresh water 
river, which would easily admit a vessel of five-and-seventy 
tons, w^ere fringed with lagoons of remarkably white and 
beautiful salt, a commodity of which the island is as lacking 
as it is of the turtles with which the Venetian had also 
blessed them. 

"We know from a statement of Cadamosto's elsewhere 
that he remained in Lisbon till 1463, and it is tolerably 
clear that he made capital of discoveries that had taken 
place in the interval, and appropriated them by an altera- 
tion of the date. His own first voyage, on which he 
started on March 22nd, 1455, would appear to have lasted 
till 1456, for in it the mention of a month of November 
is followed by a mouth of June ; and his second voyage 
being in the " anno sequente," would be 1457. But there 
is evidence to show that the discovery of Santiago was not 
made till 1460, and it would also seem from the recently 
discovered mannscript of which I am about to give the 
translation, that the honour of that discovery belongs, not 
as has been hitherto supposed by the severest critics, to the 
Genoese, Antonio de Nolle, but more properly to the Portu- 
guese Diogo Gomez, who claims it as his own, and shows 


how the Genoese took advantage of his first arrival in 
Portugal to claim the honour and emoluments of the dis- 
covery at the hands of the King. 

The following is Gomez' narrative : — 


"Not a longtime after (the disaster of Adalbert, or Vallarte, 
as related by Azurara, see page 224) * the Prince equipi)ed 
at Lagos a caravel, named Pica?iso,f and appointed (the 
writer) Diogo Gomez caj)tain, together with two other cara- 
vels, of which he appointed Diogo Gomez captain-in-chief. 
The captain of one of these was Joiio Gonsalvez Ribeiro, of 
the Prince's household, and of the other Nuiio Fernandez de 
Bay a, the Prince's esquire-at-arms. The Prince gave them 
orders to proceed as far as they could. After jjassing the 
Eiver of S. Dominick (the S. Domingo), and another great 
river called Fancaso (the present Rio Grande) beyond the 
Rio Grande (the Jeba), we encountered strong currents in 
the sea, so that no anchor could hold, and which were called 
Macareo. The other captains, therefore, and their men 
were greatly alarmed, thinking that they were at the ex- 
tremity of the ocean, and they begged me to return. In the 
middle of the current the sea was very clear, and the natives 
came from the shore and brought us their merchandise, viz., 
cotton cloth, elephants' teeth, and a quart measure of mala- 
guette, in grain and in its pods as it grows, with which I was 
much delighted. The current prevented our proceeding- 
further, and in fact increased so much that it obliged us to 
put back. 

We came to a land where, near the shore, were many 
palm trees, with their l)ranches broken, and so tall that 

* The earlier portion of Diogo Gomez' narrative is omitted, because it con- 
tains none of his own adventures, but a hearsay account of Prince Ilenry's pre- 
vious expeditious, which he related to Martin Behaini in a far less accurate and 
authentic form than has already been laid bcfor(> the reader from Azurara's 

t This is doubtless the same vessel, the "Pican(;o" or "Wren," already 
luenticmed by Azurara. (Sec page "203.) 


from a distance we thought that they were masts or spars of 
nt'gTO vessels.* Thither we went, and found an extensive 
plain full of hay, and more than five thousand anin:ials called 
in the negro language myongas. These are beasts a little 
Larger than stags, which showed no fear at sight of us. We 
also observed five elephants come out of a small river 
sheltered with trees. Three of them were large, with two 
young ones, and they tied from the myongas. On the sea- 
shore we saw many crocodiles' holes. We returned to the 
ships, and on the next day made our way from Cape Verde, 
and we saw the broad mouth of a river, three leagues in 
width, which we entered, and from its size correctly con- 
cluded that it was the River Gambia. We entered it with 
the wind and tide in our favour, and came to a small island 
in the middle of the river, and there remained that night. 
In the morning, however, we went further in, and saw many 
canoes full of men, who fled at sight of us, for it seems they 
were the same who had slain Nuno Tristam and his men. 
The next day, however, we saw beyond the point ? [Caput] 
of the river some people on the right hand side of it, to 
whom we went, and were received in a friendly manner. 
Their chief was called Frangazick, and was the nephew of 
Farisangul,f the great Prince of the negroes. There I 
received from the negroes one hundred and eighty pounds 
weight of gold, in exchange for our merchandise ; such as 
cloths, necklaces, &c. They told us that the negroes on the 
left shore would not hold intercourse with us because they 
had slain the Christians. The lord of that country had a 
certain negro, named Bucker, who was acquainted with the 
whole country of the negroes, and finding him perfectly 
truthful, I asked him to go with me to Cantor, and promised 
to give him a mantle and shirts, and every necessary. I 
made also a similar promise to his chief, which I kept. We 
ascended the river, and I sent a cajftain with his cainvel 
into a certain harbour, named Ulimays [tloubtless Ollimaiisa, 

* The Cabo dos Mastos. 
t See Cadamosto, page 280. 



see 2)0St']. The other remained in Animays [Nomimansa ?] , 
and I went up the river as far as Cantor, which is a large 
town near that river's side. On account of the thick growth 
of the trees on both sides of the river, the vessels could pro- 
ceed no farther, and I sent out the negro whom we had 
brought with us, to make it known to the people of the 
country that I had come thither for the purpose of exchanging 
merchandise, and, in consequence, the negroes came in very 
great numbers. When the report spread throughout the 
country round, that the Christians were in Cantor, the 
natives came together from all quarters, viz., from Tambu- 
catu [Timbuctoo] in the north, from the Sierra Geley *■' in 
the south, and there came also people from Quioquun (sic), 
[Kukia] , which is a great city, surrounded by a wall of baked 
tiles, and where I understood there was abundance of gold, 
and that caravans of camels and dromedaries crossed over 
thither with merchandise from Carthage or Tunis, from Fez, 
from Cairo, and from all the land of the Saracens, in ex- 
change for gold. They said that the gold was brought from 
the mines of Mount Gelu, which is the opposite side of the 
range called Sierra Lyoa. They said that that range of 
mountains began at Albafur, and ran southwards, which 
pleased me much, because all the rivers, large and small, 
descending from those mountains (which had been as yet 
observed) ran westward ; but they told me that other very 
large rivers ran eastward from them, and that near that city 
was a certain great river, named Emiu, and that there was 
also a great lake (mare), but not very broad, on which were 
many canoes, like ships, and that the people on the opposite 
sides were in constant warfare with each other, those on the 
eastern side being white men. On my inquiring what 
sovereigns ruled in those parts, they answered, that the 
chief of that l)ar(, which was inhabited by the negroes, was 
named Sambegcny, and that the lord of the eastern part 

* The Siiinc ns Mount Gelu ei,i;-lit liufs on. It is luiist probably the ".DjaliiUt " 
of Almlfida. Sec Rciiiiiuirs (■dilinn, tom. ii. ])ai:(>S(i. He speiiks of the treasure 
that it produces. 


was called Semanagu, and that a short time before they had 
a great battle, iu which Semanagu was the conqueror. And 
a certain Saracen of Termezen [Tlemsen?], named Adnicdi, 
told me that he had been through all that land, iwid hud 
been present at the battle, both by sea and land. When I 
afterwards related all these things to the Prince, he told me 
tliat a merchant in Oran had written to him two months 
before respecting this engagement, which had taken place 
between Semanagu and Sambegeny, and, therefore, he 
believed the account. Such are the things which were told 
me by the negroes who were with me at Cantor. I ques- 
tioned the negroes at Cantor as to the road which led to the 
countries where there was gold, and asked who were the 
lords of that country. They told me that the king's name 
was Bormelli, and that the whole land of the negroes on the 
right side of the river was under his dominion, and that he 
lived in the city Quioquia [Kukia]. They said further, that 
he was lord of all the mines, and that he had before the 
door of his palace a mass of gold just as it was taken from 
the earth, so large that twenty men could scarcely move it, 
and that the king always fastened his horse to it, and kept 
it as a curiosity on account of its being found just as it was, 
and of so great size and purity. The nobles of his court 
wore in their nostrils and ears ornaments of gold. They 
said also, that the parts to the east were full of gold mines, 
and that the men who went into the pits to get the gold did 
not live long, on account of the impure air. The gold sand 
was afterwards given to women to wash the gold from it.* 

I inquired the road from Cantor to Quioquia [Kukia], 
and was told that to Morbomelli [Bormelli f] from Cantor 

* Tlic mouxLtainous country of Boure on the Tanldsso, an affluent of the Joliba, 
is doubtless here refeiTed to. It contains many very abundant gold mines. The 
gold of Boure circulates throughout the whole inteiioi", and finds its way to the 
French and English settlements on the coasts ; while Jenne, which was formerly 
considered as the country most plentifully supplied with this precious metal, has 
none except what is brought from this rich tract." See CaiUie's "Travels through 
Centi'al Afi-ica to Timbuctoo." London, 1830. Vol. i. p. 284. 

t The name of the resident, Bormelli, jiut in lieu of his place of residence, 



the road is eastward to Somandu, and from Soinandu to 
Conmuberta and to Cercculle and other places, the names of 
which I have forgotten. And in these aforenamed places is 
great abundance of gold, as I can well believe, for I saw the 
negroes at the time who went by those roads come loaded 
with gold. And they said that Forisangul [_sic] was subject 
to Mormelli [Bormelli], who "was lord of the right part of 
the river Gambia. 

While thus holding peaceful intercourse with these negroes 
of Cantor, my men became worn out with the heat, and so 
we returned in search of the other two caravels, and in the 
caravel which had remained in Ollimansa [the same named 
previously Ulimays], I found nine men had died, and the 
captain, [Joao] Gronzalo [Alphonso], very ill, and all the 
rest of his men sick, except three. I found the other caravel 
fifty leagues lower down towards the ocean, and in it five 
men had died. We immediately withdrew, and made for 
the sea, and I went to the place where I had hired the negro 
traveller, and gave him what I had promised him. 

They then informed me that on the other, that is, the left 
or south side of the river, there was a certain great chief, 
named Batimansa, and I desired to make peace with him, 
and I sent to him that negro who had been with me at 
Cantoi\ That chieftain desired to speak with me in a great 
wood on the bank of the river, and brought with him an 
immense throng of people armed with poisoned arrows, 
azagays, and swords and shields [dargis]. And I went to 
him, carrying him some presents and biscuit, and some of 
our wine, for they have no wine except what is made from 
the date palm, and he gave me three negroes, one male and 
two female, and lie was pleased and extremely gracious, 
making merry with me and swearing to me by the one only 
God that he would never again make war against the 
Christians, but that they might travel safely through his 
land and interchanoe their merchandise. Beinij: desirous of 
l)utting this to the proof, I sent a certain Indian named 
Jacob, whom the Prince had sent with us, in order that, in 


tlio event of our reaching India, he might be able to hold 
speech with the natives, and I ordered him to go to the 
place which is called Alcnzet, with the lord of that country, 
whitlier, on a former occasion, a knight had gone with him, 
through the land of GelofFa to find the Sierra de Gelu and 
Tambucutu. This Jacob, the Indian, related to me that 
Alcnzet is a very vicious land [multum viciosa], having a river 
of sweet water and abundance of lemons, some of which he 
brought with him to me. And the lord of that country sent 
me elephants' teeth, one of them very large, and four ne- 
groes, who carried the tooth to the ship. And so they came 
peacefully u}) to our ships, and thus I was safe from them. 
Afterwards I sent to his abode, which was surrounded by 
many negro habitations. Their houses are made of seaweeds, 
covered with straw, and I remained with them for three days. 
Here were many parrots and many ounces, and he gave me 
six skins, and ordered that an elephant should be killed and 
its flesh carried on board the caravels. 

It was here that I learned the fact that all the mischief that 
had been done to the Christians had been done by a certain 
king, called Nomymans [Nomimansa], who possesses the land 
which lies on that promontory. I took great pains to make 
peace with him, and sent him many presents by his own men 
in his own canoes, which were going for salt to his own 
country. This salt is plentiful there, and of a red colour. He 
greatly feared the Christians, on account of the injury which 
he had done t.hem. I went by the river towards the ocean, 
as far as the harbour, near the mouth of the river, and he 
sent to me many times men and women to tr}^ me, whether 
I would do them any harm, but, on the contrary, I always 
gave them a friendly reception. When the King heard this, 
he came to the river-side with a great force, and sitting down 
on the bank, sent for me to come to him, which I did, 
paying him all ceremonious respect in the best fashion I 
could. There was a certain Bishop there of his native 
church, who put questions to me with respect to the God of 
the Christians, and I answered him according to the intelli- 


gence which God had given me, and at last I questioned 
him respecting Mahomet, in whom tliey believe. What I 
said pleased the King so much, that he ordered the Bishop 
within three days to take his departure out of his kingdom, 
and springing to his feet, he declared that no one, on pain 
of death, should dare any more to utter the name of Ma- 
homet, for that he only believed in the one only God, and 
that there was no other God but He, whom his brother, the 
Prince Henrv, said that he believed in. Callino- the Infant 
his brother, he desired that I should baptize him, and so 
said also all the lords of his household, and his women like- 
wise. The King himself declared that he would have no 
other name than Henry, but his nobles took our names, such 
as Jacob, Nuiio, &c., as Christian names. I remained that 
night on shore with the King and his chiefs, but I did not 
dare to baptize them, because I was a layman. 

On the next day, however, I begged the King with his 
twelve principal chiefs and eight of his wives to come to dine 
with me on board the caravel, which they all did unarmed, 
and I gave them fowls and meat cooked after our own 
fashion, and wine, both white and red, as much as they 
pleased to drink ; and they said to each other that no nation 
was better than the Christians. 

Afterwards, when we were on shore, he desired that I 
would baptize him ; but I answered that I had not received 
authority from the supreme pontiff. I told him, however, 
that if he so desired, I would convey his wishes to tlie 
Prince, who would send a priest to baptize them. He 
immediately wrote to the Prince to send him a priest, and 
some one to inform him respecting the faith, and begged 
the Prince to send him a falcon for hunting, for he wondered 
greatly when I told him that the Christians carried a bird 
on the hand which caught other birds. He wished him 
also to send two rams, and sheep, and ganders and geese, 
and a pig, as well as two men who would know how to 
construct houses and make a survey of his city. All these 
requircnients I promised that the jtrince would fullil. At 


my departure he and all his people lamented, so great was 
the friendship which had sprung up between him and me. 

It so happened that for two years no one went back to 
Guinea because King Alplionso was gone, with a fleet of 
three hundred and fifty-two ships, to Africa, and took the 
powerful city of Alcacer al Quivir [or rather El Seguer], for 
which reason the Prince, being fully occupied, gave no 
attention to Guinea. 

After leaving the King at Gambia I pursued my way to 
Portugal, and sent one caravel with those who were in the 
best health straight home. The other remained with me, 
because the people on board of her were sick. And I 
ordered the captain of the first vessel, if he had a favourable 
wind, to go straight to Portugal, if not, to wait for me at 
Arguin, and so he departed ; but I with the other caravel 
sailed with a favourable wind to Cape Verde. As we came 
near the sea-shore we saw two canoes putting out to sea. 
We sailed between them and the land, and came up to 
them, and in one of the canoes we counted thirty-eight men, 
and the interpreter came to me, and said in my ear, that 
that was Beseghichi, lord of that land, a malicious man, of 
whom I have already spoken. I made them come into the 
caravel, and gave them to eat and drink, and a double 
portion of presents, and pretending that I did not know 
that he was the chief, said to him by way of trying him, 
"Is this the land of Beseghichi?" He said ''Yes." I 
replied, " Why is he then so malignant against the Chris- 
tians? It would be better for him to make peace with 
them, and that both might interchange merchandise, and 
that he might have horses, &c., as Burbruck in Budumel, 
and other lords of the negroes did. Tell him that I have 
taken you in this sea, and for love of him have set you free 
to go on shore." He much rejoiced, and I told him to go 
into their canoes, which they did, and as they all stood in 
their canoes, I said to the chief, " Beseghichi, Beseghichi, 
do not think that I did not know thee. It was certainly in 
my jiower to do with thee whatever I wished, and since I 


have acted kindly by thee, do thou do likewise with our 
Christians," and so they went their way. 

A few days after, we came to Cape Tofia, and to Anterot,* 
and entered Arguin. And not far from the coast we came 
to the island called the Ilha de Gargas. It was not in- 
habited, and was only one league in circumference. On it 
we found an innumerable multitude of birds of every kind, 
and on the ground pelicans' nests, and many dead pelicans. 
These are not as the painters represent them, but have a 
broad beak, and a stomach lars-e enoufrh to hold a measure 
of wheat, such as is commonly called an alqueiro.\ The 
number of birds there was so great, that we killed as many 
as we could carry in our boat, and so we went into Arguin. 
We thus sailed for Portugal, and came to Algarve, to the 
great city named Lagos, where the Prince at that time was, 
and he rejoiced greatly at our arrival. 

After the Prince returned from the fleet with King Alphonso, 
I reminded him of what King Nominaus [Nomimansa] had 
said, so that he should send to him all those things which had 
been promised. This the Prince did, and sent thither a 
certain priest, a relation of the cardinal's, the Abbot of Soto 
de Cassa, that he should remain with that King and instruct 
him in the faith. He also sent with him a young man of his 
household, named John Delgado. This was in the year 1458.} 
.... Two years afterwards King Alphonso equipped a large 
caravel, in which he sent me out as captain, and I took with 
me ten horses and wen! to the land of Barbacins, which is 
between Serrcos and King Nomemans \plc\. Those Ijarbacins 
had two kings, viz, Barbacin Dun and Barbacin Negor. And 
the King gave ine authority over the shores of that sea, thai 
whatever caravels I might lind oil' the land of Guinea should 

* The const from Arguin to the Senegal was calk'd Aiiterote. 

t See antt; page 201. 

\ Here ocexirs an aeeuunt of the death and burial of Prince Ilenry in 1460, 
vliich will he found in the following chapter; hul that the immediately ensuing 
words, " 'I'wo years afli'rwards," hear refereni'e nut to the rrinct''s death, hut to 
(ionie/' last explorations, will lie demonslialed at the close of the present 


be under my coinmaiul and rule, ibr he knew that there 
were caravels there which carried arms and swords to the 
Mot)rs, and he ordered me to take such prisoners and bring 
them to him to Portugal. And by the help of God in twelve 
days I arrived at Barbacins, and found there two caravels : 
one, in which was Gonzalo Ferreira, of the household of 
Prince Henry, a native of Oporto, who was conveying- horses 
thither; and in the other caravel was Captain Antonio dc 
Noli, a Genoese, who was also a merchant conveying horses. 
This was in the port of Zaza. I found there also Borgebil, who 
had been King of Geloffa, and who had fled thither from fear 
of the King of Burbuck, who had taken his country from 
him. The aforesaid merchants with their caravels greatly 
damaged the traffic in those parts, for whereas the Moors 
used to give twelve negroes for one horse, they gave them 
now no more than six. Then I summoned those captains to 
me, and on behalf of the King gave them seven negroes for 
one horse, but myself exchanged every horse for fourteen or 
hfteen negroes. While we were there, there came a caravel 
from Gambia, which brought us information that a certain 
man named De Prado, was coming with a very richly laden 
caravel, whereupon I immediately fitted out the caravel of 
Gonzalo Ferreira, and ordered him in the King's name, on 
pain of death, and confiscation of all his goods, to go to 
Cape Verde, and to look out for that caravel, which he did, 
and took it, and we found great booty in it. I forthwith 
despatched the captain, together with Gonzalo Ferreira, to 
the King, and wrote to the King an account of all these 

I and Antonio de Noli then left that port of Zaza, and 
sailed two days and one night towards Portugal, and we saw 
some islands in the sea, and, as my caravel was a lighter 
sailer than the other, I came first to one of those islands, and 
saw white sand, and it seemed to me a good harbour, and I 
cast anchor there, and so also did Antonio. / told them that I 
wished to be the first to land, and so I did. We saw no sign of 
any man there, and we called the island Santiago : it is so called 


to tJiis day. There was abimdance of fisli to be caught there. 
On shore we found many strange birds and streamlets of 
fresh water. The birds were so tame, that we killed them 
with sticks ; and there were many geese there. There were 
also an abundance of figs, but they do not grow on the trees in 
the same manner as in our parts, for our figs grow near the 
leaf, but these all over the bark from the foot of the tree to 
the top. These trees grow in great numbers, and there was 
great quantity of hay there. And I had a quadrant when I 
went to these parts, and I wrote on the table of the quadrant 
the altitude of the Arctic Pole, and I found it better than the 
chart. It is true that the course of sailins; is seen on the 
chart, but when once you get wrong, you do not recover your 
true position. We afterwards saw one of the Canary 
Islands, called Palma, and after that we went to the Island 
of Madeira. Though I was anxious to 2:0 to Portuo'al, I 
was driven by a contrary wind to the Azores, but Antonio 
de Noli remained at Madeira, and availing himself of a more 
favourable wind, reached Portugal before me. And he begged of 
the King the captaincy of the Island of SoMtiago, which I had 
discovered, and the King gave it him, a.nd he hept it till his 
death. And I with extreme labour made my way to Lisbon, 
and after some time the King went to Oporto, where that 
De Prado, who had carried arms to the Moors, and whom 
Gonzalo Ferreira had taken prisoner, lay in irons, and the 
King ordered that they should martyrize him in a cart, and 
that they should make a furnace of fire, and throw him into 
it with his swoi-d and gold." 

In the above narrative of Gomez we have an interesting 
supplement to Cadamosto's account of those ex[)lorations 
along the west coast of Africa which, till noAv, had been the 
latest recorded as occurring during the life of Prince Henry. 
But this narrative brings us to 1400, the year of the Prince's 
death, since not only does Gomez use the words " two years 
afterwards," after the mention of the date 1458, but it can 
be shown that he could not mean " two years after" the 


Prince's death, of which he had spoken in the interim, 
because if wo revert to the question of the Cape Verde 
Islands, we shall find collateral evidence to prove their 
discovery in 1460. In the Torre do Tombo, which is rich in 
documents of the period, not a single one is found hearing 
reference to the Cape Verde Islands anterior to December 
3rd, 1460,* under which date they arc mentioned, and it is 
in the highest degree improbable that, had they been dis- 
covered at the period given by Cadamosto, so many years 
would have been allowed to pass without their being colonized 
by so energetic a colonizer as Prince Henry, whereas in 1461 
we find the colonization proceeding with considerable rapidity. 
Moreover Faria y Souza distinctly gives 1460 as the date of 
the discovery. On the 3rd of December, 1460, King Alfonso 
V. , being at Evora, made a donation to his brother Fernando, 
Prince Henry's adopted son and heir, of the islands hitherto 
discovered — to possess them in like manner as he had re- 
ceived them from Prince Henry. These islands, some of 
which have names now unknown, are recounted in the order 
of the groups, the last being the Cape Verde group, of which 
the following islands are mentioned : — S. Jacobe (Santiago) ; 
S. Filippe (Fogo) ; De las Moyaes (Maio) ; S. Christovao, 
supposed to be Boavista, a name apparently falsely given by 
Cadamosto years afterwards ; Ilha Lana, most probably the 
Ilha do Sal, which from its proximity to Boavista could 
scarcely fail of being, as here, mentioned next to it. The 
remainder of the Cape Verde Islands were soon after dis- 
covered by some mariners in the service of Prince Fernando, 
when they received their collective name from the cape olf 
which they lay. The King ceded them to that Prince on 
the 19th of September, 1462. The first colonized was 

* ToiTe do Tombo, liv. i., of iVlfonsi V., fol. 61. 




After the death of the hapless Duke of Coirabra at Alfar- 
roLeira, the agitations which had had their source in private 
intrigue were laid aside, and gave place to opportunities for 
concentrated national action. King Alfonso, energetic and 
warlike, occupied himself with those conquests on the north 
coast of Africa which gained for him the surname of " the 

In 1454 Constantinople fell into the hands of the Turks, 
and the Pope summoned all the princes of Europe to a general 
crusade against the infidels. In 1457 a special legate, the 
Bishop of Silves, was sent to Alfonso by Calixtus III. with 
the bull of the Crusade. The King entered warmly into 
the })lan, and made great preparations for it, offering to 
su})ply twelve thousand men yearly. He also struck, with 
the view of making Portuguese money of more value in 
the foreign countries through which his march would lie, 
a new })icce of gold money, which had a cross on one side, 
and was called a cruzado. In no country had the spirit of 
chivalrous enthusiasm for the defence of the faith been pre- 
served with less diminution from its ancient loyalty than in 
Portugal ; but the zeal which animated King Alfonso Avas 
manifestly inadequate, with his limited exchequer, to con- 
tend against the Turks, unless the Pope's appeal were 
warmly responded to ])y other sovereigns. Such, however, 


was not the case, and after tlie death of Calixtus III., in 
1458, the crusade came to an end. 

In this position of affairs, the object "wliich the King had 
proposed to himself of fighting against the infidels, and the 
avoidance of those financial losses which his people ap- 
prehended, became reconciled in the notion of directing his 
forces against Africa. His first thought was to attack 
Tangier, but remembering its strength, and how much it 
had cost the Portuguese on a former occasion, he fixed on 
Alcazar Seguer, or Alcazar the Little, to distinguish it 
from Alcazar Quivir, or the Great, as the place to be 

On the 30th of September, 1458, Aflfonso sailed from 
Setuval with a fleet of ninety sail, and on the 3rd of October 
landed near Sagres, where Prince Henry gave him a mag- 
nificent reception. When the contingents from Mondogo, 
Oporto, and elsewhere, joined the royal fleet at Lagos, they 
mustered in all two hundred and twenty sail, and on the 
16th of October twenty-five thousand men disembarked, 
though not without some opposition and loss, off Alcazar. 
The artillery and implements for the siege were promptly 
landed, and that same evening the order was given to invest 
the town. A portion of the ramparts was soon broken down, 
and at midnight Prince Henry, having constructed a battery 
in a favourable position, brought to bear a large piece of 
ordnance, a few shots from which made a considerable 
breach in the wall. The Moors, who, it must l^e acknow- 
ledged, had hitherto ofi'ered a brave and troublesome resist- 
ance, were overcome with fear at this result, and sent to 
propose terms of surrender. Prince Henry replied that 
'' the King's object was the service of God, and not to take 
their goods or force a ransom from them. All that he 
required was that they should withdraw witli their wives 
and children and effects from the town, but leaving behind 
them all their Christian prisoners." They begged for time 
to reflect, which was prudently refused, with a threat that if 
the town had to be taken by main force, all would be i)ut to 


the sword. On this the Moors submitted, and sent the 
King hostages for the suspension of the conflict. 

On the morrow they withdrew from the city unmolested, 
under the Prince's warrant for their safety. The Portuguese 
entered in triumph, the Mosque was consecrated, and thanks 
were oftered for the conquest. Duarte de Menezes was ap- 
pointed Governor of the place, and the King, who then 
assumed the title of Lord of Alca9ar, withdrew by sea to 

In a short time the King of Fez brought a large force to 
lay siege to Alcacar. Alfonso had at first intended to march 
from Ceuta to the assistance of the place, but soon found 
that it was necessary to raise more men in Portugal, if he 
was effectually to relieve the besieged. A letter w^as shot 
into the town to tell the Governor his plans, and an answer 
was shot back, saying that Menezes was failing in provisions 
and stores. This letter, which was written in French, un- 
fortunately fell into the Moorish camp, and the King of Fez, 
availing himself of the condition of the Portuguese, offered 
favourable terms if the Governor would surrender. Dom 
Daarte not only refused, but to show how little he feared the 
Moors, had the boldness to offer the King his scaling- 
ladders, if he chose to accept them. After some further 
attempts, the King of Fez withdrew for the purpose of 
raising fresh troops, and on the 13th of November returned 
with thirty thousand cavalry and a vast force of infantry 
and artillery. Tlie siege had now lasted fifty-three days, 
when, on the 2ud of January, 1459, the Moors were obliged 
to retire with immense loss. When Dom Duarte saw that 
the siege was about to be raised, he sent a message to the 
King, recommending him to try a little longer before he 
quite gave it up. 

King Alfonso now perceiving the advantage which would 
result from this place having a mole for the mooring of 
small craft, sent out twenty-six vessels, laden with materials, 
masons, and labourers. Dom Duarte commenced the con- 
struction of the mole on the 12tli of March, and it was 


finished by the end of July, in spite of the contimud 
himh-ances oflered by the Moors to the progress of the "svork. 

Alfonso Y. hud idready, on the loth of September, 1448, 
transferred entirely to Prince Henry the trade in Guinea in 
the old acceptation of the word, in which Arguiu was 
inchided, for he had decreed that no ships shoukl sail 
beyond Cape Boyador without the Prince's permission, and 
the transgressor of this prohibition should forfeit his ship to 
the Prince; but that all ships sailing with his permission 
should pay him tribute, of the fifth or tenth part of their 
freight. On the 7th of June, 1454, Afi'onso granted to the 
Order of Christ, for the discoveries made and to be made 
at their expense, entire spuitual jurisdiction in Guzulla 
(Gozola), Guinea, Nubia, and Ethiopia, with all its accus- 
tomed rights, and in the same manner in which it was 
exercised at the house of their Order at Thomar ; and on the 
26th of December, 1458, Prince Henry signed a decree " in 
my town" (Villa do Iffante), stipulating that the Order of 
Christ should receive tribute of the twentieth, instead of the 
tithe, of all merchandise from Guinea, whether slaves, gold, 
or whatsoever it might be, and the remainder should fall to 
whomsoever held the dominion, as the Prince then held it, by 
royal prerogative. This record is preserved in the collection 
of Pech-o Alvarez, Pt. HI, fob 17-18. 

