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Henry the Navigator had a very significant role in the age of exploration. He was the third son of King João of Portugal and born in 1394. Henry was a prince, politician and a warrior, but famous because of his geographical discoveries and the opening up of trade and cultural links between Europe and the East. This ment he sent many expeditions to the west coast of Africaand southwards looking for a sea route to the spice islands, but did not go on them himself. Henry was also Governor of the Order of Christ from 1420 until his death in 1460.

On this map of Portugal, Sagres is located at the bottom, left corner of the map.
Sagres was Henry the Navigator's base. Henry started a school of navigation but the exact location is unknown. It is believed that it was in Sagres, on land granted by the crown. The building itself was believed to be on the headland within the walls of the Forteleza which were rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. This area has become known as Vila do Infante (Prince's town).

external image Caravel_2.jpgBecause of this school Henry got to meet "the best brains" in Europe and nautical sciences. A community of brilliant scholars was created in this school. They came here to teach, study, and analyze new evidence of newly found places. The scholars also helped less experienced captains to recognise Altantic currents and wind systems and to use the latest navigational methods. Maps were regularly updated and new designs of ships were made for easier travel, such as a type of vessel called a Caravel (pictured above right).external image hn_compass.jpg

Thanks to Prince Henry's patronage, Portuguese ships sailed to the Madeira Islands (Joao Goncalves Zarco, 1420), rounded Cape Bojador (Eannes, 1434), sailed to Cape Blanc (Nuno Tristao, 1441), sailed around Cap Vert (1455), and went as far as the Gambia River (Cadamosto, 1456) and Cape Palmas (Gomes, 1459-1460). These expeditions were sent to create much-needed maps of the West African coast, to defeat the Muslims, to spread Christianity, and to establish trade routes. Prince Henry helped begin the Great Age of Discovery that lasted from the 1400's to the early 1500's.

To the right is a picture thought to be the outside of Henry the Navigator's school.

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Bartholomew Dias was born in 1457, Portugal. He came from a noble Portuguese family and his father attended the Portuguese court. It is believed that Dias came from a family of seamen and explorers including Joao Dias who sailed around Cape Bojador in 1434 and Diniz Dias who discovered the Cape Verde Islands. It is known that Bartholomew accompanied Diogo d'Azambuja on an expedition to the Gold Coast of Africa in 1481. He was well eduacted as he was taught several languages, physics, geometry, mathatics and astronomy. Bartholomew was also a member of the royal Portuguese and held the title of Sailing Master. He then dies in 1500, in a violent storm in the Cape of Hope.

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In 1481 Bartolomew Dias joined Diogo d'Azambuja to explore the Gold Coast of Africa and in 1486 he was appointed leader of an expedition to sail around the southern most tip of Africa and make contact with a Christian ruler in the Indies called Prester John. In 1487, August, Bartolomew Dias embarked from the River Tagus, below Lisbon. On this voyage, of the exploration around Africa to the Indies, they had two armed caravels and one supply-ship, a square-rigger, which was commanded by his brother, Pero Dias. This voyage lasted for sixteen mouths. By doing these voyages, it opened up trading routes from Europe to Asia and with invaluable information for future Portuguese voyages of exploration, such as charts that were later on used by Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral. Bartolomew also accompanied the extpedition led by Vasco da Gama to India, in 1497 and just before his death, in 1500, he accompanied Pedro Álvares Cabral on the voyage that resulted in the discovery of Brazil.

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Christopher Columbus, born in 1451, was an Italian explorer who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, hoping to find a route to India. He made a total of four trips to the Caribbean and South America during the years 1492-1504. Columbus sailed for King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain. In 1506, 2 years after this forth trip, he died and was buried in eastern Hispaniola (now called the Dominican Republic).

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Christopher had 4 voyages, hoping to find a route to India.

The First Trip 1492-1493:
On his first trip, Columbus led an expedition with three ships, the Niña (captained by Vicente Yáñez Pinzon and was a small caravel), the Pinta (owned and captained by Martin Alonzo Pinzon and was a small caravel), and the Santa Maria (captained by Columbus and was a carrack ship), and about 90 crew members. They set sail on Aug. 3, 1492 from Palos, Spain, and on October 11, 1492, spotted the Caribbean islands off southeastern North America. They landed on an island they called Guanahani, but Columbus later renamed it San Salvador. They were met by the local Taino Indians, many of whom were captured by Columbus' men and later sold into slavery. Columbus thought he had made it to Asia, and called this area the Indies, and called its inhabitants Indians.While exploring the islands in the area and looking for gold to loot, Columbus' men traveled to the islands of Hispaniola, Cuba, and many other smaller islands. On the return trip, the Santa Maria was wrecked and the captain of the Pinta sailed off on his own to try to beat Columbus back. Columbus returned to Spain in the Nina, arriving on March 15, 1493.
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The Second Trip 1493-1496:
On a second, larger expedition (Sept. 25, 1493), sailed with 17 ships and 1,200 to 1,500 men to find gold and capture Indians as slaves in the Indies. Columbus established a base in Hispaniola and sailed around Hispaniola and along the length of southern Cuba. He spotted and named the island of Dominica on November 3, 1493. He when arrived home on June 11th, 1496.

