What nations came to control the trade routes of the sea? By 1430 Portugal was the leading European nation in discovering sea routes to India and China. Prince Henry the Navigator would lead Portugal to become the first colonial empire of Europe. Prince Henry opened a school and brought to it the best sailors, navigators, and mapmakers of Europe. The Portuguese sailors became the best in the world. Prince Henry the Navigator became the leader of Portugal’s voyages of discovery. By 1492 Portugal had colonies in Africa, India, and China. They controlled the sea routes and thus controlled the trade between Europe and Asia. But another nation wanted to trade with Asia too. That nation was Portugal’s neighbor, Spain. On October 19, 1469 Queen Isabella of Castile and Leon married Ferdinand of Aragon uniting the kingdoms of Spain for the first time in 600 years. Spain also wanted the silk, spices, and gold that trade with India and China would bring. Spain quickly began to build a powerful navy. In 1485 a young Italian sailor approached the Spanish king and queen with an idea. He told them that if he were allowed to sail west from Europe, he believed that he could reach India and the riches that were there. If successful, this western route would take the royal Spanish ships away from the southern trade routes around Africa that were controlled by Portugal. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella told the young Italian sea captain, named Christopher Columbus, that they would not pay for such a voyage. They would not support such a voyage but they would hire him as a Spanish sea captain. For seven years Columbus kept asking their permission to sail west. Finally, in 1492, Queen Isabella said that he could make such a journey. This map shows the line of longitude that the kings of Spain and Portugal agreed would divide the world as to which country would colonize the lands of the New World. Chapter 4 • Arizona in the World  45