We have no public act of Prince Henry to record between 
his return from Alca9ar and his death on Thursday, the 13th 
of November, 1460, with the exception of the already-men- 
tioned donation, on the 18th September, 1460, of the eccle- 
siastical revenues of Porto Santo and Madeira to the Order 
of Christ, and of the temporality to the King and his suc- 

We have already seen that he carried into effect the promises 
which had been made on his behalf to Nomimansa, the King 
of the Barba^ins, by his faithful navigator, Diogo Gomez. 
It would seem that that loyal servant was about his master's 
jierson at the time of his death, inasmuch as, by the King's 
command, lie remained constantly near the Prince's remains 


till they were removed from Lagos to their last resting- 
place ill Batalha. It is therefore a satisfaction to be able to 
give the old sailor's own accoimt of the matter in his own 

" In the year of our Lord 1460," he says, " Prince Henry 
fell ill in his town on Cape St. Vincent, and of that sickness 
he died on Thursday, the 13th of November, of the same 
year. And the same night on which he died, they carried 
him to the church of St. Mary in Lagos, where he was buried 
with all honour. At that time King Atfonso was in Evora, and 
he, together with all his people, mourned greatly over the 
death of so great a Prince, when they considered all the expe- 
ditions which he had set on foot, and all the results which he 
had obtained from the land of Guinea, as well as how much 
he had laid out in continuous warlike armaments at sea 
against the Saracens in the cause of the Christian faith. 

" At the close of the year King Alfonso ordered me to be 
sent for, for, by the King's command, I had remained con- 
stantly in Lagos near the body of the Prince, giving out 
whatever was necessary to the priests, who were occupied in 
constant vigils and in Divine service in the church. And 
the King ordered that I should look and examine if the body 
of the Prince was decomposed, for it was his wish to remove 
his remains to the most beautiful monastery called Santa 
Maria de Batalha, which his father. King Joao I., had built 
for the Order of Friars Preachers. When I approached 
the body of the deceased, I found it dry and sound, except 
the tip of the nose, and I found him clothed in a rough 
shirt of horse-hair. Well doth the Church sing ' Thou shalt 
not give thine holy one to see corruption.' That my Lord 
the Infant had remained a virgin till his death, and what 
and liow many good things he had done in his life, it would 
be a long story for me to relate. 

"The King then issued a command that his brother Dom 
Fernando, Duke of Beja, and the bishops and nobles should 
go and convey the body to the aft)resaid monastery of 
Batalha, where the King would await its arrival. 

Til 10 TOMli OK 1>KI-\C1<: JIO'KV. 



" And the Prince's body was placed in a large and iiiosl 
beautiful chapel which King Joao his father had built, and 
where lie the bodies of the King and his Queen l*hili})}i:i, 
the Prince's mother, together with his tive brothers, tlie 
memory of all of whom is wortliy of i)raise for evermore. 
There may they rest in hol}^ peace. Amen." 

On the face of the tomb, on the south side of the 
Founder's Chapel,* which contains the mortal remains of 
Prince Henry, and which is in a line with those of his 
brothers, Dom Pedro, Dom Joao, and the Constant Prince, 
are three escutcheons. On the first are sculptured Prince 
Henry's own arms ; on the second the cross, device, and 
motto of the Order of the Garter, the riband of which had 
been conferred on him by King Henry VI., in 1442-3, f and 
on the last the cross of the military order of Christ. Over 
the tomb is a recumbent statue of the Prince in full armour, 
with a kind of turban bound round the head. This is 
protected by a sort of canopy worked in minute sculpture. 
On the frieze of the tomb, intertwined with ilex l)oughs, is 
the Prince's well-known motto, "Talent de bien faire," and 

* The following remarks from the pen of our late distinguished ecclesiologist, 
Dr. Mason Neile, will give some notion of the beauty of the noble specuuen of 
Chi-istian architecture which King Joao erected at Batalha, and in which he and 
his family are entombed. He says, " The traveller who is a man of taste will 
be more than delighted to observe the manner in which this unique temple is 
being restored, so that in a few years it wiU have recovered its ancient purity, 
not to say splendour, and which, for its exquisite workmanship, its umivalled 
cloisters, its marvcllovis Founder's Chapel, its nave, aisles, chapter-house, and 
Capella Imperfeita, is perhaps the most striking edifice in Christendom. In a 
few years its exterior, as well as interior, will be little short of perfection ; and 
if Dom Ferdinand were a person endued with as much wealth as he is with 
taste, there might be some hopes that the present generation would not pass 
away without seeing finished the truly wonderful CapeUa Imperfeita, the very 
parts of which are replete with all that man's ingenuity can imagine, and his 
skill execute. It were worth all the trouble of a trip to Portugal for any one to 
come to Batalha to revel in the inexhaustible beauty of this superb monument of 
the taste of bygone days." It is not unlikely, from the friendly intercourse that 
existed between Portugal and England, that Dom Manoel conceived the idea of 
imitating Ilenrj' VII. 's chapel in the Capella Imperfeita. 

t nis Excellency the Count de Lavradio has informed me "that lie has traced 
the identical collar of Prince Heniy to its present holder as a Knight of the 
Order, the Earl of Clarendon. 



below the frieze, in a single line, the following inscription : 
" Aqui jaz o miiito alto e muito honrado senhor o Ifante dom 

anrique governador da ordeni da cavallaria de no om 

Joham e rainha philipa, que aquy jazcm nesta capella cuias 

almas deos por sua mercee aja o qual se finou em na 

era de mil e " The first of the gaps here 

marked has arisen from a fault in the stone. The other 
two, which should contain the date, seem to show that the 
tomb was prepared during the Prince's lifetime, and that, 
after his death, the day, month, and year of his decease were 
neglected to be inserted. 

The following is Azurara's description of Prince Henry : — 
" He was large of frame and brawny, and stout and strong 
of limb. His naturally fair complexion had by constant 
toil and exposure become dark. The expression of his face 
at first sight inspired fear in those who were not accustomed 
to him, and when he was angry, which rarely happened, his 
look was very formidable. Stout of heart and keen in 
intellect, he was extraordinarily ambitious of achieving great 
deeds. Neither luxury nor avarice ever found a home with 
him. In the former respect he was so temperate that after 
his early youth he abstained from wine altogether, while 
the whole of his life was reputed to have been passed in 
inviolate chastity. As for his generosity, the household of 
no other* uncrowned Prince formed so large and excellent 
a training school for the young nobility of the country. 
All the worthies of the kingdom, and still more foreigners 

* Note by the Vicomte de Santarcm. " This remark quoted from Azurara, 
■who was the Prince's cotemporary, shows the error into which Fr. de Luiz de 
Souza fell when, in his Historia de S. Domingos, lib. 6, fol. 331, he said that the 
Infant was elected King of Cyprus, which mistake was repeated by Jose Soares 
de Sylva in his memoirs of King Joao I. ; and, if the Avords of Azurara were not 
sufKcicnt to prove this, it might be shown by dates and historical facts. In fact, 
the kingdom of Cyprus, which Richard I. took from the Greeks in 1191, was 
afterwards grantcnl by Iutu to Guy de Lusignan, whose posterity held the crown 
till 1487, and as Prince Henry was born in 1394 and died in 1460, he could not 
have been elected to a kingdom which was governed by a legitimate royal line. 
Moreover, in the list of Ihe kings of Cyprus, the name of Prince Henry docs not 
occur. It may be supposed that Fr. Luiz de Souza confounded Henry Prince 
of Galilca, son of James I., King of Cyi)rus, with Prince Henry of Portugal." 


of renown, found a general welcome in liis house, and there 
were irequeutly assembled in it men of various nations, the 
diversity of whose habits presented a curious spectacle. 
None left that house without some proof of the Prince's 
generosity. His self-discipline was unsurpassed ; all his 
daj'S were spent in hard work, and it would not readily be 
believed how often he passed the night without sleep, so 
that by dint of unflagging industry he conquered what seemed 
to be impossibilities to other men. His wisdom and 
thoughtfulness, excellent memory, calm bearing, and cour- 
teous language, gave great dignity to his address. 

" He was constant in adversity, and humble in prosperity, 
and it was imi)Ossible for any subject of any rank to show 
more obedience and reverence to the sovereign. This was 
especially noticeable in his conduct to his nephew Don 
Affonso, even at the beginning of his reign. He never 
entertained hatred or ill-will towards any, however serious 
the offence they might have committed against him. So 
great was his benignity in this respect, that the wise- 
acres said that he was deficient in retributive justice, 
although in other matters he was very impartial. No 
stronger example of this could be shown than his forgive- 
ness of some of his soldiers who deserted him in the attack 
on Tangier, when he was in the utmost danger. He was 
devoted to the public interests of the kingdom, and took 
great pleasure in trying new plans for the general welfare 
at his own expense. He gloried in feats of arms against 
the enemies of the Faith, but earnestly sought peace with 
all Christians. He was universally beloved, for he did good 
to all and injured none. He never failed to show due 
respect to every person, however humble, without lowering 
his own dignity. A foul or indecent word was never known 
to issue from his lips. 

'' He was very obedient to all the commands of Holy 
Chm'ch, and attended all its offices with great devotion, and 
they were celebrated with as much solemnity and ceremony 
in his own chapel as they could be in any cathedral cburcli. 



He held all sacred things in profound reverence, and took 
delight in showing honour and kindness to all who minis- 
tered in them. Nearly one half of the year he passed in 
fasting, and the hands of the poor never went empty away 
from his presence. His heart never knew what fear was, 
except the fear of committing sin. Assuredly," con- 
tinues Azurara, " I know not where to look for a Prince 
that shall bear comparison with this one." 

Such was the exalted character of the man whom we 
honour as the originator of continuous modern discovery. In 
the prefatory chapter to this work, where the Prince's 
purpose was spoken of, a passing allusion was made to his 
dignity as the son of a King, and there was an especial 
object in the mention of that reality. All modern discovery 
found its origin in one great event — the rise of the powers 
which bordered on the Atlantic ; and this rise, although slow, 
was identical with the strengthening of the respective monar- 
chies. At the close of the middle ages, the Kings were, in all 
these countries, the real centres of their nations, whilst in tlie 
" Roman Empire" many contending claims existed, but no 
general government. This difference had long been in favour 
of tlie East as far as commerce and navigation were con- 
cerned. But now the balance began to turn to the other 
side. The Hanseatic confederacy, powerful as it might be, 
was but a confederacy; and Venice, however magnificent, 
was but a city. The really modern states of Western Europe 
had the germs of quite another force and power within them. 

The first discoveries of the Portuguese were originated by 
that exuberant regal power which was free to leave the 
paternal realms, and to extend itself beyond the Mediterra- 
nean in wars against the infidels. This movement also 
received a new intensity 1)}^ the emigration of the able sea- 
men of Italy, Germany, iind the Netherlands to the rising 
states along the Atlantic. Under the liberal inducements 
of I^-ince Henry, men of these WwQ^i nations held prominent 
positions in the eai-ly naval exploits of the Portuguese. But 
not Portugal onlv rose by their talents; the newly united 


kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, England, and France 
received with avidity the offers of service of the most 
gifted men of those nations which had held the sway of 
the sea. 

It is a notable fact, and one that greatly redounds to the 
honour of Italy, that the three Powers, which at this day 
possess almost all America, owe their first discoveries to the 
Italians: Spain to Columhus, a Genoese ; England, to the 
Cabots, Venetians ; and France, to Verazzano, a Florentine : 
a circumstance which sufiiciently proves, that in those times 
no nation was equal to the Italians in point of maritime 
knowledge and extensive experience in navigation. 

It is, however, remarkable, that the Italians, with all 
their knowledge and experience, have not been able to acquire 
one inch of ground for themselves in America, a Aiilure which 
may be ascribed to the penurious mercantile spirit of the 
Italian republics, to their mutual animosities and petty wars, 
and to their contracted and selfish policy. 

Indeed, it may be said that it was principally to the efforts 
of Italians and Hanseatics that the dominion of the waters 
was lost to Italy and the Hanse Towns, and passed to the 
nations of the West. Nor can this be deplored or ascribed to 
ingratitude; the new regal powers, such as Portugal, disposed 
of better means to carry out extensive plans of discovery, to 
make the first and necessary sacrifices, and to pursue one pur- 
pose with that unremitting earnestness which is so seldom 
found in republics. Nor were they inapt pupils in the 
practical development of nautical knowledge. Cadamosto, 
himself a Venetian, and well acquainted with the progress of 
navigation in the Mediterranean, declares that the caravels 
of Portugal were the best sailing ships afloat. " Sendo le 
caravelle di Portugallo i migliori navigli che vadano sopra 
il mare di vella." 

Furthermore, their geographical situation along the 
Atlantic made them also, be}ond conii)arison, fitter for 
these endeavours than the old masters of what are merely 
inland waters compared with the mighty oceanic seas. 


Nevertheless for the prosecution of these endeavours the 
knowledge of the latter was of the utmost value. 

During the long period in which Prince Henry was con- 
tinuing his maritime explorations he did not cease to culti- 
vate the science of cartography. In this he was warmly 
seconded by his nephew King Alfonso V. We have, unfor- 
tunately, nothing to show as the result of the cartographical 
labours of the geographer Mestre Jayme, whom the Prince 
had procured from Majorca, to superintend his school of 
navigation and astronomy at Sagres, whither he had also 
brought together the most able Arab and Jewish mathema- 
ticians that he could obtain from Marocco or the Peninsula ; 
but we have already seen what good service had been 
practically rendered by the Venetian Cadamosto and the 
Genoese Antonio de Nolli, whose discoveries gave extension 
to the grant recently conferred on Portugal by a Bull of Pope 
Nicholas V., dated January 8, 1454, of all Guinea beyond 
Capes Non and Boyador as far as a certain large river 
reputed to be the Nile (Senegal) which they had then 
reached. The discovery that beyond Cape Verde the coasts 
trended eastward, inspired the King with new energy, for he 
assumed therefrom that it would soon lead to India. He 
thought it possible that in that direction the meridian of 
Tunis, and perhaps even that of Alexandria, had been already 
passed. He gave names to rivers, gulfs, capes, and harbours 
in the new discovery, and sent to Venice draughts of maps on 
which these were laid down, with a commission for the con- 
struction of a mappemonde on which they should be 

It was to the Venetian Fra IMauro of the Camaldolese 
Convent of San Miguel de Murano, that this commission Avas 
entrusted. King Alfonso V. spared no expense, and Fra 
Mauro paid the draughtsmen from twelve to fifteen sous a 
day, while from 1457 to 1450 he himself gave all jiossible 
pains to perfecting his task. The practised draughtsman 
Andrea Bianco was called to take a part in its execution. At 
length this mnguificcnt specimen of mediteval cartography was 


completed, and by desire of the King despatched to Portnf!:al, 
in charge of the noble Venetian Stefano Trevigiano, on the 
24tli April, 1459. In the same year, on the 20th of October, 
the drawings and writings, and a copy of the mappemonde, 
were enclosed in a chest and sent to the abbot of the convent, 
from which it would seem that Fra j\Iauro was then dead. 
It is to be presumed that while elaborating the mappemonde 
for King Alfonso he made at the same time a copy which he 
intended to leave to the convent. In the convent library 
still exists the register of Keceipts and Expenditure of the 
convent, written by the Abbot Maffei Gerard, afterwards in 
1466 Patriarch of Venice, and in 1489 Cardinal. In that 
register is a note of the current cost of the map.* (See 
Count Carli, tom. 9 of his works, page 9, and tom. 13, 
part 3, page 212, and the extract from M. Villoison's letter 
to him.) 

It is on this map in especial, which preceded by forty years 
the periplus of the Cape of Good Hope by Vasco da Gama, 
that we see more clearly laid down the southern extremity 
of Africa, under the name of " Cavo di Diab." We find 
delineated a triangular island on which, north-east of Cavo 
di Diab (our Cape of Good Hope), are inscribed the names 
of " Soifala " and " Xengibar." This southern extremity is 
separated from the continent by a narrow strait. An 
inscription on Cape Diab states that in 1420 an Indian junk 
from the East doubled the Cape in search of the islands of 
men and women (separately inhabited by each), and after a 
sail of two thousand miles in forty days, during which they 
saw nothing but sea and sky, they turned back, and in 
seventy days' sailing reached Cavo di Diab, where the sailors 
found on the shore an egg as big as a barrel, which they 
recognised as that of the bird Crocho, doubtless the roc 
or rukh of Marco Polo, a native bird of Madagascar. 

It has been already seen that the Arabs who traded 

* TIktc is a vellum copy of this planisphere in the British Mnsium made in 
1804 l>y Mr. William Frazer, b'.it according to Dr. Vincent it is not perfectly 

uL2 prince henry the navigator. 

on the east coast of Africa were prevented, by the force 
of the current, from venturing southward of the Cape, 
afterwards named by the Portuguese the Cabo dos Corrientes. 
It coukl only, therefore, be by communication with the' 
natives, or from some daring expedition such as that re- 
counted by Fra Mauro, that the form of the southern 
extremity of Africa coukl have been learned. The Indian 
junk, after being carried westward by the Great Lagulhas 
stream might, after passing forty days in the Atlantic, 
return by the southern connecting current, which, reinforced 
by the west wind in more southern latitudes (between 37° 
and 40°), brings back a portion of the waters of the Atlantic 
eastward into the Indian Ocean. (See " Humboldt's 
Geographic du Nouveau Continent," page 344.) 

It is more remarkable that the Camaldolese geographer 
makes no mention of the sources from which he derived his 
information. He does not even mention the names of the 
most renowned voyagers, not even that of his own country- 
man, Cadamosto, whose recent discoveries he was made 
acquainted with by direct communication. The unfortunate 
Doge, Francesco Foscarini, states in a letter that '' when he 
considered the success of Cadamosto's voyage, and witnessed 
the plan and commencement of Mauro's work, he trusted 
that Prince Henry would therein find new inducements to 
continue his explorations." But the sums expended by the 
Prince on his maritime expeditions were so large, that not 
only were his own revenues exhausted, as well as the profits 
derived from commerce with the African coast, but he died 
heavily involved in debts, which were partly paid by his 
nephew and adopted son, Dom Fernando, and partly by Don 
Manuel, the son of Fernando, while Duke of Beja. The 
Duke of Braganza, Dom Fernando I., in a declaration or 
codicil, dated 8th of November, 1440, declares that Prince 
Plenry owed him, in 1448, nineteen thousand three hundred 
and ninety-i'oiii- and a-half golden crowns, somewhat under 
£70,000, for the payment of which he had pledged his lands 
and goods, and in his will the Duke slates that this debt 

ovr.i! Tin: mi.k cati; or tiik. i\ns.\>■n:\t^ 



was furtlier iiicrensed by sixteen thousand and cighty-fonr 
golden crowns, nearly £00,000 more. 

But we have already seen that the Prince did not conlinc 
his exjDenditure or his patronage to the development of 
geographical knowledge. Having already in 1431 jiur- 
chased residences for the University of Lisbon, which had 
previously been obliged to rent its house-room, he, by a deed 
dated 25th March, 1448, established the chair of Theology 
in that University, and subsequently confirmed it by a 
charter dated from the Villa do Infante, at Sagres, the 22nd 
of September, 14G0. He ordered that every Christmas-day 
twelve silver marks should be given to the lecturer in that 
science out of the tithes of the island of Madeira. These 
important services gained for him the honourable designa- 
tion oi Protector of the studies of Portugal, in like manner as 
the maritime expeditions won for him the epithet of the 

His great nephew, the King Dom Manuel, had a statue of 
him placed over the centre column of the side gate of the 
church of Belem, in memory of his having been the founder 
of the little chapel of Restello for the service of sailors in 
the harbour, which chapel had stood upon the site of that 
magnificent church. On 24th of July, 1840, in the reign 
of Dona Maria 11. , at the instance of His Excellency the 
Viscount, now Marquis, de Sa da Bandeira, then Secretary 
of State of the Navy and Colonies, a monument to Prince 
Henry, prepared in 1839, was finally erected at Sagres, a 
representation of which, from a drawing most kindly sent 
to the author by His Excellency, is here given. 

The monument consists of one piece of marble, twelve 
palms and a half high, embedded in the wall over the inner 
gate of the principal entrance of the fort of Sagres. On 
the upper part of the monument is sculptured, as in the 
drawing, in semi-relief, the escutcheon of the Prince, with 
an armillary sphere on the right, and a ship in full sail on 
the left. The lower part of the monument contains two 
panels with an inscription on the one liehtw ihe spliere in 


Latin, and another on the one below the ship in Portuguese. 
The two inscriptions are as follows : — 

Aetern • Sacrum. 

Hoc • Loco. 

Magnus • Henricus • Joan. I. Portugal • Reg. Filius 

Ut • Transmarinas • Occidental • Afric^e • Regiones 

Antea • HoMiNiBus • Impervias • Patefaceret 

Indeque * Ad • Remotissimas • Orientis • Plagas 

Africa • Circumnavigata 

Tandem Perveniri • Posset 


Astronomic AM • Speculam • Amplissimaque • Navalia. 


Maximoque • Reipublic^ • Litterarum • Religionis 
Totiusque • HuMANi ' Generis • Bono 

Ad • EXTREMUM • VlTiE * Spiritum 

Inceedibili • Plane • Virtute • et • Constantia 

Conservavit • FoviT • ET • AuxiT. 

Obiit • Maximus • Princeps 

Postquam • Suis • Navigationibus • ab • Equinoctial • ad • viii. 

Versus • Septemtrionem • Gradum 


Quampluresque • Atlantici • Maris • Insulas • Detexit 

Et • CoLONis • ab • Lusitania • Deductis 


xiii . * Die • Novembr. • An. • Lom. • bi.cdlx. 

Maria • II. Portugal • et . Algarb • Regina. 

Ejus • Consanguinea 

Post • ccclxxix • annos 

H. M. P. J. 

Curante • Rei • Navalis • Administro 

Vice • Comitk • De • Sa • D\ • Bandeiea 




Monum • consagrado • a eternidado • o grando • 

Infixnte • d. hcnrique * filho • de • el-rei • do * portugal • 

d • joilo • I. tendo • emprehcndido • descobru* • as • regiocs ' 

ate • entao • descouhecidas • de • africa • occidental • 
c ' abrii" • assim • caminho • para • se ' chegar • por • mcio • 

da • circumnavegacao • africana • ate as • partes ' mais • 

romotas • do * oriento • fuudou • nestcs • lugares • a • sua • 

custa • • palacio • da • sua • liabitaeao • a • fiimosa • 

escola • de • cosmografia • o • obscrvatorio • 

astrouomico * e • as officinas • de • coustrucrao . 

uaval * conservaudo • promoveiido • e • augmcntando • 

tudo • isto • ate • ao ' termo • da • sua • vida • com • 

admiravel • esforco • e • constancia • e • com • 

grandissima • utilidade • do • reino • das • letras ' 

da • relegiao • e • de • todo • o gcnero • bumauo • falleceo • 

este • graude • principe • depois • de • ter • chcgado • 

com • suas • navegacoes • ate • o • 8° • gr • de • latitude * 

septemtr • e • de • ter • descoberto • e • povoado • de • 

geute • portuguezza • muitas • ilhas • do • atlantico • 

aos • XIII. • dias • de novembro • de • 14G0 • d • maria • II. ' 

rainha • de • portugal • e • dos • algarves • mandou • 

levantar • este • monumento • a • memoria • do • 

illustre • principe • seu • consanguineo • aos • 379 • 

annos • depois • do • seu • fallecimento • sendo • 

ministro • dos • negocios • da • marinha • e • 

ultramar • o • visconde • de • sa • da • bandoira • 


The following is a translation : — ' , . . . • 


In this Place 

the Great Prince Henry, son of John I., King of Portugal, having 
undertaken to discover the previously unknown regions of West 
Africa, and also to open a way by the circumnavigation of Africa 
to the remotest parts of the East, established at his own cost his 
Royal Palace, the famous School of Cosmography, the Astronomical 
Observatory, and the Naval Ai-senal, preserving, improving, and 


enlarging the same till the close of his life with admirable energy 
and perseverance, and to the greatest benefit of the kingdom, of 
literature, of religion, and of the Avhole human race. After reaching 
by his expeditions the eighth degree of north latitude, and dis- 
covering and planting Portuguese Colonies in many islands of the 
Atlantic, this great Prince died on the 13th of November, 1460. 
Three hundred and seventy-nine years after his death, Maria II., 
Queen of Portugal and the Algarves, commanded that this monu- 
ment should be erected to the memory of the illustrious Prince, 
her kinsman, the Viscount de Sa da Bandeira being Minister of 
Marine. 1839. 

To the kindness of Ills Excellency the Marqnis de Sii da 
Bandeira, I am also indebted for the accompanying plan of 
the promontory of Sagres, which was taken at the time by 
Captain Lourenr^o Germack Possollo, to whose able manage- 
ment the erection of the monument was entrusted. 

On this plan will be seen the site of the present small 
fort, which was erected in 1793, and the traces of the few 
ancient walls and ruins that remain. The hard granite 
rock of which the promontory consists is hollowed out at 
its base into a natural arch, and there are holes worn 
through to the surface, through which in time of storms 
from the south-west, the sea drives the air with terrific 
force, and expels to a considerable height any objects which 
may be in the way. On some occasions the sea water is 
driven through these holes in great quantity, and falls down 
on the surface of the earth in the form of rain. This salt- 
water shower, which will sometimes extend to a distance of 
nearly two miles, goes lar to destroy the very few traces of 
vegetation which are to be found on this desolate and sterile 



14G0— 1487. 

The death of Prince Henry produced the eifect that might 
have been expected. The progress of discovery received for 
the time a check when the presiding genius was removed 
from the scene of action. In the main the tendencies of King 
Affonso were rather towards conquest in Mauritania, and the 
support of his pretensions to the throne of Castile, than to 
the prosecution of discoveries on the west coast of Africa. 
Nevertheless the "talent de bien faire" had left behind it 
its impress in its example and its benefits, and we are not 
without something to record in the way of discovery, between 
the death of the Prince in 1460, and that of his nephew, King 
Affonso v., in 1481. Indeed in the year following the death 
of the Prince, the King was induced, by the great traffic in 
gold and negroes at the island of Arguin, to build a fort there 
to insure its safety. Its construction and commandership 
were committed to Soeiro Mendez, a gentleman of his 
household, to whom and to his heirs the King, by deed of 
July 26th, 1464, made a grant of the governorship-in-chief 
of the fortress. 

Cadamosto had reached the Rio Grande, and from his pen 
we have an account of the exploration of more jthan six 
hundred miles yet further south by a gentleman of the King's 
household, named Pedro de Cintra, whom tlie King had sent 


out in command of two armed caravels. The narrative was 
dictated to Cadamosto by a young Portuguese, who had been 
his secretary in his own two voyages, and who, after accom- 
panying Pedro de Cintra, returned to his former master, who 
still resided at Lagos. The date of the voyage is not given, but 
it was either in 1461 or 1462, since it occurred between the 
death of Prince Henry, at the close of 1460, and Cadamosto's 
departure from the Peninsula at the beginning of 1463. 
De Cintra first went to the two large inhabited islands, 
discovered by Cadamosto in his second voyage, at the mouth 
of the Rio Grande, on one of which they landed. In the 
miserable straw-thatched hovels in the interior they found 
some wooden figures, which led them to think that the 
blacks were idolaters, but as they were unable to hold any 
conversation with them, they returned to the ship and pro- 
ceeded on their voyage. After sailing forty miles, they 
reached the mouth of a large river, about three or four miles 
in breadth, called Beseque, from the name of the chief who 
lived at its mouth. A hundred and forty miles further on 
they came to a cape, which they called Cape Verga. The hills 
were lofty, and eighty miles beyond they came to another 
cape, which the sailors all agreed was the highest they had 
ever seen. It was covered with beautiful green trees, and 
had at its summit a point shaped like a diamond. In honour 
of Prince Henry, and in remembrance of his residence at 
Cape Sagres, the Portuguese gave it the name of " Caj)e 
Sagres of Guinea." The people worshipped wooden images 
in the shape of men, to which at mealtimes they oifered 
food. They were tawny rather than black, and had figures 
branded on their faces and bodies. They had no clothes, but 
simply wore pieces of the bark of trees in front of them. 
They had no arms, for they had no iron in their country. 
They lived on rice, honey, and vegetables, such as beans 
and kidney-beans, of a finer and larger kind than those of 
Europe. They had also beef and goats' fiesh, but in no 
great abundance. Near the ca})e were two little islands, one 
about six miles distant, the other eight, but too small to be 


inhabited. They were thickly covered with trees. Those 
who lived on this river* used very large canoes, each carrying 
from thirty to forty men, who rowed staniling, without row- 
locks. They had their ears pierced with holes all round, and 
wore in them a variety of gold rings. Both the men and 
women had the cartilage of their noses pierced and a ring- 
passed through it, like the butlaloes in Italy; but these they 
took off when they ate. 

About forty miles beyond Cape Sagres they found another 
river, which they called the San Vicente, about four miles 
broad at the mouth, and some five miles further they came 
to another river, called Rio Verde, yet broader at the mouth 
than the San Vicente. The country and coast were very 
mountainous, but there was good anchorage everywhere. 
Four-and-twenty miles from this Cape was another, which 
they called Cape Ledo, or " Joyous," on account of the 
beauty and verdure of the country. Further on was a lofty 
mountain range extending fifty miles, covered with fine trees, 
at the end of which, at about eight miles out at sea, were 
three little islands, the largest about ten or twelve miles in 
circumference. These they called the Selvagcns, and the 
mountain they called Sierra Leona, on account of the roaring 
of the thunder which is constantly being heard on its cloud- 
enveloped summit. 

Thirty miles beyond Sierra Leona they found a large river, 
three miles broad at its mouth. They called it Rio Roxo, or 
Red River, because passing through a red soil, it assumed 
that colour. Beyond was a cape, also of red colour, which 
they named Cabo Roxo ; and about eight miles out to sea, an 
uninhabited island, which for the same reason they called 

* The original text is exceedingly faulty, as for instance where above it is 
stated that the natives were marked with tire the Italian expression is " com 
ferro atfocata," with heated iron, whereas immediately afterwards it is stated 
that there was no iron in the country. Again, the two islets just mentioned are 
declared to be " one distant from the other six miles, the other eight," a piece of 
Hibernicism for which one is unprepared. So here reference is made to " this 
river " when no river whatever has been named. The river alluded to must be 
the Pongas, at the mouth of which Cape Sagies is situated. 


