The Portuguese ambitions towards overseas exploration, where first initiated when King Afonso IV of Portugal began to commission the first maritime voyages and explorations. This led to the rise of many new explorers such as Vasco de Gama, Pedro Alvares Cabral, and many others. However, after King Afonso's fall, he is succeed by King John II of Portugal who revived the exploration and conquering of lands around Africa, as well as in India.
Although, the Portuguese Crown is obviously funding and commissioning these voyages, there are other influential figures that aided in financing these voyages of discovery and conquer. Of them, Prince Henry the Navigator, played a crucial leading role in not only financing expeditions for overseas expansion , but also to draw together skilled geographers and navigators in order to heighten the success rate of these voyages. along with, Prince Henry, the Order of Christ, a religious group, also helped to in financing, making clear the goal and reason for the financing of these expeditions. These people wanted to spread Christianity to as many places as they could around the world, along with the necessity to obtain gold, spices, or other negotiations of trade in other lands in order to make the country, and themselves, wealthy.
The leaders of these voyages and expeditions can be argued between the many famous explorers and captains that discovered new lands, or routes; and with the people financing them like Prince Henry the Navigator. Of these explorers, Vasco de Gama (who finds an ocean route from Portugal to India), Bartholomeu Dias (who reaches the southern most tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope), Pedro Alvares Cabral (who is first to sight and claim Brazil for Portugal), along with Ferdinand Magellan (who is the first European to circumnavigate the globe).
Many of the ships that constituted the Portuguese fleets were caravels (shown in the above image). These caravels were designed by the Portuguese and used triangular sails to go against the wind, while also replacing the use of oars with rudders to make quick turns and other maneuvers possible (improved steering). Also, the rounded hulls on the ship allowed these ships to handle voyages in the ocean well. As for the crew members handling the ships of these voyages, around 170 crew members (like in Vasco da Gama's voyage) to around 250 crew members (like in Ferdinand Magellan's expedition), were needed for these fleets. However, certain voyages needed around 1,500 men (Pedro Alvares Cabral's voyage) it all depends on the goal of the expedition.
The length of these Portuguese voyages could range any where from nearly one year to two or even three years in duration. It all again depends on the goal of the expedition as well as the obstacles/route that is taken to arrive to their destination. For example, Pedro Alvares Cabral's voyage lasted 11 months (nearly a year), whereas Bartholomeu Dias's voyage lasted 15 months or 1 year and 3 months.
When these Portuguese explorers and expeditions arrived in new lands, whether it be Africa, India, or Brazil, they established some sort of settlement. These, settlements can vary between: trading posts, bases, forts, colonies, cities, and other forms of civilization. However, the motifs and goals of the explorer or voyage also determine this selection of civilization. For example, as the Portuguese land on the eastern and western coastal territories of Africa, in their efforts to navigate around the continent, they establish settlements in Guinea to make profits of the available slave trade there. They also, establish settlements in Tete where they then conquer other inland territories from there in their pursuit for more more gold and other valuable materials. In India, the Portuguese create a post/city on the western territory of Goa, (where they exterminate all of the Muslims in order to strengthen their religion of Christianity in the country). This place later becomes the capital of Portuguese India. Similarly, when they arrive in Brazil, they build civilizations that resemble cities where they plan to spread their influence of Christianity to the inland regions, while also conquering and gathering as many profitable slaves and resources as possible from those regions. However, they do face rivalry from Spanish powers and explorers when they try to conquer these inland regions in South America.
When these voyages or expeditions arrive to newly discovered lands or other regions, the Portuguese establish settlements however, the decision of must stay to inhabit and govern these new territories is a tedious one. But, it obvious that captains of the voyages as well as other crewmen must return to Portugal in order to inform their ruler or sponsor of their discoveries as well as how to proceed with the colonization of that region. This means that other members of the crew along with trustworthy assistants to the captain must remain in the newly conquered area with a means to communicate with Portugal and their overseers to report the status of the region for the time being. Yet, when the returning voyage arrives with the news, the ruler can choose to send other rulers, explorers, or political figures to govern, control, and expanded their territory. For example, once Pedro Cabral brings back news of the discovery of Brazil back the Portuguese Crown, Portugal then sends/ appoints fifteen courtiers to each section of the coastline where their goal is to establish cities, levy taxes, grant land, etc. on as many colonies or regions of inland South America as they could. However, when these courtiers were unsuccessful the Crown then appointed a governor general to rule all of Brazil, known as Tome de Sousa, who must press colonization inland. Yet, with this governor comes a new religious order as well that attempts to provide some influence. similarly in India, a former explorer known as Bartholomeu Dias is appointed as the governor,or ruler of the newly founded Portuguese territories on the western coast of India.