ADVANTAGES

The exact location of Henry's School of Navigation is not known. It is generally accepted that he sited his headquarters at Sagres and created a settlement on land granted by the crown. The settlement came to be known as Vila do Infante, or Prince's town. This is popularly believed to have been situated on the headland within the walls of the forteleza which were rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. The only building still surviving and thought to have been around in more or less its present form in Henry's day, is the starkly simple little church within the fortress. The school of navigation was like a magnet to the best brains in Europe concerned with the nautical sciences. Under Henry's patronage, a community of brilliant scholars came here to teach and to study, and accumulated and correlated nautical knowledge as it was brought back by captains of successive voyages to hitherto unknown places. The scholars in turn instructed less experienced captains about Atlantic currents and wind systems and the latest navigational methods. Cartography was refined with the use of newly devised instruments. Maps were regularly updated and extended. A revolutionary type of vessel, the caravel, was designed.

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