Illm Roxa. From this island (which is about ten miles 
from the Rio Roxo) the north star seemed to be about the 
height of a man above the sea. Beyond Cabo Roxo they 
discovered a gulf, into which flowed a river, and this they 
named Santa Maria das Neves,* " St. Mary of the Snows." 
They saw it on the 2nd of July, the visitation of the 
Blessed Virgin. On the other side of the river was a point, 
and opposite that, a little way out at sea, a small island. The 
gulf v/as full of sandbanks, running ten or twelve miles 
along the coast. The sea broke here with great violence, 
and there was a very powerful current, both at the ebb and 
flow of the tide. They called this island Ilha dos Bancos, 
on account of these sandbanks. 

Twenty-four miles beyond this island is a great cape, 
called Cabo de Santa Anna, because it was discovered on 
St. Anne's day, the 26th of July. Sixty miles beyond they 
found another river, which they called Rio das Palmas, on 
account of the many palms which grew on its banks ; but 
its mouth, though of considerable breadth, was full of sand- 
banks, which made it very dangerous. This was the cha- 
racter of the coast the whole distance between Cabo de 
Santa Anna and this river. About sixty miles further they 
discovered another small river, which they called Rio dos 
Fumos, because when they discovered it they could sec 
nothing on land but smoke. Four-and-twenty miles beyond 
this river, they discovered a cape jutting out into the sea, 
which they called Cabo del Monte, because beyond it they 
saw a very lofty mountain. Coasting thence for sixty 
miles, they saw another small cape, not very high, but 
similarly capped by a hill. This they called Cabo Mesurado. 
Here they observed a great number of lires, lighted by the 
blacks in consequence of their getting sight of the ships, 
the like of which tliey had never seen before. Sixteen 
miles beyond this cape, there was a wood of fine trees, 

* There would appciir to be sonic blumk'v here, us the feast of St. Marj^ of the 
Snows is on the 5th of August, which would not ueconl with the chronology of 
tlie voyage. 


reaching down to the sea. This thoy calK'd tlio Bosque de 
Santa Maria, or St. Mary's Grove. 

The caravels came to anchor beyond this wood, but no 
sooner had they arrived than some little canoes, witli two 
or three naked men in each, came towards them, some of 
them having- the remains of what seemed to be human 
teeth hang-ing on their necks. One of them they captured 
in order to bring him into communication with other blacks 
in Portugal, that they might gain information respecting 
his country, but nothing of importance could be gathered 
from him. He was subsequently sent back to his own 
country with clothes and other presents. Cadamosto in- 
forms us that no other ship had returned from that coast 
np to the period of his departure from the Peninsula, on 
the 1st of February, 1463. 

On the 12th of June, 1466, the King granted privi- 
leges to the colonists with respect to the Guinea trade, 
which were abused by them to an extent that caused the 
King by a new charter to restrict the use of these privileges 
to the limits of his original grant. 

In 1469, King Atfonso V. rented the trade of the 
African coast to Fernam Gomez, for five hundred cruzado? 
a year, for five years, reserving the ivory-trade only to the 
crown, and stipulating for the discovery of a hundred 
leagues of coast annually. This stipulated exploration was 
to commence at Sierra Leona, the point reached by Pedro 
de Cintra and Soeiro da Costa, who were the latest previous 
discoverers. The latter, who had already distinguished 
himself as one of the first explorers from Lagos, subse- 
quently discovered the river which received his name, but 
Avhich is now known as the Groat Bassam or Assinie River. 
The explorers selected by Fernam Gomez were Joao de 
Santarem, and Pedro de Escobar, both knights of the 
Kuig's household. The pilots were Martin Fernandez and 
Alvaro Esteves, the latter having at that time the liighest 
repute as a navigator in the whole kingdom. 

In January, 1471, they discovered the coast afterwards 



named La Mina, where so large a trade in gold-dust 
was carried on, and in the same year crossed the line 
and extended their explorations even as for as Cape 
St. Catherine, thirty-seven leagues beyond Cape Lopo 

Fernam Gomez acquired great wealth by this traffic, 
so that he was able to render good service to the King in 
his wars in Marocco. When his contract expired in 1474, 
the King conferred on him a coat-of-arms argent, three 
negroes' heads collared or, and with rings in their noses 
and ears. He also gave him the surname of Mina, in com- 
memoration of his important discovery. 

The last of the explorers, during the reign of King Af- 
fonso v., was a knight of his household named Sequeira, 
who discovered Cape St. Catherine, two degrees south of the 

On the death of Affonso V., his son and successor, 
Joao 11. , entered with zeal into the views of his prede- 
cessors and of his uncle Prince Henry. Before he came to 
the throne, a part of his revenues had been derived from the 
African trade, and the fisheries connected therewith, so that 
he had every inducement to prosecute its extension. With 
this view he not only ordered the completion of the Fort of 
Arguin, which had been commenced years before, but 
resolved on the construction of another, on a larger scale, 
at S. Jorge da Mina. The gold traffic had at first been 
carried on at a place called Saama, discovered in 1472, by 
Joao de Santarem and Pedro de Escover, in the service of 
Fernam Gomez, already mentioned ; but San Jorge de Mina 
was now selected for its suj^erior convenience. 

That the fort might be constructed the most expeditiously, 
both for preventing objections and saving his people from 
exposure to the dangers of the climate, the King took the 
precaution to have the stones cut and fashioned in Portugal. 
With these, and bricks, and wood, and other needful mate- 
rials, he loaded ten caravels and two smaller craft. He sent 
out also provisions suilicient for six hundred men, one 

THE STOllMY CAl'E. 323 

hundred of whom were officers to superintend the work. 
The command of this fleet was given to Diogo de Azam- 

It set sail on the 11th December, 1481, and after stopping 
to conchide a fjivourable treaty with Bezeguiche, the lord of 
the harbour and court which bore his name, they reached La 
Mina on the 19th of January, 1482. On the following 
morning they suspended the banner of Portugal from the 
bough of a lofty tree, at the foot of which they erected an 
altar, and the whole company assisted at the first mass that 
was celebrated in Guinea, and prayed for the conversion of 
the natives from idolatry, and the perpetual prosperity of 
the church which they intended to erect upon the spot. 

By good Juck they found there a small Portuguese vessel, 
the captain of which, Joiio Bernardes, was engaged in trafiic 
with the natives, and him they ]nade interpreter between 
Caramansa, the chief of the place, and Azambuja. The 
interview took place with the greatest ostentation pos- 
sible on both sides, a kind of rivalry in which, as may be 
supposed, the negro prince had a very sorry chance of pro- 
ducing any very imposing effect. Azambuja appeared in 
a tunic of brocade, with a collar of gold and precious 
stones, and his captains were all in holiday attire, while 
Caramansa, who was no less ambitious of making a good 
display, was habited, like the rest of his people, in the best 
vestments with which nature had provided them. With 
their skins anointed and glistening till their native blackness 
was made blacker still, they considered their toilette per- 
fect, although their only garment was an apron of monkeys' 
skin or palm leaves. To this extreme simplicity, however, 
Caramansa himself was in so far an exception that his arms 
and legs were adorned with bracelets and rings of gold, and 
round his neck a collar from which hung small bells, and 
some sprigs of gold were twisted into his beard, so that the 
curls were straightened by the weight. 

Azambuja then addressed the chieftain in the name of 
King Joao, commending to him the Christian religiou, 



which if he would recognise and be baptized, the King would 
regard him as a brother, and make with him an alliance, 
oflensive and defensive, against their common enemies, and 
enter into a treaty for the interchange of the })roducts of their 
respective countries. With this view he proposed, with the 
chieftain's permission, to found a permanent establishment 
in his country which should serve as a place of security 
against their enemies, as a refuge to the Portuguese who 
visited the coast, and also as a storehouse for their merchan- 
dise. Caram'ansa, who was very shrewd for a negro, after 
some hesitation, gave his consent. On the following day 
Azambuja put the work in hand, but no sooner was it com- 
menced than the negroes showed signs of an intention to 
interrupt it. Fortunately mischief was prevented by Azam- 
buja's learning that this arose from displeasure that the 
requisite presents had not as yet been offered to the chieftain. 
The oversight was soon remedied, and the work was set about 
with so much activity that in twenty days the fort was in a 
condition to repel an attack. Azambuja also built a church on 
the site, where on his arrival he had erected an altar. Both 
the church and the fort were dedicated to St. George. In 
the former, a daily mass was established in perpetuity for 
the soul of Prince Henry, and to the latter the King con- 
ceded the privileges of a municipality. Azambuja took up 
his abode there, with a garrison of sixty men, and sent back 
the rest to Portugal with gold and slaves and other articles 
of merchandise. By a charter of King John II., dated 
17th March, 1485, Diogo Azambuja received in recogni- 
tion of his great services in the wars, and especially in 
the construction of the fortress of San Jorge da Mina, the 
permission to add a castle to his arms in commemoration of 
the fact. 

Hitherto the Portuguese in making their explorations had 
contented themselves by setting up crosses by way of taking 
formal possession of any country ; but these crosses soon 
disapi)eared, and the object in setting them up was frustrated. 
They would also carve on trees the motto of Prince Henry, 


"Talent de Lien faire," togetlier with tlio name Avliicli tlioy 
gave to the iie\vl3'-(liscovereJ land. In the reign of King 
Jojio, however, they began to erect stone pilkirs surmounted 
hy a cross. These pillars, which were designed by the King, 
were fourteen or fifteen hands high, with the royal arms 
sculptured in front, and on the sides were inscribed the 
names of the King and of the discoverer, as well as the date 
of the discovery, in Latin and Portuguese. These pillars 
were called Padraos. 

In 1484, Diogo Cam, a knight of the King's household, 
carried out with him one of these stone pillars, and passing 
Cape St. Catherine, the last point discovered in the reign of 
King Afibnso, reached the mouth of a large river, on the south 
side of which he set up the pillar, and accordingly called 
the river the Rio do Padrao. The natives called it Zaire. It was 
afterwards named the Congo, from the country through which 
it flowed. Diogo Cam ascended the river to a little distance, 
and fell in with a great number of natives, who were very 
peacefully inclined, but although he had interpreters of 
several of the African languages, none of them could make 
themselves understood. He accordingly determined to take 
some of the natives back with him to Portugal, that they 
might learn the Portuguese language and act as interpreters 
for the future. This was easily managed, and without any 
violence, by sending Portuguese hostages to the King of 
Congo, with a promise that in fifteen months the negroes 
should be restored to their country. He took with him four 
of the natives, and on the voyage they learned enough Por- 
tuguese to enable them to give a fair account of their own 
country and of those which lay to the south of it. The King 
Joiio was greatly gratified, and treated the negroes with much 
kindness and even munificence, and when Diogo Cam took 
them back the fullowiug year, the King charged them with 
many presents for their own sovereign, accompanied by the 
earnest desire that he and his people would embrace the 
Christian religion. Up to the year 14bo, John II. used 
the title of King of Portugal and the Al^arves on this side 


the sea and beyond tlie sea in Africa,* but in this year he 
added thereto that of Lord of Guinea. f 

In this remarkable voyage Diogo Cam was accompanied 
by Martin Behaim, the inventor of the application of the 
astrolabe to navigation, and to whom has been erroneously 
attributed the first idea of the discovery of America. 

A singular train of collateral events places Behaim in 
curious juxtaposition and comparison with the great Colum- 
bus, whose glory he never wished to disparage, although 
others have attempted to do so for him. J Born in the same 
year, the two men died in the same month. Behaim, though 
a native of Nuremberg, took up his residence with his wife in 
a remote island in the Atlantic, Fayal, of which his father- 
in-law, Jobst de Huerter, was the Captain Donatary : Co- 
lumbus, a native of Genoa, married the daughter of that 
Perestrello to whom, as we have already seen. Prince Henry 
gave the commandership of Porto Santo. Like Behaim, he 
lived with his wife on her family property in that singularly 
analogous position, so calculated to develop the ardent desire 
of each for geographical discovery. Both these illustrious 
men were at Lisbon at the same time, and both engaged in 
nautical projects. The same physicians of King Joao IL, 
Mestre Eodrigo and Mestre Josef, who were entrusted by 
Diogo Ortiz, Bishop of Ceuta, to examine the project of 
Columbus for sailing to Cipango by the west, worked with 
Martin Behaim in the construction of an astrolabe adapted to 
the purposes of navigation. Another link between Columbus 
and Behaim was the tutor of the latter, the celebrated 
llegiomontanus (Johann Miiller, a native of Koenigsberg in 

* Tins nrosc from tlio name of Algarb being givon hj the Moors to the Prince 
of Fez, wliile the southernmost province of I'ortugal bore the same name. 

t Kuy de I'ina. Chron. cap. 19 of the Ined. dellist. Port, published by the 
Royal Acad, of Sciences, torn. 2, page 65. JoJloP. Ribeii'O. Dissert. Ctronol. e 
Critica, torn. 2, page 207, and Garcia de Resende. Clu-on de D. Joao 2, cap. 56. 

X Chief among these is M. ]\[uiT,in a memoir originally -written in German and 
translated into French with the title of " Notice siu' le Chevalier Martin Behaim 
avec la description de son Globe Terrcstro, traduite par 11. J. Jansen." It is 
inserted at the end of Ainoretti's edition uf Pigui'etla't; Voyage Round the World 
published Paris, An 9. 


Franconia). In 1463 ho dedicated to Toscanelli (whose 
letter to Cohmibus is so famous in the history of the dis- 
covery of America) his treatise on the Quadrature of the 
Circle, in which he refuted the pretended solution of that 
problem by the Cardinal Nicolas de Cusa. Dissatisfied with 
the astronomical tables of Aftonso the Wise, known as the 
Alphonsine Tables, but which he maliciously called the 
Alphonsine Dream, Eegiomontanus published at Nuremberg 
his famous astronomical Ephemerides, calculated prospec- 
tively for the years 1475 to 150G, and which were used on 
the coasts of Africa, America, and India in the first great 
voyages of discovery of Bartholomew Dias, Gama, and 
Columbus. (See Humboldt, Examen Critique, tom. i. 
p. 274.) 

But the most prominent material that has been employed 
for detraction from the fame of Columbus in favour of Martin 
Behaim, was the famous globe made by the latter in 1492, 
and still existing in the possession of his descendants in their 
ancient mansion in Nuremberg. All sorts of claims have 
been set up by the Nurembergers on behalf of their distin- 
guished countryman on the asserted evidence of this globe. 
Hartmann Schedel, in the famous Nuremberg Chronicle, 
published in 1493, had happened to speak of Behaim and 
Cam having crossed the equator and reached the other 
hemisphere, and this suggestive declaration seems to have 
supplied the Nurembergers with the idea that long before 
Columbus or Magellan sailed in those seas, Behaim had dis- 
covered not only America, but the straits of Magellan. The 
best refutation of these assertions is Behaim's globe itself, 
copies of which are given in the elegant Life of Behaim, by 
Dr. F. W. Ghillany, published in Nuremberg, 1853, and in 
the magnificent atlas prepared by the Vicomte de Santarera, 
and elsewhere. Even letters by Behaim himself, found in 
the archives of Nuremberg, have been referred to in ratifi- 
cation of the same claims ; but their futility is proved by the 
date of the letters themselves (1486) plainly pointing to 
the voyage with Diogo Cam, the limits of which are clearly 


defined, and from which Behaim returned in April or May 
of that year. 

There is on Behaim's globe a legend of much importance 
to this part of our narrative. Below the Bhas do Principe 
and S. Thome is the following statement : — " These islands 
were discovered by the ships of the King of Portugal in 
1484. We found them all deserts, nothing but woods and 
birds. ■ The King of Portugal sends to them every year 
those who are condemned to death, both men and women, to 
cultivate the land and sustain themselves with its produce, 
so that they may be inhabited by Portuguese. It is spring 
there when it is winter in Europe, and the birds and beasts 
are all different from ours. There is a great abundance of 
amber there, called in Portugal algalia^''' by which I presume 
he means civet. Now Barros and others make these islands 
to have been discovered in the time of Affonso [before 
1481]. Galvao says 1471 or 1472, but I have not found 
Galvao generally trustworthy for dates. De Barros' ex- 
pression is : — " There were also discovered, by command of 
King Affonso, the islands of S. Thome, Annobon, and Principe, 
and others, of which we do not now speak particularly, 
because we do not know when or by what captains they were 
discovered ; but we do know, by common report, that more 
was discovered in that King's reign than we have been able 
to write down." It is of course impossible therefore to say, 
under such circumstances, whether in Behaim's voyage in 
1484 these islands were for the first or second time dis- 
covered. It is, however, generally believed, and with high 
probability, that Joiio de Santarem and Pero de Escobar, 
both knights of the King's household, went out in 1470, on 
account of Fernam Gomes, to explore the coast beyond Cape 
Palmas, and took with them, for their pilots, Martin Fer- 
nandez of Lisbon, and Alvaro Esteves of Lagos, and that, 
in spite of the calms, south winds, and northward currents 
common in that gulf, they managed to run along the whole 
of the coast of the kingdom of Benin, and on the 21st of 
December, St. Thomas's Day, sighted a lofty island covered 


with wood, to which they gave the name of that apostle. 
Ou the 1st of January, 1471, they are supposed to have 
come upon a smaller island, to which they gave the name of 
Anno Bom, or Good Year, in memory of the happy omen 
that it was discovered on New Year's Day. And in truth a 
good year it was, for in that same month of January they 
made the first traffic in gold on the Gold Coast, in the 
village of Sama, between Cape Three Points and La Mina, 
whither they were carried by the currents and breezes from 
the south, after having sighted the terra firma of Cape Lopo 
Gonsalves. In this same voyage they discovered the Ilha do 
Principe, but it is not kno^vn on what day. It was, probably, 
in the passage from Cape Lopo Gonsalves to the Gold Coast, 
in 1471 ; and as they originally gave the island the name 
of Santo Antao, or Saint Anthony, we may infer that it was 
discovered on the 17 th of January, which is the day of that 
saint's commemoration. It afterwards received the name of 
Ilha do Principe, because the King's eldest son had assigned 
to him, as his appanage, the duty on the sugars grown in 
the island. Whether the Ilha Formosa, or Beautiful Island, 
discovered by Fernam do P6, a gentleman of the King's 
household, whose name it afterwards received, was discovered 
in this vo3'age, or as some have supposed in 1486, when, as 
we shall presently see, Joae Aflbnso de Aveiro was sent by 
King Joao U. on an especial mission to the King of Benin, 
and in which voyage the first African pepper was brought to 
Portugal, we possess no evidence to show. However all this 
may have been, it would seem that the islands were now, in 
Cam's voyage, for the first time brought under the notice of 
the Government and turned to any account. But there is 
another point in connection with these islands, which demands 
consideration. It will have been noticed that in previous 
voyages, when islands at a distance from the mainland had 
been discovered, it had been through the vessels being driven 
on them by storms ; as, for example, the discovery of Porto 
Santo by Zarco, and of the Cape Verde Islands by Antonio 
de Nolle and Diogo Gomez, but in the present case we have 


islands, one, S. Thome, more than fifty, the other, Annobon, 
more than eighty leagues distant from the mainland, dis- 
covered without the interference of any storm whatever, of 
which we are informed. The reasonable inference seems to 
be that the navigators used their newly-improved nautical 
instruments to good purpose, and were able to leave the 
coast with impunity, which their predecessors were not in 
the position to do, for want of being able to take the altitude. 
From Behaim's globe we derive the following statement : — 

" In the year 1484, King John of Portugal fitted out two caravels, 
well provided with men, provisions, and munitions of war for three 
years, and he ordered that after passing the Straits, they should 
proceed southv/ard and eastward as far as they possibly could. 
The vessels were laden with all sorts of merchandise for barter. 
There were also taken out eighteen horses with their harness for 
presents to the several kings, one for each, as we might find it ex- 
pedient. We also took all sorts of spices to show the natives what 
we went in search of. We sailed from Lisbon straight to Madeira, 
where the Portuguese sugar grows. Passing the Canaries, we 
found some Moorish chiefs, with whom we interchanged presents, 
and afterwards came to the kingdom of Gambia, where the 
malaguette grows, eight hundred leagues distant from Portugal. 
Thence we passed twelve hundred leagues to the dominions of 
the King of Furfur, where grows the pepper called Portuguese 
pepper."' Far beyond that country we found the cnsca de canella 
[or cinnamon], where, having then sailed a distance of two 
thousand three hundred leagues, we turned back and reached 
Lisbon in the nineteenth month from our departure." 

This statement is confirmatory of the dates derived from 
Barros. As Diogo de Azambuja reached La Mina on the 
19th of January, 1482, and remained there two years and 
seven montlis, he would be back in Lisbon at the end of 
August or beginning of September, 1484, and as Diogo 
Cam did not start till his return, if he left in October or 

* The designation of the "Grain Coast " is derived from the "Grains of 
Paradise," " Guinea Grains " or malaguette pepper, which is there produced. 


November the addition of the nineteen months above stated 
by Behaim wonkl make their return to Lisbon fall in May 
or June of 148G, as stated by Barros. It must, however, be 
confessed that the cinnamon mentioned by Behaim is not to 
be found on the west coast of Africa, and must have been 
confounded by him with some other aromatic tree that grew 
on that coast. 

Diogo Cam did not forget his promise to return with his 
charges to Congo within the fifteen months. When he 
reached the Congo River he was received with great wel- 
come by the natives, and by their King. He then pro- 
ceeded further south, and planted two pillars surmounted by 
crosses, one named St. Augustine, in 15° 50' south, and the 
other at a point w^hich they called the Manga das Areas, or 
Sleeve of Sands, in 22'^, now called Cape Cross by the English. 
The cross is still in good preservation, only part of one of 
the arms being gone. (See a letter by William Messem, 
in Nautical Magazine for 1855, p. 211.) It is here that 
the country of the Cimbebas terminates, and that of the 
Hottentots begins. Cam thus traversed more than two 
hundred leagues beyond the Congo, landing occasionally, 
and taking some of the natives for the sake of the language. 

On his retm-n he was received by the King of Congo with 
marked affection, and had the happiness of inspiring him 
with a great desire to receive instruction in the tenets of the 
Christian religion. For this purpose, he not only requested 
that priests might be sent out from Portugal, but he himself 
despatched one of his own subjects, named Ca^uta, with 
some youths to urge this request. On their arrival, the 
King and Queen stood sponsors for Ca9uta, who received 
the King's name of Joiio for his Christian name, with the 
surname of Silva, from his other godfather Ayres da Silva, 
the King's chamberlain. The whole of the little embassy 
were baptized before their return to Africa, in the year 
1490, and thus originated the diffusion of Christianity in 
those benighted countries. 

The expedition which took them back consisted of three 


ships under the command of Gonzalo de Sousa, but this 
commander died at Cape Verde, and was succeeded by his 
nephew Euy de Sousa. On their arrival in Congo, they 
were warmly received by an aged uncle of the King named 
Mani SoDO,wdio very shortly received baptism, and was named 
Manuel. His son was also baptized, and took the name of 
Antonio. This was the first baptism that was adminis- 
tered in those heathen countries. It took place on Easter- 
day, the 3rd of April, 1491. Twenty-five thousand men 
were present at the ceremony. The King was fifty leagues 
away at the time, but when he heard of it he testified his 
approval by bestowing on his uncle a large increase of terri- 
tory, and he ordered the idols to be destroyed throughout 
his dominions. Indeed, so zealous was he for the main- 
tenance of reverence for everything sacred, that on one occa- 
sion when some of his people made a disturbance at the 
door of the church which the Portuguese had constructed of 
boughs, he would have had them put to death but for the 
intercession of the priests. The King's residence was at 
Ambasse Congo, about twenty leagues from the sea-coast, 
where he received Euy de Sousa. When at two leagues 
from the city he was met by a chieftain, accompanied by a 
great host of men formed in procession, who to the noise of 
trumpets and kettle-drums, barbarously constructed, sang 
the praises of the King of Portugal, three or four singing 
a verse, and the whole body joining in the chorus. The 
King sat on a throne of ivory, raised on a lofty wooden plat- 
form, so that he could be seen from all sides. From his 
waist upwards, his black and glittering skin was uncovered. 
Below that he wore a piece of damask which had been given 
him by Diogo Cam. On his left arm was a bracelet of 
copper, and from the shoidder hung a dressed horse's tail, 
which was a symbol of royalty. He had a cap on his head 
resembling a mitre made of palm leaves so skilfully that 
it had the a2)pearance of stamped velvet, lluy de Sousa 
made his obeisance to him in the Portuguese fiishion, which 
the King returned in his ; that is, he put his right hand on the 


ground as if to take up dust; lie then passed his hand first 
over Sousa's hreast, and then over his own, which was tlic 
greatest courtesy he couhl show him. He not only gave 
permission to buihl a church, hut ordered one of his chief- 
tains to provide materials and labourers, so that no time 
might he lost. The first stone was laid on the 3rd of May, 
and the work proceeded so rapidly that the church was com- 
pleted on the 1st of June. It was dedicated to the Holy 
Cross, and afterwards became the Cathedral Church of a 
bishopric. The King himself received baptism in presence 
of a hundred thousand men, who were brought together both 
by curiosity and the preparations for a war with some rebels, 
who had done great mischief in his territory. He took the 
name of Joao, and the Queen that of Leonora, from the 
Portuguese sovereigns. After the ceremony he proceeded 
to the battle, and with more than eighty thousand men in 
the fiekl, won an easy victory over the rebels. When they 
returned the King's eldest son was baptized, and took the 
name of Alfonso. 

The King's second son, however, named Panso Aquitimo 
not only rejected the Christian religion, but excited others 
to do the same. One great ground of dissatisfaction was 
that the Church forbad them to have more than one wife, 
and at this the King himself took olience, and relaxed 
from his original fervour, even so far as to leave the crown 
to his second son to the prejudice of the eldest. At the 
death of the old King, however, Affonzo recovered his right 
by force, and, firm to the religion of his adoption, zealously 
developed the Christian faith throughout his dominions, 
and sent his children and grand-children to Portugal to be 
educated, and two of these young princes afterwards received 
consecration as Bishops. 

In the course of a century from this time, the Portuguese 
having become well established in Congo, we find one of their 
countrymen, Duarte Lopes, going on a mission from the King 
of Congo to Pope Sixtus V. and Philip II., King of Si)ain 
and Portugal, for the purpose of representing the dei)lorable 


condition of Christianity in the country at that time, and 
begging for missionaries. Lopes then related to Felipe 
Pigafetta, the account of his observations while in Africa 
during the years 1578 to 1587 ; and this narrative, under 
the title of " Eelatione del Reame di Congo," was published 
by Pigafetta at Rome, in 1591, 4°. This rare work is accom- 
panied by two maps, of one of which a reduction is annexed, 
and from which, as well as from the account which I shall 
proceed to extract from the text, it will be seen that the two 
great equatorial lakes, Victoria Nyanza and Albert Nyanza, 
with their probable southern feeder, lake Tanganyika, the 
positive existence of which has only been made known to 
us in recent years by our noble explorers. Burton and Speke, 
and Sir Samuel Baker, were actually laid down and described 
from information gathered in Africa by a Portuguese three 
hundred years ago. But though so laid down and described, 
these three great facts, of such vital importance to the question 
of the discovery of the sources of the Nile, slept and remained 
unrepeated by geographers during all those centuries, until 
our brave adventurers unfolded the truth from absolute per- 
sonal observation. 

The single fact of the map exhibiting, as none of its pre- 
decessors or successors had done, these three important lakes 
so recently discovered, would be sufficient to justify us in 
hoping for enlightenment on points which have not yet been 
established by satisfactory modern observation. But, vague 
and strange as its delineation will appear to eyes accustomed 
to neater and more systematic cartography, it contains 
several other items of information which I can point out 
as wanting in subsequent maps, until they had become 
matters of fact substantiated by recent explorations. 

To begin at the north, it is not improbable that in the 
Lago Cliinanda we have Clapperton's Lake Chad, although 
considerably north of the true position, and the Lago de 
Nubia may well be the Liba Lake ; but of these I speak 
with much hesitation. I can with far greater confidence 
call attention to the fact that on this map for the first time 


is laid down the great empire of Mononioezi, or Uniamuezi, 
occupying in a remarkably striking manner a position be- 
tween the easternmost of the two equatorial lakes and 
another vast lake to the south-west, exactly corresponding 
with the true position of that country between the Victoria 
Nyanza and Lake Tanganyika. In the north-east is the 
Lago Barcena corresponding with Lake Dembea, with an 
affluent of the White Nile issuing from it, —a fact by no 
means unworthy of notice, even though the indistinctness 
of the delineation leaves us in doubt Avhether the Atbara or 
Bar-el-Azreh may be intended : moreover, the name of 
Barsena still survives in another affluent of the White Nile. 
Nor is it without significance that north-westward of the 
Lake Colue, which answers to the Victoria Nyanza, there 
occurs the word Barimboa, closely expressing Baringo, the 
name of the water north-west of that great lake. 

