Were always left with the feeling that we’ve got to come back to the subject and do more.
And there is so much more to do on the Portuguese Initiative!
What of Lisbon in the time of King Dinis (1 270-1325), when the merchants of the Italian city-states were clustering in Lisbon to lay the foundations of the great seaport.
And what of the earlier Italian voyages, in the High Middle Ages, out into the broad Atlantic, to African ports and far south to the Canaries, where the northeast trades begin?
These ventures are relegated to a kind of prehistory, not by design but because only hints and passing references have come down to us.
The Portuguese breakout into the ocean world took place in what was surely a time of heightened awareness.
Like the Greeks of Periclean Athens, these people were well aware that they were doing things not done before in mankind ‘s adventure on this pl anet.
But even in that brilliantl y illumined era, we have uncertainties to resolve
and more to learn to get a fair picture of what was happening and why.
Out of the dust and confusion, and with the dazzle of a brilliant dawn in our faces, one thing emerges that has impressed all of us here at Sea History.
That is the nobility of character of the Portuguese seaman.
Bartolomeu Dias is an exemplar of the type-a man evidently of clear and steady vision, and the spirit to venture greatly, undaunted by hazard and difficulty.
It is on the backs of such men that the military conquerors rode to power.
I remember Antonio Cardoso, who writes of a new caravel voyage to honor that of Dias in this issue, saying to me:
” Dias is the true sailor. He’s the one we look to, not just for what he did but what he was.”
The clash of arms, the glory of empire, the riches of the Indies brought into the Tagus-these things have passed from the scene. But not the noble character of Bartolomeu Dias. That is forever–0r as long as we remember where we came from.
Portugal still sends caravels to seashe is sending one out, after a gap of several centuries, this autumn.
This is a project of APORVELA , the sail training organization whose president, Dr. Luis de Guimaraes Lobato, is also president of the Museu da Marinha.
Dr. Lobato is a first-class sailorman who for many years· raced the famous cutter Jolie Brise, now preserved (and sailed) at the Exeter Maritime Museum in England.
In such. men a great tradition find s worthy continuance in our day.
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