The Portuguese armada stormed the fortress at Ceuta on August 24, 1415, in a onde-sided battle. Well armed and armored, and supported by a contingent of English archers, they overwhelmed the Muslims, who were reduced to hurling rocks. Within a day the Portuguese crusaders had taken the Infidel stronghold and provided Prince Henry his moment of glory. Only eight Portuguese had been killed, while the city streets were piled with Muslim bodies. By afternoon the army had begun sacking the city, and the spiritual rewards of killing infidels were supplemented by more worldly treasure. This occasion gave Prince Henry his first dazzling glimpse of the wealth that lay hidden in Africa. For the loot in Ceuta was the freight delivered by the caravans that had been arriving there from Saharan Africa in the south and from the Indies in the east. In addition to the prosaic essentials of life – wheat, rice, and the salt – the Portuguese found exotic stores of pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and other spices. Ceutan houses were hung with rich tapestries and carpeted with Oriental rugs. All in addition to the usual booty of gold and silver and jewels. […].

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

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