In the early 1400s, Portugal was a small, not very wealthy country. But one prince dreamed it could lead the world in exploration.
Prince Henry the Navigator was the third son of Portugal’s King John I. Around 1419, Henry moved his court to Sagres Point, near Europe's southwestern tip. At Sagres, he assembled the best mapmakers, shipbuilders, and sailors. The shipbuilders improved the caravel. His sailors were trained well. They learned to use the most modern instruments, such as astrolabes and compasses. Henry sent expeditions to explore Africa’s Atlantic coast. Long after Henry’s death, Portugal continued to lead in exploration.