The Portuguese Pioneers

The Portuguese Pioneers

The Portuguese Pioneers

The Portuguese Pioneers

Excerpt

The geographical position of Portugal invited her to become a maritime power, but with a population of only one and a quarter million it could hardly have been expected that she would, in the words of R. H. Major, discover half the world in the course of a century. This wonderful achievement of a small and poor nation, though recognised by historians, is less widely known owing to lack of a monograph than it deserves to be, and even the Portuguese themselves have produced no adequate and comprehensive work on the subject since that of João de Barrosin the sixteenth century, continued by Diogo do Couto. Most satisfactory instalments are, however, contained in the Historia de Portugal, edited by Professor D. Peres, now in course of publication, and in the three folio volumes of the recently issued Historia da Colonisaçɑ + ̃o do Brasil. The first modern scholarly account of Portuguese Exploration by sea in any language was that of Major in 1868, which has long been out of print, and since then we have had the publications of Professor Sir Raymund Beazley on Prince Henry and studies of individual voyages by E. G. Ravenstein, Dr. J. Mees, H. Harrisse, Dr. Franz Hümmerich, and Dr. H. P. Biggar. Much new material has also been collected and printed in Portugal in the last sixty-five years, and important inedited texts have been published, such as Esmeraldo de situ orbis, the earliest sailing-guide . . .

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