Explorer Francis Drake sets sail from England


Updated:
Original:
Year
1577
Month Day
December 13

English seaman Francis Drake sets out from Plymouth, England, with five ships and 164 men on a mission to raid Spanish holdings on the Pacific coast of the New World and explore the Pacific Ocean. Three years later, Drake’s return to Plymouth marked the first circumnavigation of the earth by a British explorer.

After crossing the Atlantic, Drake abandoned two of his ships in South America and then sailed into the Straits of Magellan with the remaining three. A series of devastating storms besieged his expedition in the treacherous straits, wrecking one ship and forcing another to return to England. Only The Golden Hind reached the Pacific Ocean, but Drake continued undaunted up the western coast of South America, raiding Spanish settlements and capturing a rich Spanish treasure ship.

Drake then continued up the western coast of North America, searching for a possible northeast passage back to the Atlantic. Reaching as far north as present-day Washington before turning back, Drake paused near San Francisco Bay in June 1579 to repair his ship and prepare for a journey across the Pacific. Calling the land “Nova Albion,” Drake claimed the territory for Queen Elizabeth I.

In July, the expedition set off across the Pacific, visiting several islands before rounding Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and returning to the Atlantic Ocean. On September 26, 1580, The Golden Hind returned to Plymouth, England, bearing treasure, spice, and valuable information about the world’s great oceans. Drake was the first captain to sail his own ship all the way around the world–the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan had sailed three-fourths of the way around the globe earlier in the century but had been killed in the Philippines, leaving the Basque navigator Juan Sebastián de Elcano to complete the journey.

In 1581, Queen Elizabeth I knighted Drake, the son of a tenant farmer, during a visit to his ship. The most renowned of the Elizabethan seamen, Sir Francis Drake later played a crucial role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About Francis Drake

Source

Francis Drake circumnavigates the globe

Year
1580
Month Day
September 26

English seaman Francis Drake returns to Plymouth, England, in the Golden Hind, becoming the first British navigator to sail the earth.

On December 13, 1577, Drake set out from England with five ships on a mission to raid Spanish holdings on the Pacific coast of the New World. After crossing the Atlantic, Drake abandoned two of his ships in South America and then sailed into the Straits of Magellan with the remaining three. A series of devastating storms besieged his expedition in the treacherous straits, wrecking one ship and forcing another to return to England. Only the Golden Hind reached the Pacific Ocean, but Drake continued undaunted up the western coast of South America, raiding Spanish settlements and capturing a rich Spanish treasure ship.

Drake then continued up the western coast of North America, searching for a possible northeast passage back to the Atlantic. Reaching as far north as present-day Washington before turning back, Drake paused near San Francisco Bay in June 1579 to repair his ship and prepare for a journey across the Pacific. Calling the land “Nova Albion,” Drake claimed the territory for Queen Elizabeth I.

In July, the expedition set off across the Pacific, visiting several islands before rounding Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and returning to the Atlantic Ocean. On September 26, 1580, the Golden Hind returned to Plymouth, England, bearing its rich captured treasure and valuable information about the world’s great oceans. In 1581, Queen Elizabeth I knighted Drake during a visit to his ship. The most renowned of the Elizabethan seamen, he later played a crucial role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The explorer died 1596 at the age of 56.

READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About Francis Drake

Source

Magellan’s expedition circumnavigates globe

Year
1522
Month Day
September 06

One of Ferdinand Magellan’s five ships—the Victoria—arrives at Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Spain, thus completing the first circumnavigation of the world. The Victoria was commanded by Basque navigator Juan Sebastian de Elcano, who took charge of the vessel after the murder of Magellan in the Philippines in April 1521. During a long, hard journey home, the people on the ship suffered from starvation, scurvy, and harassment by Portuguese ships. Only Elcano, 17 other Europeans, and four Indians survived to reach Spain in September 1522.

On September 20, 1519, Magellan set sail from Spain in an effort to find a western sea route to the rich Spice Islands of Indonesia. In command of five ships and 270 men, Magellan sailed to West Africa and then to Brazil, where he searched the South American coast for a strait that would take him to the Pacific. He searched the Rio de la Plata, a large estuary south of Brazil, for a way through; failing, he continued south along the coast of Patagonia. At the end of March 1520, the expedition set up winter quarters at Port St. Julian. On Easter day at midnight, the Spanish captains mutinied against their Portuguese captain, but Magellan crushed the revolt, executing one of the captains and leaving another ashore when his ship left St. Julian in August.

