The Rise and Fall of Portugal's Maritime Empire, a Cautionary Tale" Forgotten Pioneers of the Age of Expansion, Discoverers of Two-Thirds of the World for Europe, Ambassadors of the West, Interpreters of the East, Who for a Century and a Half Governed the lands and Controlled the Riches Flowing into Europe from Africa, Persia, Arabia, india, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Oceania, and Half of South America, Then Lost Much of Their Empire to Britain, France, and Holland; with Some Comments about Columbus and the Spread of Christianityh


Portugal, Maritime Empire, Age of Discovery, Cautionary Tale


Portugal is the forgotten Pioneer of the Age of Expansion. They invented the ship that could travel against the winds and currents, thus allowing them to embark into the unknown ocean. Once out in the high seas, they learned a new way of navigating without the use of landmarks. They mapped the world and established settlements on all the inhabited continents. After some 200 years, other European nations wanted to enter the age of expansion, but there was nothing left to discover, so they began forcefully taking the lands away from Portugal. The loss of these lands was seen by contemporary writers as a punishment for Portugal's exploitation of indigenous peoples. They had been blessed by the Lord, had grown rich and then wicked, and ultimately lost their maritime empire, a well-known cycle.

Original Publication Citation

BYU Studies Quarterly vol. 57, no. 2 (2018) 95-130

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

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BYU Studies Quarterly






Spanish and Portuguese

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor