Exploration of the Americas



Much of history is military in nature: the Conquistadores explored, fought and claimed much of the new world.[1] The Spanish set the European pattern for future exploration and colonisation. The outlined explorations below and their migration to early military forts give a sense of the breadth of European interest in their search for access to Cathay (China) and the fabulous profits to be made in trade. Having landed in the ‘Indies’ men stayed to profit from the land itself and created the trade in African slaves and later social problems. The reader will find continual references to military affairs are embedded in the following explorations.[2]

My interest here is not to document, but rather to sketch the temper of the times. Led to America by a variety of motives, but perhaps principally greed, many European governments claimed land to expand their settlement. The Spanish again led the way in bringing God (also disease, and the Inquisition) to the natives. In competition with European diseases God did not do well: up to 90% of the 'New World' natives, called Indians by the Europeans, died on exposure to European-born sicknesses. The Europeans were also quick to settle on African slavery as a labour solution to exploit natural wealth in the New World. Many European nations made New World claims; war became a means to affirmation. The French islands of St Pierre and Michelon off Canada, and Dutch, English, and French Caribbean islands continue this European mix.

The following table identifies many of the European and other explorations of North America. Much of our knowledge of this history is based in significant part on the 1589 book The Voyages, by Richard Hakluyt: without his collection of details we would not be so well informed. These data are organised chronologically.

was injured in the battles and died on returning to sailed from destroyed





João Fernandes, lavrador

Accidently named Labrador

Authorised on 28 October 1499 by King Manuel I of Portugal to search for land. Rediscovered Greenland and named it Lavrador (farmer in Portuguese) in 1500.

Later geographers revised the name to Greenland and shifted the 'Labrador' name to the east coast of Canada.


Sea Route to Brazil

113 ships and 1,500 men

Pedro Álvares Cabral

Cabral was commissioned by King Manuel I to find trade and convert the heathen to Christianity. Cabral sailed with his fleet on 9 March 1500. On 22 April they saw land and on 23 April they landed on Brazilian coast and the fleet made a harbour at Porto Seguro on 25 April and claimed the land. The fleet resumed its trip and sailed to Africa on 3 May 1500.

There is a counter claim that others were there in c1341 and again in 1498. Additionally, Cabral reported 'men with pale skins'.


Labrador & Newfoundland

1500 - one ship, 1501 - three ships

Commanders: Capitãoes Gaspar & Miguel Corte Real

João Corte Real’s sons. Gaspar landed on Newfoundland in the summer of 1500.

In 1501, the Portuguese returned to Newfoundland and kidnapped 57 Beothuk Indians to take to Lisbon as slaves. Two ships returned on c10 October 1501.

Gaspar never returned and his brother Miguel disappeared in Newfoundland on another trip trying to find him in 1502.[3]


Spanish Conquest of Cuba & Mexico and Exploration of Lower California

11 ships and 553 men

Commander: Hernán Cortés, Marqués Del Valle De Oaxaca y Gobernador de Nueva España

1511, Cortés colonised Cuba.

1519-1521, He sailed from Cuba to the Yucatan where he defeated the Mayan Indians in battle and founded Veracruz in Mexico. At Zautla he was confronted by an army of (Cortés later said) 150,000 Tlaxcalan warriors and the battle lasted for two weeks, eventually falling to the Spanish guns. Exploiting local tribal divisions he gained support from the Tlaxcalans (enemies of the Aztec Alliance) as Indian allies. He pushed for information about the source of gold and on hearing rumors Cortés traveled inland to Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. Cortés reached Tenochtitlan on 8 November 1519. He then conquored and colonised Aztec Mexico and created Nueva España.[4] The Indian gold was melted and shipped to Spain, while Cortés was appointed the governor of New Spain.

1535, He explored Baja California,

1511, 1519-1535

Discovery of Pacific

Commander: Capitán Fernando de Encisco Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, Gobernador

Balboa arrived in the Caribbean in 1500, settled on Hispaniola and founded the first permanent European settlement in the continental Americas at Panama in 1510, called Santa María la Antigua del Darién.

On 29 September 1513, Balboa reached the Pacific overland across Panama Isthmus.


First Exploration of 'New World'

19 ships and 1,500 men

Commander: Pedro Arias de Ávila, Gobernador deNicaragua

Appointed commander of the large expedition by Ferdinand II of Aragon. In 1514, Ávila landed in Colombia and then made for Darien and Panama. He superceded Balboa as governor and in 1519 founded Panama City, which he established as the capital in 1524. Hernando de Soto was a son-in-law.

In 1524 he sent Cordoba off to explore northwards and Pizzarro southwards. Ávila retired from Panama to Nicaragua and was made governor there in 1527.


Exploration of Yucatan Mexico

three ships and 110 men

Commander: Capitán Francisco Fernandez de Córdoba

An architypal conquistador, Córdoba led 110 Spaniards in Cuba to the Yucatán in Mexico on 8 February 1515. On landing Córdoba was confronted by a Mayan army and lost many men in a battle at Champotón. Córdoba may have sought slaves from this first contact with Mayan culture, cities, and Mexican gold.

Córdoba was injured in battle and died on reaching Cuba in 1517.