On October 21, he finally discovered the strait he had been seeking. The Strait of Magellan, as it became known, is located near the tip of South America, separating Tierra del Fuego and the continental mainland. Only three ships entered the passage; one had been wrecked and another deserted. It took 38 days to navigate the treacherous strait, and when ocean was sighted at the other end Magellan wept with joy. He was the first European explorer to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic. His fleet accomplished the westward crossing of the ocean in 99 days, crossing waters so strangely calm that the ocean was named “Pacific,” from the Latin word pacificus, meaning “tranquil.” By the end, the men were out of food and chewed the leather parts of their gear to keep themselves alive. On March 6, 1521, the expedition landed at the island of Guam.

Ten days later, they dropped anchor at the Philippine island of Cebu–they were only about 400 miles from the Spice Islands. Magellan met with the chief of Cebú, who after converting to Christianity persuaded the Europeans to assist him in conquering a rival tribe on the neighboring island of Mactan. In subsequent fighting on April 27, Magellan was hit by a poisoned arrow and left to die by his retreating comrades.

After Magellan’s death, the survivors, in two ships, sailed on to the Moluccas and loaded the hulls with spice. One ship attempted, unsuccessfully, to return across the Pacific. The other ship, the Victoria, continued west under the command of Juan Sebastian de Elcano. The vessel sailed across the Indian Ocean, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at the Spanish port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda on September 6, 1522, becoming the first ship to circumnavigate the globe. The Victoria then sailed up the Guadalquivir River, reaching Seville a few days later.

Elcano was later appointed to lead a fleet of seven ships on another voyage to Moluccas on behalf of Emperor Charles V. He died of scurvy en route.

READ MORE: Exploration of North America

Source

Navigator Ferdinand Magellan killed in the Philippines

Year
1521
Month Day
April 27

After traveling three-quarters of the way around the globe, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan is killed during a tribal skirmish on Mactan Island in the Philippines. Earlier in the month, his ships had dropped anchor at the Philippine island of Cebu, and Magellan met with the local chief, who after converting to Christianity persuaded the Europeans to assist him in conquering a rival tribe on the neighboring island of Mactan. In the subsequent fighting, Magellan was hit by a poisoned arrow and left to die by his retreating comrades.

Magellan, a Portuguese noble, fought for his country against the Muslim domination of the Indian Ocean and Morocco. He participated in a number of key battles and in 1514 asked Portugal’s King Manuel for an increase in his pension. The king refused, having heard unfounded rumors of improper conduct on Magellan’s part after a siege in Morocco. In 1516, Magellan again made the request and the king again refused, so Magellan went to Spain in 1517 to offer his services to King Charles I, later Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

In 1494, Portugal and Spain, at the prompting of Pope Alexander VI, settled disputes over newly discovered lands in America and elsewhere by dividing the world into two spheres of influence. A line of demarcation was agreed to in the Atlantic Ocean–all new discoveries west of the line were to be Spanish, and all to the east Portuguese. Thus, South and Central America became dominated by the Spanish, with the exception of Brazil, which was discovered by the Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral in 1500 and was somewhat east of the demarcation line. Other Portuguese discoveries in the early 16th century, such as the Moluccas Islands—the Spice Islands of Indonesia—made the Spanish jealous.

To King Charles, Magellan proposed sailing west, finding a strait through the Americas, and then continuing west to the Moluccas, which would prove that the Spice Islands lay west of the demarcation line and thus in the Spanish sphere. Magellan knew that the world was round but underestimated its size, thinking that the Moluccas must be situated just west of the American continent, not on the other side of a great uncharted ocean. The king accepted the plan, and on September 20, 1519, Magellan set sail from Spain in command of five ships and 270 men.