The Third Trip 1498-1500:
On a third expedition started on May 30th, 1498 where Columbus sailed farther south, to Trinidad and Venezuela (including the mouth of the Orinoco River). Columbus was the first European since the Viking Leif Ericsson to set foot on the mainland of America and came home October 1500.

The Fourth Trip 1502-1504:
On his fourth and last expedition (May 9, 1502-Nov. 7, 1504), Columbus sailed to Mexico, Honduras and Panama (in Central America) and Santiago (Jamaica).

Columbus then died 2 years later and was buried in eastern Hispaniola (now called the Dominican Republic).

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Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) was a Portuguese explorer who discovered an ocean route from Portugal to the East. Da Gama was born to a noble family in Sines, Portugal. His father was Estevao da Gama and his mother Dona Isabel Sodre. His father Estavao was also an explorer. Vasco father was to have made the sea voyage from Portugal to India that eventually made his son famous, but the elder da Gama died before completing the journey and Vasco’s brother, Paulo, refused to go.

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In total Vasco da Gama had 3 voyages, dying o the last.

Vasco da Gama, first voyage was in 1497, form Portugal to India. Vasco left Lisbon with 4 small ships, the Sao Gabriel, Sao Rafael, Berrio, a storage ship and a crew of 170 men.They passed the Cape of Good Hope in November 1497 and went up the eastern shores of Africa. They sailed along a coast he named Natal, around Christmas eve in 1497. They then stopped on the island of Mozambique near the actual town of Nacala, and in Mombasa (Kenya) where they found an experienced navigator who led them to Calicut, in May 1498. This city which was then the hub of the spice trade. He left Calicut in August 1498 and returned in Portugal in September 1499. Beause of this trip Vasco discvoered "the road to India".
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In 1502, Vasco had a second trip (known as the extortion, looting and cold blooded cruelty trip) to India. This time leaving in February 1502, with a fleet of 15 ships and 800 men. They reached India in October that same year. Being Portuguese at that time, they wanted a share in the Asian trade. But, Muslims, Hindus and Christians from Venice had been sharing it for many years and made clear to the Portuguese that they were not welcome, and on top of it, the Portuguese did not have gold to pay or significant merchandise to trade. As a result the Portuguese showed no mercy and used the artillery they had on their boats to capture rivials or bomb cities. This showed Vasco was cruel. He also looted any Arab vessel coming his way, when returning to Portugal in September 1503 with a bounty of gold and silk.

In Vasco third voyage, he was on his on way back to India, in 1524. But died in Cochin, because of a illness, on Christmas eve 1524. He was first buried at St Francis church in Cochin, but then his remains were sent back to Portugal in 1539. The Portuguese did not want to take over Africa but were happy to create forts to protect their spice route to India.

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‍Ferdinand Magellan

Faredinand was born in 1480 in northen Portual. He was a Spanish Explorer, who at the age of 25 sailed with Francisco de Almedia and Portugal’s first admiral. At the age of 10, his parents died and at the age of 12, he was appointed as the queen’s messenger in the royal court. This was a source of education, were he learnt about many famous explorers and the most important information about navigating ships.

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external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTEx4ggpY445C2u1h0NIAb0bP5XIRkPFYHaGf9yPBla-Inpjlsq3DEtXvnsKQ In 1511, Faredinand went on this first voyage, with Francisco de Almedia and Portugal’s first admiral, to conquer Melaka (and did it). After, a Portuguese fleet, leaded by Francisco de Almedia, sailed to the Spice Islands (also known as the Moluccas Islands) and claimed the islands, as there own. Francisco when wrote a letter to Faredinand describing the route, to the island and the island of Ternate.

Thanks to this letter, Faredinand decided to try and found this island. He asked the King of Portugal to support this trip, but the king refused. So he asked the King of Spain to support him and said yes. The King of Spain was interested in his plan since Spain was looking for a better sea route to Asia than the Portuguese route around the southern tip of Africa. To find a crew was also hard as he was Portuguese and working with spain. So he took anyone who sigened up and prisoners released from jail to do the trip.

