The Sense Of Wonder


The break-through came in 1415, when Portugal somehow found the resources and the driving force to seize the Moslem stronghold at Ceuta, in Africa. Ceuta was not far away, but it was a first step; beyond it, down the coast, was the western bulge of the continent, beyond that was the cape, and beyond that was the road to the East, the road to an illimitable expansion of the European horizon, the open road to everywhere. Nobody was quite ready to take this road in 1415; but this small nation was ready for the great Henry, for serious attention to what might be done beyond the known seas, for Vasco da Gama and what came after him. Thinking to do no more than survive, these people accomplished something far greater than they had intended.