Magellan sailed to West Africa and then to Brazil, where he searched the South American coast for a strait that would take him to the Pacific. He searched the Rio de la Plata, a large estuary south of Brazil, for a way through; failing, he continued south along the coast of Patagonia. At the end of March 1520, the expedition set up winter quarter at Port St. Julian. On Easter day at midnight, the Spanish captains mutinied against their Portuguese captain, but Magellan crushed the revolt, executing one of the captains and leaving another ashore when his ship left St. Julian in August.

On October 21, he finally discovered the strait he had been seeking. The Strait of Magellan, as it became known, is located near the tip of South America, separating Tierra del Fuego and the continental mainland. Only three ships entered the passage; one had been wrecked and another deserted. It took 38 days to navigate the treacherous strait, and when ocean was sighted at the other end Magellan wept with joy. He was the first European explorer to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic. His fleet accomplished the westward crossing of the ocean in 99 days, crossing waters so strangely calm that the ocean was named “Pacific,” from the Latin word pacificus, meaning “tranquil.” By the end, the men were out of food and chewed the leather parts of their gear to keep themselves alive. On March 6, 1521, the expedition landed at the island of Guam. Ten days later, they reached the Philippines–they were only about 400 miles from the Spice Islands.

After Magellan’s death, the survivors, in two ships, sailed on to the Moluccas and loaded the hulls with spice. One ship attempted, unsuccessfully, to return across the Pacific. The other ship, the Victoria, continued west under the command of the Basque navigator Juan Sebastian de Elcano. The vessel sailed across the Indian Ocean, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at Seville on September 9, 1522, becoming the first ship to circumnavigate the globe.

Source

Pizarro executes last Inca emperor

Year
1533
Month Day
August 29

Atahuallpa, the 13th and last emperor of the Incas, dies by strangulation at the hands of Francisco Pizarro’s Spanish conquistadors. The execution of Atahuallpa, the last free reigning emperor, marked the end of 300 years of Inca civilization.

High in the Andes Mountains of Peru, the Inca built a dazzling empire that governed a population of 12 million people. Although they had no writing system, they had an elaborate government, great public works and a brilliant agricultural system. In the five years before the Spanish arrival, a devastating war of succession gripped the empire. In 1532, Atahuallpa’s army defeated the forces of his half-brother Huascar in a battle near Cuzco. Atahuallpa was consolidating his rule when Pizarro and his 180 soldiers appeared.

Francisco Pizarro was the son of a Spanish gentleman and worked as a swineherder in his youth. He became a soldier and in 1502 went to Hispaniola with the new Spanish governor of the New World colony. Pizarro served under Spanish conquistador Alonso de Ojeda during his expedition to Colombia in 1510 and was with Vasco Nunez de Balboa when he discovered the Pacific Ocean in 1513. Hearing legends of the great wealth of an Indian civilization in South America, Pizarro formed an alliance with fellow conquistador Diego de Almagro in 1524 and sailed down the west coast of South America from Panama. The first expedition only penetrated as far as present-day Ecuador, but a second reached farther, to present-day Peru. There they heard firsthand accounts of the Inca empire and obtained Inca artifacts. The Spanish christened the new land Peru, probably after the Vire River.

Returning to Panama, Pizarro planned an expedition of conquest, but the Spanish governor refused to back the scheme. In 1528, Pizarro sailed back to Spain to ask the support of Emperor Charles V. Hernan Cortes had recently brought the emperor great wealth through his conquest of the Aztec Empire, and Charles approved Pizarro’s plan. He also promised that Pizarro, not Almagro, would receive the majority of the expedition’s profits. In 1530, Pizarro returned to Panama.

In 1531, he sailed down to Peru, landing at Tumbes. He led his army up the Andes Mountains and on November 15, 1532, reached the Inca town of Cajamarca, where Atahuallpa was enjoying the hot springs in preparation for his march on Cuzco, the capital of his brother’s kingdom. Pizarro invited Atahuallpa to attend a feast in his honor, and the emperor accepted. Having just won one of the largest battles in Inca history, and with an army of 30,000 men at his disposal, Atahuallpa thought he had nothing to fear from the bearded white stranger and his 180 men. Pizarro, however, planned an ambush, setting up his artillery at the square of Cajamarca.