In September, in 1519, he set sailalong with five ships, the Santiago, the San Antonio, the Conception, the Trinidad, and the Victoria. He sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and reached South America. They kept sailing south until October in 1520, when they found a strait (calling it the Strait of Magellan). 38 days later they arrived at the ocean that Balboa (an explorer) had discovered several years before. Faredinand named it the Pacific Ocean because of its calm waters. The captin that sailed the San Antonio deserted Faredinand back to Spain. In March of 1521, they arrived in Guam, an island in the Pacific and from there, they continued to Moluccas. But never made it as they got caught in a war in the Philippine islands, which included facing a group of natives who killed Faredinand with a poisoned arrow in his foot and a spear through his heart. After he died, his crew burnded this ship and left his body behind.

Now only 3 ships remained. But only two ships actually reached the Spice Islands because the Santiago was sunk in a storm. The left over crew loaded both ships with a rich cargo and headed for Spain. On the way home, the Portuguese who had claimed the Spice Islands captured the Trinidad. So, the Victoria was the only ship to make it safely back to Spain. Out of the five ships that began the journey, only one ship made the voyage around the world and out of 250 men, only 18 survived.

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Francis Drake

Francis Drake was born in Tavistock, Devon in around 1540 and went to sea at an early age. He was a aon of a farmer and preacher and was the eldest of twelve sons. In 1577, Drake made one of the first English slaving voyages as part of a fleet led by his cousin John Hawkins, bringing African slaves to work in the 'New World'. He was famous as aseaman, a slave-trader, explorer and a pirate, sailing around the World, raiding the Spanish and helping to defeat the Spanish Armada. Francis married Mary Newman before going on his voyage in 1569 but she died 12 years later.

In 1572 Queen Elizabeth commissioned Francis as a privateer to sail for the Americans. When he returned, he brang Spanish gold and plunder back to England. In 1577 Queen Elizabeth had selected Francis Drake to go on a voyage around the world and be the head of this expedition. John Winter and Thomas Doughty were also on this trip. 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. In 1579 the Golden Hind had to be repaired, so they stopped near the present day San Francisco, which claimed for England and named it New Albion. Also in 1579, Francis pirated Spanish ships and settlements for food and treasures. After that he landed om the island Cano, off the coast of southern Mexico. In North America, he claimed the land he called "Nova Albion" for the Queen. They then crossed the Pacific Ocean and sailed by Indonesia, through the Indian Ocean, past the Cape of Good Hope, and returnind home, back to Plymouth, England, in 1580. When he return, the Queen rewarded Francis with a large amount of money (£10,000).

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Francis was one of the first to travel all away around the world, and the first to pass from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast of South America. He had re-name his ship from The Pelican to the The Golden Hind and was also involved in the slave trade and was a fierce warrior and privateer. When Francis was involed with the slave trading business, he was joined with John Hawkins and went on a trip together 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. This lead to the six English slave-trading ships in the harbor for repairs, and only two ships survived the attack (which John and Francis were in commanded off. Because of this battle, it 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. Francis helped the British defeat the Spanish Armada and he was second in command. The Spanish called him El Draque, meaning "The Dragon." He when died of fever at sea near Panama when he was on a voyage intending to attack Spanish colonies in the West Indies in 1596.

Early English and Dutch Explorers

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John Cabot 1497

  • Date of voyage - on May 2, 1497
  • Name of ship - The Matthew
  • Importance of the voyage - Cabot became the first European explorer to discover the mainland of North America (Canada and the United States). He sailed further north, making the first recorded attempt to find the Northwest Passage, only to find ice-crusted waters.
  • Had second voyage with threes ships but died before completeing it

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John Hawkins 1566-69

(he had three voyages)

  • Date of voyages - 1555–1569
  • Name of ship - three ships The Jesus of Lubeck (the Queens ship), Minion and Judith
  • Importance of the voyage - The beginning of England's participation in the slave trade

Walter Raleigh 1585-87

  • Date of voyages - 1585-87
  • Name of ship - seven vessels, Falcon
  • Importance of the voyage - the first English colony in America on Roanoke Island (now North Carolina) and introducing tobacco and the potato to Europe

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Abel Tasman 1642

  • Date of voyages - 1642-43 & 1644
  • Name of ship - Engel and Gracht
  • Importance of the voyage - discovered the western side of Australia and New Zealand

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William Dampier 1688

  • Date of voyages - 1688
  • Name of ship - Cygnet, Batchelor's Delight
  • Importance of the voyage - the first Englishman to set foot on the Australian mainland (north west coast of Australia)

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James Cook 1768-71

  • Date of voyages - 1768-71
  • Name of ship - Endeavour
  • Importance of the voyage - discovered the eastern coast of Australia and a passage between Australia and New Guinea