To celebrate his formal treaty of friendship with Castile in 1411, King John followed the chivalric custom of the age by planning a tournament, to last a full year. Knights were to be invited from all over Europe, and the jousts would give the King’s three eldest sons who had just reached manhood the opportunity to earn their knighthoods by public acts of chivalry. But the three princes, reinforced by the King’s treasurer, dissuaded King John from this expensive panoply. They urged him instead to offer them opportunity for deeds of Christian valor by launching a Crusade against Ceuta, a Muslim stronghold and trading center of the African side opposite Gibraltar. There, too, the King could atone for the Christian bloodshed in his earlier campaigns by “washing his hands in the blood of the infidel.” Young Prince Henry helped Plan this expedition, which, in a number of unexpected ways, was to shape his life.

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

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