If we travel further south, we find near to each other the 
names of Matemba and Quimbebe, suggestive of an in- 
distinct piece of information respecting Kabebe, the court 
of the great Sovereign of Matiamvo, to whom the King of 
Casembe was a tributary. Yet further south, on the Tropic 
of Capricorn, we find the word Butua representing on its 
proper position the country of the Bechuanas. We have 
here a sufficient amount of approximately correct informa- 
tion as established by recent exploration, to justify us in 
inquiring what further the author of the map can tell us 
with reference to the important subject of the tide. Un- 
fortunately we get not the slightest recognition of two great 
lakes south of these on the Equator. One only is spoken 
of, but I propose to show that the two great lakes of 
Tanganyika and Livingstone's Nyassa have been confused 
into one, doubtless through the information being procured 
from various sources. The following is the statement in 
the work which the map was made to illustrate : — 

"The Nile does not rise in the country of Bel Giau, /.''. Prcstor 
John (the Emperor of Abyssinia), nor in the Mountains of the Moon, 


nor, as Ptolemy ^viites, from two lakes Ipng east and west of each 
other, with about four hundred and fifty miles between them. For 
in the latitude in which he places these two lakes lies the kingdom 
of Congo and Angola on the west ; and on the east are the empire 
of Monomotapa and the kingdom of Sofala, the distance from sea 
to sea being twelve hundred miles. In this region Lopes stated 
that there was only one lake, on the confines of Angola and Mono- 
motapa. It is one hundred and ninety-five miles in diameter, as 
he learned from the people of Angola on the west, and those of 
Sofala and Monomotapa on the east ; and while they give us a full 
account of this, they mention no other lakes, whence we may con- 
clude that there is no other in that latitude. It is true that there 
are two lakes, not lying east and west, but north and south of each 
other, and about four hundred miles apart. Some of the natives 
think that the Nile, issuing from the first lake, flows underground 
and again appears ; but Lopes denies this. The first lake is in 
12'^ S. lat., and like a shell, and surrounded by very lofty moun- 
tains, the highest of which on the east are calletl Cafates, and on 
both sides are mountains from which saltpetre and silver are dug. 
The Nile flows thence four hundred miles due north, and enters 
another very great lake, which the natives call a sea. It is larger 
than the first, for it is two hundred and twenty miles across, and 
lies under the equinoctial line. Respecting this lake very certain 
information is given by the Anzichi, near Congo. They say that 
there are people on it who sail in great ships, and who write and 
have weights and measures, such as they have not in Congo. 
Their houses were built of stone and lime, and equalled those of 
the Portuguese, whence it might bo inferred that Prester John was 
not far off. From this second lake the Nile flows seven hundred 
miles to the island of Mcroe, and receives other rivers, the principal 
of which is the River Colues, so named because it issues from a 
lake of that name on the borders of Melinde, and when the Nile 
reaches Meroe it divides into two branches, and embraces a high 
land named Meroe, to the right of which, on the cast, is a river 
named Abagni that rises in the Lake Braeina and crosses the 
empire of Prester John till it reaches that island." 

Now if there be any value in this statement at all, coin- 
ciding as it does with considerable accuracy with what we 


now know of the relative positions of the two equatorial 
lakes and Tanganyika, it is impossible to avoid identifying- 
the latter lake with that here described as the headwater of 
the Nile, which confirms the suggestion recently put forth 
by our distinguished geographer, Mr. Findlay, that the 
waters of the Lake Tanganyika fall into the Albert Nyanza. 
(See Transactions of Royal Geographical Society Meeting 
of June 3rd, 1867.) At the same time, the latitude of 
12° S., and the placing the lake described on the confines of 
Angola and Monomotapa, plainly indicate the Lake Nyassa 
of Livingstone ; but, clearly, it is quite possible for a 
certain amount of accurate information to have been derived 
from the natives with respect to both these lakes, though 
from want of completeness in the information, confusion 
may easily have arisen. 

While, however, the teaching of the doctrines of Chris- 
tianity was thus successful in Congo, it was far otherwise in 
the kingdom of Benin, which lay between Congo and the Fort 
of St. Jorge da Mina. At about the same time that Diogo 
Cam was returning for the first time under such propitious 
circumstances from Congo, one Joao Affonso de Aveiro Wiis 
commissioned by the King of Benin to convey an ambassador 
to the King of Portugal, with a request that he would send 
missionaries to teach his people the Christian religion. His 
real object, however, was much more to strengthen his 
hands against his enemies than to secure the blessings of 
Christianity. The mission accordingly languished, and the 
unwholesomeness of the locality caused many deaths, 
amongst the earliest to succumb being Aveiro himself. The 
negro ambassador, however, had informed King Joao that 
eastward of Benin, some three hundred and fifty leagues in 
the interior, lived a powerful monarch named Ogane, who 
held both temporal and spu'itual dominion over all the 
neighbouring kings, and that the King of Benin on his own 
elevation to the throne sent him an eml)assy witli rich 
presents, and received from him the investiture and insignia 
of sovereignty. These latter consisted of a stall' and cap of 



shining bmss by way of sceptre and crown, with a cross of 
brass. Without this ceremony the kings were not held to 
be legitimized. The ambassadors never saw this monarch 
during the whole term of their stay at his court. Only on 
the day of audience he showed one of his feet, which they 
kissed with reverence as something holy. At their departure 
a cross of brass was thrown over the neck of each in the 
name of the King, and this liberated Ihe wearer from all 
slavery, and was to him as an ennobling order of chivalry. 

The story tallied so remarkably with the accounts of 
Prester John which had been brought to the peninsula by 
Abyssinian priests, that the King was seized with an ardent 
desire to get enlightened upon this subject, for he plainly 
saw how immensely his double object of spreading Chris- 
tianity and extending his commerce by opening the road to 
the Indies would be furthered by an alliance with such a 
sovereign. It was, as has been sliown in a previous chapter, 
the idea of the geographers of the time that the sources of 
the fSenegal and the I^ile were very near to each other. The 
King therefore gave orders that as soon as the fortress at the 
mouth of the Senegal was comj^leted the ascent of the 
river should be made as far as its source ; but he little fore- 
saw the difficulties of such an undertaking. He nevertheless 
determined that both by sea and land the attempt should be 
made to reach the country of Prester John. 

By sea he sent, in August, 1486, two vessels of fifty tons 
respectively, under the command of Barrholomeu Dias and 
.Joiio Infante. A smaller craft which carried the provisions 
was commanded by Pedro Dias, Bartliolomeu's brother. Of 
this voyage, however, we shall speak more fully after that 
we have described the measures which the King adopted 
with the view of finding, if possible, the country of Prester 
John by land. The first persons whom he sent out with 
this object were Father Antonio de Lisboa and one Pedro 
dc Montarryo; but when they reached Jerusalem ^they found 
that without knowing Arabic it would be useless to continue 
their voyage, and therefore they returned. 


On the 7th of May, 1487, however, the King despatched 
two men who were not wanting in that respect, viz., Pedro 
de Covin 1 am and Alfonso de Payva. They went by Naples 
and Rhodes to Alexandria and Cairo, and so to Aden, where 
they separated with an agreement to meet at a certain time 
at Cairo. They left Lisl)on for Na})les, where, says Alvarez, 
their bills of exchange were paid by the son of Cosmo dc 
Medicis ; and from Naples tliey sailed to the island of 
Rhodes. Then crossing over to Alexandria, they travelled 
to Cairo as merchants, and proceeding with the caravan to 
Tor on the Red Sea, at the foot of Mount Sinai, gained some 
information relative to the trade with Calicut. Thence they 
sailed to Aden, where they parted ; Covilham directed his 
course towards India, and Payva towards Suakem in 
Abyssinia, appointing Cairo as the future place of their 

At Aden, Covilham embarked in a Moorish ship for 
Cananor, on the Malabar coast, and after some stay in 
that city, went to Calicut and Goa, being the first of his 
countrymen who had sailed on the Indian Ocean. He then 
passed over to Sofala, on the eastern coast of Africa, and 
examined its gold mines, where he procured some intelligence 
of the island of St. Lawrence, called by the Moors the 
Island of the Moon, now known as Madagascar. 

Covilham had now, according to Alvarez, heard of cloves 
and cinnamon, and seen pepper and ginger ; he therefore 
resolved to venture no further until the valuable information 
he possessed was conveyed to Portugal. With this idea he 
returned to Egypt ; but found on liis arrival at Cairo, where 
he met with messengers from King Joao, that Payva had 
died a short time before. The names of these messengers 
were Rabbi Abraham of Beja, and Joseph of Lamego ; the 
latter immediately returned with letters from Covilham, 
containing, among other curious facts, the following re- 
markable report : — " That the ships which sailed down the 
coast of Guinea might he sure of reaching the termination of 
the continent^ by j^ersisting in a course to the south ; and that 

z 2 


when they should arrive in the eastern ocean, their best direction 
must he to inquire for Sqfala, and the Island of the Moon'" 
{Madagascar). Rabbi AbraliaDi and his companion, having 
already visited the city of Baghdad and the island of Ormnz, 
had made tliemselves acquainted with many particulars re- 
specting the spice trade. This alone was sufficient to 
recommend them to the patronage of Joao IL, and they 
accordingly were employed by him to seek Covilham and 
Payva at Cairo, with additional directions to go to Ormuz 
and the coast of Persia, in order to improve their com- 
mercial information. 

Covilham eagerly embraced this opportunity to visit Ormuz, 
and having attended Abraham to the Gulf of Persia, they 
returned together to Aden, whence the latter hastened to 
give King Joao an account of their tour, and Covilham 
embarked for Abyssinia to complete that part of his voyage 
wliich the death of Payva had hitherto frustrated. 

Crossing the Straits of Babelmandeb, he landed in the 
dominions of the Negus. That prince took him with 
him to Shoa, the residence of the court, where he met 
with a very favourable reception. He at length became so 
necessary to the prince, that he was compelled to spend the 
remainder of his life in Abyssinia. He married in that 
country, and from occupying highly important posts, 
amassed a considerable fortune. It is stated by Alvarez, 
that when, in 1525, the Portuguese embassy under Don 
llodriguez de Lima arrived in Abyssinia, Covilham shed 
tears of joy at the sight of his fellow-countrymen. He 
passed thirty-three years of his life in Abyssinia, and died 
there. From his letter to King Joao, already quoted, it 
will be seen that to him is to be assigned the honour of the 
theoretical discovery of the Cape of Good JHope, as that of 
the practical discovery will presently be shown to belong to 
Dias and Da Gama. 

Meanwliih^ in the year 14S8, the King had fitted out a 
considerable armament witli (lie view of founding another 
station at tiie mouth of the Senegal, similar to that of iSan 


Jorge da Mina, but this project met with very diftcrcnt 
success. It so hajjpened that the Prince of the Jaloil's, a 
man whose vicious habit of life made the cares of ruling 
irksome, had to a certain extent abandoned the government 
to his uterine brother, named Bemoi, and in so doing had 
slighted the claims of his two brothers, the sons of the late 
king. Bemoi, who was a man of talent and energy, strength- 
ened himself against the princes, his rivals, by forming a 
close alliance with the Portuguese, to whom he never failed 
to show every possible attention and kindness. All went 
on well till the death of the King, who was assassinated at 
the instigation of his brothers. Bemoi now found himself 
engaged in open warfare, and naturally appealed for help to 
his allies. King Joiio promised him every help if only he 
would become a Christian and be baptized, and for this 
purpose sent out anjbassadors with presents and accompa- 
nied by missionaries. Bemoi promised to do what was 
required of him, but objected that it was highly inexpedient, 
during a civil war, to make a change which would naturally 
alienate even many of his own partizans, but he engaged 
that, if he should obtain quiet possession of the kingdom, 
he would not only embrace Christianity, but would make 
the whole nation do the same. A year thus passed, during 
which the commerce was seriously interrupted by the war, 
and the Portuguese merchants complained to King Jofio, 
who, finding that Bemoi did not embrace Christianity, 
ordered all his subjects under heavy penalties to leave him 
and return to Portugal. Bemoi became alarmed, and sent a 
nephew of his in company with the Portuguese, with a 
collar of gold and a hundred picked slaves as a present to 
the King, in the hope of securing his assistance. There was 
not time, however, for him to receive the answ^er, for he was 
beaten and with difficulty escaped to the fortress of Arguin, 
whence he embarked for Portugal, with twenty-five of his 
most faithful adherents. 

When the King heard of his arrival he had him conducted 
io the Palace of Palmella, where he was treated with the 


greatest magnificence until he should make his public entry 
into Lisbon. On that occasion his jiassage through the 
streets was an ovation, and he was received with the 
greatest pomp, both by the King and Queen at separate 
palaces, each surrounded by a numerous court of ladies and 
grandees. For a long time Bemoi had been receiving in- 
struction in the tenets of Christianity ; so that the King's 
anxiety was gratified by his spontaneous request, that he 
and his companions might be admitted by baptism into the 
Christian Church. He was baptized in the Queen's palace, 
by the Bishop of Ceuta, on the 3rd of December, 1489, and 
received the King's name of Jojio. On the following day 
the King dubbed him knight, and gave him for arms, gules 
a cross or between the five escutcheons of Portugal. 

Meanwhile the King equipped twenty caravels, well j^ro- 
vided with men, and provisions, and munitions of war, and 
everything requisite for the construction of a fortress, to- 
gether with a number of missionaries for the conversion of 
the heathen. Unhappily for the fulfilment of the King's 
desires, the command was entrusted to Pedro Vaz da Cunha, 
a man of brutal nature, who, in a moment of spleen at 
finding the foundations of the new fortress laid in an un- 
healthy position, in which it would be his duty for some 
time to reside, stabbed Bemoi to death upon an empty 
pretence that he had plotted treason against him. Not only 
the negroes, but the Portuguese themselves were horrified 
at this act of baseness, which caused the King much pain. 
He contented himself, however, with leaving Da Cunha to 
his remorse, which would probably be but a trivial punish- 
ment to so heartless a coward. 

But it is time we revert to that most important expedi- 
tion of which Bartholomeu Dias was the commander, and 
which, ;is we stated on page 338, set sail for the south in 
1486. It was fitting that a Dias should be the first to 
accomplish the great task which it luul been the ruling 
desire of the life of Prince Henry to see effected. It was a 
family of daring navigators. Joiio Dias had been one of 


the first wlio bad doubled Cape Boyador, and Diniz Diaswas 
tbe first to pass tbe Senegal and reacb Cape Verde. Tlie expe- 
dition of Bartbolomeu started about the end of August, and 
made directly for tbe soutb. Passing tbe Manga das Areas, 
where Diogo Cam bad placed his furthest pillar, they reached 
a bay to which they gave tbe name of Angra dos Ilheos. 
Here Dias erected a pillar, which was broken some seventy 
years ago. The point is now called Dias Point or Pedestal 
Point. From seaward is seen what looks like two conical 
shaped islands, on tbe highest of which stood tbe cross. 
These hillocks stand out dark from tbe surrounding sand, 
and probably gave rise from their tint to tbe name of Serra 
Parda, or tbe Dark Hills, [in which Barros places this 
monument. Proceeding southward, Dias reached another 
point, where he was delayed five days in struggling against 
tbe weather, and the frequent tacks that he had to make 
induced him to call it Angra das Voltas, or Cape of the- 
Turns or Tacks. It is still calletl Cape Voltas, and forms 
tbe south point of Orange River. From this they were- 
driven before the wind, for thirteen days, due soutb, with 
half-reefed sails, and were surprised to find a striking 
change in the temperature, the cold increasing greatly as- 
they advanced. When the wind abated, Dias, not doubting 
that tbe coast still ran north and south, as it had dono- 
hitherto, steered in an easterly direction with tbe view of 
striking it, but finding that no land made its appearance, he 
altered his course for tbe north, and came upon a bay where 
were a number of cowherds tending their kine, who were 
greatly alarmed at the sight of the Portuguese, and drove 
their cattle inland. Dias gave the bay tbe name of Anc'-ra 
dos Vaqueiros, or the Bay of Cowherds. It is the present 
Flesh Bay, near Gauritz River. 

It is a fact specially worthy of notice that in this voyage 
an entirely different system was adopted with respect to the 
natives than had prevailed hitherto. Instead of capturing 
tbe negroes that they chanced to find on the coast, they had 
orders to leave on tbe shore at intervals negroes and 


negresses well dressed and well affected towards Portugal, 
to gather information respecting Prester John, to speak in 
praise of the Portuguese from experience of kindnesses 
received, and to infuse a desire to contract alliances with 
them. In accordance with these instructions two negroes 
had been restored at Angra do Salto (the Bay of the 
Capture) so called from Diogo Cam having captured them 
at this place. They had left also a negress at Angra dos 
Ilheos (Angra Pequena), and another at Angra das Voltas. 
An unfortunate event, however, occurred which neutralised 
the effect of this well-intended plan. In proceeding east- 
ward from Flesh Bay, Dias reached another bay, to which 
he gave the name of San Bras, where he put in to take 
water. In doing this he met with determined opposition 
from the natives, who threw stones at his men. They were 
thus compelled to resort to their own weapons in self- 
defence, and an unfortunate shot from an arblast struck 
one of the Caffres dead, and thus the favourable impres- 
sions which had been looked for from a pacific system of 
procedure were nullified by an act of violence which they 
would gladly have avoided. Continuing east, Dias reached 
a small island in Algoa Bay, on which he set up another 
pillar with its cross, and the name of Santa Cruz, which he 
gave to the rock, still survives ; and as they found two 
springs in it, many called it the Penedo das Pontes. 
This was the first land beyond the Cape which was trodden 
by European feet, and here they set on shore another 

The crews now began to complain, for they were worn 
out with fatigue, and alarmed at the heavy seas through 
which they were passing. With one voice ihey protested 
against proceeding further. Dias, however, was most 
anxious to prosecute the voyage. By way of compromise 
he proposed that they should sail on in the same direction 
for two or three days, and if they tlien found no reason 
for proceeding fnrther, he promised they should return. 
This was acceded to. At the end of that time they reached 


a river some twenty-five leagues beyond the island ol' Santa 
Cruz, and as Jofio Infante, the captain of the second ship, 
the S. Pantaleon^ was the first to land, they called the 
river the Rio do Infante. It was the river now known as 
the Great Fish River. 

Here the remonstrances and complaints of the crews com- 
pelled Dias to turn back. When he reached the little island 
of Santa Cruz, and bade farewell to the cross which he had 
there erected, it was with grief as intense as if he were 
leaving his child in the wilderness with no hope of ever 
seeino- him aii^ain. The recollection of all the dano-ers that 
he and his men had gone through in that long voyage, and 
the reflection that they were to terminate thus fruitlessly, 
caused him the keenest sorrow. He was, in fact, uncon- 
scious of what he had accomplished. But his eyes were 
soon to be opened. As he sailed onwards to the west of 
Santa Cruz he at length came in sight of that remarkable 
cape which had been hidden from the eyes of man for so 
many centuries. In remembrance of the j^erils they had 
encountered in passing that tempestuous point, he gave to it 
the name of Cabo Tormentoso, or Stormy Cape, but when 
he reached Portugal and -made his report to the King, 
Joao II., foreseeing the realization of the long-coveted 
passage to India, gave it the enduring name of Cape of 
Good Hope. 

The one grand discovery which had been the object of 
Prince Henry's unceasing deshe was now effected. The 
joy of the homeward voyage was, however, marred by a 
most painful incident. Dias had, by way of precaution, left 
behind him, off the coast of Guinea, the small vessel con- 
taining the supplies of provisions. He now went in search 
of it, it being nine months since they had parted company. 
When they reached it, they found three men only surviving 
out of the nine that had been left, and one of these, named 
Fernando Cohif-o, a scrivener from Lumiar, near Lisbon, 
was so weakened by illness that he died of joy when he saw 
his companions. The cause of the loss had been that, while 


the Portuguese were holding friendly communication with 
the negroes, the latter were seized with a covetous desire to 
possess some of the articles which were being bartered, and 
as a short means of obtaining them killed the owners. Not 
to return empty-handed, Dias put in at St. Jorge da Mina, 
and received from the commander, Joao Fogaza, the gold 
which he had taken in barter. He then proceeded to 
Lisbon, which he reached in December, 1487, after an 
absence of sixteen months and seventeen days. 

In that voyage he had discovered three hundred and fifty 
leagues of coast, which was almost as much as Diogo Cam 
had discovered in his two voyages. In the seven hundred 
and fifty leagues exploj-ed by these two captains, six 
Padraos, or pillars, had been set up. The first, called S. 
Jorge, at the river Zaire or Congo ; the second, called St. 
Augustine, at the Cape Negro ; the third, which was Diogo 
Cam's last, at the Manga dos Areas, or Sleeve of Sand 
(Cape Cross) ; the fourth, called Santiago, which was Dias's 
first, at Sierra Parda (Dias or Pedestal Point) ; the fifth, 
called San Felipe, at the Cape of Good Hope; and the 
sixth, Santa Cruz, at the island of that name. This great 
and memorable discovery was the last that was made in the 
reign of King Joao 11. 



" It was in Portugal," said Ferdinand Columbus, the son 
and biographer of the most illustrious navigator that the 
world has seen, — " it was in Portugal that the admiral began 
to surmise, that, if the Portuguese sailed so far south, one 
might also sail westward, and find lands in that direction/' 
The period of Christopher Columbus' sojourn in Portugal 
was from 1470 to the close of 1484, during which time 
he made several voyages to the coast of Guinea in the 
Portuguese service. While at Lisbon he married Felipa 
Moniz de Perestrello, daughter of that Bartholomeu Peres- 
trello to whom we have already seen that Prince Henry had 
granted the commandership of the island of Porto Santo.* 

* Prince Henrj'- had originally, -s^ith the consent of the king his father, con- 
ferred this grant on Perestrello for his lifetime only, but subsequently, on the 
1st of November, 1446, gave it in perpetuity to him and his successors, and the 
grant was afterwards confirmed by King AfTonso his nephew. On the death of 
Perestrello the Prince gave it, with the consent of his widow Isabel Mouiz, to 
Pedro Correa da Cunha, a gentleman of his ovm. household, who had married a 
daughter of Perestrello, to be held by him during the minority of his ^vife'a 
brother, also named Bartholomeu Perestrello. Pedi'o Correa subsequently con- 
tracted -with Bartholomeu's mother and uncle, who were also nis guardians, for 
the concession of the governorship for a certain sum of money. This was done 
with the peiTnissioa of the Prince, who issued a warrant to that effect dated 
Lagos, 5Iay 17th, 1458, which was confirmed by King Affonso V. at Cintra on 
the 17th of August, 1459 ; but the govoraorship subsequently reverted to 
Bartholomeu Perestrello, son of the first grantee, as is shown by the confirma- 
tion of it made to him by King Aifonso V., on tlie 15th of Mureb, 1473, and 
still existing in the Torre do Tombo. 


For some time Columbus and his wife lived at Poi'to 
Santo with the widow of Perestrello, who, observing the 
interest he took in nautical matters, spoke much to him of 
her husband's expeditions, and handed over to him the 
papers, journals, maps, and nautical instruments which 
Perestrello had left behind him. * 

"It was not only," says Ferdinand Columbus (see Vida^ 
cap. 8), " this opinion of certain philosophers, that the greater 
part of our globe is dry land that stimulated the admiral ; he 
learned also from many pilots, experienced in the western 
voyages to the Azores and the island of Madeira, facts and 
siirns which convinced him that there was an unknown land 
towards the west. Martin Vicente, jDilot of the King of 
Portugal, told him that at a distance of four hundred and fifty 
leagues from Cape St. Vincent, he had taken from the water 
a piece of wood sculptured very artistically, but not with an 
iron instrument. This wood had been driven across by the 
west wind, which made the sailors believe, that certainly 
there were on that side some islands not yet discovered. 
"Pedro Correa, brother-in-law to the admiral, told him, that 
near the island of Madeira he had found a similar piece of 
sculptured wood, and coming from the same western direc- 
tion. He also said that the King of Portugal had received 
information of large canes having been taken up from the 
water in these parts, which between one knot and another 
would hold nine bottles of wine, and Herrera (Dec. 1, lib. i. 
cap. 2) declares that the King had preserved these canes, 
and caused them to be shown to Columbus. The colonists 
of the Azores related, that when the wind blew from the 

* Las Casas, in his History of the Indies, tells ns distinctly that Cohinihus 
derived much information from Pcrestrello's maps and papers, and adds that 
*' in order to ucciuaiut himself practically with the method pursued hy the 
Portuguese in navigating to the coast of Guinea, he sailed several times Mith 
them as if he had been one of them." Las Casas says that he learned this from 
the admiral's son Diego, adding that " some time before his famous voyage 
Columbus resided in Madeira, Avhere news of fresh discoveries was constantly 
arriving, and this," he says, " a^ipcared to have bctn the occasion of Christoplier 
Columbus coming to Spain, uud tlie bc;j,iiiiiiiig of the discovery of this great 
world (America)." 


west, the sea threw up, especially in the islands of Graciosa 
and Fayal, pines of a foreign species. Others related, that 
in the island of Flores they found one day on the shore two 
corpses of men, whose physiognomy and features differed 
entirely from those of our coasts. Herrera, perhaps from the 
MSS. of Las Casas, says, that the corpses had broad faces, 
different from those of Christians. The transport of these 
objects was attributed to the action of the west winds. The 
true cause, however, was the great current of the Gulf, or 
Florida stream. The west and north-west winds only in- 
crease the ordinary rapidity of the ocean current, prolong 
its action towards the east, as far as the Bay of Biscay, and 
mix the waters of the Gulf stream with those of the currents 
of Davis Straits and of North Africa. The same eastward 
oceanic movement, which in the fifteenth century carried 
bamboos and pines uj^on the shores of the Azores and Porto 
Santo, deposits annually on Ireland, the Hebrides, and Nor- 
way, the seeds of tropical plants, and the remains of cargoes 
of ships which had been wrecked in the West Indies.* 

While availing himself of these sources of information, 
Columbus studied with deep and careful attention the works 
of such geographical authors as supplied suggestions of the 
feasibility of a short western passage to India. Amongst 
these, the " Imago Muudi "" of Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly (Petrus 
de Aliaco) was his favourite, and it is probable that from it 
he culled all he knew of the opinions of Aristotle, Strabo, 
and Seneca, respecting the facility of reaching India by a 
western route. Columbus' own copy of this work is now in 
the cathedral of Seville, and forms one of the most precious 
items in the valuable library, originally collected by his son 
Ferdinand, and bequeathed to the cathedral on condition of 
its being constantly preserved for public use. It contains 
many marginal notes in his own handwriting, but of com- 
paratively little importance. 

The fondness of Columbus for the works of Pierre d'Ailly, 
a Frenchman, has caused a recent French writer, M. Margry, 

* lIuniLoldt, Examen Critique, vol. ii. p. 210 — 2ol. 


to put forth the empty pretension that the discovery of 
America was due to the influence of French teaching-, whereas, 
not only was the "Imago Mundi" itself a compilation from 
ancient authors, but the first edition was not printed till 
many years after Columbus had devoted himself to the pur- 
pose which ended in his great discovery, for his famous 
correspondence with Toscanelli, of which I shall presently 
speak, occurred in 1474. M. Margry, indeed, asserts, but 
without giving his authority, that in the Columbian Library 
at Seville are D'Ailly's treatises jnnnted at Nuremberg in 
1472. This is in contravention of all the bibliographers — 
Panzer, Ebert, Hain, Serna Santander, Lambinet, and Jean 
de Launoy. 

The earliest date assis^ned to the first edition of the '' Imago 
Mundi," is about 1480 by Serna Santander, 1483(?) by Lambi- 
net, while Jean de Launoy, in his " Regii Navarrae Gymnasii 
Parisiensis Historia," Parisiis, 1677, tom. ii. page 478, dis- 
tinctly gives it the date of 1490. Humboldt, who had 
Columbus' copy in his hands, and who, as the subject was 
especially his own, cannot be suspected of sleeping over such 
an important point, adopts De Launoy 's date of 1490, while 
Lambinet gives the queried date of 1483 from actual colla- 
tion with another work printed in that year, at Louvain, in 
the very identical type, by John of West})halia. In the re- 
cently published second volume of the " Ensayo de una 
bibliotheca de libros espanoles raros," por Don Bartolome 
Gallardo, is a list of the books in the Columbian Library, 
but D'Ailly's "Imago Mundi" is not .therein mentioned, 
although his " Quti^stiones," printed much later by Jean 
Petit at Paris, a far less important book, is inserted. The 
omission is to be regretted, as we might have hoped for 
some illustrative comments from the author. 

But perhaps it may be suggested that Columbus may 
have possessed, or seen, a manuscript copy of Pierre d'Ailly 
at a yet earlier period. We will willingly suppose it for the 
sake of the argument; but even then the reasoning will 
fail, for I find that the very portion of the " Imago Mundi," 
writen in 1410, which is assumed to have supplied the 


inspiration for the discovery of America, and whicli Columbus 
quoted in his letter to- Ferdinand and Isabella from Haiti 
in 1498, is t alien hj Pierre (TAilh/, nithof/f acknorcledgment, 
almost nord for ivord, from the '■'■Opus Majas'" of lioger 
Baeon written in 1267, a hundred and forty-three years 
before, as will be seen at pag'e 183 of that work, printed 
Londini, 1733, fol. See Humboldt, Examen Critique, tom. i. 
pp. 64-70. 

Unfortunately Eoger Bacon was not a Frenchman, but 
there remains for M. JMargry the consolatory fact that no 
Englishman is likely to avail himself of the circumstance 
which I have just enunciated, to claim for his countrymen the 
honour of having inspired Columbus with the idea which led to 
the discovery of America, although, by M. Margry's process of 
reasoning, he might do so if he would. True, Roger Bacon 
had been a student in the University of Paris ; but this fact 
did not communicate the character of French inspiration to 
the ancient authors whose statements he quotes. True also 
(but this is a circumstance either unknown or unnoticed by 
M. Margry), Ferdinand Columbus tells ns that his father 
was principally intiuenced in his belief of the smallness of 
the space between Spain and Asia, by the opinion of the 
Arab astronomer Al Fergani, or Alfragan, to that effect ; 
and it is further true, that Alfragan is treated of by Pierre 
d'Ailly, in his " Mapa Mundi." This is a separate work from 
the " Imago Mundi," although it happens to have been printed 
with it, at a period which we have shown to be posterior to 
Columbus' correspondence with Toscanelli, in 1474. It 
follows, therefore, that either; 1st, thegreat explorer obtained 
his knowledge of Alfragan's opinion through one of the 
Arabo-Latin translations to which he seems to have had 
recourse during his cosmographical studies in Portugal and 
Spain (see Humboldt, Examen Critique, tom. i. p. 83), 
in which case French influence is eliminated; or 2ndly, he 
derived it from a mannscript of Pierre d'Ailly before 1474, 
which there is no evidence to show ; or 3rdly,. he derived it 
from his printed copy of Pierre d'Ailly, in which caso the 
influence of Alfragan on his mind could not have been 


primarily suggestive, but only corroborative of conclusions 
to which he had come several years before that book was 
printed. And in either of the two latter cases, the informa- 
tion supplied by Alfragan would not become French because 
adduced by a Frenchman, unless we introduce into serious 
history a principle analogous to the old conventional English 
blunder of giving to the toj^s manufactured in Nuremberg the 
name of "Dutch toys," because imported through Holland. 

