HENRY THE NAVIGATOR: Prince of Portugal by Jean Anderson

HENRY THE NAVIGATOR: Prince of Portugal

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Why, you may wonder, did Henry choose the sea as his life's occupation and his life's companion?"" You're more likely to wonder why the author launched this adventure biography in such high-flown metaphorical phrases (of which, along with inverted sentences, there are many) instead of plunging into the story. Particularly since questions of motivation are clearly beyond her scope. As a historical figure, Henry is more interesting for what he initiated than for what he did personally, his achievements best appreciated as part of the development of navigation and exploration (e.g. in Richard Armstrong's The Discoverers [p. 109, J-45]). His life as dramatized here--the successful siege of Moslem Ceuta, the disastrous attack on Tangier, his withdrawal to Sagres and encouragement of exploration, the dynastic dissension and tragic death of two brothers--makes effortless but not particularly vital reading. One exception would be the account of settling the Madeira Islands and the Azores--and this is offset to an extent by ethnocentric references to the Crusades as ""the time when Christianity was having to fight for its existence,"" to Africa consistently as the ""Dark Continent,"" to the Berbers as not to this day ""civilized."" Minimal to start with and easy to dispense with.

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 1969
Publisher: Westminster