Portugal Gives Birth to “The Age of Discovery”
When thinking of great explorers and empires of the past, the names that spring to mind are Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, Columbus, Great Britain, Sir Francis Drake, and perhaps the Dutch… but would it surprise you to know that Europe’s longest-lived empire, and the country and its country-men who discovered much of the world for Europe is, in fact, Portugal.
At the dawn of the modern age in the early 1400’s, the son of Portugal’s King Joao I, Prince Henry the Navigator, spearheaded the exploration of the world, becoming the principal sponsor and patron of Portuguese exploration efforts. Soon, Portuguese vessels were sailing the Atlantic Ocean, discovering the Atlantic archipelagos including the Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde.
From their initial voyages, the Portuguese built an empire throughout the world – territories that are now a part of 53 different sovereign states. The Portuguese Empire spanned nearly 600 years, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 to the grant of sovereignty to East Timor in Southeast Asia in 2002.
The coin in this treasure pendant was discovered in a small Colonial wall cache secreted in Salvador, Brazil sometime around 1816. It’s stunning images and inscription are a surviving testament to the longest-lived modern European empire in the world.