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Prince Henry the Navigator by Sir Peter…
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Prince Henry the Navigator

by Sir Peter Russell

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A decently competent biography, but it somehow doesn't particularly bring Henry alive. There's no discussion of his possible probable homosexuality notwithstanding frequent enough references to his "chastity" and his recognition fairly early in his life that he would never have any children, as a result of which he adopted a nephew as his legal son.

Prince Henry "the Navigator" might also be called Prince Henry "the Neocon," but a book published in the millennial year, before 9-11 and the Iraq War and the whole confused mess of U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century, understandably makes no allusion at all to such contemporary issues. Henry was a rabid crusader whose impulsive, militaristic policy toward Morocco created numerous foreign-policy problems for Portugal, including the death of his younger brother in Moroccan captivity; and his intransigent hostility toward Castille dashed his hopes to lead a crusade against then-Muslim Grenada.

Henry's African explorations were initially inspired by a desire for gold and then developed into a very profitable slave trade, but somehow there's no sense from Peter Russell's book just how "deliberate" versus "accidental" Henry's economic conquests were. Was his primary interest exploration, with the economic profits as a useful sideline? Was his primary interest economic profit, with the benefits of his exploratory labors accidentally accruing to Portugal's New World and African empires? Or was he inspired primarily by his crusading ambitions? Peter Russell sees a mix of motives, which is understandable in light of the limited evidence available as to Henry's private life and beliefs; but Russell seems not quite "up to" bringing Henry's character alive beyond the documentary evidence, sometimes limited, that is available. ( )
  CurrerBell | Mar 6, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300091303, Paperback)

This enthralling life of the legendary fifteenth-century Portuguese prince, Henry the Navigator, is the first comprehensive biography in more than a century. Examining the full range of the prince's activities as an imperialist and as a maritime, cartographical and navigational pioneer, Peter Russell shows that while Henry was firmly rooted in medieval times, his innovations set in motion changes that altered the history of Europe and regions far beyond.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:11 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Henry the Navigator, fifteenth-century Portuguese prince and explorer, is a legendary, almost mythical figure in late medieval history. Considered along with Columbus to be one of the progenitors of modernity, Prince Henry challenged the scientific assumptions of his age and was responsible for liberating Europeans from geographical restraints that had bound them since the Roman Empire's collapse. In this enthralling account of Henry's life--the first biography of "The Navigator" in more than a century--Peter Russell reaps the harvest of a lifelong study of Prince Henry. Making full use of documentary evidence only recently available, Russell reevaluates Henry and his role in Portuguese and European history. Examining the full range of Prince Henry's activities, Russell discusses the explorer's image as an imperialist and as a maritime, mathematical, and navigational pioneer. He considers Henry's voyages of discovery in the African Atlantic, their economic and cultural consequences, and the difficult questions they generated regarding international law and papal jurisdiction. Russell demonstrates the degree to which Henry was motivated by the predictions of his astrologer--an aspect of his career little known until now--and explains how this innovator, though firmly rooted in medieval ways of thinking and behaving, set in motion a current of change that altered European history.… (more)

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Yale University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300091303, 0300082339

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