The suggestions derived from these works were cor- 
roborated by the narratives of Marco Polo and Sir John 
Mandeville, whose reports of the vast extent of Asia east- 
Avard led to the reasonable inference that the westward 
passage to the eastern confines of that continent could not 
demand any considerable length of time. The natural 
inclination of Columbus for nautical enterprise being thus 
fostered by the works that he studied, and by the animating 
accounts of recent adventurers, as well as by the glorious 
prospects which the bro^d expanse of the unknown world 
opened up to his view, we iind that in the year 1474 his 
ideas had formed for themselves a determined channel, and 
his grand project of discovery was established in his mind 
as a thing to be done, and done by himself. The combined 
enthusiasm and tenacity of purpose which distinguished his 
character, caused him to regard his theory, when once 
formed, as a matter of such undeniable certainty, that no 
doubts, opposition, or disappointment, could divert him 
from the pursuit of it. 

It so hap})encd that while Columbus was at Lisbon, a 
correspondence was being carried on between Fernando 
Martinez, a prel)endar3' of that place, and the learned Paolo 
Toscanelli of Florence, respecting the commerce of the 
Portuguese to the coast of Guinea and the navigation of the 
ocean to the westward. This came to the knowledge of 
Columbus, who forthwith despatched by an Italian then at 
Lisbon a letter to Toscanelli, informing him of his project. 
He received an answer in Latin, in which, to demonstrate 
his approbation of the design of Columbus, Toscanelli sent 


him a chart, tlie most important features of which were 
hiid down from the descriptions of Marco Polo. The coasts 
of Asia were drawn at a moderate distance from the opposite 
coasts of Europe and Africa, and the ishmds of Cipang-o, 
Antilla, &c., of whose riches such astonishing accounts had 
been given by this traveller, were placed at convenient 
spaces between the two continents. 

While all these exciting accounts must have conspired to 
fan the flame of his ambition, one of the noblest points in 
the character of Columbus had to be put to the test by the 
difficulty of carrying his project into effect. The political 
position of Portugal, engrossed as it was wdth its wars with 
Spain, rendered the thoughts of an application for an ex- 
pensive fleet of discovery for the time worse than useless, 
and several years elapsed before a fair opportunity pre- 
sented itself for making the proposition. 

At length, as we have already seen, about the year 1480, 
Martin Behaim rendered the astrolabe useful for the pur- 
poses of navigation, and shortly afterwards Columbus sub- 
mitted to the King of Portugal his proposition of a voyage 
of discovery westward. The King at first received him 
discouragiugly, but was at length induced to refer the 
proposition to a council consisting of the great mathema- 
ticians and geographers, Roderigo and Josef, and Cazadilla, 
Bishop of Ceuta, the king's confessor, who treated the 
question as an extravagant absurdity. 

The King, not satisfied with their judgment, then con- 
voked a second council, consisting of a large number of the 
most learned men in the kingdom ; but their deliberations 
only confirmed the verdict of the first junta, and a general 
sentence of condemnation was passed upon the proposition. 
As the King still seemed inclined to make a trial of the 
scheme of Columbus, some of his councillors, who w^cre 
enemies of the Genoese, and at the same time loth to 
oftend the King, suggested a plan which suited their own 
views, but which was as short-sighted as it was dishonest. 
Their design was to procure from Columbus a detailed 

A A 


account of his plan that it might be submitted to the 
council, and then, under the false pretext of conveying 
provisions to the Cape Verde Islands, to despatch a caravel 
on the voyage of discovery. King Joiio, deviating from his 
general character for prudence and generosity, yielded to 
their insidious advice, and their plan was acted upon ; but 
the caravel which was sent out, after keeping on its west- 
ward course for some days, encountered a storm, and the 
crew, possessing none of the lofty motives of Columbus to 
support their resolution, returned to Lisbon, ridiculing the 
scheme in excuse of their cowardice. So indignant was 
Columbus at this unworthy manoeuvre, that he resolved to 
offer his services to some other country, and towards the 
end of 1484 he left Lisbon secretly with his son Diego. 

It is not difficult to understand why the King of Portugal 
should have hesitated to accept the proposition of Cokimbus. 
Nearly seventy years of continued effort on the part of the 
Portuguese to realise the great conception of Prince Henry, 
afforded substantial proof of their conviction of the sound- 
ness of that conception. Many years before Columbus 
proposed to reach India by the sea. Prince Henry had 
finished a life which had been spent in aiming at the same 
result by another route. That route, therefore, though by 
no means free from great dangers, was identified with their 
hopes in the future as well as their predilections in the past." 
What wonder that they refused to resign a course so 
hopeful, comparatively so simple, and so essentially their 
own, in favour of a project replete with danger, and which 
they regarded as the chimera of a visionary ? 

The learned and careful Muhoz states his opinion that 
Columbus went immediately from Portugal to Genoa, and 
made a personal proposition to that government, but met 
with a contemptuous refusal. Great obscurity, however, 
hangs over his history during the first year after his leaving 
Portugal, but from calculations based on his own state- 
ments, it would seem that it was in 1485 that he made liis 
first application to the court of Spain. It is well known 


that the lively interest which the worthy prior of the 
Franciscan convent of Santa Maria dc Ral)ichi, Fray Juan 
Perez de Marchena, took in his guest, and his anticipated 
influence with his friend Fernando de Talavera, prior of the 
monastery of Prado, and confessor to the Queen, was the 
cause that first induced Columbus in the spring of 148G to 
venture to the Spanish court in the hope of gaining a 
favourable audience. On reaching Cordova, however, he 
had the mortification to find that Talavera regarded his 
design as preposterous. The court also was engrossed with 
the war at Granada, so that all hope of gaining attention to 
his novel and expensive proposition was out of the question. 
At length, at the close of 1486, Mendoza, archbishop of 
Toledo, and grand cardinal of Spain, became impressed 
with the high importance of the scheme as set forth by the 
earnest and lucid reasoning of Columbus. He adopted his 
cause, and became his staunch protector and friend. 
Through his means an audience with the sovereign was 
procured, and it was resolved to submit the proposition to 
the judgment of the literati of the country. But here again 
Columbus found himself in a painful predicament. He was 
to be examined at Salamanca by a council of ecclesiastics, 
whose ignorance of cosmography and blind conclusions from 
misinterpreted texts of Scripture stood in strong opposition 
to his arguments, and he began to find himself in danger of 
being convicted not only of error, but of heresy. For- 
tunately one learned man of the number, Diego de Deza, 
tutor to Prince Juan, and afterwards Archbishop of Seville, 
appreciated the lucid arguments of the adventurer, and 
aiding him with his own powers of language and erudition, 
gained for him not only a hearing, but even approval from 
some of the most learned of the council. At length, in 
1491, after a succession of vexatious delays, Talavera, the 
chief of the council, was commanded to inform Columbus 
that the cares and expenses of the war precluded the possi- 
bility of their Highnesses engaging in any new enterprises, 
but that, when it was concluded, there would be both tl)e 

A A 2 


will and the opportunity to consider the subject further. 
Regarding this as nothing better than a courteous evasion of 
his application, Columbus retired, wearied and disappointed, 
from the court, and were it not that an attachment which 
he had formed at Cordova made him reluctant to leave Spain, 
it is probable that he would have gone to France, under 
the inducement of an inviting letter from that quarter. 

The interval till 1492 was spent in a succession of appeals 
to the Spanish court, and in contending against all the 
vexatious variety of obstacles that ignorance, envy, or a 
pusillanimous economy could suggest. 

At length, having overcome all obstacles, he set sail with 
a fleet of three ships on the 3rd of August, 1492, on his 
unprecedented and perilous voyage. The ordinary diffi- 
culties which might be expected to occur in so novel and 
precarious an adventure were seriously aggravated by the 
alarming discovery of the variation of the needle, as well as 
by the mutinous behaviour of his crew ; and his life was 
upon the point of being sacrificed to their impatience, when 
the fortunate appearance of land, on the morning of the 
12th October, converted their indignation into compunction, 
and their despondency into unbounded joy. 

In this first voyage the discovery was made of the islands 
of St. Salvador, Santa Maria de la Concepcion, Exuma, 
Isabella, Cuba, Bohio, the Archipelago off the south coast 
of Cuba, called by Columbus the Jardin del Key, or King's 
Garden, the islands of St. Catherine and Hispauiola. On 
this latter Columbus erected the fortress of La Navidad, 
and estabhshed a colony. He set sail on his return voyage 
on the IGth January, 1493, and, after suffering severely 
from a storm and a wearisome struggle with the trade 
winds, reached the island of St. Mary's on the 18th of 
February. Scarcely had he and his tempest-tost crew com- 
menced their thanksgivings for their safe return to the 
abode of civilised men, when the governor of the island, 
acting under the general orders of tlie King of Portugal, 
surrounded tlicni and took tlicm nil prisoners. This re- 


ccption of the admiral on his return to the old world is wrll 
described by Washington Irving, as an earnest of tiie 
crosses and troubles with which he was to be requited 
through life for one of the greatest benefits that ever man 
had conferred upon his fellow-beings. He was at length 
liberated, with an apology, invited to the court, and received 
most graciously by the King and Queen, but not without 
evident manifestations of jealousy and chagrin on the part 
of some of the courtiers, and propositions to take away his 
life. The magnanimity of the King prevented this in- 
justice, and leaving Portugal in safety, on the 13th of 
March, Columbus arrived on the 15th, at the little port of 
Palos, from whence he had sailed on the 3rd of August in 
the preceding year. His reception in Spain was such as the 
grandeur and dignity of his unrivalled achievement deserved, 
and his entrance into Barcelona was scarcely inferior to a 
Boman triumph. 

The description of his voyage, which he had addressed to 
the Spanish sovereigns through their treasurer, caused so 
much excitement, that numerous editions of it were issued in 
the same year (1493) from the various great printing cities of 
Europe ; and the narrative, embodied in otf.auL rima by the 
Florentine poet, Giuliano Dati, was sung about the streets 
to announce to the Italians the astounding news of the dis- 
covery of a new world.* 

It is not my duty here to lead the reader through details 
of the exj)lorations made by Columbus in his four voyages. 
It has been my purpose to show the correctness of my 
assertion in the first chapter, that " while this vast achieve- 
ment of Columbus was the link that united the old world 
with the new, the explorations instituted by Prince Henry 
of Portugal were in truth the anvil on which that link was 
forged." It was an event in which all humanity was con- 

* Believing at the time that the copy of this extremely scarce and curioxis 
poem, then recently purchased by the British Sluseuni, was unique, I reprinted 
it as an appendix to the Introduction to my " Select Letters of Columbus," 
printed for the Ilakluyt Society in 1847. 


cerned, but one which was recompensed with the basest 
ingratitude even from those most closely and beneficially 
interested in it. 

The seductive adulation of the court and the people shown 
for the moment to Columbus, did not divert his thoughts 
from the preparations for a second expedition. A stay of 
six months sufficed to make all ready for this purpose, 
during which period a papal bull was obtained which fixed 
the famous line of demarcation, determining the right of 
the Spanish and Portuguese to discovered lands ; which 
line was drawn from the north to the south pole, at a 
hundred leagues west of the Azores and Cape de Verde 
Islands ; the discoveries to the westward were to belong to 
Spain, and those to the eastward to Portugal. It may be 
well here to remark that the success of Columbus in obtain- 
ing a second armament gave rise to a malignant feeling 
towards him on the part of Juan Rodriguez Fonseca, Bishop 
of Badajos, who had treated him as a visionary, which 
eventually led to such disgraceful ill-usage of the admiral, 
as will remain a stain upon the character of Spain while 
the name of Columbus exists in the memory of man. 

On the 2.5th of September, 1493, Columbus sailed west- 
ward, taking his departure from Cadiz with a fleet of three 
large ships of heavy burthen, and fourteen caravels, and 
after a pleasant voyage reached the island of Dominica on 
the 2nd of November. In this voyage he discovered the 
Caribbee Islands, Jamaica, an archipelago named by 
Columbus the Queen's Gardens, and supposed to be the 
Morant Keys, Evangelista, or the Isle of Pines, and the 
island of Mona. 

He sailed with his fleet finally for Spain on the 28 th of 
April, 1496, and after working his way for nearly two 
months against the whole current of the trade winds, — during 
which provisions became so reduced, that there was talk of 
killing, and even eating, the Indian prisoners, — he reached 
the bay of Cadiz on the 11th of June. The emaciated state 
of the crew when they disembarked, presenting so mournful 


a contrast with the joyous and triumphant appearance 
which tliey were expected to make, produced a very dis- 
couraging impression upon the opinions of the public, and 
reflected a corresponding depression upon the spirits of 
Cohunbus himself. He was reassured, however, by the 
receipt of a gracious letter from the sovereigns inviting 
him to the court; a letter the more gratifying to him tliat 
he had feared he was fallen into disgrace. He was received 
with distinguished favour, and had a verbal concession of 
his request to be furnished with eight ships for a third 
voyage. He was doomed, however, to have his patience 
severely tried by the delay which occurred in the per- 
formance of this promise, which was partly attributable to 
the engrossing character of the public events of the day, 
and partly to the machinations of his inveterate enemy, the 
Bishop Fonseca. 

It was not till the 30th of May, 1498, that he set sail 
from San Lucar, with six of the eight vessels promised, the 
other two having being despatched to Hispaniola with pro- 
visions in the beginning of the year. When off Ferro, he 
despatched three of his six vessels to the same island, with 
a store of fresh supplies for the colony, while with his re- 
maining three he steered for the Cape Verde Islands, which 
he reached on the 27th of June. On the 5th of July, he left 
Boavista, and proceeded southward and westward. In the 
course of this voyage the crews suffered intensely from the 
heat, having at one time reached the fifth degree of north 
latitude, but at length land was descried on the 31st of 
July, — a most providential occurrence, as but one cask of 
water remained in the ship. The island they came to 
formed an addition to his discoveries ; and as the first land 
which appeared consisted of three mountains, united at their 
base, he christened the island, from the name of the Trinity, 
La Trinidad. It was in this voyage that he discovered Terra 
Firma, and the islands of j\Iargarita and Cubagua. On 
reaching Hispaniola, to which he was drawn by his anxiety 
on account of the infant colony, he had the niortilication to 


find that his authority had siiff'ered considerable diminution, 
and that the colony was in a state of organized rebellion. 
He had scarcely, by his active and at the same time politic 
conduct, brought matters to a state of comparative tran- 
quillity, when a new storm gathered round him from the 
quarter of the Spanish court. The hatred of his ancient 
enemies availed itself of the clamour raised against him by 
some of the rebels who had recently returned to Spain, and 
charges of tyranny, cruelty, and ambition were heaped un- 
sparingly upon him. The King and Queen, wearied with 
reiterated complaints, at length resolved to send a judge to 
inquire into his conduct, — injudiciously authorising him to 
seize the governorship in the place of Columbus, should the 
accusations brought against him prove to be valid. The 
person chosen was Don Francisco de Bobadilla, whose 
character and qualifications for the office are best demon- 
strated by the fact, that, on the day after his arrival in 
Hispaniola, he seized upon the government before he had 
investigated the conduct of Columbus, who was then absent; 
he also took up his residence in his house, and took posses- 
sion of all his property, public and private, even to his 
most secret papers. A summons to appear before the new 
governor was despatched to Columbus, who was at Fort 
Concepcion ; and in the interval between the despatch of 
the summons and his arrival, his brother (Don Diego) was 
seized, thrown into irons, and confined on board of a caravel, 
without any reason being assigned for his imprisonment. 
No sooner did the admiral himself arrive, than he likewise 
was put in chains, and thrown into confinement. The habi- 
tual reverence due to his venerable person and exalted 
character, made each bystander shrink from the task of 
fixing the fetters on him, till one of his own domestics, de- 
scribed by Las Casas as " a graceless and shameless cook," 
filled up the moasure of ingratitude that he seemed doomed 
to experience, by riveting the irons, not merely without 
compunction, but with alacrity. In this shackled condition 
he was conveyed, in the early part of October, from prison 


to the ship that was to convey him home ; and when Andreas 
Martin, the master of the caravel, touched with respect for 
the years and great merit of Columhus, and deeply moved 
at this imworthy treatment, proposed to take off his irons, 
he declined the oifered benefit, with the following magnani- 
mous reply : " Since the king has commanded that I should 
obey his governor, he shall find me as obedient to this, as I 
have been to all his other orders ; nothing but his command 
shall release me. If twelve years' hardship and fatigue ; if 
continual dangers and frequent famine ; if the ocean first 
opened, and five times jiassed and repassed, to add a new 
world, abounding with wealth, to the Spanish monarchy ; 
and if an infirm and premature old age, brought on by 
these services, deserve these chains as a reward, it is very 
fit I should wear them to Spain, and keep them by me as 
memorials to the end of my life." This in truth he 
did, for he always kept them hung on the walls of his 
chamber, and desired that when he died they might be 
buried with him. 

His arrival in Spain in this painful and degraded condition 
produced so general a sensation of indignation and astonish- 
ment, that a warm manifestation in his favour was the 
immediate consequence. A letter, written by him to Dona 
Juana de la Torre, a lady of the court, detailing the wrongs 
he had suffered, was read to Queen Isabella, whose generous 
mind was filled with sympathy and indignation at the recital. 
The sovereigns immediately commanded that he should be set 
at liberty, and ordered two thousand ducats to be advanced 
for the purpose of bringing him to court with all distinction 
and an honourable retinue. His reception at the Alhambra 
was gracious and flattering in the highest degree; the 
strongest indignation was expressed against Bobadilla, with 
an assurance that he should be immediately dismissed from 
his command, while ample restitution and rewards were pro- 
mised to Columbus, and he had every sanction for indulging 
the fondest hopes of returning in honour and triumph to 
St. Domingo. But here a grievous disappointment awaited 


him ; his re-appointment was postponed from time to time 
with various plausible excuses. Though Bobadilla was dis- 
missed, it was deemed desirable to refill his place for two 
years, by some prudent and talented ofiicer, who should be 
able to put a stop to all remaining faction in the colony, and 
thus prepare the way for Columbus to enjoy the rights and 
dignities of his government both peacefully and beneficially 
to the crown. 

The newly selected governor was Nicolas de Ovando, who, 
though described by Las Casas as a man of prudence, 
justice, and humanity, certainly betrayed a want both of 
generosity and justice in his subsequent transactions with 
Columbus. It is possible that the delay manifested by the 
sovereigns in redeeming their promise might have continued 
until the death of Columbus, had not a fresh stimulant to 
the cupidity of Ferdinand been suggested by a new project 
of discovering a strait, of the existence of which Columbus 
felt persuaded, from his own observations, and which would 
connect the New World which he had discovered with the 
wealthy shores of the East. His enthusiasm on the subject 
was heightened by an emulous consideration of the recent 
achievements of Vasco de Gama and Cabral, the former of 
whom had in 1497 found a maritime passage to India by the 
Cape, and the latter in 1500 had discovered for Portugal 
the vast and opulent empire of Brazil. The prospect of a 
more direct and safe route to India than that discovered by 
De Gama, at length gained Columbus the accom})lishment 
of his wish for another armament ; and finally, on the V)th 
of May, 1502, he sailed from Cadiz on his fourth and last 
voyage of discovery. 

It is i)aiuful to read the description given of the splendour 
of the fleet with which Ovando left Spain to assume the 
government of Hispaniola, and to contrast it with the slender 
and inexpensive armament granted to Columbus for the pur- 
pose of exploring an unknown strait into an unknown ocean, 
the traversing of whose unmeasured breadth wouUl complete 
the circumnavigation of the i;lobe. Ovando's fleet consisted 


of thirty sail, five of them from ninety to one hmidrcd and 
fifty tons burden, twenty-four caravels of from thirty to 
ninety tons, and one bark of twenty-five tons ; and the 
number of souls amounted to about two thousand five 
hundred. The heroic and injured man, to whose unj^aralleled 
combination of noble qualities the very dignity which called 
for all this state was indebted for its existence, had now, in 
the decline of his years and strength, and stripped both of 
honour and emolument, to venture forth with four caravels, 
— the largest of seventy, and the smallest of fifty tons bur- 
then, — accompanied by one hundred and fifty men, on one 
of the most toilsome and perilous enterprises of which the 
mind can form a conception. 

On the 20th of May he reached the Grand Canary, and 
starting from thence on the 25th, took his departure for the 
west. Favoured by the trade winds, he made a gentle and 
easy passage, and reached one of the Caribbee Islands, called 
by the natives Mantinino (in all probability Martinique), on 
the 15th of June. After staying three days at this island, 
he steered northwards, touched at Dominica, and from 
thence directed his course, contrary to his own original in- 
tention and the commands of the sovereigns, to St. Domingo. 
His reason was that his principal vessel sailed so ill as to 
delay the progress of the fleet, which he feared might be an 
obstacle to the safety and success of the enterprise, and held 
this as a sufficient motive for infrinffinof the orders he had 
received. On his arrival at San Domingo, he found the 
ships which had brought out Ovando ready to put to sea on 
their return to Spain. He immediately sent to the governor 
to explain that his intention in calling at the island was to 
procure a vessel in exchange for one of his caravels, which 
was very defective, and further begged permission for his 
squadron to take shelter in the harbour from a hurricane, 
which, from his acquaintance with the prognostics of the 
weather, he had foreseen was rapidly approaching. This 
request was ungraciously refused ; upon which Columbus, 
though denied shelter for himself, endeavoured to avert the 


danger of the fleet, which was about to sail, and sent back 
immediately to the governor to entreat that he would not 
allow it to put to sea for some days. His predictions and 
requests were treated with equal contempt, and Columbus 
had not only to suffer these insulting refusals and the risk 
of life for himself and squadron, but the loud murmurings 
of his own crew that they had sailed with a commander 
whose position exposed them to such treatment. All that 
he could do was to draw his ships up as close as possible to 
the shore, and seek the securest anchorage that chance 
might present him with. Meanwhile the weather appeared 
fair and tranquil, and the fleet of Bobadilla put boldly out 
to sea. The predicted storm came on the next night with 
terrific fury, and all the ships belonging to the governor's 
fleet, with the exception of one, were either lost, or put back 
to San Domingo in a shattered condition. The only vessel 
that escaped was the one which had been freighted with 
some four thousand gold pieces, rescued from the pillage of 
Columbus's fortune. Bobadilla, Roldan, and a number of 
the most inveterate enemies of the admiral, perished in this 
tremendous hurricane, while his own fleet, though separated 
and considerably damaged by the storm, all arrived safe at 
last at Port Hermoso, to the west of San Domingo. He 
repaired his vessels at Port Hermoso, but had scarcely left 
the harbour before another storm drove him into Port 
Brazil. But we must not follow him through the remainder 
of this unhappy voyage, the toils and perils of which were 
aggravated to Columbus by extreme bodily suffering, and 
which closes by his reaching Jamaica, where he would in all 
probability have perished, but for the activity and zeal of 
the faithful and devoted Diego Mendez.* When at length, 
through the agency of Mendez, two ships arrived from 
Hispaniola to the assistance of the admiral, he was enabled, 
on the 2b;th of June, 1504, to leave his wrecked vessels 

* The highly interesting descriptirm of that brave man's exploits on behalf 
of Coliinihus, has been quoted by Navarrete from his \\i\\, and is translated 
in my " Select LeUera of Columbus," ininted for the Uiikluyt Society, 1847. 


behind him, and start with revived hopes for San Domingo, 
which he reached on the 13th of August, 

On the 12th of September, 1504, he set sail for Spain ; 
the same tempestuous weather, which had all along tended 
to make this his last voyage the most disastrous, did not 
forsake him now. The ship in which he came home sprung 
her mainmast in four places in one tempest, and in a sub- 
sequent storm the foremast was sprung, and finally, on the 
7th of November, he arrived, in a vessel as shattered as his 
own broken and care-worn frame, in the welcome harbom- of 
San Lucar. 

It is impossible to read, without the deepest sympathy, 
the occasional murmuriugs and half-suppressed complaints 
which are uttered in the course of the veteran navigator's 
touching letter to the sovereigns describing this voyage. 
These murmuriugs and complaints were wrung from the 
manly spirit of Columbus by sickness and sorrow, and 
though reduced almost to the brink of despair by the 
injustice of the King, yet do we find nothing harsh or dis- 
respectful in his language to the sovereign. A curious 
contrast is presented to us. The gift of a world could not 
move the monarch to gratitude ; the infliction of chains, as 
a recompense for that gift, could not provoke the subject to 
disloyalty. The same great heart which through more than 
twenty wearisome years of disappointment and chagrin gave 
him strength to beg and to buflet his way to glory, still 
taught him to bear with majestic meekness the conversion 
of that glory into unmerited shame. 

The two years which intervened between this period and 
his death, present a picture of black ingratitude on the part 
of the crown to this distinguished benefactor of the kingdom, 
which it is truly painful to contemplate. We behold an 
extraordinary man, the discoverer of a second hemisphere, 
reduced by his very success to so low a state of poverty that 
in his prematurely infirm old age he is compelled to subsist 
by borrowing, and to plead, in the apologetic language of a 
culprit, for the rights of which the very sovereign whom he 


has benefited has deprived him. The death of the benignant 
and high-minded Isabella, in 1505, gave a finishing blow to 
his hope of obtaining redress, and we find him thus writing, 
subsequently to this period, to his old and faithful friend, 
Diego deDeza: — "It appears that His Majesty does not 
think fit to fulfil that which he, with the Queea, who is now 
in glory, promised me by word and seal. For me to contend 
for the contrary, would be to contend with the wind. I have 
done all that I could do ; I leave the rest to God, whom I 
have ever found propitious to me in my necessities." The 
selfish and cold-hearted Ferdinand beheld his illustrious and 
loyal servant sink, without relief, under bodily infirmity, 
and the paralysing sickness of hope deferred ; and at length, 
on the 20th of May, 1506, the generous heart which had 
done so much without reward, and sufiered so much without 
upbraiding, found rest in a world where neither gratitude 
nor justice is either asked or withheld. 

His body was in the first instance buried at Valladolid, 
in the parish church of Santa Maria de la Antigua, but was 
transferred in 1513 to the Cartnja de las Cuevas, near 
Seville, where a monument was erected over his grave with 
the memorable inscription : — 

"A Castilla y a Leon 
NuEVO MuNDO Di6 CoLox." 

In the year 153C, both his body, and that of his son Diego, 
who had been likewise buried in the Cartuja, were transported 
to St, Domingo, and deposited in the cathedral of that citj. 
From hence they were removed to Havanna in 1795, on the 
cession of Hispaniola to the French, and the ashes of the 
immortal discoverer now quietly repose in the cathedral 
church of that city. A tardy tribute has been at length 
paid to his memory by his fellow-citizens of Genoa, and the 
first stone of a monument in commemoration of his achieve- 
ments was laid in tluit city on the 27tli of Sei)tcmber, 1S46. 
But injustice, niili;ii)})ily, was not buried with Columbus 
in the tomb. It was but one twelvemonth after his death 


that an attempt was made, and only too successfully, to 
name the new world which he had discovered, after another 
who was not only his inferior, but his pupil in the school of 
maritime enterprise. In an obscure corner of Lorraine, at 
the little cathedral town of St. Die, a cluster of learned 
priests, who had there established a printing press under the 
auspices of Rene II., Duke of Lorraine, suggested to give to 
the newly-discovered continent the name of the Florentine, 
Amerigo Vespucci, whose nautical career did not commence 
till after Columbus had returned from his second voyage to 
the western hemisphere. The first time that the name of 
Amerigo came into notice was in the year 1504, when Johann 
Ottmar published at Augsburg the " Mundus Novus," a 
description of Vespucci's third voyage, now extremely rare, 
embodied in a letter addressed by Vespucci himself to 
Lorenzo di Pier Francesco de' Medici. In this voyage, 
which occupied from May, 1501, to September, 1502, he was 
in the service of Portugal, and explored the coasts of South 
America as far as beyond the fifty-second degree. But it 
was not till May, 1507, when Columbus had been a twelve- 
month dead, that the world was informed of four voyages 
professed to have been made by Vespucci, of which the one 
just mentioned was only the third, the two former having 
been made, as he states, in the service of Spain. As the 
first of these was asserted to have taken place between May 
20th, 1497, and October, 1499 [say 1498], and, if correct, 
would involve the discovery by him not only of the north 
coasts of South America, but a large extent of the coast of 
North America also, and that in priority of the claims both 
of Cabot and Columbus as regards the discovery of the 
American continent, it has been a matter of keen interest 
to many to examine minutely the correctness of Vespucci's 
claim to having made this voyage. This is not the place to 
enter into the complicated arguments in which this question 
is involved, but the reader may be interested to know some of 
the leading positions of the dispute on both sides. For this 
purpose he must be invited to travel back with us a few years. 


There was a Spaniard who had accompanied Cohimbns in 
his second voyage in 1493, named Alonza de Ojeda, small of 
stature, but of indomitable energy, courage, and perseverance. 
He was charged by Columbus to explore the gold mines in 
Hispaniola, and was not only successful in bringing back 
samples of gold, but also in capturing a formidable cacique, 
named Caonabo, who was doing his utmost to drive away the 
Spaniards from his territories. Ojeda subsequently quarrelled 
with Columbus, and when he returned to Spain in 1498, he 
was provided by the Bishop Fonseca, Columbus' enemy, 
with a fragment of the map which the admiral had sent to 
Ferdinand and Isabella, showing the discoveries which he 
had made in his last voyage. With this assistance Ojeda 
set sail for South America, accompanied by the pilot, Juan 
de la Cosa, who had accompanied Columbus in his first great 
voyage in 1492, and of whom Columbus com])lained that, 
*' being a clever man, he went about saying that he knew 
more than he did," and also by Amerigo Vespucci. 

