Early English and Dutch Explorers

  • James Cook 1768-71

In three voyages Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely unseen areas of the globe. He mapped lands from New Zealand to Hawaii, In the Pacific Ocean in greater detail and on a scale not previously achieved. As he progressed on his voyages of discovery he surveyed and named features, and recorded islands and coastlines on European maps for the first time. He displayed a combination of seamanship, superior surveying and cartographic skills, physical courage and an ability to lead men in adverse conditions.

The name of the first fleet was: The Alexander, the Scarborough, the charlotte, lade penrhyn, Prince of whales, the friend ship and the fish Bourne.

The reason for the first fleet was that the jail in England were getting to crowded and that the queen ordered that captain cook would sail to an unknown land and make it there second prison but they didn’t know was that this island that they clamed was already owned and was for thousands of years, and when they went discovering they came across the local people who were called the natives to this land.

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The Age Of Exploration

It was to this place that the Infante D. Henrique, Prince Henry the Navigator, came in the 15th century to work on his obsession to push back the frontiers of the known world, and opened the phase in Portuguese history called The Discoveries.
While precise information about Henry is far from complete, it is clear he was a most remarkable man. He was a prince, politician, warrior and grand master of the Order of Christ, but his fame endures mainly because of his monumental contribution to geographical discovery and the opening up of trade and cultural links between Europe and the East. When he arrived to settle in the Algarve as Governor in 1419 he was a young man of 25, austere and devoutly religious. A veteran of the invasion of Ceuta, he retained an abiding zeal to banish Muslims from North Africa and the Holy Land once and for all. While in Ceuta he had learned from traders about gold routes across the Sahara which were thought to originate in Guinea on the African west coast. Crusading reverence coupled with a thirst for gold revenue were soon to be augmented by an obsession to find Prester John, the legendary priest-king who ruled supreme amid fabulous wealth somewhere in Africa or the Orient. Religion and economics - God and gold - were the catalysts. Sagres was the crucible.

The navigators and there discovers.

The exact location of Henry's School of Navigation is not known. It is generally accepted that he sited his headquarters at Sages and created a settlement on land granted by the crown. The settlement came to be known as Vila do Infant, or Prince's town. This is popularly believed to have been situated on the headland within the walls of the Fortaleza which were rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. The only building still surviving and thought to have been around in more or less its present form in Henry's day, is the starkly simple little church within the fortress. The school of navigation was like a magnet to the best brains in Europe concerned with the nautical sciences. Under Henry's patronage, a community of brilliant scholars came here to teach and to study, and accumulated and correlated nautical knowledge as it was brought back by captains of successive voyages to hitherto unknown places. The scholars in turn instructed less experienced captains about Atlantic currents and wind systems and the latest navigational methods. Cartography was refined with the use of newly devised instruments. Maps were regularly updated and extended. A revolutionary type of vessel, the caravel, was designed.

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Francis Drake:

Sailing career

At age twenty-three, Drake made his first voyage to the new world sailing with his second cousin, Sir John Hawkins, on one of a fleet of ships owned by his relatives, the Hawkins family of Plymouth. In 1568 Drake was again with the Hawkins fleet when it was trapped by the Spaniards in the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulúa. He escaped along with Hawkins.
Following the defeat at San Juan de Ulúa, Drake vowed revenge. He made two voyages to the West Indies, in 1570 and 1571, of which little is known.
In 1572, he embarked on his first major independent enterprise. He planned an attack on the Isthmus of Panama, known to the Spanish as Tierra Firme and the English as the Spanish Main. This was the point at which the silver and gold treasure of Peru had to be landed and sent overland to the Caribbean Sea, where galleons from Spain would pick it up at the town of Nombre de Dios. Drake left Plymouth on 24 May 1572, with a crew of 73 men in two small vessels, the Pascha (70 tons) and the Swan (25 tons), to capture Nombre de Dios.
His first raid was late in July 1572. Drake and his men captured the town and its treasure. When his men noticed that Drake was bleeding profusely from a wound, they insisted on withdrawing to save his life and left the treasure. Drake stayed in the area for almost a year, raiding Spanish shipping and attempting to capture a treasure shipment.
In 1573, he joined Guillaume Le Testu. a French buccaneer, in an attack on a richly laden mule train. Drake and his party found that they had captured around 20 tons of silver and gold. They buried much of the treasure, as it was too much for their party to carry. (An account of this may have given rise to subsequent stories of pirates and buried treasure). Wounded, Le Testu was captured and later beheaded. The small band of adventurers dragged as much gold and silver as they could carry back across some 18 miles of jungle-covered mountains to where they had left the raiding boats. When they got to the coast, the boats were gone. Drake and his men, downhearted, exhausted and hungry, had nowhere to go and the Spanish were not far behind.
At this point Drake rallied his men, buried the treasure on the beach, and built a raft to sail with two volunteers ten miles along the surf-lashed coast to where they had left the flagship. When Drake finally reached its deck, his men were alarmed at his bedraggled appearance. Fearing the worst, they asked him how the raid had gone. Drake could not resist a joke and teased them by looking downhearted. Then he laughed, pulled a necklace of Spanish gold from around his neck and said "Our voyage is made, lads!" By 9 August 1573, he had returned to Plymouth