The Explorer’s Trade

  • John H. Parry
Part of the Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


The Portuguese were pioneers not only in oceanic exploration, but also in the tasks of organizing and systematizing the results of exploration. The explorers went out under royal auspices; their masters expected them to record their voyages in detail, step by step, so that others coming after could follow their routes and develop their dis-coveries. From the accumulated experiences of discovery and later seaborne trade were built up the roteiros, books of sailing directions, giving courses and distances from place to place, navigational hazards, and descriptions by which navigators could recognize salient features of a coast. The roteiros, later imitated by Dutch and English compilers, were the ancestors of the pilot-books of modern times. They were treated as secret documents by the Portuguese government—at least in so far as they dealt with eastern seas—and probably many have perished.


Sixteenth Century Good Passage Quarter Point Half Point Sailing Direction 
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List of Works Cited

  1. Strabo: The Geography of Strabo, with an English translation by Horace Leonard Jones, Loeb Classical library, London, 1917.Google Scholar
  2. Martín Cortés, trans. Richard Eden: The Arte of Navigation, London, 1561.Google Scholar
  3. John Davis: The Seamans Secrets, London, 1955; The Worlds Hydrographical Discription, London, 1595, both in A. H. Markham, ed.: John Davis, Voyages and Works, London, 1880.Google Scholar
  4. William Bourne, ed. E. G. R. Taylor: A Regiment for the Sea, Cambridge, 1963.Google Scholar
  5. Eugenio de Salazar: Cartas, Madrid, 1866.Google Scholar
  6. H. and P. Chaunu: Séville et l’Atlantique, II vols., Paris, 1955. The Africa Pilot, Parts I–III, London, 1929–30.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • John H. Parry

There are no affiliations available

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