Explorers from the 1400's the Fifteenth Century

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Explorers from the 1400's - the Fifteenth Century

Prince Henry (Henrique) the Navigator (1394-1460) was a Portuguese royal prince, soldier, and patron of explorers. Henry sent many sailing expeditions down Africa's west coast, but did not go on them himself. Thanks to Prince Henry's patronage, Portuguese ships sailed to the Madeira Islands (1420), rounded Cape Bojador (Eannes, 1434), sailed to Cape Blanc (1441), sailed around Cap Vert (1455), and went as far as the Gambia River (Cadamosto, 1456) and Cape Palmas (Gomes, 1459-1460). henrymapprincehenry

Bartolomeu Dias (1457-1500) was a great Portuguese navigator and explorer who explored Africa's coast. In 1488, Dias led the first European expedition to sail around Africa's Cape of Good Hope, leaving Tagus, Portugal in 1487. This breakthrough of circumnavigating the Cape of Good Hope opened up lucrative trading routes from Europe to Asia. Dias may have originally called the southern tip of Africa the "Cape of Storms"; it was later renamed the Cape of Good Hope. On a later expedition (in 1500, with Pedro Álvares Cabral), Dias sailed near South America on the way to Africa, and spotted land at Espírito Santo in Brazil, calling it the "Land of the True Cross." Although they thought it to be an island, Dias was still among the first Europeans to see Brazil. Dias died during this expedition; he was lost at sea near the Cape of Good Hope in 1500.diasmap

Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was an Italian explorer who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, hoping to find a route to India (in order to trade for spices). He made a total of four trips to the Caribbean and South America during the years 1492-1504, sailing for King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain. On his first trip, Columbus led an expedition with three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. columbuscolumbusmap

Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) was a Portuguese explorer who found a route from Spain to the East. He sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, around Africa's Cape of Good Hope, to India (and back) in 1497-1499. At that time, many people thought that it was impossible to do this since they thought that the Indian Ocean was not connected to any other seas. His patron was King Manuel I of Portugal, who sent da Gama, now an Admiral, on another expedition to India (1502-1503). After King Manuel's death, King John III sent da Gama to India as a Portuguese viceroy (the King's representative in India). Da Gama died in India in 1524.dagamamapdagama

John Cabot (1450-1499) was born in Italy but moved to England in 1495. At the request of King Henry VII of England, Cabot sailed to Canada in 1497, and landed near Labrador, Newfoundland, or Cape Breton Island (the exact spot is uncertain) on June 24, 1497. He claimed the land for England. Cabot explored the Canadian coastline and named many of its islands and capes. The mission's purpose was to search for a Northwest passage across North America to Asia (a seaway to Asia). Cabot was unsuccessful, although he thought that he had reached northeastern Asia. cabotmap

Cabot undertook a second, larger expedition in 1498. On this trip, Cabot may have reached America, but that is uncertain. Cabot's expeditions were the first of Britain's claims to Canada.

Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512) was an Italian explorer who was the first person to realize that the Americas were separate from the continent of Asia. America was named for him in 1507, when the German mapmaker Martin Waldseemüller, printed the first map that used the name America for the New World. vespucci

On his first expedition (sailing for Spain, 1499-1500), Vespucci was the navigator under under the command of Alonso de Ojeda. On this trip, Ojeda and Vespucci discovered the mouth of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers in South America, thinking it was part of Asia. On his second expedition (sailing for Portugal, 1501-02) he mapped some of the eastern coast of South America, and came to realize that it not part of Asia, but a New World.

Explorers from 1501-1550: the Early Sixteenth Century

Vasco Nunez de Balboa (1475-1519) was a Spanish conquistador and explorer. He was the first European to see the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean (in 1513), after crossing the Isthmus of Panama overland. balboamapbalboa

Jacques Cartier (1491-1557) was a French explorer who led three expeditions to Canada, in 1534, 1535, and 1541. He was looking for a route to the Pacific through North America (a Northwest Passage) but did not find one. Cartier paved the way for French exploration of North America. jacques cartiercartiermap

Cartier sailed inland, going 1,000 miles up the St. Lawrence River. He also tried to start a settlement in Quebec (in 1541), but it was abandoned after a terribly cold winter. Cartier named Canada; "Kanata" means village or settlement in the Huron-Iroquois language. Cartier was given directions by Huron-Iroquois Indians for the route to "kanata," a village near what is now Quebec, but Cartier later named the entire region Canada.

Hernán Cortés (also spelled Cortez), Marqués Del Valle De Oaxaca (1485-1547) was a Spanish adventurer and conquistador (he was also a failed law student) who overthrew the Aztec empire and claimed Mexico for Spain (1519-21).