On November 16, Atahuallpa arrived at the meeting place with an escort of several thousand men, all apparently unarmed. Pizarro sent out a priest to exhort the emperor to accept the sovereignty of Christianity and Emperor Charles V., and Atahuallpa refused, flinging a Bible handed to him to the ground in disgust. Pizarro immediately ordered an attack. Buckling under an assault by the terrifying Spanish artillery, guns, and cavalry (all of which were alien to the Incas), thousands of Incas were slaughtered, and the emperor was captured.

Atahuallpa offered to fill a room with treasure as ransom for his release, and Pizarro accepted. Eventually, some 24 tons of gold and silver were brought to the Spanish from throughout the Inca empire. Although Atahuallpa had provided the richest ransom in the history of the world, Pizarro treacherously put him on trial for plotting to overthrow the Spanish, for having his half-brother Huascar murdered, and for several other lesser charges. A Spanish tribunal convicted Atahuallpa and sentenced him to die. On August 29, 1533, the emperor was tied to a stake and offered the choice of being burned alive or strangled by garrote if he converted to Christianity. In the hope of preserving his body for mummification, Atahuallpa chose the latter, and an iron collar was tightened around his neck until he died.

With Spanish reinforcements that had arrived at Cajamarca earlier that year, Pizarro then marched on Cuzco, and the Inca capital fell without a struggle in November 1533. Huascar’s brother Manco Capac was installed as a puppet emperor, and the city of Quito was subdued. Pizarro established himself as Spanish governor of Inca territory and offered Diego Almagro the conquest of Chile as appeasement for claiming the riches of the Inca civilization for himself. In 1535, Pizarro established the city of Lima on the coast to facilitate communication with Panama. The next year, Manco Capac escaped from Spanish supervision and led an unsuccessful uprising that was quickly crushed. That marked the end of Inca resistance to Spanish rule.

Diego Almagro returned from Chile embittered by the poverty of that country and demanded his share of the spoils of the former Inca empire. Civil war soon broke out over the dispute, and Almagro seized Cuzco in 1538. Pizarro sent his half brother, Hernando, to reclaim the city, and Almagro was defeated and put to death. On June 26, 1541, allies of Diego el Monzo—Almagro’s son—penetrated Pizarro’s palace in Lima and assassinated the conquistador while he was eating dinner. Diego el Monzo proclaimed himself governor of Peru, but an agent of the Spanish crown refused to recognize him, and in 1542 Diego was captured and executed. Conflict and intrigue among the conquistadors of Peru persisted until Spanish Viceroy Andres Hurtado de Mendoza established order in the late 1550s.

Source

First European explorer reaches Brazil


Year
1500
Month Day
January 26

Spanish explorer Vicente Yanez Pinzon, who had commanded the Nina during Christopher Columbus’ first expedition to the New World, reaches the northeastern coast of Brazil during a voyage under his command. Pinzon’s journey produced the first recorded account of a European explorer sighting the Brazilian coast; though whether or not Brazil was previously known to Portuguese navigators is still in dispute.

Pinzon subsequently sailed down the Brazilian coast to the equator, where he briefly explored the mouth of the Amazon River. In the same year, Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral claimed Brazil for Portugal, arguing that the territory fell into the Portuguese sphere of exploration as defined by the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas. However, little was done to support the claim until the 1530s, when the first permanent European settlements in Brazil were established at Sao Vicente in Sao Paulo by Portuguese colonists.

Source

Vasco da Gama reaches India

Year
1498
Month Day
May 20

Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama becomes the first European to reach India via the Atlantic Ocean when he arrives at Calicut on the Malabar Coast.

Da Gama sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, in July 1497, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and anchored at Malindi on the east coast of Africa. With the aid of an Indian merchant he met there, he then set off across the Indian Ocean. The Portuguese explorer was not greeted warmly by the Muslim merchants of Calicut, and in 1499 he had to fight his way out of the harbor on his return trip home. In 1502, he led a squadron of ships to Calicut to avenge the massacre of Portuguese explorers there and succeeded in subduing the inhabitants. In 1524, he was sent as viceroy to India, but he fell ill and died in Cochin.

Source

Charles Wilkes claims portion of Antarctica for U.S.