Exploration of Mexico

four ships and 300 men

Commander: Capitán Juan de Grijalva

Juan de Grijalva arrived on Hispaniola in 1508.

In April 1518, de Grijalva sailed from Cuba to explore Mexico, which he discovered was not an island but part of a continent. It was de Grijalva who named Mexico Nueva España.


Explored the Phiippines and Indonesia and circumnavigated the world

1519 - five ships and 270 men

Fernão de Magalhães (Almirante Ferdinando de Magellan del Cano)

Strait of Magellan

Magellan was a Portuguese, who sailed for Spain and circumnavigated the world - although he died en-route.

In 1505, Magellan sailed to India and in 1506 visited the Spice Islands. In 1513 he was in Morocco at the Battle of Azamor, where he was wounded and fell out of favour with the Portuguese. He left Portugal and went to Spain.

Commissioned by Juana, Queen of Castile, on 20 September 1519, Magellan finally left on his world trip and they saw Brazil on 6 December and landed on 13 December near Rio de Janeiro. They were resupplied and reached Rio de la Plata on 10 January 1520. On 1 November 1520, after rough weather and seas, the fleet sailed through the Strait of Magellan, three remaining ships sailed into the Pacific. Magellan was killed by native Philippinos at the Battle of Mactan on 27 April 1521. Only 18 men returned to Spain of the original 270 crew.

Magellan 's success began a rush by the European kings for a Northern Passage to China to compete for trade and the spice wealth of Asia.


Explored Cape Breton

Capitão João Alvares Fagundes

Fagundes sailed past Newfoundland and off Nova Scotia in 1520. Property rights to the new islands were granted to Fagundes on 28 October 1499 by King Manuel of Portugal.

Fagundes coordinated a colonising voyage to Cape Breton Island in c1522. He then established a colony (at Ingonish) and then mapped the New Brunswick Bay of Fundy. Sadly the Micmac Indians realised that this was an intended permanent settlement and killed or harrassed the Portuguese and the colony vanished.

The Portuguese name of St Jean was later changed after the Breton fishmen who fished there.


Exploration of American East Coast

1523 - one ship, 1527 - four ships, 1528 - two ships

Commander: Captain Giovanni da Verrazzano

Verrazzano sailed for the French François I in late 1523. Still seeking a route to Cathay he was told to look between the northern English and southern Spanish areas. He made a landfall at Cape Fear, North Carolina, on 1 March 1524. They were met by Indians and landed nearby. He named the Outer Banks area of Kitty Hawk - Arcadia (the name didn't last there but migrated north as l'Acadie to be Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Maine). He then came to New Jersey and on 17 April to Staten Island in New York Bay and met more friendly Indians. Verrazzano sailed next into Narragansett Bay and finally anchored in Newport Harbour at Rhode Island (the French thought he compared it - not Block Island - to the Greek Island of Rhodes) and it was 'well peopled, for we saw fires all along the coast.' Verrazzano spent two weeks with the Wampanoag local Indians. In May they crossed Massachusettes and came tot he shore near Casco Maine where they met the fierce Abnaki Indians. He then sailed to Newfoundland and returned to Dieppe c8 July 1524

In his report to François Verrazzano calculated distances and stated that America was not joined to Asia. Verrazzano also reported meeting Chinese near New York, and Asiatic people near Rhode Island.

In 1527, Verrazzano found French commercial backing and sailed to Brazil for a quick profit in cut logwood.

In 1528 Verrazzano chose a different course and stopped in the Caribbean at Guadeloupe - where he was eaten by the Carib Indians!


Exploration and Conquest of Peru

1524 - two ships and 80 men, 1528 - two ships, 1531 - three ships and 210 men plus de Soto and 100 men

Commanders:Capitán General Francisco Pizarro Marqués de Castille Nuevo, Gobernador de Perú y Adelantado, Diego de Almagro Gobernador de Chile , Hernando de Luque, Hernando Pizarro, Gonzalo Pizzarro, Hernando de Soto

Pizzarro was the ultimate Spanish conquistador, who explored and conquored Peru and Chile. In 1502, Pizzarro sailed from Seville to Hispaniola, where he gained experience by joining in a series of expeditions under de Ojeda, Balboa and Ávila. He became a cattle rancher in Panama, while the Spanish continued to explore and brought back rumours of a fabulously wealthy kingdom called Perú, which became known as El Dorado. In 1524, Pizzarro formed a partnership with a priest called Hernando de Luque, and a soldier called Diego de Almagro to explore and conquer in South America.

Pizzarro's first expedition sailed on 13 September 1524 with 80 men and four horses. They reached Colombia and got bogged down. (Horses were unfamiliar to the Indians, as horses had died out in the Americas c8000 BC.)

In 1528, both Pizzarro and de Almagro sailed to Colombia, and then Almagro returned to Panama for more men and supplies. Reinforced they southern Colombia and again Almagro returned for more men and supplies. Denied further reinforcements by the governor of Panama, Pizzarro forged on to northern Peru, where he met friendly native Indians. Finally, Pizzarro returned to Panama with some gold and many stories. Again denied further support Pizzarro sailed back to Spain and approached Carlos V in 1528 who finally agreed on 26 June 1529 to further support Pizzarro and granted him authority and titles. Pizzarro left Seville on 18 January 1530 with 250 soldiers and a year later left Panama with 210 men and three ships.