Cortes sailed with 11 ships from Cuba to the Yucatan Peninsula to look for gold, silver, and other treasures. Hearing rumors of great riches, Cortés traveled inland and "discovered" Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire. He then brutally killed the Aztec emperor Montezuma and conquered his Aztec Empire of Mexico, claiming all of Mexico for Spain in 1521. Treasures from the Aztecs were brought to Spain, and Cortés was a hero in his homeland. Cortés was appointed governor of the colony of New Spain, but eventually fell out of favor with the royals. He then returned to Spain where he died a few years later.cortesmap

Francisco Pizarro (1478-1541) was a Spanish conquistador who traveled through much of the Pacific coast of America along Peru. He "discovered" the Incan empire and conquered it brutally and quickly, stealing immense hoards of gold, silver, and other treasures.

Pizarro landed at San Mateo Bay in 1532. After traveling through desert and snow-capped mountains, Pizarro and his men (who included Hernando de Soto) arrived at Cajamarca (in 1533), where they captured Atahuallpa, the 13th and last emperor of the Incas. Atahuallpa had just won a civil war against his half-brother (Huáscar), and had executed Huáscar and his family. Atahuallpa had invited Pizarro to a celebratory feast, thinking that the Spanish were not much of a threat. Pizarro ambushed Atahuallpa and killed thousands of his men. Atahuallpa offered a huge ransom for his own release, but Pizarro took the treasure and had Atahuallpa strangled on Aug. 29, 1533; this was the end of the Incan empire. pizarromap

After looting and generally destroying the Incan capital of Cusco, Pizarro founded Lima (which he called Ciudad de los Reyes, which means "City of the Kings"). Pizarro was assassinated in Lima, Peru, in 1541, by followers of Pedro de Almagro (Cortes' captain) who wanted to seize Lima for its riches.

Juan Ponce de Leon (1460?-1521) was a Spanish explorer and soldier who was the first European to set foot in Florida. He also established the oldest European settlement in Puerto Rico and discovered the Gulf Stream (a current in the Atlantic Ocean). Ponce de Leon was searching for the legendary fountain of youth and other riches. deleonmap

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (1510-1554) was a Spanish ruler, explorer and conquistador. He was the first European to explore North America's Southwest. coronado

Coronado was a governor of New Galicia, a western province of Mexico. He searched fruitlessly for treasure that was rumored to exist in northern Mexico: the fabled seven Golden Cities of Cibola. With a group of hundreds of Spaniards and enslaved natives, he traveled through what is now northern Mexico and the southwestern USA (including Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas). His expedition found only Zuñi, Hopi, and Pueblos, native Americans who repelled Coronado when he demanded that they convert to Christianity. Coronado killed many native Americans during this expedition. Since he did not find gold, silver, or other treasures, his expedition was branded a failure by Spanish leaders.coronadomap

Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) was a Portuguese explorer who led the first expedition that sailed around the Earth (1519-1522). Magellan also named the Pacific Ocean (the name means that it is a calm, peaceful ocean). magellanmagellanmap

Magellan was born in Northern Portugal (either in Sabrosa or in Oporto). His parents, Pedro Ruy de Magalhaes and Alda de Mezquita, were members of the nobility (they were wealthy and powerful).

Early in his career, Magellan sailed to India and to the Far East many times via Africa's Cape of Good Hope. He sailed for his native Portugal, but a dispute with the Portuguese King Manoel II turned him against the Portuguese. Thereafter, he sailed for Spain.

Magellan and his friend the astronomer Ruy de Falero proposed to King Charles V (of Spain) that a westward voyage around the tip of South America would take them to the Moluccas (spice-rich islands) and avoid the Portuguese (with whom they were competing fiercely). The voyage began September 8, 1519, and lasted until September 6, 1522 (almost 3 years). Magellan sailed from Seville, Spain, with five ships, the Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepcion, Victoria, and Santiago. Three years later, only one ship (the Victoria) made it back to Seville, carrying only 18 of the original 270 crew members. Magellan was killed towards the end of the voyage, on the Island of Mactan in the Philippines, during a battle with the natives. The Basque navigator Juan Sebastián de Elcano (del Cano) completed the trip.

Giovanni da Verrazzano (1485-1528) was an Italian navigator who, in 1524, explored the northeast coast of North America from Cape Fear, North Carolina to Maine while searching for a Northwest passage to Asia. Verrazzano sailed for King François-premier (Francis I) of France. Verrazzano's brother, Girolamo da Verrazzano, was a mapmaker who accompanyed Giovanni on his voyage, and mapped the voyage. verrazzanomap

Verrazzano left Madeira, Spain, on January 17, 1524, and landed at Cape Fear on March 1. He first sailed south, then returned and sailed north, to New York, anchoring the narrows that are now name for him. He sailed up to Maine and then on to New Foundland, Canada, and back to Europe (landing in Dieppe, France on July 8). Verrazzano thought that North America was a thin isthmus separating the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Verrazzano was killed and eaten by Carib Indians in 1528. The Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, a suspension bridge that spans New York Harbor, connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island (New York, USA), was named for Verrazzano.

