Geographical discoveries (15th-17th century)
Legendary geographical discoveries at the beginning of the Modern Age had not only redrawn maps, but also had a truly diverse impact.
discovery, Christopher Columbus, Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco da Gama, Amerigo Vespucci, Ferdinand Magellan, Jacques Cartier, Willem Barents, Abel Tasman, Francis Drake, Henry Hudson, Earth, New World, compass, astrolabe, shipping, watercraft, Pacific Ocean, Good Hope, northwest passage, polar region, coast, America, India, Africa, Tasmania, New Zealand, Australia, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian
The Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias started his journey in 1487 at the request of the king of Portugal. The purpose of his expedition was to discover a passage to the Indian Ocean and to reach the southern tip of Africa. The expedition was successfully completed in the same year, as the explorer managed to reach the Cape of Good Hope, which, at that time, was considered to be the meeting point of the two oceans.
The Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus started out in 1492 sponsored by the king of Spain. His aim was to reach India by sailing westwards. Although his adventurous expedition did not have the desired result, it was nevertheless of special importance, because he discovered the American continent, previously unknown to Europeans.
The Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama set off for India in 1497. Building on the discoveries of earlier decades, he aimed to reach India by sailing around Africa. A year later, in 1498, the explorer reached his goal. Thus, he made the dream of Prince Henry the Navigator a reality.
Around 1500, the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci made several expeditions to the new continent that had been discovered by Columbus. His objective was to map the coastlands of the new continent, which he called The New World. Vespucci was the first to claim that the newly discovered territory was a new continent, thus, the new continent was named after him and not after Columbus.
The fleet of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan began its legendary journey in 1517 in the hope of discovering a passage through or around America and reaching the Spice Islands by sailing eastwards. The expedition was a success, the fleet was the first to sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the strait named after the explorer. Although the captain lost his life in the Philippines, one of his ships did manage to return to Europe in 1522. The crew of the ship were the first to circumnavigate the Globe.
The French explorer, Jacques Cartier, made several expeditions in North America, in what is today Canada, beginning in 1524. He hoped to discover the legendary Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific. The successes of his journey included mapping the area around the St. Lawrence River and founding the first French colony on the American continent.
The English explorer Francis Drake, was a pirate under Queen Elizabeth I who was granted a knighthood. His fame is not only due to his successes against the Spanish but also due to his sea expeditions. In 1577, he set off from England with the usual intention of robbing Spanish ships. However, he did not stop there. He crossed the Atlantic and after mapping the coasts he encountered, he sailed around South America and even reached the western coast of North America. He crossed the Pacific and later the Indian Ocean. In 1580, after sailing around Africa and reaching the Cape of Good Hope, he returned to England. Thus the explorer became the first captain to sail around the world and his ship the second to complete such a voyage.
The Dutch navigator Willem Barents made three expeditions between 1594 and 1597 whose aim was to discover the North-East Passage to East Asia off the coast of Northern Siberia. His mission was not successful, however he contributed to the advancement of cartography by mapping the coasts and islands of the polar region.
The English navigator, Henry Hudson, explored the Arctic waters of today’s Canada on several occasions in hopes of discovering the North-West passage. During his travels, he mapped the northern coast of the American continent and discovered the river and the bay, which are named after him. At the beginning, Hudson believed he had found the legendary passage and that he had reached the Pacific, but he soon realized he had sailed into what would later be called Hudson Bay.
The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman undertook repeated expeditions in the Indian and the Pacific Oceans to map the islands there. The explorer is famous for discoveries made between 1642 and 1644. He was the first European to reach New Zealand and Tasmania, which was later named after him. He mapped the coastlands of Australia and described the islands of the two oceans.
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