They set sail on the 20th of May, 1499, with four vessels, 
and after a passage of twenty-seven days came in sight of 
the continent, two hundred leagues east of the Oronoco. 
At the end of June, they landed on the shores of Surinam, 
in six degrees of north latitude, and proceeding west saw 
the mouths of the Essequibo and Oronoco. Passing the 
Boca del Drago of Trinidad, they coasted westward till they 
reached the Cape, which Ojeda named the Capo de la Vela 
in Granada. 

It was in this voyage that was discovered the Gulf, to 
which Ojeda gave the name of Venezuela^ or Little Venice, 
on account of the cabins built on piles over the water,* a 
mode of life which brought to his mind the water-city of the 
Adriatic. From tlie American coast Ojeda went to the 
Caribbee Islands, and on the 5th of September reached 
Yaguimo, in Hispaniola, where he raised a revolt against 

* In the same maniu'r as, in ages long gone hy, the recently disoovered lake 
dwellings in Switzerland were eonstructed, and as they still are in lioruco and 


the authority of Columbus. His plans, however, were frus- 
trated by Roldan and Escobar, the delegates of Columbus, 
and he was compelled to withdraw from the island. On the 
5th of February, 1500, he returned, carrj^ng with him to 
Cadiz an extraordinary number of slaves, from which he 
realized an enormous sum of money. 

At the beginning of December, 1499, the same year in 
which Ojeda had set sail on his last voyage, another com- 
panion of Columbus, in his first voyage, Vicente Yanez 
Pinzon, sailed from Palos, was the first to cross the line on 
the American side of the Atlantic, and on the 20th of 
January, 1500, discovered Cape St. Augustine, to which he 
gave the name of Cabo Santa Maria de la Consolacion, 
whence returning northward he followed the westerly trend- 
ing coast, and so discovered the mouth of the Amazon, 
which he named Paricura. 

Within a month after his departure from Palos, he was 
followed from the same port and on the same route by Diego 
de Lepe, who was the first to discover, at the mouth of the 
Oronoco, by means of a closed vessel, which only opened, 
when it reached the bottom of the water, that, at a depth of 
eight fathoms and a half, the two lowest fathoms were salt 
water, but all above was fresh. Lepe also made the observa- 
tion that beyond Cape St. Augustine, which he doubled, as 
well as Pinzon, the coast of Brazil trended south-west, which 
may have first given the idea of the pyramidal conformation 
of South America. 

In October of that same year, 1500, Eodrigo de Bastidas, 
guided by the counsels of Juan de la Cosa, sailed from 
Cadiz, and coasting the Terra Firma of South America, 
reached the Gulf of Uraba and the Puerto del Retrete 
(Puerto Escribanos), in the isthmus of Panama, seventeen 
miles east of the Puerto de Bastimentos, where in 1510 
Diego de Nicuesa founded the once celebrated, but now 
destroyed, town of Nombre de Dios. He returned to 
Europe in September, 1502, at which time Juan de la Cosa 
was in Seville, where a courier arrived with the news of tlie 

B B 


discoveries of Bastidas, and announcing that he had landed 
in Portugal and had brought with him several Indian 
slaves. Juan de la Cosa forthwith repaired to Lisbon to 
ascertain the truth of the report. In 1504 he was himself 
employed by Queen Isabella, who gave him four vessels for 
the purpose of making fresh explorations. His expedition 
was so successful that he was able to hand over to the crown 
491,708 maravedis as the royalty of one-fifth on the amount 
of gold which he had brought back. 

Now, in Vespucci's own accounts of his first two voyages, 
there exists so much indistinctness and uncertainty that it 
is only by correlation with the dates of departure, the num- 
ber of ships mentioned, and casual coincidences of descrip- 
tion with the voyages above described, that any approxima- 
tion to conviction could be arrived at with respect to the 
reality and identity of the more certain of the two, the 
second. The Baron von Humboldt seems to have dis- 
covered here and there points of coincidence with all, but 
there can be now no doubt that Vespucci's voyage in 1499 
was identical with that of Ojeda. The establishment of this 
identity is of value, because in treating of the first and most 
important of the asserted voyages of Vespucci, it will be 
necessary, for reasons which will make themselves apparent, 
to call the reader's attention to the second. 

It is not till the 18th of July, 1500, that we find a date 
given to any letter of Vespucci's descriptive of any mari- 
time explorations of his, and that date appertains to a letter 
addressed to Lorenzo di Pier Francisco de' Medici, and 
descriptive of his asserted second voyage. Had any letter 
addressed by him to either of the illustrious men to whom 
he subsequently wrote been indited immediately after his 
return from his first voyage, it would have been a strong 
point in his favour, which is now unfortunately wanting. 
Such a deficiency is the more remarkable that a voyage of 
the kind, involving priority in the discovery of the continent 
whicli Columbus had gone in quest of, was a fact so stupen- 
dous that silence on such n subject bnffies our comprehension. 


And while we have to rely for the fact solely on Vespucci's 
own word, unsupported by one single assertion of any con- 
temporaneous witness, we do find distinct corroborative 
evidence of the reality of his so-called second voyage 
described by him in his letter, dated 18th July, 1500, 
evidence which is exceedingly damaging to the probability 
of the first having ever taken place. 

In the process instituted by the Procurator- Greneral against 
the heirs of Columbus, Alonzo de Ojeda bore witness that in 
the expedition which he undertook to the coast of Paria 
" after the admiral (Columbus) in 1499, he took with him 
Juan de la Cosa, pilot, Morigo Vespuche, and other pilots." 
This ambiguous sentence may or may not place Vespucci in 
the category of pilots. I incline to think not, but that he 
was the astronomer of the expedition, his part being as he 
himself says '^ per ajutare a discoprire, " to aid in making 
discoveries. But the witness of Ojeda is here quoted for the 
purpose of showing that Vespucci was with him in his visit 
to the coast of Paria in June and July, 1499, and yet so far 
from Vespucci having made him aware that he had seen that 
coast before, he (Ojeda) distinctly declared that he himself 
was the first man who came thither to explore after the 
admiral. Silence on the part of Vespucci respecting so 
great a previous discovery might under any circumstances 
be regarded as incredible ; under such circumstances, well- 
nigh impossible. Yet not even once does Vespucci him- 
self claim, in so many plain words, that he had first 
discovered the continent, but leaves the fact to be derived 
from what he relates. Equally difiicult of comprehension 
is it that, in the aforesaid process, no trace or mention 
whatever of such a discovery, made b}^ a man so con- 
spicuous at that time in the service of Spain, should have 
appeared, when every report that was inimical to the priority 
of the discovery of the Terra Firma by Columbus was seized, 
not only with avidity, but with malice, the jjeriod of that 
discovery being tlie principal object of the process. 

It is further remarkable that whereas Ojeda in this well 

B B 2 


attested voyage of 1409, a voyage perfectly recognised by 
Columbus and established by documentary evidence, speaks 
of houses built on piles, like those in Venice, which made 
him give the country the name of Venezuela, or little Venice, 
we find in the asserted previous voyage to the same shores 
by Vespucci in 1497, exactly the same observation, and the 
comparison of the houses built on the water with Venice. 
The occurrence of the same observation and idea to two 
persons at two different times is sufficiently remarkable, but 
it is yet more so that in 1499 Ojeda should be left in igno- 
rance that his companion had observed the same curious fact 
iu 1497. Then the entire omission in the " four voyages " 
of the names of those with whom he sailed, cannot fail 
to have a mischievous effect on the judgment of most, 
especially when brought into correlation with the facts 
already adduced. Indeed, so great was the indistinctness 
and com2;)lication connected with the letters of Vespucci, 
that the Baron von Humboldt, who devoted years to the 
examination of the history of American discovery, found it 
difficult to decide to his own satisfaction to which of the 
different Spanish and Portuguese expeditions the navigator 
was successively attached. 

In spite, however, of all these causes of mistrust, there have 
been powerful and hearty defenders of the correctness of 
Vespucci's statements just as we have received them. The 
latest of them — and the Florentine navigator could not 
have had a more earnest or more conscientious advocate — 
is his Excellency Senhor F. A. de A'^arnhagcn, envoy from 
the Court of Brazil to Lima. In the asserted first voyage, 
he makes Vespucci to have passed from the gulf of Honduras 
round the peninsula of Yucatan, to Vera Cruz and Tampico, 
and thus to have sailed between the west point of Cuba and 
the mainland, verifying its insularity, and also to have 
explored the coasts of Florida. In arriving at this conclusion, 
my valued friend Senhor dc Varnliagen, like all who have 
ventured on exploring the complications of this perilous first 
voyage, has been forced into an entanglement. He brings 


Vespucci into the port of Tampico or Panuco, in compliance 
with the text which places the port alluded to in :2o^ north 
latitude ; but from this port the navig-ators, according- to the 
text, sailed eight hundred and seventy (or, as Senhor do 
Yarnhagen suggests, three hundred and seventy) leagues 
constantly towards the north-west (" tuttavia verso el 
maestrale)." The man who would sail three liundred and 
seventy leagues north-west from Tampico must do so upon 
wheels across dry land. The text goes on to say that after 
they had been out thirteen months, being very fatigued, 
and their ship in bad condition, they put into tha finest 
harbour in the 7wrld, when they met Avith great kindness 
from the inhabitants, with whose aid they repaired their 
vessels, &c. 

From this statement, combined with anotlier of Yesi)ucci's, 
that he had traversed one quarter of the globe's circum- 
ference, from Lisbon to beyond the fiftieth degree of south 
latitude, Senhor de Varnhagen is tempted to adapt the 
Bay of Chesapeake to this description of " the finest harbour 
in the world," which would necessitate, contrary to his own 
sense of correctness, the retention of the eight hundred and 
seventy instead of three hundred and seventy leagues. But 
in order to make their passage from this harbour in harmony 
with the textj which places a group of islands at one hundred 
leagues, or seven days' journey E.N.E. therefrom, Senhor de 
Varnhagen confesses that a bay in the east coast of Florida 
would meet the necessities of the case better than the 
Bay of Chesapeake, since he had decided that the islands 
referred to, and which bore the name of Iti, were the 
Bermudas. Unfortunately, however, we shall seek in vain 
for the finest harbour in the world on the east coast of 

Manifestly, it would be simply ungenerous and vexatious 
to withhold large latitude to the computations of an investi- 
gator so patient, laborious, and conscientious as Senhor de 
Varnhagen, when brought to bear upon a text so indistinct 
and unmanageable as this description of Vespucci's assumed 


first voyage. My learned and highly honoured friend him- 
self acknowledges that, at the part we have referred to, the 
text is incomplete and obscure. It is this very incomplete- 
ness and obscurity which has made this voyage a torment to 
every one who has attempted to reconcile it with known 
facts, either geographical or historical. 

Upon such insecure grounds for a decision, one feels but 
little inclination to withdraw from John and Sebastian Cabot, 
the honour of having been the first to discover the continent 
of America since the times of the early Scandinavian expe- 
dition. It is a fact, about which there is no doubt, that on 
the 24th of June, 1497, the Cabots discovered the coast of 
North America, " with Bristol men, in a ship called the 
Matthew^'' and explored from Hudson's Bay to the southern 
part of Virginia. This was a year before Columbus landed 
on the Terra Firma of South America.* Yet none the less, 
for ever and for aye, must Columbus be esteemed the dis- 
coverer of America. 

Vespucci, it is clear, was not without his merit. His 
voyage with Ojeda, already described, together with his pre- 
vious voyage, if it really took place, won for him sufficient 
renown to induce the King of Portugal to invite him to his 

* Not to interrupt inopportunely the statement of the deeds and deserts of 
Columbus, I resort, though ujiwillingly, to a note to insert here, in its chrono- 
logical position, another important voyage. In the year 1500 Gaspar Cortereal 
(whose father, Joao Vaz Cortereal, was governor of Terccra, and is stated by 
Father Cordeiro to have discovered the Terra de Bacalhaos or Land of Codfish, 
now called Newfoundland, so early as 1463, nearly thuly years before the great 
success of Columbus) sailed from Lisbon with two ships, and steering northward 
from the Azores discovered the land since known as Canada, and gave the 
Portuguese name of Terra do Labrador to the countiy still known thereby. 
That country was frequently designated by geographers in the follo'wing century 
" Corterealis," after his name. Again in IMay, 1.501, ho made another voyage north 
with two ships, and reached Greenland, but a storm there separated the ships, 
and his consort only returned. Cortereal was never more heard of. Ilis brother 
Miguel, who went in search of him in 1502, met with an exactly similar fate ; 
and in 1503 King IManucl sent out two ships expi'cssly with the object of learning 
what had befallen them, but in vain. Lastly, a third brother, Vasco Eaunes 
de Cortereal, prepared to follow their traces, but the king Mould not give his 
sanction to the last svirvivor of this courageous family thus placing himself in a 
peiil which seemed to have a fatality for the race. 


service. He possessed nautical and astronomical knowledge, 
which he had turned to good account. With respect to his 
third voyage (the first made for Portugal), which itself has 
been the subject of severe dispute, Navarrete, who was })y 
no means prejudiced in his favour, concedes that " it may be 
concluded from documents found in the archives of the 
Casa de Contratacion, at Seville, that Vespucci did navigate 
along the coasts of Brazil, that he had seen Cape St. Augus- 
tine, and fixed its latitude at 8^ south." The purpose of the 
expedition to which he was attached was a double one : first, 
to examine the country discovered by Cabral, and next to 
seek a westward route to the Moluccas ; and it is only justice 
to add that, but for the inclemency of the weather, and the 
uncertainty of the ships holding out, he was in a fair chance 
of anticipating both Magalhaens and Balboa in reaching the 
Pacific. The expedition consisted of three ships, which 
touched at Cape Verde, and there met Cabral on his home- 
ward voyage, which will be hereafter described. From 
thence the course they sailed was S.W. & :^ S., and sixty- 
seven days, of which forty-four were very stormy, brought 
them to land in five degrees of south latitude. They cast 
anchor on the 17th of August, oil" Cape Saint Roque, which 
they then so named from having sighted it on the festival of 
that saint the day before, and in the name of the King of 
Portugal they took possession of the country. 

On the 18th they again landed to take in water, and saw 
a great number of natives on a neighbouring mountain, but 
from which they had not the courage to descend. They 
therefore left some bells and small mirrors on the beach and 
went on board, when the natives came down and showed 
their admiration of the things which had been left behind. 
On the morrow smoke was observed at different points along 
the coast, which they regarded as an invitation, and two of 
the crew offered to go amongst them, and take with them 
some of their small articles of traffic. Permission was 
granted, on condition that they returned in five days. Seven 
days passed without their return, during which, Ironi time 


to time, a few Indians would make their appearance, but 
with looks that betokened no good intention. 

On the 26th of August, the crews again landed, and the 
Indians sent their women among the sailors, but when one 
of the latter approached, the women immediately surrounded 
him, and one of the women, with a bludgeon, broke open his 
head and stretched him dead on the spot. They then carried 
him away to the mountain, while the Indians came forward 
defiantly and discharged a great quantity of arrows. With 
difficulty the Portuguese reached their boats. Four cannon 
shot dispersed the natives, but when they returned to the 
mountain they began cutting up the body of their victim 
into pieces, which they first showed and then roasted. This 
left little hope as to the fate of the two first. The crews 
clamoured for vengeance, but the commander thought it 
more prudent to pursue his voyage. They proceeded E.S.E. 
till they reached Cape St. Augustine, which they then so 
named in honour of the day, the 28th August. Rounding 
the cape, they followed the coast, often anchoring and com- 
municating with the inhabitants. On the 4th of October, 
they discovered the mouth of the San Francisco, and on the 
1st of November, the Bahia de todos os Santos. 

Sailing still south, they found themselves, on the 3rd of 
April, beyond the fifty-second degree of south latitude. On 
that day a tempest arose of such severity that they were in 
great dread. They were obliged to take in all sail and to 
run under bare poles. The nights became very long, that of 
the 7th of April lasting fifteen hours. On that day, in the 
midst of the storm, a new land made its appearance, the 
coast of which they followed for nearly twenty leagues ; but 
it was quite wild, and they saw no inhabitants and no port. 
Bpt what with the intensity of the cold and the thickness of 
the fog, they were scarcely in a condition to take note of 
anything. In this state of things they resolved to turn 
their prow homewards. Senhor do Varnhagen is of opinion 
that this wild uninhabited country was the island of Georgia, 
lat. 34° 30' S., long. 37^^ W., the description of which by 


Captain Cook fully corroborates the inference. The fleet 
first made its way to Sierra Leone, thence to the Azores, 
and finally reached Lisbon on the 7th of September, 1502. 

It was the description of this grand voyage made in the 
service of Portugal, accompanied by his own bold expression, 
that he had explored regions which he might be permitted 
to call a New World, that first brought the name of Ves- 
pucci into prominent relief in 1504. In itself the voyage 
was a great and noble achievement, eminently and justly 
calculated to inspire enthusiastic admiration of the qualities 
developed in its performance. The ground of complaint is 
not to be found in the admiration of those qualities, but in 
the injustice to another's fame to which that admiration 
afterwards became the stei^ping-stone. Meanwhile we will 
proceed to lay before the reader, as briefly as we may, the 
details of Vespucci's fourth voyage. 

The fourth voyage of Vespucci was undertaken with great 
hopes on his own part of imj^ortant consequences. Before 
starting on it he announced his intention to proceed to the 
coast by way of the south, and when he should have reached 
his destination " to do many things for the glory of God, 
the service of his country, and the i^erpetual memory of his 
own name.'"' His thoughts, like those of Columbus, were 
constantly directed to finding the rich islands of the east by 
the coasts of the new country ©iDposite to Africa. Moreover, 
information from India directed the attention of the Portu- 
guese government to the port of Malacca, and it was re- 
solved to send out a small fleet, and Vespucci was ofi"ered 
the command of one of the ships. 

At first two ships only seem to have been thought of, but 
at length six were fitted out. If we were to accept Ves- 
pucci's own statement, they started on the 10th of May, 
1503, but Senhor de Varnhagen judiciously suggests from 
internal evidence that the 10th of June, the date given by 
Damiao de Goes to the departure of the expedition of 
Gonzalo Coelho, with which Vespucci's was identical, was 
the correct one. After a stay of thirteen days in the 

378 rnmcE henry the navigator. 

harbour of Santiago in the Cape Verde Islands, the com- 
mander of the expedition sailed south-east, making for 
Sierra Leone ; but the weather was bad, and the wind con- 
trary, and after four days he altered his course and steered 

On the 10th August, when in three degrees S. latitude, they 
saw on the horizon the island now known by the name of 
Fernando de Noronha, and on a rock near this island the 
principal vessel, of three hundred tons, was wrecked. The 
crew was happily saved, but everything else went to the 
bottom. Vespucci was then four leagues from the island, 
and received orders to take his ship in search of a harbour. 
He obeyed, but soon lost sight of the other vessels. He 
fell in with one after the lapse of eight days^ and the two 
together returned and took in water at the island, and thence 
made for Bahia, which evidently had been already dis- 
covered, as the King's instructions had indicated this 
harbour as the point of rendezvous in case of separation. 
In seventeen days they reached Bahia, and remained there 
two months and four days, in hope of the arrival of the 
other three ships, but in vain. They then proceeded south, 
and after several communications with the inhabitants, 
put into a harbour, where they found a great quantity of 
dye-wood {Brazil wood), with which they loaded their 

They remained five months in this harbour, and esta- 
blished there a little f;ictory, which they fortified with twelve 
cannon, and garrisoned with four-and- twenty armed men. 
It is to Senlior de Varnhagen's researches that we owe the 
identification of this port, in which, so soon after the dis- 
covery of Brazil, a factory for facilitating the commerce of 
the dye-wood there found, and from which the country took 
its name, was established. It was the port of Cape Frio. 
In 1854 Senhor de Varnhagcn discovered in the Torre do 
Tombo the " Lhjzro " of Duarte Fernandez, and published it 
for the first time in note 13, p. 427, et scq., of his " Historia 
Gcral do Brazil." llio de Janeiro, 1854. In this work it is 


shown that in the year 1511, the ship Bretoa, commanded 
by Christovao Pires, went to load dye-wood at the port of 
Cape Frio, where on an island in the harbour was a factory, 
with its factor, &c. After a passage of seventy-seven days, 
the two ships reached Lisbon on the 18th of June, 1504. 
The other vessels were not arrived, and when Vespucci 
wrote his account, dated the 4th of September of that year, 
he believed that they were all lost. Senhor de Varnhagen 
seems to have reasons for supposing that in pursuing their 
course towards Malacca, they reached the La Plata River, 
and that that river, as well as the cape at its mouth, then 
received from them the name of Santa Maria. 

In February, 1505, Vespucci again entered the service of 
the King of Spain, and by a patent of the 24th of April, 
of that year, we find him naturalised as a Castilian. His 
occupation was to attend to the equipment and provisioning 
of ships destined for the Indies, for which he received an 
annual salary of thirty thousand maravedis. On the 22nd 
of March, 1508, the post of Pilot-Major of the kingdom 
was created for him, with a considerable salary attached, 
and in August of the same year, a royal letter was issued to 
him, which was to be read and proclaimed through all the 
towns and villages of Spain, in which he was charged to 
examine pilots on the use of the astrolabe and quadrant, to 
prove their acquaintance with the theory as well as the 
practice of navigation, to give them certificates, to receive 
payment from them for instruction, and to preside over the 
compilation of a sailing instruction-book to be named 
" Padron Real," which should receive constant corrections 
from information brought by pilots coming from the Indies, 
which information they were bound to supply to the Casa 
de Contratacion at Seville. This post he held for five years, 
and died at Seville on the 22nd of February, 1512, having 
just reached his sixty-first year. 

There can be little doubt that the conferment of this 
honourable and comfortable post was led to by the reputa- 
tion that had accrued to his name by the publication in 


France, Germany, and Italy, of the suggestion to give to 
the new world in honour of him, that name which has ever 
since been attached to it, the name of America. 

But let us trace the history of this name. When 
Vespucci was at Seville in 1501, we find from a statement 
in a letter describing his third voyage, addressed to his old 
schoolfellow, Pietro Soderini, Gonfaloniere of Florence, that 
one Giuliano Giocondi, then resident at Lisbon, was sent to 
him by Dom Manoel, King of Portugal, to seduce him from 
the service of the King of Spain, in which mission Giocondi 
was successful. Another letter describiug the same voyage, 
but addressed by Yespucci to Lorenzo di Pier Francesco de' 
Medici, was translated from Italian into Latin by another 
member of the Giocondi family. This was no less than the 
celebrated Fra Giovanni Giocondi, of Verona, who had 
gained great renown as an architect at Venice, but was, at 
the time we speak of, engaged in the service of Louis XII., 
and built the bridge of Notre Dame at Paris, which is 
at present standing, together with, as some had supposed, 
the 2Jetit pont in continuation, crossing the southern branch 
of the Seine.* 

Now at the time that Fra Giocondi was thus engaged in 
Paris, a young man of great talent, named Mathias Riug- 
mann, a native of Schlestadt, on the eastern side of the 
Vosges mountains, was also jiursuing his studies in the 
French capital at the college of Cardinal Lemoine. Ring- 
mann is better known in the literary world by the pseu- 
donym of Philesius, with the adjunct of Vosgesigena, in 
allusion to his birth in the Vosges mountains. He was a 
great proficient in Latin versification, and when he returned 
to his native Alsace, he found the fiercest literary rivalry 
existing between two contiguous parties of students, the one 
recognised as the Suevi or Swabians, the other as the 

* This supposition was drawn from the following couplet by Sanazzaro : — 
" Joeundus geniinuni iinposuit tilii, Scquana, poutem, 
lluuc tu juro potes dicerc I'outihccm." 
But it has since been disproved. 


Rheni or Rhine-men. Among the hitter Ringmann soon 
distinguished himself by the gracefulness, no less than the 
wit, of his versification. At the University of Fribourg, the 
party of the Swabians found a talented but discreditable 
supporter in a dissolute professor, named Jacob Locher, 
better known as Philomusus. 

A pique occasioned by some able verses of Ringmann in 
defence of his own party, induced Locher to resort to a mode 
of retribution of the most brutal and disgraceful character. 
At the close of the year 1505, Ringmann, who was at the 
time but twenty-two, a beardless young man of inoffensive 
manners and far from strong in frame, happened to be on a 
visit to the Syndic Zasius at Fribourg. Locher, having 
heard that on a certain day Ringmann intended to proceed 
on his way through the Black Forest, secured the assistance 
of eight armed confederates, and awaited the arrival of his 
victim by the wall of the Carthusian Convent about two 
miles from Fribourg, which lay on his road. Totally free 
from suspicion, Ringmann came as was expected, and was 
forthwith seized by this troop of cowards, who untrussed 
him, and inflicted on his bare body a severe and ignominious 
flagellation. This wJnpped and weakly youth was the originator 
of the name which now belongs to the whole of the vast 'western 

For reasons which I shall now proceed to describe, 
there is great room for supposing that, when in Paris, 
Ringmann had made the acquaintance of Fra Giovanni 
Giocondi. From Paris he carried back with him to Alsace 
that admiration for Vespucci and his achievements which 
no one in Paris, of whom we have as yet heard, was so 
likely to have instilled into him as Giocondi ; and in August, 
1505, he became the editor, at Strasburg, of an edition of 
Giocondi's translation of Vespucci's above-mentioned letter, 
of which seven other editions are extant, but only one with 
a date, viz., that published by Johann Ottmar, at Augsburg, 
in 1504. In this edition of 1505 there are not only a set of 
verses by Ringmann, in laudation of Vespucci's discoveries 


in his so-called third voyage, but there is also a Latin 
epistle on the same subject to one Jacobus Brunus, whom 
he addresses as his Achates and also as his " second self." 
We thus find even at this early period an intellectual and 
earnest advocate of the glory of Vespucci existing in Alsace. 
A short distance beyond the line which separated that 
province from Lorraine, stood the small cathedral, city of 
St. Die, on the banks of the Meurthe, within the dominions 
of Rene 11. , Duke of Lorraine, a prince who greatly dis- 
tinguished himself by his encouragement of the arts and 
of literature. The Duke's secretary was Walter Lud, one of 
the Canons of the Cathedral of St. Die. A zealous friend 
of literature, this worthy priest established a gymnasium or 
college at St. Die under the Duke's auspices, and, what is 
still more remarkable, he there set up also a printing press. 
Ringmann became professor of Latin at the College, and 
corrector of the press in the printing ofiice ; and in 1504 
another important personage joined this little confraternity. 
This was Martin Waldseemiiller, or, as he is better known 
by his Grteco-latinized pseudonym, Hylacomylus, a native 
and student of Fribourg, who, going in the vintage season 
of that year, in conformity with an annual habit of his, to 
eat grajies in Lorraine, became so charmed with the society 
of his learned friends at St. Die, that he made up his mind 
to take up his abode there, and became the teacher of 
geography at the college. On the 25th of April, 1507, a 
year after the death of Columbus, this latter member of the 
clique produced, from the St. Die printing-press, a little work 
entitled " Cosmographije Introductio,'^ to which was ap- 
pended a Latin translation of Vespucci's four voyages as 
described by himself, and addressed to Duke Rene of 
Lorraine, though it can be shown by the contents to have 
been really intended for Soderini. In the same year ap- 
peared at Strasl)urg a work, now of great rarity and possibly 
unique, by Walter Lud himself, entitled " Speculi orbis 
Succinctiss. sed neque poenitenda neque inelcgans De- 
claratio ct Canon," wliich throws mucli light on diiliculties 


presented by Waldseemiiller's publication.* Not only was 
it from that publication that the world was, for the first 
time, made aware of four voyages made to America by 
Vespucci, and one of them involving absolute priority in the 
discovery of the continent of America, but in the text which 
preceded the narrative of those voyages, the name of 
America was now, for the first time, suggested for the 
newly discovered western world. 