In 1531 Pizzarro finally reached Peru, explored the outposts of the Inca empire, and learned of dissension within the ruling family. Having sent back his three ships, de Soto returned with a further 100 men and two ships to ease the Inca attacks against Pizzarro. Pizzarro set out into the interior in May 1532 and reached the Inca king Atahualpa at Caxamalca. Pizzarro invited the Inka to a meeting to which Atahualpa came unarmed with an unarmed bodyguard. Sadly, the Spanish then killed the bodyguard and kept the king captive. The captured Inca king Atahualpa agreed to pay a ransom for his release and obtained 113 cubic metres of gold and silver. Pizzarro had demanded this ransom for the Inka Atahualpa's release, but then reneged and killed Atahualpa (despite the payment of 6.7t of gold and 13t of silver) on 24 June 1534.

During the period 1533-1537, Pizzarro conquered the Inca capital at Quosco (Cusco) and established a puppet Inka, Manco Capac, as king. On 6 January 1535, Pizzarro founded the city of Lima Peru.

In 1536 Almagro conquered Chile and returned from there to Cuzco just in time to save the hostage Spaniards there from an Inca rebellion. The Spaniards fought and Pizzarro executed Almagro in July 1538. Pizzarro was assassinated at his palace in Lima in 1541 by Almagros' followers.


Exploration of Florida

one ship

Commander: Capitáo Estêvão Gomes

Gomes sailed with Magellan in 1519 , but mutinied at the Strait and sailed back to Spain, promising a better northern route. Carlos V of Spain first jailed and then hired the Portugues explorer Gomes to find a better route (than Magellan's Strait) to Cathay. Carlos hurried Gomes into action to try to beat the French Verrazzano's claims.

Gomes made Cape Breton Island in February 1525, named PEI St John, and then turned south. Like Verrazzano, Gomes found a large number of Indians - friendly Abnaki - along the Penobscot River. He also affirmed that there was 'no gold' and to make a profit kidnapped a load of friendly Indians in Rhode Island as slaves to sell in Spain. He continued south to explore the North Florida coast. He returned on 21 August 1525.


Exploration of the Carolinas

1521 - one ship, 1525 - two ships, 1526 - five ships and 500 colonists

Commander: Licentiate Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón

Ayllón was a supreme court judge in Santo Domingo on Hispaniola and evidently he was bored. In 1521 he hired a ship commanded by Francisco Gordillo to explore the coast north of Florida. Gordillo kidnapped a load of 70 Indians as slaves - whom the judge set free. In 1523, Ayllón was granted exploration and colonial rights for 4,000 kms of coastline. In 1525 he conducted a reconnaissance with two ships.

In July 1526, Ayllón set off with his colonists and black slaves, found the Chesapeake Bay and James River, wrecked his flagship, and elected to land near Cape Fear in North Carolina. The colonists had little expertise in dealing with maleria, hostile Indians, swamps, and wild terrain and the failed colony ensured that Spain quit North America.


Eastern America Navigation:

one ship

Commander: Master John Rut

Ordered by Henry VIII to discover the Passage with another ship (which was lost with the expedition commander Captain Grube) They sailed from London on 20 May 1527, and Rut sailed on to Newfoundland, which he reached on 21 July. Rut then sailed north to 53° to find ice. In St John's harbour on 3 August he found 10 fishing vessels from Normandy, Portugal, and Breton France. Rut then sailed to San Domingo, was frightened off by a stray cannon shot, and landed at Puerto Rico to replenish. Rut returned to England in the spring of 1528.

Exploration of Florida

Five ships and 400 men; later exploration of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, 4 men

Commanders: Capitán Panfilo De Narvaez, Gobernador Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, Esteban Dorantes

A Spaniard who left Spain in 1527 and sailed to America as treasurer with the Narváez expedition, which was shipwrecked en route to explore Florida for gold. Only four men, including de Vaca survived, but they were enslaved by local Indians off the Texan Gulf coast, and lived amongst Indians. In the small group de Vaca explored Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona during a six-year captivity and escape.

In 1540 he was appointed governor of Río de la Plata.


Spanish Exploration of America

1539 - nine ships and 700 men

Commander: Capitán General Don Hernan de Soto, Gobernador de Cuba y adelantado de La Florida

A Spanish navigator and ruthless and brutal conquistador he gained experience in the 1514 conquest of Panama, the Invasion of Mexico in 1516 with Cordóba, and then in 1531 with Pizzarro in Peru.

In 1528, de Soto explored the Yucatán coast seeking a passage to the Pacific.

In 1531, de Soto sailed with Pizzarro to Peru. He led a company of 50 men in the Andes and discovered the Inca road to Cusco (quosco), the Inca capital. He spoke with the Inka Atahualpa and fought the Inca at the 1532 Battle of Cajamarca where Atahualpa was captured. When Pizzarro demanded a ransom for Atahualpa's release and then killed the king (despite the payment of 6.7t of gold and 13t of silver), de Soto broke with Pizzarro. De Soto then returned to Spain as a hero with 100,000 gold pesos, where he was appointed governor of Cuba and the land north of Mexico and equipped for a new expedition.

