Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/48

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name of Cape St Vincent-a town now represented by the little village of Sagres-was the seat of a school of scientific seamanship, and that his aim was to train up for the national service a continuous supply of intrepid and accomplished sailors, destined in the third and fourth generation to perform the memorable feats associated with the names of Da Gama and Magalhaes. All this must be dismissed as illusory, and the picturesque title " the Navigator" is calculated to mislead. There is nothing to show, or even to suggest, that Dom Henrique was ever further away from Portugal than Ceuta and its immediate neighbourhood, or that he had formed any plans for the extension of ocean navigation beyond a point long previously reached by the Genoese, or ever thought of the route round the southernmost point of Africa as a practical route to India. A more truthful clue to the aims of his life occurs near the beginning of his last will, wherein, after invoking "my Lord God" and "my Lady Saint Mary for that she is the Mother of Mercy," he beseeches "my Lord Saint Louis, to whom I have been dedicated from my birth, that he and all Saints and Angels will pray God to grant me salvation." The model of conduct and policy affected by Dom Henrique was the heroic and sainted French King who had flourished two centuries before. Louis, after ascertaining by disastrous experience the impracticability of driving the Saracens from the Holy Land and Egypt, had sought to convert the Sultanate of Tunis into a dependency of France as the first step in recovering northern Africa for Christendom. In some respects the plan of Dom Henrique was easier of achievement than that of Louis. Islam having not yet overspread Bilad Ghana, it would be far less difficult to conquer and convert its undisciplined savages to the Gospel, than to drive a wedge into the heart of Mohammadan North Africa by the conquest of Tunis. Both schemes were late offshoots of the crusading spirit; Dom Henrique's plan was among its last manifestations. As in the case of the later Crusades, this plan was largely inspired by political objects. The Villa do Iff'ante on the Sacred Promontory was destined to be the maritime centre of the united empire of Peninsular Portugal and Greater Portugal-the latter comprising the Madeira group and the Azores, together with Bilad Ghana, and whatever else the Iff'ante might annex to the ancient dominion of Portugal and Algarve. It was a sacred spot; for hither the Christians of Valencia had fled, seven centuries before, from the terrible Abd-ur'rahman Adahil, carrying with them the body of St Vincent, from whose last burial-place the westernmost promontory of Europe thenceforth took its name.

In 1441, twenty-six years after the capture of Ceuta, and the year after Terceira, the first among the Azores to be discovered, had been reached, a sudden impetus was given to the Iffante's project. Antam Goncalvez had sailed to the Rio do Ouro for sealskins and oil. Having secured his cargo, he landed with nine armed men on the shore of the inlet, and after a desperate struggle with a solitary naked African