Before we proceed to notice the form of that suggestion, 
we natm'ally pause with the reader to enquire how came 
these letters, hitherto unknown to the world, to make their 
appearance now for the first time at St. Die ? I say "for the 
first time," because while these letters, which are in Latin, 
bear a date (1507), the oldest Italian edition bears neither 
date nor place of imprint, and although, by the paper and 
type, it may be recognised as of nearly the same period as 
the Latin, there is no reason, with which I am acquainted, 
for believing that it was printed before the latter. From 
"Walter Lnd's " Speculum " we find that the letters were 
sent from Portugal to Duke Rene in French, and from the 
French translated at Lud's request into Latin by another 
Canon of St. Die, named Jean Basin de Sandacourt. From 
this we must infer that the French version of the letters of 
Vespucci, intended for King Rene (and which was probably 
in manuscript — for no copy in type has ever been heard of), 
was prepared in Lisbon under the eye of Vespucci himself. 
But whence the connection between King Rene and Ves- 
pucci? That question has never been clearly answered, but 
I think I can offer a solution. It is a fact not entirely 
without significance that, immediately after the sentence 
from Walter Lud's work, which speaks of the letters coming 
from Portugal, we find the following remark, "and the 

* To my great good fortune this valuable work, which consists only of four 
leaves, was purchased by the British Museum two j-cars ago, when I was en- 
gaged on an examination of this very subject for a " Memoir on a Mappemondc 
by Leonardo da Vinci " in the collections at Windsor, being the earliest map 
hitherto known containing the name of America, printed in the Archccologia. 


booksellers carry about a certain epigram of our Philesiu8 
(Ringmann) in a little book of Vespucci's, translated from 
Italian into Latin by Giocondi of Verona, tlie architect from 
Venice." We have seen the connection of the Giocondi 
with Vespucci. We have seen also the connection of Eing- 
mann with the work of Fra Giovanni Giocondi. Here lies, 
as I submit, the probable solution of the enigma. The 
interest taken by Ringmann in the glory of Vespucci has 
been clearly demonstrated. He has infused into the little 
circle of St. Die a similar interest, and, certes, the question 
of a claim to the glory of having discovered a new world 
and of a right to confer on it a name, is one which might 
excite an interest in the most phlegmatic. But these men 
are possessed of a printing press, and we can imagine the 
keenness of their pleasure in having the opportunity to set 
forth a subject which would throw so bright a reflection on 
the obscurity of their secluded valley. Well might Pico de 
Mirandola express his surprise that so learned a cluster of 
men should exist among those wild rocks. (See his letter 
to the Editor of the Ptolemy of 1513.) One of the mem- 
bers of that little circle is jDrivate secretary to the Prince of 
the Duchy, and that Prince is remarkable for taking a pride 
in connecting his name with the spread of knowledge and 
refinement. Vespucci has a French translation made from 
the original narrative, which he had drawn up in his own 
Hispanicized Italian for Soderini, and this French translation 
be sends to the Duke Rene, for whom there is, I think, 
little doubt that it was made expressly at Riiigmann''s sug- 
gestion. It is reasonable to suppose that Vespucci, who 
was no good linguist, was too ignorant of French to revise 
the translation, and hence the explanation of what has 
hitherto been to so many, and myself amongst the number, 
an inexplicable enigma.* This account of the four voyages 

* That he did not revise the Fiviieh translation is proved bj- the fact that in 
the fourth voyage there is a blunder which he could not have allowed to pass, 
had he seen it. In naniinp; the Hahia d(> todos os Santos (15ay of all Saints), 
Vespucci had in his half Spanish, half Italian original, written " Bahia di tueti i 


thus sent in French to Duke Rene is prefaced by an address, 
in which "Vespucci reminds the personag;e to whom he is 
writing that " in their youth they had been friends, and had 
together learned the elements of grammar from the writer's 
uncle, Fra Georgio Antonio Vespucci." Now, we know 
from the antiquary Giuliano Ricci, that Soderini, to whom 
Vespucci's original Italian letters were addressed, had been 
his schoolfellow, which Duke Rene could not easily have 
been. We have, therefore, only to entertain the hypothesis 
which I have now suggested, viz., that the French transla- 
tion was made by suggestion from Uingmann for Duke 
Rene without revision by Vespucci, to find the explanation 
of this puzzle, about which so much has been written with- 
out any satisfactory conclusion. It may further be stated, 
by way of showhig more fully the likelihood of communica- 
tion between Ringmann and Vespucci, that the former had 
already made two journeys into Italy in connection with the 
subject of an edition of Ptolemy, which was intended to be 
prepared at St. Die, and for which Giovanni Francesco Pico 
de Mirandola made him a present of a Greek MS. of that 
geographer. These journeys would naturally bring him into 
contact with friends of Vespucci, whose praises he so zeal- 
ously proclaimed, that Pico de Mirandola himself states 
that, in consequence thereof, he had testified his sympathy 
by adding to the hymn to Christ some verses in honour of 
Vespucci's Lusitanian voyage. We have evidence that in 
1508 the preparation of this edition of Ptolemy was going 
on in full vigour, but Duke Rene died in December of that 
year, the printing-press at St. Die was broken up, and Ring- 
mann went home to Schlestadt, where he died in 1511 at the 
early age of twenty- nine. It is probable that his with- 
drawal may have caused the delay in the production of that 
really valuable work till 1513. When it did appear, it 

saiicti," the first word being Spanish and Portuguese, the rest Italian. In the 
original script, however, he wrote the " h" in the first word so like a " d" as to 
mi^ilead both the printer of the Italian and the French translator. The result was 
that the word " Bay" was converted into " Abbey," aud appeared as such in Italian, 
French, and Latin, both in books and on maps for very many years afterwards. 

C C 


contained a new map, entitled, " Tabula Terre Nove," by 
Hylacomylus, on which, strange to say, the name of America 
does not appear, but on the contrary there is inserted on the 
very continent of South America the following legend : — 
" Haec terra cum adjacentibus insulis inventa est per Colum- 
bum Januensem ex mandatis Regis Castillia3." As far as we 
have been hitherto able to trace the motives and meanino- of 
the suggestion of the name of America, it seems that this 
sentence stands in direct contradiction of the only basis on 
which the suggestor could have pretended to give this 
honour to Vespucci. 

But now at length we come to the mode of suggesting the 
name of America. In the " Cosmographife Introductio " of 
Hylacomylus, occur the following words : " And the fourth 
part of the world having been discovered by Americus, may 
well be called Amerige, which is as much as to say, the land 
of Americus or America."* 

And a few pages later he says : But now these parts are 
more extensively explored, and as will be seen in the follow- 
ing letters, another fourth part has been discovered by 
Americus Vesputius, which I see no just reason why any 
one should forbid to be named Amerige, which is as much 
as to say, the land of Americus or America, from its dis- 
coverer Americus, who is a man of shrewd intellect ; for 
Europe and Asia have both of them taken a feminine form 
of name from the names of women."t 

In September of the same year appeared a re-issue at St. 
Die of this same book, and in 1509 a new edition of it was 
issued from the printing-press of Johann Griininger, of 
Strasburg. Now in this very same year, 1509, the name of 
America, thus proposed two years before, appears as if it 

* " Et quarta orbis piii's qiiain quia Americus invenit, AmerigL'n quasi Americi 
terrain, sive Aniericam inmcui)are licet." 

t " Nunc vero et htec partes sunt latius lustrata?, et alia quarta pars per 
Amcricum Vesputium, ut in scquentibus audictiir, inventa est. quani non ^-idco 
cur quis jure vctct ab Anicricto inventore, sagacis ingenii viro, Amerigcn quasi 
Americi terram sive Aniericam dicendam, cum et Europa et Asia a nuilieribus 
sua sortita sint nomina. Ejus situm et gentium n\orcs ct bis binis Americi 
navigationibus qua; scquuntur li(iuidc inti'lHgi dant." 


were already accepted as a well-known denomination in an 
anonymous work, entitled " Globus Mundi," printed also 
at Strasburg in that year. This was three years before the 
death of Vespucci. But although the work is anonymous, 
the colophon has supjilied me with the means of associating 
the adopter of the suggestion with the suggester himself. 
The colophon runs thus : " Ex Argentina ultima Augusti, 
1509. J. Griiniger (sic) imprimebat, Adelpho Castigatore." 
Now this Adelphus was a physician, a native of Miihlingen, 
near Strasburg, who afterwards established himself in the 
latter city. But the just-mentioned re-issue in 1509, of the 
" Cosmographi^e Introductio," containing the suggestion of 
the name of America, appeared from the press of this same 
Johann Griininger, with the following words in the colophon : 
" Johanne Adelpho Mulicho, Argentinensi, Castigatore." 
Mulicho simply means native of Miihlingen. The coincidence 
clearly brings the suggester and the adopter of the sugges- 
tion into remarkably close proximity. 

The first place in which we find the name of America, 
used a little further a-field, is in a letter dated Vienna, 1512, 
from Joachim Vadianus to Rudolphus Agricola, and inserted 
in the Pomponius Mela of 1518, edited by the former. The 
expression used is '' America discovered by Vesputius."* But 
although this Vadianus, whose real name was Joachim Watt, 
writes from Vienna in 1512, I find that he was a native of 
St. Gall, whence in 1508, being then twenty-four years old, 
he went to the High School at Vienna. His learned dispu- 
tations and verses gained him the chair of the Professorship 
of the Liberal Arts at that school, and he subsequently 
studied medicine, of which faculty he obtained the doctorate. 
This attachment to the study of medicine recalls to my mind 
a fact which awakens a suspicion that he may have been a 
personal friend of John Adelphus, just referred to, and if 
so, of the little confraternity of St. Die. Before Adelphus 
established himself in Strasburg, he had practised as a phy- 
sician at Schaffliausen, and this at the time when Joachim 

* " Amcricam a Vespuccio rcpcrtam." 
C C 2 


Watt was a young man, still resident at St. Gall, which is 
distant from Schaif hausen seventy English miles, a distance 
which would offer very little hindrance to Swiss intercom- 
munication. Whether this suspicion he worth anything or 
no, I advance it as a possible clue to yet further researches 
which may show the process by which this spurious appella- 
tion of America became adopted, through the efforts of a 
small cluster of men in an obscure corner of France. 

The earliest engraved map of the new world yet known as 
bearing the name of America, is a mappe-monde by Appianus, 
bearing the date of 1520, annexed to the edition bj'' Gamers, 
of the Polyhistoria of Julius Solinus (Vienna Austr.), 
1520, and a second time to the edition of Pomponius Mela 
by Vadianus, printed at Basle in 1522. The earliest manu- 
script map hitherto found bearing that name, is in a most 
precious collection of drawings by the hand of Leonardo da 
Vinci, now in Her Majesty's collections at Windsor, to which, 
from an examination of its contents, I have assigned the 
date of 1513-14. 

I have thus endeavoured to unravel tlie intricate story of 
a great and irreparable injustice. No one can deny to 
Vespucci the credit of possessing courage, perseverance, and 
a practical acquaintance with the art of navigation ; but he 
had never been the commander of an expedition, and had it 
not been for the great initiatory achievement of Columbus, 
we have no reason to suppose that we should ever have 
heard his name. 

" To say the truth," as has been well remarked by the 
illustrious, Baron von Humboldt, " Vespucci shone only by 
reflection from an age of glory. When compared with 
Columbus, Sebastian Cabot, Bartholomeu Dias, and Da 
Gama, his place is an inferior one. The majesty of great 
memories seems concentrated in the name of Christopher 
Columbus. It is the originality of his vast idea, the large- 
ness and fertility of his genius, and the courage which bore 
up against a long series of misfortunes, which have exalted 
the Admiral high above all his cotemporaries." 




Meanwhile great things bad been doing in the East. The 
grand discovery of Bartbolomeu Dias was not to remain 
fruitless, although it may fairly be wondered at that so long 
an interval should have been allowed to elapse between that 
discovery in 1487 and the realisation of its advantages by 
Vasco da Gama ten years later. Some have even added to 
the reasonable inquiry, an unreasonable insinuation tliat the 
success of Columbus proved to be the effective stimulus to 
the second important expedition. No chimera was ever 
more untenable when examined by the light of facts and 
dates. Indeed the interval of five years between the two 
grand discoveries of Columbus and Da Gama is in itself 
sufficient to show that we must look elsewhere for an ex- 
planation of the delay. It will be remembered that before 
Dias had returned at the close of 1487, Payva and Covilham 
had been sent by land to Eastern Africa, and that from 
Cairo, in 1490, Covilham had sent home word to the King 
confirmatory of the fact that India was to be reached by the 
south of Africa. It happened, however, that in this same 
year, 1490, King John was seized with an illness so severe 
that his life was in the utmost jeopardy. This was supposed 
to have been caused by his drinking the water of a fountain 
near Evora, which was thought to have been poisoned, inas- 
much as two Portuguese gentlemen who had drunk of it, 
died. Through great care, and the pure air and han(juillity 


of his pleasure-palaces of Santarem and Almerino, the King 
recovered ; but though his life was saved, the vigour of his 
constitution was irreparably impaired. Shortly after this 
partial restoration to health, the King, by order of his phy- 
sicians, stayed at Santarem during the summer months for 
the sake of bathing in the Tagus, when one day he sent for 
his son Affonso to join him in the bath. The Prince at first 
excused himself, but afterwards reflecting that such excuse 
was unbefitting the reverence due to a message from the 
King his father, mounted his horse and rode quickly to 
repair his fault. The King had, however, entered the bath, 
and Affonso proposed to his companion, Joao de Meneses, a 
race on horseback. In the midst of the race a young man 
crossing the path startled the Prince's horse, which reared 
up, fell, and rolled over him. The injuries that he received 
were such that he died that same night. The Prince was in 
his seventeenth year, and by his death the succession, which 
for three centuries and a half had continued without inter- 
ruption in the male line, fell to the collateral line of the 
Dukes of Viseu, a fearful blow to the King's peace of mind. 

In 1492 the King again fell dangerously ill, and in addition 
to the general infirmity of his frame, black spots showed 
themselves on his body, which confirmed the belief that 
some strong poison had been received into his system. To 
add to the misery of this prostration, the Queen, to whom 
he was devotedly attached, escaped but narrowly from an 
illness with which she was attacked in 1493. It was not till 
1494 that the King began to show symptoms of some return 
to convalescence. The joy that pervaded the kingdom was 
universal, but was soon clouded by the presence of famine, 
accompanied by an epidemic which spread death and ruin 
among the people. The King's most earnest attention was 
directed to the remedy of these evils, when his own malady 
took the form of dropsy, and he was required to dismiss from 
his mind all thoughts of public business, and attend solely 
to the re-establishment of his health. 

Meanwhile ever since the death of Prince Affonso, who 


had married Isabella, Princess of Castile, the dominant 
anxiety of the King had been to establish the succession in 
his illegitimate son Greorge, the child of Anna de IMendoza, 
whom he had made Diilve of Coimbra and Grand Master of 
the Orders of Santiago and Aviz. He sent ambassadors to 
Rome to solicit his legitimization, but to this every possible 
objection was interposed by the King of Castile. The Queen 
and the people moreover declared themselves in favour of 
the King's cousin, Dom Manoel, the Duke of Beja, and to 
their influence, as well as to the claims of legitimacy, the 
King felt himself at length compelled to succumb. It will 
thus have been seen that the condition of the King's health 
and the personal anxieties accruing from the state of his 
kingdom, together with his domestic troubles, were of a 
nature to present serious obstacles to the development of 
those grander schemes which had been so vividly opened up 
to his ambition with respect to India. He died on the 25tli 
of October, 1495, in the fortieth year of his age and the 
fourteenth of his reign ; and it is hoped that enough has been 
said to explain how, as stated at the close of the preceding 
chapter, the momentous voyage of Bartholomeu Dias should 
be the last that distinguished the reign of King Joao 11. 
His successor. King Manoel, received the name of " The 
Fortunate," from his good fortune in succeeding to the 
throne of a sovereign who had won for himself the desig- 
nation of "The Perfect Prince." The first thought of the 
new King was to resume the distant maritime explorations 
which had already reflected so much honour on the far- 
sighted intelligence of their initiator. Prince Henry. 

At length an experienced navigator of noble family was 
selected, in 1496, to attempt the passage to India by the 
newly-discovered southern cape of Africa. If we may trust 
an historian of good repute, and the holder of an important 
post in the Royal archives, this selection was the result of a 
mere whim on the part of King Manoel. We are told by 
Pedro de Mariz, in his " Dialogos de Varia Historia," that 
the Kin;]r was one eveuin": at one of the windows of his 


palace, meditating on the possibility of realizing the grand 
projects of his predecessor, Joao II., when Vasco da Gama 
happened to come alone into the court beneath the King's 
balcony. Without hesitation the King mentally resolved 
that he should be the chief in command of the fleet of 
the Indies. 

The preparations for the enterprise were made by the King 
with the greatest forethought. Four vessels, purposely made 
small for the sake of easy and rapid movement, the largest 
not exceeding a hundred and twenty tons, were buiJt ex- 
pressly in the most solid manner, of the best-selected wood, 
well fastened with iron. Each ship was provided with a triple 
supply of sails and spars and rope. Every kind of needful 
store was laid in in superfluity, and the most skilful pilots 
and sailors that the country could furnish were sent out with 
Da Gama. The largest vessel, the Sam Gabriel, he of course 
took under his own command. The captaincy of the Sam 
B.ap]tael, of one hundred tons, was given to his brother, 
Paolo da Gama ; the Berrio, a caravel of fifty tons, was 
commanded by Nicolas Coelho ; and a small craft laden with 
munitions was given to the charge of Pedro Nunez, a servant 
of Da Gama. It had been intended that Bartholomeu Dias 
should accompany the expedition, but he was subsequently 
ordered to sail for San Jorge el Mina, perhaps for politic 
reasons, on a more profitable but less glorious mission. His 
pilot, however, Pero de Alemquer, who had carried him 
beyond the Stormy Cape, was sent out on board Yasco da 
Gama's ship, and the other two pilots were Joao de Coimbra 
and Pero Escolar. 

It was on Saturday, the 8th of July, 1497, that Vasco da 
Gama started from Restello, an ermida or chapel, which had 
been built by Prince Henry about a league from Lisbon, and 
m which he had placed certain Friars of the Order of Christ, 
that they might receive confessions and administer the 
Communion to outward-bound or weather-bound sailors. 
Dom Manoel, who succeeded his uncle as Grand Master of 
the Order, subsequently built on the spot the splendid 


Temple of Belem, or Bethlehem. As the first-fruits of the 
success of that important voyage, on which Da Gama was 
now starting, he transferred it to the Order of the Monks of 
St. Jerome. The whole building is erected on piles of pine 
wood. It is entered on the south side under a rich porch, 
which contains more than thirty statues. The doorway is 
double. Above the central shaft is a statue of Prince Henry 
in armour.* (^See Engraving.) 

Without dwelling on such details of Da Gama's outward 
voyage as present no important novelty, we shall pass over 
four months, and on the 4th of November we shall find the 
little fleet anchored in the Bay of St. Helena, on the west 
coast of Africa, where for the first time they became ac- 
quainted with the Bosjesmans or Bushmen, that peculiar 
race allied to the Hottentots, but so different from the 
Cafiirs. Here they landed in order to take in water, as well 
as to take astronomical observations with the astrolabe, 
newly invented by Behaim, for Da Gama mistrusted the 
observations taken on board, on account of the rolling of the 
vessel, t While he was thus occupied, they perceived two 
negroes, one of whom they captured with very little diffi- 
culty, but were unable to make him understand them. They 
therefore sent him back to his people laden with presents, 
which had the efi'ect of bringing them in crowds to beg for 
similar gifts. These people were yellowish in colour, small 
in stature, ill-formed, ugly, stupid, and stammering in their 
speech. They proved, however, so friendly, that one of the 
ofiicers, Fernam Yeloso, obtained permission to accompany 
them to their home to make himself acquainted with their 

* The late learned ecclesiologist, Dr. Mason Neile, says, "Belem is the last 
struggle of Christian against Pagan art in Portugal. The visitor M-ill be much 
enchanted with the exquisite beauty of the details, more especially if he have 
not previously seen the CapeUa Imperfeita at BataUia, with which Belem is not 
for one moment to be compared." 

t The astrolabe he iised was of wood, three hands -breadth in diameter, 
formed of three pieces like a triangle. They aftenvards took out smaller ones 
of latten. So humbly began the art which has since produced such mighty 
results in navigation. 


country. But his errand, as it happened, proved fruitless, 
for after journeying with them for some time, he was seized 
with a panic, and returned to the ships without having 
gained any information. 

The ships remained for several days longer in St. Helena 
Bay, but nothing more was seen of the inhabitants, and 
Da Gama was balked in his hope of learning something 
about the country and the distance from the Cape of Good 
Hope. His pilot, Pero de Alemquer, who had been with 
Bartholomeu Dias in the first discovery of the Cape, was 
unable to inform him on that point, for, as we have already 
seen, in that voyage they had sailed southward too far from 
the land, and on the return voyage had sailed past this 
portion of the coast by night. Besides this, the stormy 
weather which Dias had encountered in the neighbourhood 
of the Cape had prevented him from making such observa- 
tions as would have helped Da Gama in determining the 
distance of the southern point. On a rough estimate, how- 
ever, Pero de Alemquer calculated the distance at about 
thirty leagues. 

On the 16th of November they proceeded south. At 
length they came upon the open sea, but on the 19th made 
their course for the desired point. On Wednesday, the 
22nd of November, at noon. Da Gama sailed before a wind 
past the formidable cape, to which King Joao II. had given 
the undying name of Good Hope, in anticipation of the 
achievement which was now about to be accomplished. 

On Saturday, the 25th of November, he entered the bay 
which Bartholomeu Dias had named San Bras, and where 
the Portuguese had had a disagreement with the natives. 
The latter were now amiable enough, and exchanged with 
their visitors ivory bracelets for scarlet caps and other 
articles. Their cattle were remarkable for their size and 
beauty. A misunderstanding unhappily arose through un- 
founded suspicions on the part of the natives, but Da Gama 
prudently withdrew his men without bloodshed, and 
frightened the Hottentots by tiring his guns from the ships. 


In this bay Da Gama set up a jjadrao and cross, but they 
were tlirown down before his eyes by the natives. 

They left the bay of San Bras on Friday, December 8th. 
On Friday the 15th they sighted the Ilheos Chaos, or Flat 
Islets, five leagues beyond the Ilheo da Cruz (the Bird 
Islands in Algoa Bay), where Dias had left a padrao. On 
the night of Sunday, the 17th, they passed the Rio do 
Iffante, the extreme point of Dias's discovery, and here Da 
Gama became seriously alarmed at the force of the 
current that he encountered. Fortunately the wind was in 
his favour, and on Christmas Day he gained sight of land, 
to which, on that account, he gave the name of Natal. 

On Wednesday, the 1 0th of January, 1498, they came 
to a small river, and on the next day landed in the 
country of the Caffirs, where an entirely new race of men 
from those they had hitherto seen met their eyes. With 
these, formidable as they were with their large bows and 
iron-tipped azagays. Da Gama established such friendly 
relations that he called the country the Terra da Boa Gente, 
or Country of the Good People, and the river he called the 
Rio do Cobre, on account of the copper which the natives 
brought in exchange for linen shirts. Barros confounds the 
Rio do Cobre, which appears to be the Inhambane, or Lim- 
popo, with the Rio dos Reis, which the early maps make to 
debouch in Delagoa Bay, and is probably the river Manice. 

On Monday, the 22nd of January, Da Gama reached a 
large river, where, to his great joy, he met with two richly 
dressed Mahometan merchants, who trafficked with the 
Caffirs, and from whom he gathered valuable information as 
to the route to India. Here he erected a pillar, which he 
named the padrao of Sam Rafael, and he called the river the 
Rio dos Boos Signaes, or River of Good Signs (the Quili- 
mane River). In an inferior sense the name was inappro- 
priate, for here the scurvy broke out amongst the crew. 

They set sail on Saturday, the 24th of January, and on 
the 10th of March anchored off the island of Mozambique. 
The people of the country told them that Prestcr John had 


many cities along that coast, whose inhabitants were great 
merchants, and had large ships, but that Prester John 
himself lived a great way inland, and could only be reached 
by travelling on camels. This information filled the Portu- 
guese with delight, for it was one of the great objects of 
these explorations to find out the country of Prester John, 
and they prayed God to spare them to see what they all 
so earnestly desired. The ships of this country were large 
and without decks, not fastened with nails, but with leather. 
Their sails were made of matting of palm leaves, and the 
sailors had Genoese compasses to steer with, as well as 
quadrants and sea-charts. The viceroy of the island, whose 
name was Colytam,* came very confidingly on board the 
vessel with his suite, and the friendliest intercourse ensued ; 
but it was afterwards discovered that treachery underlay 
this seeming goodwilL In fact the new comers had at first 
been supposed to be Mahometans, but the mistake was soon 
discovered. A pilot whom the viceroy had given to the 
Portuguese misled them, and conducted them to a place for 
taking in water, where they found armed men hidden behind 
palisades, who endeavoured with slings to drive them 
from the water. These, however, were soon dispersed by the 
Portuguese guns. 

Da Gama left this coast on the 29th of March, and on 
Sunday, the 1st of April, came to some islands very near 
the mainland, to the first of which he gave the name of 
Ilha do A90utado, or Whipping Island, because on the 
Saturday afternoon the pilot they had taken in at Mozam- 
bique told the captain that these islands were mainland, and 
for this falsehood he ordered him to be whipped. These 
islands were numerous, and so close to each other, that it 
was difficult to distinguish them. These were the Querimba 
islands, of which the Ilha do A^outado would be the 
southernmost. On Monday they saw other islands five 
leagues out at sea, the more northern islands of the 
Querimba group. 

* Probably (^dlytani or Sultan. 


On Friday, the Gtb of April, the Sam Rafael stranded on 
some reefs two leagues from the shore, and opposite a range 
of lofty and handsome hills, to which they gave the name of 
Serras de Sam Rafael, and they gave the same name to 
the reef.* 

The day following, Saturday the 7th, they reached Mom- 
baza, and were treated with great kindness by the King, who 
sent them presents, and offered to supply them with all that 
they might require. But having discovered a plot between 
the Moors of Moml)aza and the pilots which he had brought 
from Mozambique, and being besides attacked by them in 
the night. Da Gama thought it wisest to continue his voyage, 
and on the 12th of April he set sail, though with little wind. 
The following morning, being about eight leagues distance 
from Mombaza, they saw two barks at sea about three 
leagues to leeward of them, and made for them, wishing to 
find pilots. By the evening they came upon one of them, 
and took it, but the other made for the shore. In the one 
they took were seventeen men, and gold and silver, and a 
quantity of maize and provisions, and a girl, the wife of an 
old man of rank, who was a passenger. On the Portuguese 
boarding, all in the vessel threw themselves into the water, 
and the former proceeded to pick them up in the boats. On 
Easter Day, the 15th of April, they reached Melinda, and 
their captives informed them that they would there find four 
ships belonging to Indian Christians, from whom they might 
procure Christian pilots, and every necessary in the way of 
meat and water, and wood, &c. On the Monday morning 
Da Gama sent the old man whom he had captured to the 
King, to tell him how happy he should be to enter into 
peaceful relations with him. After dinner the old man 

* These appear to be the Waseen reefs, which make the coast inside of Poniha 
island unsafe of approach. " Although the coast is low, there is a range of hills 
in the background, and occasionally in the distance may bo seen curiously 
isolated mountains, which present a remarkable contrast to the general flatness 
of the country. One of them, called AVaseen Peak, is about two thuusaud five 
hundred feet high."— See " African Pilot," 1864, p. 20G. 


returned, attended by one of the King's household, and an 
officer, with three sheep from the King and a message that 
it would give the King great pleasure to enter into peaceful 
relations with the captain, and that he would be happy to 
supply him with pilots or anything that his country might 
afford. Da Gama sent word that he would enter the har- 
bour on the following day, and immediately sent to the King 
an overcoat, two sprigs of coral, three copper basins, a hat, 
some bells, and two pieces of striped cloth. On Tuesday 
the King sent Da Gama six sheep, and a good quantity of 
cloves, and cummin seeds, and ginger, and nutmeg, and 
pepper, and also sent word that he would come to see him 
on the following day. After dinner on Wednesday the King 
came out in his boat to the ships, and Da Gama in his boat 
went to meet him. The King proposed that they should 
interchange visits, but Da Gama replied that he was not 
permitted by his sovereign to land. The King asked the 
name of Da Gama's King, and ordered it to be written 
down, and said that if Da Gama would return that way he 
would send an embassy, or would write to his sovereign. 
The King then went round the ships, and was delighted with 
seeing the guns fired. He spent three hours on board, and 
when he departed left one of his sons and an officer in the 
ship, and took with him two of the Portuguese to show 
them his palaces, and told Da Gama that since he would not 
come on shore that he should go along the coast the next 
day to see his horsemen ride. The King brought with 
him a close-fitting damask robe, lined with green satin, 
and a very rich head-dress, two chairs of bronze with their 
cushions, a round sunshade of crimson satin fastened to a 
pole, a sword in a silver scabbard, several trumpets, and two 
of a peculiar form made of elaborately carved ivory as high 
as a man, to be played at a hole in the middle. There were 
four ships here belonging to Indian Christians, who, when 
they came on board the first time, were shown by Da Gama 
an altar-picture, in which was the Virgin and child at the foot 
of the cross witli the Apostles. Tlic Indians immediately 


threw themselves on the ground in an attitude of prayer. 
These Indians warned Da Gama not to go on shore, nor 
phice any faith in the joyous demonstrations that were made 
in his favour, for that they were not sincere. On Suuday, 
the 22nd of April, the King came on board, and Da Gania 
begged of him the pilots that he had promised. The King 
accordingly sent him a Christian pilot, and Da Gama gave 
up the hostage that he had retained. On the 24th of April 
they made sail for Calicut, under the guidance of their i)ilot, 
whose name was Malemo Canaca. 

On Thursday, the 1 7th of May, 1498, Da Gama first sighted, 
at eight leagues distance, the high land of India, the object of 
so many anxiet ies and of so many years of persevering elfort. 
On Sunday, the 20th of May, he anchored before Calicut. 
On the following day some boats came out to them, and Da 
Gama sent one of the " degradados," or condemned crimi- 
nals, on shore with them, and they took the man to two 
Moors of Tunis, who spoke both Spanish and Genoese, and 
the first salutation they gave him was as follows : " The 
devil take you for coming here. What brought you here 
from such a distance ? " He replied, " We come in search 
of Christians and spices." They said, ''Why does not the 
King of Spain, and the King of France, and the Signoria 
of Venice send hither ? " He replied that the King of 
Portugal would not consent that they should do so, and they 
said he was right. Then they welcomed him, and gave 
him wheatened bread with honey, and after he had eaten, 
one of the two Moors went back with him to the ships, and 
when he came on board said, " Happy venture ! happy ven- 
ture ! abundance of rubies ! abundance of emeralds ! You 
ought to give many thanks to God for bringing you to a 
country in which there is such wealth." The Portuguese 
were utterly astounded at hearing a man at that distance 
from Portugal speak their own language. Tliis Moor, whom 
Barros calls Mongaide and Castanheda Boutaibo, most pro- 
bably Bou-said, proved very useful to Vasco da Gama, and 
went home with him to Portugal, where he died a Christian. 


Calicut, the wealthy capital of that part of the Malabar 
coast, was governed at that time by a Hindoo sovereign, 
named Samoudri- Rajah (the King of the Coast), a name 
which the Portuguese afterwards converted into Zamorin. 
Gama had the good fortune to gain an audience of this 
prince, by whom he was favourably received, but with very 
little ultimate success, in consequence of his not being pro- 
vided with presents suitable for an Eastern sovereign. This 
unlucky circumstance, combined with the hatred of the 
Arab merchants, whose ships crowded the harbour and who 
regarded with apprehension any rivals in the rich trade of 
spices, was near producing fatal results. 

