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The Age of Discovery, a time when Portuguese explorers journeyed across the world. Source: oleskalashnik/Adobe Stock

Portuguese Empire and the Age of Exploration (Video)


During the Age of Exploration, Portugal's strategic location and maritime expertise propelled it to the forefront of global exploration and trade. With its extensive coastline and rich fishing tradition, Portugal naturally looked beyond its shores, driven by a blend of curiosity, economic opportunity, and the quest for glory.

Under the patronage of Prince Henry the Navigator, Portugal embarked on a systematic effort to push the boundaries of exploration. Although Prince Henry himself never sailed on voyages, his support for expeditions and advancements in shipbuilding catalyzed Portugal's maritime legacy.

Portuguese sailors, such as Joao Goncalves Zarco and Diogo Cao, ventured farther south along the African coast than any Europeans before them. These daring expeditions were fueled by a desire for new trade routes, knowledge of distant lands, and the thrill of discovery.

Vasco da Gama's successful voyage to India in 1497 marked a turning point in maritime history. By navigating around the Cape of Good Hope, da Gama established direct sea routes to India, bypassing the overland trade monopolies of Arab merchants. This achievement not only opened lucrative trade opportunities but also solidified Portugal's dominance in the Indian Ocean.

Pedro Alvares Cabral's accidental discovery of Brazil in 1500 further expanded Portugal's reach, while Ferdinand Magellan's expedition, though under the Spanish flag, showcased Portuguese navigational prowess with the first circumnavigation of the globe.

Portugal's voyages during this era reshaped global commerce, expanded European knowledge of the world, and laid the groundwork for the modern interconnected society we know today.

Top image: The Age of Discovery, a time when Portuguese explorers journeyed across the world. Source: oleskalashnik/Adobe Stock

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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