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Portuguese Explorers

Picture of Vasco da Gama

Picture of Vasco Da Gama

Portuguese Explorers Timeline


The Golden Age of Discovery for Portugal was the late 1400's and the 1500's. The Portugal Age of exploration was prompted by Henry the Navigator who was motivated to break the Moorish hold on the African and Asian trade routes.

The Portuguese Explorers timeline includes details of the monarchs who encouraged and were patrons of the voyages of the Portuguese Explorers:

  • 1394 : Henry the Navigator, son of King John I of Portugal, is born
  • 1415 : King John I conquers the city of Ceuta in northern Africa
  • 1419 : Madeira Islands discovered by explorers Zarco and Tristao Vaz Teixeira
  • 1427 : Azores Islands discovered by Portuguese explorer Diogo Silves
  • 1434 : Exploration of the African coast begins
  • 1438 : Afonso V of Portugal becomes king
  • 1444: Discovery and colonisation of the Cape Verde islands
  • 1481 : John II of Portugal becomes king
  • 1484 : Diogo Cao discovers the River Congo
  • 1487 : Bartholomeu Dias leads the expedition around the Cape of Good Hope
  • 1492 : Christopher Columbus discovers the New World, but dies thinking its the Indies
  • 1495 : Manuel I of Portugal becomes king
  • 1498 : Vasco da Gama reaches India through navigation around Africa
  • 1500 : Pedro Alvares Cabral discovers Brazil
  • 1519 : Ferdinand Magellan leads the first voyage around the World
  • 1521 : John III of Portugal becomes king
  • 1542 : Portuguese explorers are the first Europeans to land in Japan
  • 1557 : Sebastian of Portugal becomes king
  • 1569 : Nagasaki, in Japan, is open to Portuguese traders

Portuguese Explorers
The Renaissance & Elizabethan Age of Exploration was at first dominated by the brave Portuguese Explorers. The Renaissance saw the success of the Portuguese Explorers in acquiring monopolies on much of the Eastern spice trade and their expeditions to Japan and the New World brought great wealth and power to Portugal. The new discoveries made by the Portuguese Explorers brought untold riches in terms of gold and silver and spices but it also brought power and influence.

The Motives of the Portuguese Explorers
The motives of the Portuguese Explorers and their patrons were prompted by:

  • Wealth - gold, silver and spices
  • Power
  • Prestige
  • Increasing opportunities for Portuguese trade
  • Spreading the Catholic Religion
  • Building a Spanish Empire

The people of Portugal adhered to the Catholic religion. The idea of spreading the Catholic faith to heathen races was seen as a primary reason for the Portuguese Explorers to undertake their voyages of discovery.

Famous Portuguese Explorers
A biography and timeline  about the most famous Portuguese Explorers has been developed. The following facts and information chart the voyages, explorations, major accomplishments, key dates and achievements of the most famous Portuguese explorers. For the full biography and timeline click the appropriate link:

Famous Portuguese Explorers & their Voyages of Exploration

Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan made the first voyage around the World

Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was famous for discovering the New World, yet he died thinking he had reached the Indies

Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama discovered an ocean route from Portugal to the East

Bartholomeu Dias
Bartholomeu Dias was the first European to lead a 1487 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope on the Southern most tip of South Africa

Pedro Alvares Cabral
Pedro Alvares Cabral was the first European to see Brazil in 1500

Gaspar and Miguel Corte Real
Gaspar and Miguel Corte Real were famous for exploring Greenland and the coast of Newfoundland

The Age of Exploration
Elizabethan Era Index

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