FEAR AND COURAGE AT THE TIME OF THE FIRST EUROPEAN EXPEDITIONS TO AFRICA DURING THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY
The analysis pertains to chronicles and descriptions of geographic discoveries written in Europe during the fifteenth century and the early sixteenth century, and concerning events from about 1430–1480. Their authors include Gomes Eanes de Zurara, Diogo Gomes, Alvise Ca da Mosto, Eustache de la Fosse, Valentim Fernandes and Duarte Pacheco. The author discussed the recorded instances of fear and courage, indicating that together with the progress of geographic discoveries fear of distant voyages, based on irrational images about 'the end of the world', was replaced by fear of actual threats connected with navigation, an unfavourable climate, diseases, and battles waged against the discovered peoples. The author also stressed that individual determinants were accompanied by social factors conducive for the demonstration of courage and fear: the Portuguese noblemen, offered a perspective of gaining wealth and promotion willingly opted for the continuation of the discoveries and looting the encountered natives; on the other hand, sailors, not of noble birth and deprived of such perspectives relatively frequently advised their commanders to end the voyages and to return to Portugal. The African population did not leave behind any sources; nonetheless, European testimonies reflect its differentiated reactions. Generally speaking, the residents of the sparsely populated Berber coastline, without a strong supra-local political structures, usually decided to escape, while the black population living in numerous concentrations and organised into a state structure of chiefdoms, relatively often tried to organise armed resistance.
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