Explorers from 1551-1600: the Late Sixteenth Century

Sir Francis Drake (1545-1596) was a British explorer, slave-trader, privateer (a pirate working for a government) in the service of England, mayor of Plymouth, England, and naval officer (he was an Admiral). Drake led the second expedition to sail around the world in a voyage lasting from 1577 to 1580 (Magellan led the first voyage around the world). Queen Elizabeth I comissioned Drake to command the expedition together with John Winter and Thomas Doughty. They left Plymouth, England, on December 13, 1577, with six ships (including the Golden Hind). They sailed to Brazil, and through the perilous Strait of Magellan (between August 20 and September 6, 1578). At Tierra del Fuego (located at the southern tip of South America), natives gave Drake and his crew food and water. They sailed by Panama (1579), where he pirated Spanish ships and settlements for food and treasures. He landed on the island of Cano, off the coast of southern Mexico. In North America, he claimed the land he called "Nova Albion" for the Queen (his exact location was kept secret, but he may have sailed as far north as northern California or even Vancouver Island, Canada). They then crossed the Pacific Ocean and sailed by Indonesia, through the Indian Ocean, past the Cape of Good Hope, and back to Plymouth, England, in 1580. Upon his return, the Queen rewarded Drake with a large sum of money (£10,000). drakedrakemap

Drake was also involved in the slave trade and was a fierce warrior and privateer. Drake and John Hawkins were on a slave-trading trip to the West Indies (backed by Queen Elizabeth) that ended with an attack by the Spanish fleet at San Juan de Ulua, near Veracruz, Mexico. The six English slave-trading ships were in the harbor for repairs, and only two ships survived the attack, those commanded by Hawkins and Drake; the Spanish did not want the English competing in their highly profitable slave-trading business. This battle led to a series of battles that later resulted in a war between Spain and England. In this war, England crushed the Spanish Armada in 1588 and became the dominant world power. Drake helped the British defeat the Spanish Armada; he was second in command. The Spanish called him El Draque, meaning "The Dragon."

Drake died of fever at sea near Panama; he was on a voyage intending to attack Spanish colonies in the West Indies.

Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618) was a British explorer, poet, historian, and soldier. Raleigh led expeditions to both North America and South America; he was trying to found new settlements, find gold, and increase trade with the New World. In 1585, Raleigh sent colonists to the east coast of North America; Raleigh later named that area Virginia, in honor of Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. He is often credited with bringing tobacco and potatoes from the New World to Britain, but they were already known there. Raleigh was later executed by King James I for treason.raleigh

Explorers from the 1600's - the Seventeenth Century

Samuel de Champlain (1567?-1635) was a French explorer and navigator who mapped much of northeastern North America and started a settlement in Quebec. Champlain also discovered the lake later named for him (1609) and was important in establishing and administering the French colonies in the New World. champlainmap

Henry Hudson (1565-1611) was an English explorer and navigator who explored parts of the Arctic Ocean and northeastern North America. The Hudson River, Hudson Strait, and Hudson Bay are named for Hudson.

Hudson was hired by the Dutch East India Company in 1609, to try to find the Northwest Passage farther south. On this trip in a ship called the Half Moon, Hudson sailed to Nova Scotia, and then sailed south. He found what is now called the Hudson River. Hudson is credited with discovering the location which is now New York City (although da Verrazzano had previously sailed by the area in 1524). Hudson sailed into New York's harbor on September 3, 1609 and noted what an excellent harbor it was. Hudson sailed up the river about 150 miles (240 km) and noted the abundance of rich land, but realized that this was not a waterway to India. His reports resulted in many Dutch settlements in the area. henry hudson

A 1610-1611 trip through the Hudson Strait and into Hudson Bay ended in a mutiny. Hudson died in 1611 after his crew mutinied and left Hudson, his son, and seven crew members adrift in a small, open boat in Hudson Bay. http://www.hrmm.org/halfmoon/pictures/map_last2_voyages.jpg

Peter Minuit (1580-1638) was the first director general of New Amsterdam, a Dutch colony in America. Minuit was sent to the area by the Dutch West India Company. Minuit is famous for buying the island of Manhattan (in what is now New York, USA) from Native Americans in 1626. He bought the island with trinkets valued at about $24. He founded New Amsterdam on the southern tip of Manhattan. In 1631, Minuit was dismissed from the Dutch West India Company, and in 1638 headed a Swedish group that founded New Sweden (the first European settlement on the Delaware River). Minuit bought land from the Native Americans and founded Fort Christina (near what is now Wilmington, Delaware, USA). Minuit died in a hurricane in the West Indies while on a trading mission in 1638. http://www.paradoxmind.com/1301/colonization/minuit.gifhttp://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en/thumb/3/3c/400px-castelloplan.jpg

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