Year
1840
Month Day
January 19

During an exploring expedition, Captain Charles Wilkes sights the coast of eastern Antarctica and claims it for the United States. Wilkes’ group had set out in 1838, sailing around South America to the South Pacific and then to Antarctica, where they explored a 1,500-mile stretch of the eastern Antarctic coast that later became known as Wilkes Land. In 1842, the expedition returned to New York, having circumnavigated the globe.

Antarctica was discovered by European and American explorers in the early part of the 19th century, and in February 1821 the first landing on the Antarctic continent was made by American John Davis at Hughes Bay on the Antarctic Peninsula. During the next century, many nations, including the United States, made territorial claims to portions of the almost-inhabitable continent. However, during the 1930s, conflicting claims led to international rivalry, and the United States, which led the world in the establishment of scientific bases, enacted an official policy of making no territorial claims while recognizing no other nation’s claims. In 1959, the Antarctic Treaty made Antarctica an international zone, set guidelines for scientific cooperation, and prohibited military operations, nuclear explosions, and the disposal of radioactive waste on the continent.

Source

Robert Falcon Scott reaches the South Pole


Year
1912
Month Day
January 18

After a two-month ordeal, the expedition of British explorer Robert Falcon Scott arrives at the South Pole only to find that Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer, had preceded them by just over a month. Disappointed, the exhausted explorers prepared for a long and difficult journey back to their base camp.

Scott, a British naval officer, began his first Antarctic expedition in 1901 aboard the Discovery. During three years of exploration, he discovered the Edward VII Peninsula, surveyed the coast of Victoria Land–which were both areas of Antarctica on the Ross Sea–and led limited expeditions into the continent itself. In 1911, Scott and Amundsen began an undeclared race to the South Pole.

Sailing his ship into Antarctica’s Bay of Whales, Amundsen set up base camp 60 miles closer to the pole than Scott. In October, both explorers set off; Amundsen using sleigh dogs and Scott employing Siberian motor sledges, Siberian ponies, and dogs. On December 14, 1911, Amundsen’s expedition won the race to the pole. Encountering good weather on their return trip, they safely reached their base camp in late January.

Scott’s expedition was less fortunate. The motor sleds soon broke down, the ponies had to be shot, and the dog teams were sent back as Scott and four companions continued on foot. On January 18, they reached the pole only to find that Amundsen had preceded them by over a month. Weather on the return journey was exceptionally bad, two members perished, and Scott and the other two survivors were trapped in their tent by a storm only 11 miles from their base camp. Scott wrote a final entry in his diary in late March. The frozen bodies of he and his two compatriots were recovered eight months later.

READ MORE: The Treacherous Race to the South Pole

Source

Robert Peary almost reaches the North Pole

Year
1909
Month Day
April 06

On April 6, 1909, American explorer Robert Peary accomplishes a long elusive dream, when he, assistant Matthew Henson and four Eskimos reach what they determine to be the North Pole. Decades after Peary’s death, however, navigational errors in his travel log surfaced, placing the expedition in all probability a few miles short of its goal.

Peary, a U.S. Navy civil engineer, made his first trip to the interior of Greenland in 1886. In 1891, Henson, a young African American sailor, joined him on his second arctic expedition. Their team made an extended dogsled journey to the northeast of Greenland and explored what became known as “Peary Land.” In 1893, the explorers began working toward the North Pole, and in 1906, during their second attempt, they nearly reached latitude 88 degrees north–only 150 miles from their objective.

In 1908, the pair traveled to Ellesmere Island by ship and in 1909 raced across hundreds of miles of ice to reach what they calculated as latitude 90 degrees north on April 6, 1909. Although their achievement was widely acclaimed, Dr. Frederick A. Cook challenged their distinction of being the first to reach the North Pole. A former associate of Peary, Cook claimed he had already reached the pole by dogsled the previous year. A major controversy followed, and in 1911 the U.S. Congress formally recognized Peary’s claim.

In recent years, further studies of the conflicting claims suggest that neither expedition reached the exact North Pole, but that Peary and Henson came far closer, falling perhaps 30 miles short. On May 3, 1952, U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Joseph O. Fletcher of Oklahoma stepped out of a plane and walked to the precise location of the North Pole, the first person to undisputedly do so.

READ MORE: Exploration: Conquistadors and Explorers

Source