In May 1539 de Soto landed in Florida with his 700 men and 200 horses to explore and colonise. He began to explore and probably marched through moskito-infested and swampy Florida to Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The inexperienced Spanish troops were brutal and raped and burned their way across the land. By 1543, de Soto's men had explored Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Georgia, Arkansas. On 18 October 1540, the Spaniards fought the Battle of Maubila with Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creek Indians. (All the while they were spreading smallpox and other diseases against which the Indians had no defence.) Having been attacked after 'demanding' porters, the Spaniards made their way to the Mississippi River on 8 May 1541. After attacking the Caddo Indians, de Soto died and the remaining Spaniards returned to Mexico. While en route out of the Mississippi area the Spaniards were attacked by the Natchez Indians. De Soto's lost horses rapidly bred into the native 'mestengos' (Spanish for wild [cattle] animals). De Soto's claims became the basis for Spanish (US) America.


Trade with Brazil

Commander: William Hawkyns

In 1430, Hawkyns developed a profitable trade from England via [Liberia] Africa to Brazil.

French Exploration of St Lawrence River

1534 - two ships and 122 men, 1535 - three ships, 1541 - five ships

Commander: Le Capitaine et Maître-Pilote Jacques Cartier, Capitaine et Pilote pour le Roy, et Capitaine General, Jean François de la Roque, Sieur de Roberval, Lieutenant Géneral

In 1532, François I agreed to commission a French expeditionary and colonisation command for the navigator Jacques Cartier from the village of St Malo. Cartier sailed on 20 April 1534, made a landfall on 10 May of Newfoundland, and anchored at Catalina Harbour. He discovered and killed a number of Great Auk - flightless birds now extinct - and killed a swimming polar bear. He sailed north along Labrador. He then entered the Gulf of St Lawrence, sailed past the Magdalen Islands and noted Prince Edward Island. He explored the Baie des Chaleurs in early July, met a fleet of Micmac Indians in their canoes, and conducted some trade for furs He . then sailed along the Gaspé coast and stayed two weeks at Gaspé Harbour where he met the Huron chief Donnaconna and 200 Huron Indians. Cartier noted that wild grain grew locally and that the Hurons ate something like maize. On 24 July 1534, Cartier raised a 30' cross with the fleur de lis and formally claimed the land for France. Donnaconna was understandably anxious. Cartier sailed by Anticosti Island on 27 July and were en route to France on 2 August, and reached St Malo on 5 September 1534.

Cartier was authorised a second trip on 30 October and he sailed on19 May 1535 with three ships. He made land on 7 July, found his cross still up on the shore of the Bay of Chaleur. On 10 August he named la Baye sainct Laurins ( Bay of St Lawrence) and then sailed west, passing many islands. into the St Lawrence River. His captive Huron guides told him that he was in the kingdom of Saguenay and that the river was the Hochelaga which narrowed and eventually had fresh water. They anchored and named the area Sept Isles (now a city). They sailed on and reached the junction of the Saguenay River, where they anchored and met some local Indians in canoes. The sailed further up the St Lawrence and saw Beluga whales, and on 7 September reached the Huron Indian village of Stadacona (the future Québec City). Being directed by the Huron Indians to 'kanata' (Huron language for village) Cartier named the country Canada. Cartier met Donnaconna again and brought his three ships to anchor at the St Charles and St Larence junction on 14 September. Donnaconna tried to talk Cartier out of visitng Hochelaga (the future Montréal) for local political reasons, but Cartier insisted and arrived there on 2 October 1535. Hochelaga was then larger than Stadacona and 1,000 Indians met the French party and gave them presents of corn bread. On 3 October Cartier formally named the hill Mont Réal and then examined the local Huron village. He climbed the hill for the view and spotted the Lachine rapids, which clearly indicated that this was no passage to China. (He named them Lachine since that was a close as he got to China.) Many of the men came down with scurvy, but were cured when advised to make tea of spruce, or cedar bark and needles. The Huron wore copper ornaments which they described as coming from the Lake Superior area. The French returned to their ships on 11 October and built a log Fort Ste Croix just up the St Charles River. The winter passed with both tobacco and Huron stories of 'the golden kingdom of the Saguenay'. There is gold in northern Québec, but not in the Saguenay', however to pass the information to King François I Cartier kidnapped both Chief Donnaconna and his sons and took them to France. They sailed on 6 May 1536 and left Newfoundland on 19 June, reaching St Malo on 16 July.

The fleet sailed on 23 May 1541 and anchored at Québec on 23 August. This was a voyage of colonisation as well as exploration and Cartier picked a site up the St Charles c15 kms up-river. They built Fort Charlesbourg Royale and tried to start a settlement in Québec. The men also collected worthless iron pyrite as 'fools gold'. On 7 September Cartier left for a reconnaissance of the Saguenay: he was blocked by rapids and distance and failed. The Hurons then decided that the French were not just visiting and so grew hostile and inevitably the colony fought the Huron Indians, who apparently attacked in the winter. Roberval had not turned up and Cartier decided to quit the colony in June 1542 and sailed to Newfoundland. There he met Roberval and three large ships who had not sailed until 16 April 1542. Cartier was ordered to return, he refused, and stole away with his three remaining ships. They arrived back in St Malo c15 October 1542. Roberval returned by 11 September 1543.


