Portuguese American Journal

Book | Navigations: The Portuguese Discoveries and the Renaissance | By Malyn Newitt – Editor’s Note

The lasting impact of historic Portuguese voyages of discovery is unquestionable. The slave trade, the diaspora of the Sephardic Jews, and the intercontinental spread of plants and animals all make clear these voyages’ long-term global significance. Navigations reexamines these Portuguese quests by placing them in their medieval and Renaissance settings. It shows how these voyages grew out of a crusading ethos, as well as long-distance trade with Asia and Africa and developments in map-making and ship design. Malyn Newitt also narrates these voyages of discovery in the framework of Portuguese politics, describing the role of the Portuguese ruling dynasty—including its female members—in the flowering of the Portuguese Renaissance, the creation of the Renaissance state with its distinctive ideology, and in the cultural changes that took place within a wider European context.


“Few living scholars know as much about the Portuguese empire as Newitt. None writes about it with more confidence, clarity, critical acuity, and common sense. His new book is the precious gift of a long lifetime’s work and reflection, enlivened by moments of subtle humor and distinguished by objectivity, reliability, and restraint in judgment.” — Felipe Fernández-Armesto, William P. Reynolds Professor of History, University of Notre Dame, and author of Straits: Beyond the Myth of Magellan.

Navigations is at once a history of the politics and economy of the world that drew Portuguese mariners ever further from their home ports and an exploration of the complex networks of people who facilitated their voyages, ranging from women in royal households to ship crews and local pilots who guided Portuguese ships to safe anchorages. Drawing on a long career as a historian and synthesizing the most recent scholarship, Newitt transforms the Portuguese age of discovery from the exploits of a few dozen heroic men into a scholarly discovery of contested interactions among technology, economics, cultural encounters, human frailties, and social ambitions. This book is an engaging and at times unsettling meditation on the long-term consequences of discovery and our need to reexamine their continuing global impacts.” — Elizabeth Mancke, professor of history and Canada Research Chair in Atlantic Canadian Studies, University of New Brunswick

Navigations provides a much-needed reexamination of the Portuguese Empire of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, one that considers a varied and wide cast of participants. Persuasively argued and masterfully written, this book interlaces Portugal’s ‘Age of Discoveries’ with its European antecedents, context, and impacts in vital ways.” — Jorge Flores, University of Lisbon


About the Author

Malyn Newitt has taught at the universities of Rhodesia and Exeter, and until he retired, he was the Charles Boxer Professor of History at King’s College London. He is the author of many books, including Portuguese Settlement on the Zambesi, Portugal in Africa, A History of Mozambique, East Africa, and A History of Portuguese Overseas Expansion.


Book Details

Title: Navigations: The Portuguese Discoveries and the Renaissance

Author: Malyn Newitt

Publisher‏: Reaktion Books

Publication Date: July 14, 2023

Language‏: ‎English

Hardcover‏: ‎368pp

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