first to chart the seas
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
was fascinated by the article in a recent Reporter on
the research being conducted by Dr Andrew Jackson on historical
documents of early European maritime explorers. Without
wishing to comment on the project being conducted by Dr
Jackson (who may have sound scientific reasons for restricting
his research to the period from the sixteenth century
onwards), could I correct a false impression created by
the article as published?
seafarers were, in fact, engaging in long-distance maritime
exploration well before the late sixteenth century, and
your article, which mentions Spain specifically as the
European country whose records in this field should go
back further than any other, omits to mention the obvious
fact that Columbus’ first journey to America took place
a full century before the date mentioned by your article.
In fact, however, it was Portugal who led the way in this
respect from the early fifteenth century onwards: not
only was Portugal responsible for such notable expeditions
as Vasco da Gama’s discovery of the sea route to India
in 1497-98, but the Portuguese (through initiatives such
as the establishment of the School of Navigators in the
Algarve) were enormously influential in the progress of
many of the modern sciences (such as cartography) which
made long-distance navigation a feasible proposition for
the later explorers mentioned in your article.
course, other peoples, such as the Vikings, had also undertaken
long-distance maritime exploration long before this period,
but it was Portugal which first laid the scientific basis
for what was to become the great period of European overseas
paid less than old hands
minister, Stephen Byers, said two weeks ago that he would
step in and take action to end two-tier workforces in
public services. Yet this is exactly what is created at
the University for maintenance workers.
ignore local plussages and bonuses when recruiting maintenance
staff so recruits have a lower salary than their longer
established colleagues even though they are doing the
is obviously divisive, damages morale and targets people
who are desperate for employment and unaware that what
they agree to is poorer pay than their new colleagues.
government thinks this situation is unfair, the trade
unions agree, as do those who have to tolerate this injustice.
Surely it is time the University looked to its image as
an enlightened employer and ended this inequality in the