Still, to exploit its many advantages, Portugal needed a leader – someone to draw people together, to organize resources, to point the direction. Without such a leader all other advantages would have been nothing. Prince Henry the Navigator was a curious combination of a bold heroic mind and an outreaching imagination, with an ascetic stay-at-home temperament. Frigid to individuals, he was passionate for grand ideals. His talent of obstinacy and his power to organize proved essential for the first great enterprise of modern discovery.

In the perspective of history, it is not so surprising that the pioneer of modern exploration never himself went out on an exploring expedition. The great medieval adventure in Europe – crusading – called for risk of life and limb against the infidel. Modern exploration had to be an adventure of the mind, a thrust of someone’s imagination, before it became a worldwide adventure of seafaring. The great modern adventure – exploring – first had to be undertaken in the brain. The pioneer explorer was one lonely man thinking.

“The Portuguese Discoverers”, from “The Discoverers”, Daniel J. Boorstin, The National Board for the Celebration of Portuguese Discoveries, Lisbon, 1987

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