On the edge of the Rio Tejo (Tagus) stands a grand momument to the explorers of Portugal….Those intrepid men from Lisbon and beyond, who made such an undeniably long lasting change to their world, and ours.
Pause for a moment….I looked up the subject of Portuguese Explorers at Wikipedia. There are no less than 108 pages of these gregarious fellows, who left the safety of home and hearth to find a world, waiting quietly to be uncovered.
There is a favorite tome in my library, called aptly, “The Mapmaker”, by Frank Slaughter. It is a novel about the man who drew the famous map of the world in 1436. His name was Andrea Bianco, and Lisbon was the center of the then known universe.
King John I, is on the throne of Portugal, and the age of exploration is about to explode, for the curiosity of this man knows no bounds. He seeks knowledge of the ends of the earth.
Andrea is a real man, a mapmaker from Venice, who lived long before Columbus.
So is Infante D. Henrique, Prince of Portugal, born in 1394. The Infante (Prince) had a colorful life. He established a school for the art of navigation, mapmaking, and shipbuilding in Portugal, which was to influence those skills for hundreds of years to follow. Wikipedia disputes this, but having visiting schools of this fashion myself, in South America, I know from experience that these schools are often very small and humble. Henry’s life lends credence to this scenario, in that he, although in a royal lineage, did not flaunt his wealth, but used it for helping others, and funding exploration. He is described as a man of “soft words” and mild mannered.
This tiny nation of Portugal, was the first European land to explore the unknown world. The European projenitor of discovery, the concept that man will always want to reach for the stars.
My little book, and my visit to Lisbon, began to unravel a bit of the puzzle that has lain dormant in my soul for a number of years…The pieces are starting to fit together…