Early Portuguese and Spanish Explorers


Henry the Navigator

Henry the Navigator had a very significant role in the age of exploration He sent many expeditions to the west coast of Africa and southwards as he looked for a sea route to the spice islands

Step 1

Place Sagres on a map of Portugal that you have downloaded, and indicate it was Henry the Navigator's base.

Step 2 - make notes
What sort of people did Henry encourage to work at Sagres? Why? For what reason is he famous and why was he given the title 'the navigator'? You will find many of the answers to these questions on the following page.

See if you can find a picture of (a) Henry the Navigator, (b) a caravel and (c) the School of Navigation to add to your notes.

The Famous Explorers

Step 3

Write a brief biography of each explorer below. This should include:
  • date of voyage
  • a map of his journey (find one and cut & paste it into your wiki page)
  • name of ship(s)
  • importance of the voyage (the first to do what?)
If you find any good pictures (portraits, their ships, etc.) add them to your notes as well

Names & Dates of journeys

  • Bartholomew Dias 1482

  • Christopher Columbus 1492

  • Vasco da Gama 1498

  • Ferdinand Magellan 1520




Step 4

Put a title - Early English and Dutch Explorers


Write a very brief biography of each explorer below, covering the following points:
  • date of voyage
  • a map of his journey (find one and cut & paste it into your wiki page)
  • name of ship(s)
  • importance of the voyage (the first to do what?)

If you find any good pictures add them to your notes.

Name & Dates of Journeys



  • Francis Drake 1577-80
  • Abel Tasman 1642
  • William Dampier 1688
  • James Cook 1768-71

Other websites that might prove useful to your research:

v www.mariner.org/educationalad/ageofex/biographies.php
v www.cdli.ca/CITE/exage.htm
v www.nmm.ac.uk/server/show/conWebDoc.142

Bonus Questions