Da Gama thought it his duty to establish a factory, at 
the head of which he placed Diogo Dias, the brother of the 
first discoverer of the Cape. At the instigation of the Arabs, 
Dias and his men were taken prisoners. By way of reprisal, 
Da Gama kept as hostages twelve Hindoos who had visited 
his vessels ; but when Dias and his comrades were allowed 
to return, he sent back only six of the Hindoos and retained 
the other six. When he set sail on Wednesday, the 29th of 
August, several vessels came to recover their countrymen. 
This De Gama refused, and warned them to keep their dis- 
tance, believing that their motives were treacherous. He 
told them at the same time that he meant to return as soon 
as possible, when they would know whether the Portuguese 
were thieves or not, as the Moors had represented them to 
be. Whatever might have been the danger of Da Gama, 
and doubtless it was great from the hostility of the Arabs, 
this conduct was indefensible, for there appears no reason 
to doubt either the integrity or the good- will of the Zamorin, 
inasmuch as the detention of Diogo Dias and his companions 
had been without his knowledge, and he himself not only 
discharged him, but sent by him a letter to Da Gama for 
the King of Portugal, written in Dias's own hand, to the 
following effect: '' Vasco da Gama, a nobleman of your 
household, has visited my kingdom, which has given me 
great pleasure. In my kingdom there is abundance of cin- 


namon, cloves, ginger, pepper, aiul precious stones in great 
quantities. What I seek from thy country is gold, silver, 
coral, and scarlet/' The only shadow of an excuse for Da 
Gama's retention of the six Hindoos was that he hoped to 
take them to Portugal, and bring them back again, when 
they might prove of the greatest assistance in establishing 
friendly relations between the two countries. That it was a 
genuine motive there can be little doubt, however harsh in 
its first conception, but, alas ! he was ignorant that the caste 
of the poor captives would make them prefer death to their 
present position, and it can only be supposed that the}' 
speedily perished. They were becalmed about a league 
below Calicut, and at noon, on Thursday the 30th, they were 
beset by seventy boats crowded with people, whom they 
kept at bay with their artillery. The contest continued for 
an hour and a half, when fortunately a storm arose which 
carried them out to sea, and the boats finding themselves 
powerless returned, and Da Gama pursued his course. On 
Monday, the 10th of September, as they had but little wind, 
Da Gama put on shore one of the captives with letters to 
the Zamorin, written in Arabic by a Moor who had come with 
them. On the loth they reached some islets about two 
leagues from the shore, and on one of them they erected a 
pillar, to which they gave the name of Santa Maria, for the 
King had ordered Da Gama to erect three columns, which 
he should name respectively Sam Rafael, Sam Gabriel, and 
Santa Maria. That of Sam Rafael had been erected at the 
Rio dos Boos Signaes, that of Sam Gabriel at Calicut, and 
now the last, that of Santa Maria, was placed on this islet, 
and the group has since received the name of Santa Maria 
from the pillar erected there. The group extends from lat. 
37«'27' to n^, 19| N. ; Durreaor Deriah Bahauder Ghur in 
lat. 13^ 20' N. long., 70* 40|, E., six leagues southward 
from Cundapore River is the largest of the range, and pro- 
bably that on which the padrao was erected. The iuhalii- 
tants were pleased at the idea of the pillar with its cross 
being set upon their island, as they were Christians, and were 

D D 


happy to meet with those of the same creed. Da Gama 
then contmiied his course northward, and putting in for 
water at a point of the coast opposite six little islands near 
Hog Island, he became aware of the proximity of two barks 
of unusual size. He hastened his men on board, and found 
from the look-out at the mast-head, that eight more such 
were becalmed at about six leagues distance. When the 
wind arose he sailed straight for them, and they put in for 
shore. One of them, however, broke its rudder, and the crew 
landed in their boat, leaving the ship at the mercy of the 
Portuguese. The other seven were run aground, and re- 
ceived the Portuguese fire as they pulled ashore in their boats. 
These they found were vessels come in pursuit from Calicut. 
Thence Da Gama still proceeded north, till on Sunday, 
the 23rd, he reached the little island of Anchediva, 
where they drove the Berrie and the Sam Gabriel ashore to 
caulk them, but the Sam Rafael remained afloat. One day, 
while they were on board the Berrio, two large row-boats 
approached laden with men with trumpets and drums and 
banners. Da Gama found on inquiry that these were armed 
pirates, who introduced themselves on board vessels under 
the show of friendship, and once on board took possession if 
they found themselves strong enough. When, therefore, 
they came within gun-shot the Sam lia/ael ^red at them. 
They called out that they were Christians, but finding that Da 
Gama was not to be duped, they put in for shore, and were 
pursued for some time by Nicolao Coelho. On the following 
day came several with presents, asking to see the ships, but 
they were coldly received. Among them, however, came 
one man of forty years of age, who spoke Venetian perfectly, 
was well dressed in linen, with a handsome turban on his 
head and a cutlass at his side. He said that he came 
originally from the west when he was a boy, that he lived 
with a Moor who commanded forty thousand horsemen (in 
fact the Bajah of Gou), and hearing that Franks, or people 
from the west, were come, he had begged permission to come 
to pny them a visit, and his master, sent word by him, that 


he would be happy to offer them ships or provisions, or any- 
thing else in his dominions which might be of service to 
them, or if they would take up their abode in his country 
he would be very pleased. Meanwhile Paolo da Gama made 
inquiries as to who the man was, and was informed that he 
was the owner of the vessels that had come out to attack 
him. When Da Gama learned this he had him flogged for 
the purpose of extracting the truth from him. He confessed 
that he knew that all the country was hostile, and that he 
had come on board to ascertain the state of the Portuguese 
defences. This man proved to be a Polish Jew, a native of 
Posen, whence a cruel persecution had driven his family in 
1456 to Palestine. They afterwards migrated to Egypt, 
and he himself was born in Alexandria, whence he passed 
by the Red Sea to India. He joined his fortunes to the Portu- 
guese, and as he was an experienced and intelligent man, 
Da Gama took him with him to Lisbon, where he embraced 
Christianity, and at his baptism received the name of Gas- 
paro da Gama. He proved of great use to Da Gama on the 
homeward voyage, especially at Melinda, and was subse- 
quently employed by King Manoel in different negotiations 
with India, was made a knight of the king's household, and 
received pensions and emoluments which afforded him an 
honourable livelihood. 

Da Gama remained twelve days in the island of Anchediva, 
and after that he had repaired his vessels and taken in water, 
set sail westwards on Friday, the 5th of October. When 
they were some two hundred leagues away from land, this 
same man said that he thought the time was come for him 
to dissemble no longer, and confessed that while he was with 
the Rajah his master, news was brought that the Portuguese 
were wandering along the coast at a loss to find their way 
back, and that a number of flotillas were trying to capture 
them ; that his master then desired that an attempt should 
be made not only to learn what strength the Portuguese 
had for defence, but if possible to induce them to land, ami 
that once landed he would capture them, and as they were 

D D 2 


courageous men, employ them in battle against his enemies 
in the neig-hbourhood, but he reckoned without his host. 

The passage across to Africa lasted for three months all 
but three days, in consequence of the frequent calms and 
contrary winds. During this time the crews were attacked 
so severely with scurvy that thirt}'' men died, so that there 
were only left seven or eight men to work each vessel, and 
if the voyage had lasted a fortnight longer there would not 
have been a soul left. The commanders were even thinking 
of putting back to India, but happily a favourable wind 
arose which brought them in six days in sight of land, which 
was almost as welcome to them as if it had been Portugal. 
This was on Wednesday, the 2nd of January, 1499. The 
next day they found themselves off Magadoxo, but they 
were in quest of Melinda, and did not know how far they 
were from it. On Monday, the 7th of January, they anchored 
off that town. The King sent to welcome them, and to say 
that he had been long hoping to see them. They spent here 
five happy days of rest and relief from disease and the peril 
of death, receiving princely proofs of kindness and hospi- 
tality from the King, who, at Da Garaa's request, gave him 
an ivory trumpet to convey to the King his master, as also 
a young Moor, with a particular recommendation of him to 
the King of Portugal, to whom he specially sent him to 
show how much he desired his friendship. 

On Friday, the 11th of January, they set sail ; on Saturday 
the 12th, passed Mombaza, and on Sunday anchored on the 
Sam Rafael shoals, where they set fire to the Sam Rafael 
herself, because they were too short of hands to work the 
three vessels. The people of the village off which they were, 
and which was named Tamugata, brought an abundance of 
fowls to barter for shirts and bracelets. They sailed thence on 
Sunday, the 27tli of January, passed Zanzibar, called in the 
narrative Jamgiber, and on the evening of Friday, the 1st of 
February,* they anchored off the llhns de Sam Jorge (St. 

* It stands February in the text, provinij; that the references to the preceding 
month liad been made to Febniarv evroneouslv instead of Januarv. 


George's Islands), in Mozambique, and on the following 
morning raised a pillar on the island, in which they had first 
heard mass on their outward voyage, though, it rained so 
heavily that they were unable to light a fire to melt the lead 
that was needed for fixing the cross, so that the pillar was 
left without it. 

On Sunday, the 3rd of March, 1499, they reached the 
bay of San Bras, where they took a quantity of anchovies 
and salted down penguins and sea-wolves for their home- 
ward voyage, and the wind being fair they doubled the Cai)e 
of Good Hope on Wednesday, the 20th of March. The 
survivors had recovered their health and strength, but were 
half numbed with the cold, which they attributed less to 
the actual cold of the climate than to their having come 
from a hot country. For twenty-seven days they sailed 
before a wind to within, as they reckoned by their charts, 
a hundred leagues of the island of Santiago, in the Cape 
Verdes. On Thursday, the 25th of April, they found ground 
in thirty-five fathoms varying to twenty fathoms, and the 
pilots said they were on the shoals of the Rio Grande. 
Shortly afterwards the caravel of Nicolao Coelho was sepa- 
rated from that of Da Gama, but whether the separation 
was the effect of a storm, or whether Coelho, who was aware 
of the superior sailing qualities of his vessel, availed himself 
of it to be the first to carry to Lisbon the news of the dis- 
covery of the Indies, has never been satisfiictorily decided. 
However that may have been, Nicolao Coelho reached the 
bar of Lisbon on the 10th of July, 1499. When Vasco da 
Gama reached the island of Santiago, where his brother 
Paolo da Gama was seriously ill, he delegated the command 
of the vessel to his secretary, Joiio de Sa. He then freighted 
a swifter caravel with the view of shortening the passage 
to Portugal. Meanwhile his brother died, and he put in at 
the island of Terceira and buried him there. 

He reached Lisbon at the end of August or beginning of 
September, and was received with great pomp by the Court. 
His return from a voyage in which so mighty a discovery had 


been made was hailed with magnificent fetes and public 
rejoicings, which by the King's order were repeated in all 
the principal cities throughout the kingdom. In that im- 
portant voyage he had lost his brother, more than half of 
his crew, and half his vessels, but he brought back the solu- 
tion of a great problem which was destined to raise his 
country to the very acme of prosperity. 

It has been seen in a former chapter what unsuccessful 
efforts have been made in later times by the French to 
establish a claim to discoveries on the coast of Guinea 
before the time of Prince Henry. In like manner, it has 
been asserted, that Vasco da Gama was anticipated by a 
Frenchman in the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope. In 
the " Memoires Chronologiques pour servir a I'Histoire de 
Dieppe, par J. A. Desmarquets,^' 1785, tom. i. p. 92, it is 
asserted that a navigator named — ■ 

" Cousin sailed from Dieppe in the beginning of the year 1488. 
He was the first man in the universe who had been able to take 
the elevation in the midst of the ocean. This he had done in pur- 
suance of the lessons of Descaliers, so that he no longer hugged 
the coast as his predecessors had done. After two months he 
reached an unknown land, where he found the mouth of a large 
river, which he named the Maragnon. By the elevation which he 
there took, he perceived that in order to reach the coast of Adra, 
he must sail southwards, but bearing to the east. By doing this 
he first made the discovery of the point of Africa, and gave the 
name of ' Aiguilles ' to a bank which he there observed. This 
young captain having taken note of the places and their position, 
returned to the coasts of Congo and Adra, where he bartered his 
goods and arrived at Dieppe in the course of 1489. The ship- 
owners of this city agreed for their own interest to keep this dis- 
covery secret, for believing that they were the only ones who 
could reach India by this route, they reckoned upon deriving there- 
from an immense revenue. The French Government was occupied 
with intestine wars, and the Dieppese knew but too well how little 
attention the Government would give to maritime commerce. They 
resolved therefore to profit by their discovery to the exclusion of 
all other nations, and accordingly equipped several ships for the 


Indies, of access to which they were assured by Descaliers, from 
the facility now discovered of turning the south point of Africa." 

At page 98 M. Desmarqiiets proceeds thus : — 

" In order to tm-n to account the possibility of reaching India, the 
merchants gave Cousin the command of three well-armed ships laden 
with merchandise. Descaliers assured the captain of success, if 
he attended to the observations with which he supplied him in 
writing, and to the true position of India which he described to 
him. Cousin had learnt his lesson too well not to conform to it. 
He sailed midway between Africa and America, which he had dis- 
covered, turned the Cap dos Aiguilles, reached India, where he 
exchanged his merchandise to very great profit, and returned to 
Dieppe, about two years after his departure." 

The race begins to be exciting, and one longs to make a 
more intimate acquaintance with this able liydrographer 
Descaliers, to whose scientific acumen these great results 
were due. M. Desmarquets speaks of him as the Abbe 
Descaliers, a priest of Arques, and the best mathematician and 
oMronomer of his time. Now I happen to have in my charge 
at the British Museum a most superb map of the world, on 
vellum, the execution of which might fairly warrant a 
compatriot in complimenting its author as " the best 
mathematician and astronomer of his time." The map records 
the name of its author and its date thus: "Faicte a Arques 
parPierres Desceliers, Pbre, I'an 1500." " Done at Arques, by 
Pierres (sic) Desceliers, pj'iest,^' who with^his own hand tells 
us that its date is " 1550." 

Now that there should have been a Descaliers and a 
Desceliers, both priests at Arques, and both super-excellent 
as matkema.ticians and hydrographers, one in 1488, and tlie 
other in 1550, seems so improbable, that only remarkable 
accuracy in M. Desmarquets' statements in general would 
induce us to give credence to it. A few pages on, when I come 
to speak of the discovery of China by the sea, I shall have a 
valuable opportunity of showing what reliance is to be placed, 
on his assertions, when he ventures on another claim to Diep- 
pese discovery in that direction. But it may be suggested that 


Desceliers and Descaliers were one and the selfsame person* 
So I believe them to be. M. Desmarqiiets, however, who is 
always remarkably circumsiantial, tells us that Descaliers 
was born in 1440, which would make him in that case the 
constructor of the beautiful mappe-monde in the British 
Museum, at the age of one hundred and ten. This is inad- 
missible, and we have only the almost impossible alternative 
that there were two such prodigies in scientific excellence of 
the same name, place, and priestly office, and one of them 
flourishing at a period when we find not a single evidence 
of hydrographic skill existing at Arques. Moreover, the fact 
of there having been two such marvellous persons would call 
for especial mention by M. Desmarquets, whereas he speaks 
only of one, although he mentions by name the successors 
of his " Descaliers " in the school of hydrography at Arques 
even beyond the period of the indubitable " Desceliers ^' of 
the Mupeum map. But as I pledge myself to show further 
on that M. Desmarquets could commit himself to assertions 
of great moment w^hich are demonstrably false, it may fairly 
be concluded that the unquestionable Pierre Desceliers of 
1560 has been carried back in his existence more than half 
a century to give an appearance of reality to a discovery 
which is not found recorded elsewhere. 

In the year after Da Gama's return, at his recommenda- 
tion, Pedro Alvarez Cabral, a scion of a noble house of 
Portugal, was charged with the command of an expedition 
to Calicut, with the view of establishing commercial inter- 
course with the Rajah of that country. The expedition was 
a magnificent one. It consisted of thirteen ships formidably 
armed with artillery, but at the same time sumptuously 
provided with presents for the Rajah, and although sent out 
with a purely commercial object, the boldest and most 
famous seamen of the period were placed under the orders of 
Cabral. Among these were Bartholemeu Dias, who fourteen 
years before had rounded the Stormy Cape, Nicolao Coelho, 
the alile companion of Da Gania in 1497, and the talented in- 
tei})retcr Gasparo, whom Da Gama had brought home with 


bim from India. To these were added men of administrative 
intelligence, who might be able to treat with prudence on 
matters of commercial policy, it being intended to establish 
a factory on the coast of Malabar. Great as the importance 
of this object was, it was the fiite of the expedition to make 
a discovery, before which even the results thus contem})lated 
shrunk into insignificance. The expedition sailed on tlie 
9th of March, 1500. After thirteen days, when off the Capo 
Verde Islands, one of the vessels, which was commanded by 
Pedro Dias, lost convoy, and after a short delay the fleet 
proceeded without her. Various have been the reasons 
assigned for the westerly course which the expedition now 
took. According to Barros the object was to avoid the calms 
oif the coast of Guinea, while others have asserted that the 
fleet was driven westward by a storm. If, however, we take 
into consideration the intensity of the curiosity excited by 
the recent discoveries in the New World, and the noble 
emulation which such discoveries, made in the service of a 
rival nation, would inspire in the minds of men, who in 
another direction had gained so many laurels in the career 
of maritime enterprize, we may fairly doubt whether this 
south-westerly course was not pursued by Cabral in the hope 
of lighting on some part of the new-found western world. 
But whatever the inducement or the cause, the result was 
such as to satisfy both hope and curiosity. On Wednesday, 
the 22nd of April, Cabral perceived the rounded top of a 
mountain, on what he at first supposed to be an island, and 
as they were then in Holy Week or in the octave of Easter 
he gave the mountain the name of Monte Pascoal. It forms 
part of the chain of the Aymores, in Brazil* To the country 
he gave the name of Vera Cruz, or, as it was afterwards 
called, Santa Cruz, which name it retained till the importa- 
tion from it into Europe of the valuable dye-wood of the 

* Fortunate as Cabral -was in this discovery, he had been anticijiated, as 
we have already seen, in landing on the coast of Brazil, although at a widely 
different part of that coast. On the 20th of January of the stime year, viz., 
forty-eight days before the departure of Cabral, Pinzon had discovered Capo 
St. Augustine. 


ibirapitanga, caused it to be called Brazil, from the name 
which for centuries had been given to similar dye-woods 
imported from India. On the 23rd, Nicolao Coelho was 
despatched to examine the coast. On the 24th they anchored 
in the bay afterwards named Porto Seguro. On the 1st of 
May formal possession was taken of the country for Portugal, 
and a large cross was set up on the coast in commemoration 
of the event The luxuriance of the vegetation, as well as 
the sociable demeanour of the natives, and their respectful 
bearing when witnessing the solemn celebration of mass, 
were matters of surprise and gratification to the discoverers. 
Cabral forthwith despatched Gaspar de Lemos to the King 
with the important news, which was described most admirably 
in a letter drawn up by Pedro Vaz de Caminha, the second 
secretary of the Calicut Factory, accompanied by an astrono- 
mical diagram by Mestre Joao, the King's physician, who 
had accompanied the expedition as doctor. By this means 
the first information of the discovery of Brazil was brought 
to Europe. Before the departure of the fleet an incident of 
importance occurred. One of the natives who had come on 
board the Admiral, was struck with the brightness of a brass 
candlestick, and made signs to the effect that a similar metal 
was found in that country. Cabral accordingly left behind him 
two young degradados, or banished criminals, with orders to 
make themselves acquainted with the products and habits of 
the country, thus giving them the double chance of serving 
their nation and retrieving their own position. One of these 
subsequently became an able and respected agent of the 
colony which King Manoel lost no time in establishing. 
The fleet set sail on the 22nd of May, but the joy which had 
been awakened by their success was soon to be turned into 
mourning. The appearance of an immense comet produced 
an alarm which Avas only too unhap})ily realized. A fearful 
typhoon sunk four vessels, and the brave Bartholomeu Dias, 
whose great achievement had converted his Stormy Cape 
into a Cape of Good Hope, perished off that very cape which 
for him was still to be a C;i])C of Storms. 


Cabral, notwithstanding, pushed on, and reached Quih)a on 
the 20th of July, whence proceeding to Melinda, he renewed 
with the sovereign of that country the alliance which had 
been based upon his friendly treatment of Da Gama. Thence 
he crossed to India, and anchored before Calicut on the 13tk 
of September. Through the medium of his intelligent inter- 
preter, Gasparo da Gama, he succeeded in laying before the 
Zamorin or Rajah the objects of the embassy, which were 
favourably received. The s[)lendid presents which he brought, 
and the formidable artillery with which he was protected,, 
doubtless served to extinguish the recollection of the mis- 
understanding with Da Gama. Permission to establish a 
factory on the coast was readily granted, and the Hajah 
solemnly pledged himself to the terms of this new treaty of 
commerce, in which the future interests of Europe were so 
largely involved. The factory was peacefully established at 
Calicut, under the direction of Ayres Correa, but within a 
short time the treachery of the Mohammedans showed itself, 
and Correa and more than fifty of the Christians were mas- 
sacred. Cabral took ample revenge for this unprovoked 
injury, and forthwith betook himself to the King of Cochin, 
the enemy of the Rajah of Calicut, with whom, as well as the 
King of Cananor, he succeeded in establishing peaceful 
relations. Having laden his remaining vessels with a most 
valuable cargo, he set sail for Portugal. Near Melinda, 
however, one of the most richly freighted of the ships, com- 
manded by Sancho de Tovar, foundered oil a reef. The vessel 
was of two hundred tons burthen, and laden with spices. 
The crew escaped with their lives, and they burnt the ship ; 
but the King of Mombaza succeeded in recovering the guns, 
which he afterwards turned to account atrainst the Portuguese. 
When they reached Cape Verde at the beginning of June, 
they fell in with a Portuguese flotilla of three ships, which 
had sailed from Lisbon on the 13th of May, for the purj)Ose 
of making discoveries on the coast of Brazil, on board of 
which was Amerigo Vespucci. 

In the letter addressed to Lorenzo di Pier Francesco de' 


Medici, dated from that cape on the 4th of June, and 
recently discovered by Count Baklelli Boui, Vesi)ucci relates 
the story of Cabral's discoveries as communicated to him by 
the interj)reter Gasparo. He further mentions how, by a 
curious coincidence, on that very day one of Cabral's ships, 
that of Pedro Dias, which had lost convoy thirteen days 
after the expedition had set sail from Portugal, in March, 
1500 (see page 409), again joined the squadron to which it 
belonged. It had wandered as far as the month of the Red 
Sea, and worked its way back through incredible hardships. 
Before it made its appearance two vessels alone remained 
with Cabral out of the thirteen with which he had set sail. 
The three returned to Lisbon in company. Of the wealth 
brought back Vespucci gives the following account. He 
says there was an immense quantity of cinnamon, green and 
dry ginger, pepper, cloves, nutmegs, mace, musk, civet, 
storax, benzoin, porcelain, cassia, mastic, incense, myrrh, 
red and white sandalwood, aloes, camphor, amber, canne 
(Indian shot, Carma Indica), lac, mummy,* anib,f and tuzzia 
(or Thuja, Indian cypress), opium, Indian aloes, and many 
other drugs too numerous to detail. Of jewels he knew 
that he saw many diamonds, rubies, and pearls, and one 
ruby of a most beautiful colour weighed seven carats and a 
half,, but he did not see all. 

They reached Lisbon on the 23rd of July, 1501, 
where, although Portuguese historians are silent on the 
subject, it may be inferred from the rewards subsequently 
conferred on his family that Cabral met with the reception 
due to one who had secured such important benefits to his 
country. Immense, however, as had been the successes of 
Cabral in some respects, it will have been seen that he had 
not been so fortunate as he had wished in establishing a 

* Portions of mummy that had been pi-epared with bitumen were in those 
days used as a drug. 

t The Aniba is an aromatic wood from Guyana, with which Yespucei may 
have made acquaintance in the West, and perliapa without sufficient precision 
have mentioned among tliese eastern products. 


factory at Calicut, although he had left some agents beliiiul 
at Cochin. Nevertheless he had paved the way for eftecting 
the object he had in view, which was not long in being 
carried into execution. 

Before Cabral's return King Manoel had sent out a noble 
Galician named Juan de Nova with four vessels. He set sail 
from Belem on the 5tli of March, 1501. In his voyage out he 
discovered the island of Ascension, but wliich lie called the 
island of Conception. It a})pears iirst to have received its 
name of Ascension from Alfonso d'Albuquerque, who saw it 
again in May, 1503, and mentioned it in his journal, pro- 
bably by mistake, under the latter name, which it has ever 
since retained. On the 7th of July, De Nova anchored at 
the watering-phice of San Bras, beyond the Cape of Good 
Hope. Here Pedro de Ataide, who had been separated 
from Cabral in the great storm already described, had left 
in a shoe, so as to be sheltered from the winds, a letter 
announcing his having passed tliat way, and with what 
object, and urging all captains bound for India to go by 
way of Mombaza, where they would find other letters in 
charge of one Antonio Fernandes. By this means .De Nova, 
who of course possessed no further information of those 
parts than what had been gathered from Vasco da Gama, 
became aware of the existence of two friendly and safe ports 
in India where he could take in a cargo, namely. Cochin 
and Cauanor. At Quiloa he fell in with Antonio Fernandes, 
who delivered him Cabral's letter. He then proceeded to 
Cananor, where he was well received by the Rajah, who 
pressed him to freight his ship with spices from that port. 
From this De Nova courteously excused himself, stating 
that he had orders from the King to take a cargo first from 
the place where his agents had been left. He however 
desired that while he went to Cochin, a certain quantity of 
ginger, cinnamon, and other drugs, should be got in readi- 
ness, which quantity he would deduct from the cargo he 
would take in at Cochin. On tlie way he encountered the 
Jleet of the King of Calicut, aud with his artillery sunk 


five large vessels and nine proas. At Cochin he was re- 
ceived with great warmth on account of the victory he had 
gained over the Rajah of Calicut, and the King of Cochin 
readily met the wishes of De Nova. The latter added six 
or seven men to the number of agents already settled there, 
returned to Cananor, completed the freighting of his ships 
with a rich cargo, and set sail for Portugal. On his home- 
ward voyage another piece of good fortune awaited him in 
the discovery of the island of St. Helena, which seemed to 
be providentially placed by the Almighty as a -watering 
station for vessels returning from India. De Nova reached 
Portugal on the 11th of September, 1502, and was received 
by the King with distinguished honour for the valuable 
services which he had rendered to the country. 

In the next year Antonio de Saldanha, on his way out 
to India, gave his name to the Agoada de Saldanha near 
the Cape of Good Hope, a fact to which we shall presently 
have occasion to refer; and in this year the two Albu- 
querques, Francisco and Alfonso, sailed for India. The 
iormer restored to the King of Cochin his territory, from 
which he had been driven by the King of Calicut, and 
founded the first Portuguese fort in India at Cochin, leaving 
the famous Dup.rte Pacheco Pereira defender of the kingdom. 
Affonso de Albuquerque, after touching on the coast of the 
Terra de Santa Cruz discovered by Cabral, reached Couiam, 
now Quilon, in Travancore, as yet unknown to the Portu- 
guese, made terms of friendship with its King, and estab- 
lished a factory there. 

In 1504, Diogo Fernandes Pereira wintered at Socotra, 
which had not previously been reached by the Portuguese. 

In 1505, King Manoel sent out a great expedition of two- 
and-twenty ships and fifteen thousand men, which sailed 
from Lisbon on March 25th, 1505, under Dom Francisco de 
Almeida, the first Viceroy of the Indies, with instructions 
to build fortresses at Sofala and Quiloa, and to free the 
Portuguese commerce in India from the dilHculties with 
wliich it was oi)})ressed. Juan de Nova sailed in this expo- 


dition. As a proof of his success Almeida sent back, in the 
beginning of the following year, eight ships loaded with 
spices to Portugal, under the command of Fernam Soares. 
On their way they discovered, on the 1st of February, 1506, 
the east coast of the island of ]\Iadagascar, to which was sub- 
sequently given the name of Ilha de San Louren^o. In his 
outward passage Almeida conquered Quiloa, and dethroned 
the King, who refused to pay the stipulated tribute, and 
who had showed himself an enemy to the Portuguese. He 
set a new King on the throne, and himself crowned him 
with great solemnity. He also founded a fort there, which 
he named Santiago. On his arrival in India he founded the 
forts of Anchediva and Cananor. He solemnly crowned the 
King of Cochin, to whom King Manoel sent a rich crown of 
gold. Almeida also received ambassadors from the King of 
Narsinga and other princes, with whom he had entered on 
terms of alliance and friendship. 

In 1505, Francisco de Almeida's son, Lourengo, discovered 
Ceylon, already known by overland accounts. He entered 
the Porto de Galle, and made its King an annual tributary 
to Portugal of four hundred bahars (about 300 pounds each) 
of cinnamon. 

In this year also Pedro de Anhaya made the King of 
Sofala tributary to Portugal, and laid the foundations of a 
fort there on the 21st of September. 

The high command which had been given to Almeida had 
been intended by the King for Tiistam da Cunha, who was 
prevented from accepting it by a malady in the eyes, but, 
that obstacle being now removed, he was sent out on the 
6th of April, 1506, with the command of sixteen vessels 
and thirteen hundred men to strengthen the dominion of 
Portugal in Africa and India. Affonso d'Albuquerque 
went out under his orders. It was in this voyage that the 
three islands bearing the name of Tristam da Cunha were 
discovered. In consequence of information brought to the 
King by Diogo Fernandes Pereira, the discoverer of the 
island of Socotra, to the effect that the Moors had a for- 


tress therein, and held the Christians in subjection, Tristam 
da Cunha and Albuquerque were commissioned to take the 
fortress, which they succeeded in doing. 

In this year Joao Gomez d'Abreu discovered the west 
coast of Madagascar on the 10th of August, St. Laurence's 
Day, from which circumstance the island received the name 
of San Lourenco. He gave the name of Bahia Formosa to 
the bay which he