Spanish Exploration of Gulf of California

three ships

Commander: Capitán Francisco de Ulloa,

A Spanish explorer and conquistador with Cortés with a 1519 fleet that helped capture Tenochtitlan, the Mexican capital. Cortés built a ship at Acalpulco on the Pacific coast and ordered de Ulloa to explore the north-western coast of America.

De Ulloa sailed on 8 July 1539 and explored the Bay of California and on 30 May 1540 he reached north to 30°, where he was killed.


Spanish Exploration of Southwestern America: Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas

336 men, c1,300 Mexican Indian allies

Commander: Captain General, Don Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, Gobernador de Galicia Nueva,[5] Captain Melchior Diaz, Lieutenants García Lopez de Cárdenas, Hernando de Alvarado, Francisco de Ovando

Coronado was a Spanish conquistador and explorer who chased after gold in the mythical city of Cibola in the American southwest.

In 1540 Coronado mounted a major expedition from Compostela, Mexico (New Spain). He took an army of cavalry and infantry (pikes and arqubusiers), to pacify Baha California, Arizona, Texas, and Kansas. Finding little food en route through the desert, Coronado battled with the Zuni Indians to gain food for his men. His reconnaissance parties found the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon, but could not use it to find his supply ships, or for transport. Coronado spent the winter of 1540/1541 on the Rio Grande near Albuquerque. His army's demands led to another battle with the Tiguex Indians and the destruction of their pueblos. Led by bad guides he crossed Texas into Kansas still looking for mythical Indian cities of gold. On 29 June 1541 Coronado held a Christian service near Dodge City, where he had been seeking a city called Quivira. Coronado battled with both the Yuma and Pueblo Indians. In 1542 he was ordered back to Mexico.

Coronado then reported that he had met Chinese "...[people] so different from all the other nations that [we] have seen...must have come from that part of Greater India the coast of which lies to the west of this country."[6]


Spanish Exploration of West Coast of North America to Monterey Bay

Commander: Capitão João Rodrigues Cabrilho

A Portuguese sailing for Spain and known as Cabrillo, was commissioned by the Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza to explore the Pacific west coast of America.

On 27 June 1542 Cabrillo sailed from Acapulco Mexico (Navidad) and landed in San Diego Bay, California. He sailed past Santa Barbara and Russian River, then returned to winter on Santa Catalina.


French Exploration and Colonisation of Pensacola Bay, Florida

13 ships and 1,500 settlers and soldiers

Commander: Tristán de Luna

A Spanish conquistador he arrived in Mexico in c1530. In 1559 de Luna was sent to conquer Florida and he started a colony at Pensacola. On arrival de Luna sent out reconnaissance parties for about a month. When they returned a hurricane destroyed many of the ships and most of the cargo. Despite resupplies from Mexico the colony failed. In 1561, the colonisation attempt was given up and the settlers returned to Mexico.


Exploration, Slaving & Battle of Vera Cruz

1562-1563 - three ships + one captured and 100 men, 1564-1565 - four ships and 200+ men, 1567 - six ships + four and 400+ men

Commanders: Captain General John Hawkins, Captain Francis Drake,

Hawkins was an English merchant, navigator, slave-trader, privateer and later English navy official. In late 1562, John Hawkins (also Hawkyns) raided coastal Sierra Leone and captured c900 Africans from Portuguese slavers, plus ivory, gold, and several ships - one he kept. Hawkins then sailed for Hispaniola in 1563, sold the slaves to the Spaniards, and returned home a wealthy man.[7]

In 1564 Hawkins repeated his capture of Affricans, this time from their own villages in Sierra Leone. He sold his 400-500 slaves again in Hispaniola. In 1565, Hawkins took his cousin Francis Drake with him who made his first sale of African slaves to Spaniards at Santo Domingo. Queen Elizabeth I supported Hawkins' second trip in 1564, although the Spanish officials tried to prevent the English trade. Hawkins returned to England in 1566 - apparently with both potatoes and tobacco, as well as ivory, wax, gold, ginger, sugar, hides, and jewels.

In October 1567 Hawkins left England for Africa again on a slaving trip. After raiding French and Portuguese slavers, and directly attacking an African kingdom for prisoners, he sailed for America with c600 slaves. In 1568 in New Spain he had trouble selling his slaves as he happened to arrive just after a French raid in retaliation for the Spanish devestation in Florida. Hawkins failed to repeat his previous success and worse he ran into the new Spanish Viceroy (Don Martin Enriquez de Almansa) and his fleet at San Juan de Ulúa (at Veracruz in Mexico), a naval battle (in which Hawkins first used naval guns as ship-board cannon), and the loss of some of his slaves, most of his profits, most of his crews, and five of his ships. Don Martin breached his word of truce and attacked the English in the harbour. Hawkins sailed back to England in January 1569 via Spain with c48 starving crew on the Minion, a sinking ship. Drake had sailed back separately having barely escaped with his own life on the Judith - with the only profits, transferred under Spanish fire from the Queen's ship, the Jesus of Lubbeck. Drake was criticised for abandoning Hawkins.

