When Gil Eannes reported back to Prince Henry in 1433 that Cape Bojador was in fact impassable, the Prince was not satisfied. Would his Portuguese pilots be as timid as those Mediterranean or Flemish sailors who plied only the familiar ways? Surely this Gil Eannes, a squire whom he knew well in his own household, was made of bolder stuff. The Prince sent him back in 1434 with renewed promise of reward for yet another try. This time, as Eannes approached the cape he steered westward, risking the unknown perils of the ocean rather than the known perils of the cape. Then he turned south and discovered that the cape was already behind him. Landing on the African shore, he found it desolate, but by no means the gates of hell. “And as he purposed,” Zurara reported, “so he performed – for in that voyage he doubled the Cape, despising all danger, and found the lands beyond quite contrary to what he, like others, had expected. And although the matter was a small one in itself, yet on account of its daring it was reckoned great.”

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

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