ElminaCastle.info Website - Portuguese arrival
The Portuguese first reached what became known as the Gold Coast in 1471. Prince Henry the Navigator first sent ships to explore the African coast in 1418.
The Portuguese had several motives for voyaging south. They were attracted by rumors of fertile African lands that were rich in gold and ivory.
They also sought a southern route to India so as to circumvent Arab traders and establish direct trade with Asia. In line with the strong religious sentiments of the time, another focus of the Portuguese was Christian proselitism.
They also sought to form an alliance with the legendary Prester John, who was believed to be the leader of a great Christian nation somewhere in Africa.
These motives prompted the Portuguese to develop the Guinea trade. They made gradual progress down the African coast, each voyage reaching a point further along than the last.
After fifty years of coastal exploration, the Portuguese finally reached Elmina in 1471, during the reign of King Afonso V. However, because Portuguese royalty had lost interest in African exploration as a result of meager returns, the Guinea trade was put under the oversight of the Portuguese trader, Fernão Gomes.
Upon reaching present day Elmina, Gomes discovered a thriving gold trade already established among the natives and visiting Arab and Berber traders.
He established his own trading post, and it became known to the Portuguese as “A Mina” (the Mine) because of the gold that could be found there.
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