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The Age of Exploration: Henry the Navigator

Portugal has a problem. Imports from India and China are VERY expensive because Portugal is at the end of a very long shipping route. This has forced them to find a route around Africa, but as ships move closer to the equator, the North Star drops below the horizon and navigation, such as it is, goes out the window. Henry, the Prince of Portugal has become fascinated with the problems of navigation and has set up an observatory to collect astronomical data. He will send out ships to explore down the coast of Africa, trying to solve the problems of navigation below the equator. This project will earn him the nickname, Henry the Navigator. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The ancient historian, Herodotus, writes that Africa has been circumnavigated so Henry the Navigator knows it can be done, but in the early 1400s it is like launching rockets to the Moon. Due to his efforts, the Madeira Islands will be rediscovered and a fortified wine will be born: Madeira wine. By 1444 the Portuguese will reach Dakar in West Africa. But Henry will die before his ships circumnavigate Africa and find the Indians... the ones from India.[4] [5]

100 Years' War: Paris is Captured by the French!

King Henry the 5th of England is taking France apart piece-by-piece and frankly, (that's a pun) everyone around them seems happy about it, including John the Fearless, the Duke of Burgundy. John was once the royal regent for Mad King Charles and on behalf of the Queen he has been trying to bring stability to the country ruled by her husband, the bat-crazy King, without destroying it in the process and trying to fend off the King of England with easy promises. He is welcomed into Paris at first but riots soon break out and the heir apparent (the one still alive) escapes. It's all coming apart. Next year, when John dies unexpectedly (dying with an axe through your head qualifies as "unexpected") his successor will be firm in his resolve to support the King of England and give France over to the English. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is difficult to tell whether John the Fearless is a working for the King of England or for his own purposes. His moves are ambiguous but he is known as a resolute man. He was named "Fearless" when he fought alongside the Holy Roman Emperor, and the Emperor approved of John's plans when they met at the Council of Constance. He seems to be playing for time but it is just too big a problem. France is so screwed up, it looks like they are going to have to destroy France in order to save it. Some might see a similar future for the United States, but we are nowhere near that point today (September 2014).

FYI: I paraphrased a report by Peter Arnett in the Vietnam War, "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." [12]

The Imitation of Christ

There is a book published in the Middle Ages that has remained in print into the modern era (available for the Kindle). It is second only to the Bible in the number of languages it has been translated into. It is a book of devotions... The Imitation of Christ. It is written by a German copyist... a fellow who makes a living copying books by hand. Thomas von Kempen has copied the Bible four times and he copies textbooks for schools and writes devotionals and sermons for the local monastery. He has recently become a priest and produced this new work. It will ring down through the ages and a few of his words will be included in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Here are some quotes... [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]

Man proposes, but God disposes.

First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I would have been remiss had I not mentioned such an important Christian work, but being Jewish I can only make a few surface comments. In the modern day there is a Christian phrase, "What would Jesus do?" It is formed as a question but it suggests that a Christian should stop and think before acting. One's actions as a Christian should reflect God's will and imagining Jesus at one's shoulder allows a Christian to imitate Christ in word, in deed and hopefully in mind and heart. This is the modern manifestation of the Middle Ages notion of the Imitation of Christ.

I hope I got that right. Corrections are welcome.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1418, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Asimov, Isaac. Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery: 1418. New York: HarperCollins. 1994. ISBN 0062701134. pp. 103-104. (BOOK) Quote: "With Prince Henry, now universally known as Henry the navigator, the great European Age of Exploration began."
  2. Asimov, Isaac. Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology: Henry the Navigator. Garden City, New York: Doubleday. 1982. ISBN 0385177712. p. 65. (BOOK) quote: "Year after year he outfitted and sent out ships that inched their way farther and farther down the African coast. He even supervised the collection of astronomic data to ensure the greater safety and success of the ships."
  3. Henry the Navigator - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  4. Madeira - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  5. Senegal - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  6. Previté-Orton, Charles William. The Shorter Cambridge Medieval History, Volume 2, The Twelfth Century to the Renaissance. Cambridge University Press. 1966. (BOOK) quote: "It became easy for John the Fearless to seize the government in the queen's name."
  7. Jan zonder vrees (1984) (John the Fearless, animated) - IMDb, imdb.com, 2014 [last update]
  8. John the Fearless - Religion-wiki, religion.wikia.com, 2012 [last update]
  9. John (Duke of Burgundy) -- Encyclopedia Britannica, britannica.com, 2014 [last update]
  10. John the Fearless - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  11. Siege of Rouen - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  12. Peter Arnett - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  13. Kempis, Thomas à. The Imitation of Christ. London: Routledge. 1888. originally published circa 1418-1427. (PUBLIC DOMAIN)
  14. Bartlett, John. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 14th Edition. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. 1968. p. 170. (BOOK)
  15. Battel Abbey. The Chronicle of Battel Abbey, from 1066 to 1176. London: John Russell Smith. 1851. originally published . (BOOK)
  16. The Imitation of Christ (The book) - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  17. Imitation of Christ (The general principle) - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  18. Thomas à Kempis - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]

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