1564 1568

Exploration of the Americas and Panama Raid

1573 - one ship, 1577 - five ships and 150 men

Commander: Captain General Sir Francis Drake Vice Admiral

Francis Drake

Drake was an English privateer, navigator, and sailor who was considered a pirate by the admiring Spanish.

He was perhaps England's greatest sailor, which he established by his 1577 voyage via the Strait of Magellen, Skagway Alaska, the Moluccas. Africa, and back to England. He explored coastal America up past the Queen Charlotte Islands to the Stephens Passage at 57° N.

In June of 1572 Drake attacked and pillaged Nombre de Dios the Spanish treasure port on the Caribbean. He then lay in wait until March 1573, when Drake captured the entire 'silver train' of mules carrying ore overland from Panama to Nombre de Dios. Drake kept the Spanish gold and jewels, but had to leave the heavy silver behind.[8]

In 1577-1579, Elizabeth I commissioned Drake to raid the South American Pacific coast and combine that trip with a search for a northern passage from the Pacific back to the Atlantic. As was the custom Drake sailed with a mix of gentlemen and common sailors, but he hanged one of the gentlemen to ensure that 'all would haul' and share the hard work equally. He lost two ships en-route, which returned to England. Sailing up the Peruvian coast Drake sacked a number of towns and siezed treasure. On 17 June 1579, Drake landed on Vancouver Island (50° N) , where he claimed Nova Albion (New Britain), made repairs, and restocked. He then sailed along British Columbia to the Alaskan Islands and thus laid the basis for England's claim to the land.[9] Drake finally circumnavigated back to England on 26 September 1580, via the Moluccas and Africa. The precise details of Drake's trip, his discovery of an apparent northern passage around the top of North America (which he named the Strait of Anian at 57° N ), and Nova Albion was carefully guarded to keep the activity secret from the Spaniards. Several of Drake's maps were altered to protect English exploration efforts and intentions from [then] powerful Spanish interference. All first hand records from the voyage, including logs, paintings and charts were confiscated and then lost when Whitehall Palace burned in 1698. Some details had been passed to others and Molyneux's 1592 globe shows Nova Albion at 50° N, which Hakluyt placed 'on the backside of Canada'. A bronze plaque purportedly inscribed with Drake's claim to the new lands, fitting the description in Drake's own account, was discovered in Marin County, California: it was proved a hoax.

In February 1586 Drake sailed to the Caribbean and in 1586 Drake captured and sacked Spanish Santo Domingo, and then Cartagena. For good measure on 6 June 1586, he captured the Spanish fort of San Augustín in Florida. Drake then sailed up the coast to visit Sir Walter Raleigh's new English colony at Roanoke. As project manager, Sir Richard Grenville was intended to return from England with supplies, but was delayed by fears of a Spanish attack on England. When Drake put in at Roanoke after destroying the Spanish colony at Augustin, the entire Roanoke colony (less 15 men) returned with Drake to England.

In 1595, Drake and Hawkins failed when they tried to repeat their early success in stealing Spanish gold and Hawkins died at sea off Puerto Rico.

(During the 1588 attack of the Spanish Armada Drake was second-in-command of the English fleet.)


Northwest Passage and Baffin Island Exploration

1576 - three ships and 39 men, 1577 - three ships and 154 men, 1578 - 15 ships and c420 men

Commander: High Admiral Sir Martin Frobisher,

Frobisher was an English sailor and navigator who searched for a northwest Passage to China.

He sailed on 7 June 1576 and quickly lost one of his small ships. On 28 July they made land off Labrador and soon reached Frobisher Bay and Baffin Island and some Inuit and foll's gold on 18 August.

On 26 May 1577, Frobisher sailed again with direct support from Elizabeth I. The reached Frobisher Bay on 17 July, he claimed Arctic islands for England, and amed Frobisher’s Straits, but spent most of his time collecting more worthless iron pyrite. They returned on 23 September.

On 31 May 1578, Frobisher left again and reached Greenland on 20 June. Stormy weather and ice wrecked on ship and after being blown up the Hudson Strait for ~100 kms they returned to anchor in Frobisher Bay, where they gathered more fool's gold. Frobisher sailed home on 31 August.


English Pirates & Buccaneers Limit Spain's Empire

Commanders: Sir Francis Drake, Sir Henry Morgan with 2,000+ men

1577, Looted Valpariso,

1579, Looted Santiago, Captured Nuestra Señora de la Conceptión (Manila bullion gallion),

1668, Sacked Puerto Bello Panama, 1669, Sacked Maracaibo Venezuala,

c1670, Pillaged Panama City.



Attempted to Create the Norumbega and Virginia Colonies

1583 - five ships under General Sir Humphrey Gilbert and 260 men, 1584 - one ship, 1585 - two ships, 1586 - one ship, 1587 - one ship

Commanders: 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, 1583-1587, Sir Walter Raleigh, 1584, Captains Philip Amadas, Arthur Barlowe, 1585-1586, Captain Sir Richard Grenville, 1587, Governor John White

Raleigh was an English writer, courtier, businessman, and explorer. He was the half-brother of Sir Humphrey Gilbert and gained his leases for new lands in America and Raleigh gained Elizabeth's support for an American colony in Virginia - which he had named after her, (the Virgin Queen).

