Prelude to Empire spotlights and brings into focus the events and developments in European history which prepared the way for Henry the Navigator and the age of the Great Discoveries. "Henry's just fame," writes Bailey W. Diffie, "has obscured an essential fact: in 1415 he was a man with a past as well as a future. Some forty years lay before--some forty centuries lay behind. Just as the voyages of his captains would form the indispensable base for Columbus and Vasco de Gama, so the achievements which made Henry the dominating maritime figure of his time grew from the previous experience and generations of fishermen and traders." The first study in English to examine the development of Portugues commercial methods and overseas contacts, and the first in any language to bring together all the pieces of the story, Prelude to Empire has been designed for the general reader and the college student as well as the specialist.