Henry the Navigator

henry the navigator

Dear Henry,

We have just set sail into the mighty Atlantic Ocean from Portugal.

Being a man of few words, you never mentioned your famous namesake, a man beloved by the entire country. Not only was Henry the Navigator credited with making the most significant contribution to Portugal’s golden age of exploration, he did so without ever setting a foot off the Portugal’s shores. Yes, Henry was a brilliant man, because he had the idea to set up an explorer school – sort of a sixteenth century Baker College – and train would-be explorers in this lucrative new field. This kept Henry himself from getting into the messy business of finding unknown foreign parts and contracting unknown foreign diseases and conquering ungrateful foreign peoples.

Now Vasco da Gama is probably not happy about this, but a huge statue of Henry leads all the other explorers into the wild blue at the port of Lisbon. Henry’s likeness is even carved into the massive doors of the monastery of St. Jerome, right along with the Virgin Mary and the twelve apostles. Poor Vasco, buried inside, must toss and turn. This is the thanks he gets for finding a route to India! I think if Henry the Navigator were here today to impart his philosophy of life to his littlest namesake, it might be this, “Don’t be a doer.” Maybe it’s best if you don’t pay him much heed.

We miss you and will write again soon.

Love, Gramma and Papa

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