The Portuguese Voyages of Discovery

Helen Wallis charts the Portugal's astonishing success in voyages of exploration between 1415 and 1520

Alberto Cantino's world map (1502)In 1655, Sir Richard Fanshaw introduced the English public to Luis de Camoes’ epic of Portuguese maritime literature, The Lusiads, originally published in 1572. Conveyed in Fanshaw’s 'sprightly, gallant style' (as Sir Richard Burton described it), Camoes conjured up the vision of Portugal's search for empire:

Armes, and the Men above the vulgar File Who from the Western Lusitanian shore
Past ev'n beyond the Trapobanian-Isle
Through Seas which never Ship had sayld before;
Who (brave in action, patient in long Toyle,
beyond what strength of humane nature bore)
'Mongst Nations, under other Stars, acquir'd
A modern Scepter which to Heaven aspir'd.

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