During a 1583 trip to claim Norumbega, Raleigh turned back and Gilbert was drowned. Gilbert was tracking down the mythical 'Norumbega'. Gilbert did claim Newfoundland on 5 August 1583.

In 1584, Raleigh sent off Captains Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe to find a suitable location for a colony sited to aid raids against the Spanish. The reconnaissance decided on the North Carolina 'Outer Banks' on Roanoke Island. Raleigh then organised a colonial settlement attempt for Roanoke Island in North Carolina. Raleigh raised the money and established a commercial pattern for further colonial settlements.

In 1585, Raleigh sent Sir Richard Grenville to command the expedition, conduct further exploration, establish the colony, and return to England with a report. Grenville had one ship and its stores damaged on arrival, but left Ralph Lane in charge as Governor. The English and the Croatan Indians fought and when Francis Drake arrived by coincidence in 1586, the colonists shipped back to England. Shortly afterwards Grenville arrived with new colonists and supplies.

In 1586, 15 men were left after the remaining colonists were picked up by Drake. The 15 built a military fort. The next year nothing was found except the bones of one man.

In 1587, Raleigh sent an additional 117 settlers led by John White. The newcomers arrived on 22 July 1587 and were to recover the 15 left earlier and move the colony into the Cheasapeake. Failed Virginia colony attempt for Chesapeake Bay. However, the colony was routed to Roanoake, although none of the 15 were found. Governor White returned to England ask for further help, but was unable to get back (the Spanish Armada interfered). Nothing was heard from the colony again, except the word: Croatoan was carved in a tree.


Northwest Passage Arctic Island Exploration

1585 - two ships and 42 men, 1586 - four ships, 1587 - three ships

Commander: Captain John Davis,

Davis sailed on 15 June 1585, and reached Baffin Island on 1 August 1583 and explored the Davis Strait and the coast of Baffin. He left Baffin on 24 August and reached Greenland on 10 September.

On 7 May 1586, Davis left Dartmouth and saw Greenland on 15 June. He explored the Greenland coast and named Davis Strait east of Greenland. Davis then returned to Baffin Island and Cumberland Penninsula on 14 August. By 19 August they were at Resolution Island. They returned missing Hudson Strait and sailed south to Labrador.They fished cod and were attacked by Beothuk Indians and then sailed on 11 September to England.

Davis sailed from Dartmouth on 19 May 1587. On 14 June they anchored off Greenland at Godthaab. Davis documented the seal and whale potential of Davis Strait to 72° N in the Baffin Bay entrance, which he explored on 30 June 1587. He passed by the entrance to Hudson Strait again on his way south, probably because of ice. Davis returned on 1587.


Circumnavigation and Pacific Exploration

1586 - three ships, 1592 - two ships

Commanders: Captain Thomas Cavendish, John Davis

Cavendish repeated Drake's global voyage and attacks on Spanish shipping in the South American Pacific coastal waters. By January 1587 he found that the Spanish fortifications in the Strait of Magellan were abandoned, due to starvation. He apparently had sunk 19 ships, and burned Acapulco in Mexico. He captured the 700 ton Santa Ana, a prize with cargo worth one million pesos. Two ships were lost trying to explore a 'North-west Passage' from the Pacific.

Cavendish and Davis failed to pass the Strait of Magellan due to winds and Cavendish died. Although Davis succeeded in reaching the Pacific his sails were ruined and he reached Ireland with only 15 of the orginal 76 men!

1586-1588 1592-1593

Discovery of Vancouver Island Stratit

Commander: Juan de Fuca, Pilot y Navegador

Juan de Fuca (Apostolos Valerianos) is memorialised an the name of the southern strait between Vancouver Island and the mainland. He was a Greek pilot who worked for the Spanish and claimed to have discovered in 1592 at 48° N, Drake's Strait of Anian - a route to the Northwest Passage back to the Atlantic.

He offered to lead a an English exploration to confirm a passage route in 1596, but was turned down. His strait was confirmed by Captain Charles Barkley, who named it in 1787.


Northwest Passage Explorations

1594 - two ships, 1595 - seven ships, 1596 - two ships

Commanders: Captains Willem Barents, Cornelis Nay

Barents and Nay were Dutch navigators and explorers, and leaders of early expeditions to the far north. They explored in northern Russia and Barents Sea.

In June 1594, Barents and Nay sailed from Amsterdam to search for the Northern Passage, north of Siberia. Barents reached the west coast of Novaya Zemlya, headed north, and was blocked by ice. Nay reached the Kara Sea.

In 1595, they tried again with Nay in command and sailed in the strait between the Siberian coast and Vaygach Island, but they were too late to find open water. The Dutch refused further funding and Nay quit the mission.

In 1596, Barents saw Bear Island and Spitzbergen, but one ship was trapped for the winter in the ice after they sailed north of Novaya Zemlya. Although Barents died, his crew left in open boats in June 1597 and were picked up near Murmansk.


Spanish Colonisation of South-Western America

400 men

Commander: Capitán General, Don Juan de Oñate,[10] Capitánes Juan Zaldívar, Vicente Zaldívar, Gaspar de Villagrá,

Pacification and colonisation of New Mexico in 1596-1605.[11] Claimed New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

November 1597, Ácoma Apache Battle, June 1601, Defeated by Cansa Indians.


