Exploration and Status: the Changing Position of Iberian Seamen and Captains in Voyages of Discovery

By Joseph A. Goldenberg, published February 1984


This paper considers how leaders persuade themselves and others to undertake voyages into unknown waters. Prince Henry tried to ensure that the rewards, in terms of financial gain and social advancement, outweighed the risks undertaken. The evidence for Portuguese ship’s councils and a rotating captaincy, creating a tightly knit and mutually supportive body, is presented. A comparison of the experiences of the Portuguese in Africa and Asia reveals more differences than similarities, with sailors of mid-fifteenth century West African voyages receiving better treatment than successors on subsequent Indian expeditions.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Other (Early Modern) | Indian Ocean
Subjects include: Administration | Manpower & Life at Sea

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