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success of their arms against the infidels. By their victories over them, they had extendedthe royal authority beyond the narrow limits within which it was originally circumscribed in Portugal, as well as in other feudal kingdoms. They had the command of the national force, could rouse it to act with united vigour, and, after the expulsion of the Moors, could employ it without dread of interruption from any domestic enemy. By the perpetual hostilities carried on for several centuries against the Mahometans, the martial and adventurous fpirit which distinguished all the European nations during the middle ages, was improved and heightened among the Portuguese. A fierce civil war towards the close of the fourteenth century, occasioned by a disputed succession, augmented the military ardour of the nation, and formed or called forth men of such active and daring genius , as are fit for bold unterdakings. The situation of the kingdom. bounded on every fide by the dominions of a more powerful neighbour, did not afford free scope to the activity of the Portuguese by land, as the strength of their monarchy was no match for that of Castile. But Portugal was a maritime state, in which there were many commodious harbours; the people had begun to make some progress in the knowledge and practice, of navigation; and the sea was open to them, presenting the only field of
enterprise in which they could distinguish them, felyes.
First attempt. Such was the state of Portugal, and such the disposition of the people, when John I. sur• named the Bastard obtained secure poffeffion.
of the crown by the peace concluded with Caa stile in the year one thousand four hundred and
eleven. He was a prince of great merit, who, " by superior courage and abilities had opened his ☺ way to a throne which of right did not belong
to him, He instantly perceived that it would : be impossible to preserve public order, or dome* ftic tranquility, without finding some employ
ment for the restless fpirit of his subjects. With this view, he assembled a numerous fleet at Lifbon, composed of all the ships that he could fit out in his own kingdom , and of many hired from foreigners. This great armament was destined to attack the Moors settled on the coast of Barbary. (1412,) While it was equipping, a few vessels were appointed to fail along the western shore of Africa bounded by the Atlantic ocean , and to discover the unknown countries situated there. From this inconsiderable attempt, we máy date the commencement of that fpirit of discovery which opened the barriers that had fo long shut out mankind from the knowledge of one half of the terrestrial globe.
At the time when John sent forth these ships' on this new voyage. - the art of navigation was
ftill very imperfect. Though Africa lay fo near to Portugal, and the fertility of the countries already known on that continent invited men to explore it more fully, the Portuguese had never ventured to fail beyond Cape Non. That promontory, as its name imports, was hitherto considered as a boundary which could not be passed. But the nations of Europe had now acquired as much knowledge, as emboldened them to disregard the prejudices and to correct the errors of their ancestors. The long reign of ignorance, the constant enemy of every curious inquiry , and of every new undertaking, was approaching to its period. The light of science began to dawn. The works of the ancient Greeks and Romans began to be read with admiration and profit. The sciences cultivated by the Arabians were introduced into Europe by the Moors settled in Spain and Portugal, and by the Jews, who were very numerous in both these kingdoms. Geometry, astronomy, and geography, the sciences on which the art of navigation is founded, became objects of studious attention. The memory of the discoveries made by the ancients was revived, and the progress of their navigation and commerce began to be traced. Some of the causes which have obstructed the cultivation of science in Portugal, during this century and the last, did not exist, or did not operate in the same manner, in the fifteenth
century t); and the Portuguese, at that period,
tuguese. it proved successful. The vessels sent, . on the discovery doubled that formidable Cape, which had terminated the progress of former navigators, and proceeded a hundred and fixty miles beyond it, to Cape Bojador. As its rocky cliffs, which stretched a confiderable way into the Atlantic, appeared more dreadful than the promontory which they had passed, the Portuguese commanders durft not attempt to fail round it, but returned to Lisbon, more satisfied with having advanced so far, than ashamed at having ventured no farther.
Prince Henry the director of the Portuguese discoveries.
Inconsiderable as this voyage was, it increased the passion for discovery, which began to arise in Portugal. The extraordinary success of the king's expedition against the Moors of Barbary, added strength to that fpirit in the nation, and pushed it on to new undertakings. (1415) In order to render these successful, it was necessary that they should be conducted by a per
t) See NOTE IX.
son who possessed abilities capable of discerning what was attainable, who enjoyed leisure to form a regular system for prosecuting discovery, and who was animated with ardour that would persevere in spite of obstacles and repulfes. Happily for Portugal, she found all those qualities in Henry duke of Viseo, the fourth son of king John by Philippa of Lancaster, sister of Henry IV. king of England. That prince, in his early youth, having accompanied his father in his expedition to barbary, distinguished himself by many deeds of valour. To the martial spirit, which was the characteristic of every man of noble birth at that time, he added all the accomplishments of a more englightened and polished age. He cultivated the arts and sciences, which were then unknown and despised by persons of his rank. He applied with peculiar fondness to the study of geography; and by the instruction of able masters, as well as by the accounts of travel. lers, he early acquired such knowledge of the habitable globe, as discovered the great probability of finding new and opulent countries, by failing along the coast of Africa. Such an object was formed to awaken the enthusiasm and ardour of a youthful mind, and he engaged with the utmost zeal to patronize a design which might prove as beneficial, as it appeared to be fplendid and honourable. In order that he might pur. fue this great scheme without interruption, he retired from court immediately after his return