DO YOU REMEMBER MY LAST QUESTION IN MY LAST BLOG,
" THE START " ? Well I said those sailors 500 or 600 years ago, how did they cope with these conditions ? And why did they do it, without knowing necessarily what was behind the horizon ? This leads me to the second part of my previous blog "The beginning of the end" , with the new title :
THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA.
The Mediterranean and its connected land routes to the East
( loosely called East India ) transported almost 80 % of all trade in the then known world, when the Ottomans started to interrupt this business.
So alternative routes were sought,
specifically for the lucrative spice trade with Asia.
At the end of the 15th century, Britain was locked in skrimishes with the French and Spanish fleets, so their seafarers knew part of the Atlantic, but kept closer to land. The French as well, although they had already conquered into the western parts of Africa, and thereby knew about the Canaries and may be Cape Verde.
Bartolomeu Dias in 1488 reached Cape of Good Hope, the southern tip of Africa..
The Portuguese had also previously discovered the Azores and Madeira. So they knew the eastern part of the North and South Atlantic well.
And yet it was somebody else, "who added one and one, got three",
and went for it ,
if you know what I mean.
He also visited frequently his brother Bartholomeo in Lisbon, who had become a cartographer in the meantime.
I am convinced that through these travels he got an understanding of the world at sea, of sailing and sailing routes, and prevailing winds and weather patterns.
Through his brother I assume he also got hold of the most advanced and most likely secretive chart works and records of Portuguese explorers.
According to the historian Edmund Morgan, he also learnt Astronomy, and read besides history some travel books like those of Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville.
He must also have been visiting the Azores, Madeira, its neighbouring island Porto Santo, and the Canaries.
In 1478 he married the daughter of the previously mentioned Bartolomeu Perestrello, the Governor of Porto Santo.
( Remember my blog " The Island of Wood " ? )
My speculation is that later he also met a German with the name of Martin Behaim , a cosmographer, astronomer and geographer who had married in 1486 the daughter of the Governor of the Azores, a Flemish community leader form Antwerp, and stayed there for some years.
Now you did not hear about this in school, did you ? Because your teacher was not a sailor, simple !
I have no proof but I had an interesting discussion with Jimmy Cornell, the founder of the ARC rally 26 years ago.
He confirmed that one of Columbus's three ships with the name Santa Clara, or La Nina as her nickname,
had originally a latin sail plan, like those boats in the Mediterranean.
But he changed it to a square rigger, ie sails that are predestined to sail with the wind from behind.
Why should he have done that if he hadn't suspected the essential of Atlantic sailing and its crossing?
Go West with Easterlies in the South and go East with Westerlies in the North.
Am I too smart here or what?
And that, folk, is all for today. I believe it is time for another brake. I don't want you to get bored !
THE STORY WILL THEREFORE CONTINUE IN MY NEXT BLOG
"The beginning of a new era"