Mapping & Charting American West Coast

Three ships

Commander: Captain Sebastían Vizcaíno

A Spanish explorer, Vizcaíno attempted to establish a colony in California in 1596.

In 1602, Vizcaíno mapped the west coast of America to 42° N and named Monterey Bay, San Clemente, Catalina, Santa Barbara, Point Concepcion, Carmel, Monterey, La Paz, and Ano Nuevo.


Mapping & Charting Canadian & American East Coast, Creating la Nouvelle France and Colonising Québec

Commander: le Gouverneur Samuel de Champlain, Sieur de Champlain, Lieutenant Général de la Nouvelle France (French Royal Geographer)

Champlain was a French explorer and geographer who founded la Ville de Québec (Québec City). He is known in history as 'the Father of New France' and was instrumental in opening up the French fur trade.

In 1603, Champlain sailed with du Pont's fur-trading expedition. They explored up the St Lawrence (St Laurent) and Saguenay Rivers and also explored the Gaspé. He mapped the St Lawrence

In 1604, Champlain was ordered by Henri IV to make further reports and he sailed with the de Mont's expedition and mapped the east coast from Cape Breton and (Acadia) New Brunswick to Cape Cod plus Richelieu River, and he named Lake Champlain. He then returned to France to help organise a French colony, which he helped set up on St Croix Island in Maine (it failed because of flooding with the 40' tides, and scurvy). The St Croix colony was moved in 1605 to Port Royale in Nova Scotia. (It too failed, but because of English attacks.) Champlain lived there until 1607, while he explored the Atlantic coast.

Landing on 3 July 1608, Champlain brought 32 settlers (only eight survived the first winter) from France and founded another colony in Québec at Place-Royale (l'Abitation, Québec City). He directed the construction of three large stone buildings for protection and fortified the area with a moat. In 1608, he joined the Huron Indians and fought the Iroquois Indians on 29 July 1608 at Ticonderoga in New York - and ensured 150 years of Indian wars for the French. He travelled along the Richelieu River and named Lake Champlain.

He returned to France to renew their trade monopoly and to secure funding for the small colony. This proved difficult and was only finally had from some Rouen businessmen. Champlain returned to Québec on 8 April 1610.

In 1611 Champlain paddled to Montréal where he began to clear land for another colony. Again he returned to France where he learned he had lost the support from Rouen, so he appealed to Louis XIII. The king appointed Charles de Bourbon, Comte de Soissons and then Henri II, Prince de Condé his Lieutenant General in New France. Champlain was appointed Lieutenant and deputy, was expected to run the colonial affairs, and still find a route to China.

In 1613 he sailed up the St Lawrence River and travelled overland to the Ottawa River. In 1615 he returned from Frence and revisited the Ottawa River, New York, and the Lake Nipissing, Georgian Bay, Lake Huron itself, and Lake Ontario. A military expedition against an Iroquois fort in New York failed in September and Champlain was wounded. He then spent the winter living with the Hurons and dd not return to Québec until 11 July and left for France on 20 July 1616.

Champlain built Fort Saint-Louis on top of Cap Diamant in 1620-1621. The French fur trade management was changed and Champlain improved French relations with the Indians and even negotiated a peace treaty withthe Iroquois. In 1624, Champlain began to build a stone city wall around Québec City.

In 1628 the English attacked Cap Tourmente in July and supply became a major issue. Although the English Kirke brothers captured Québec on 19 July 1629, and Champlain was taken to London in October. By the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1632 Québec was given back to France. Champlain returned as governor in 1633 and he rebuilt Québec and its walls. He also built two more colonies, one upstream and another at Trois Rivièrs. He stayed this time until he died two years later.


Exploration of Hudson River and Arctic

Commander: Captain Henry Hudson

Henry Hudson was contracted by the English Muscovy Company to seek the Northwest Passage to Asia in 1607. Hudson reached one of the Svalbard Islands and also Jan Mayen Island, but was blocked by ice. A similar attempt failed in 1608.

Hudson then sailed for the Dutch East India Company but was again blocked by ice and so turned west to Newfoundland. They spent the next four months exploring the eastern coast of North America. He discovered Manhattan Island on September 11, 1609 and explored Maine and Cape Cod. He explored and sailed up the Hudson River and the Dutch then claimed the area.

In 1610 Hudson sailed again for England in search for the Passage, they passed Iceland in May and Greenland in June. They entered the Hudson Bay on 2 August 1610, he reported 20’ tides from western Arctic, but the ship was frozen into the ice in James Bay for the winter. With spring Hudson wanted to continue, but his crew mutinied and set him adrift in a small boat in 1611.


Exploration of Cheasapeake Bay

1606-1607 - three ships

Commanders: Captain Christopher Newport, John Andrew Smith

John Smith was an English soldier and sailor. He was a leader of the Virginia Colony at Jamestown. He also met the Powhatan Indians and the Chief's daughter young girl called Pocahontas. He wrote about his exploits, but suffered credibility problems.

In 1606, Smith became involved in planning for the colony. On 20 December 1606 the expedition sailed and Smith proved to be a troublemaker. The ships landed at Jamestown on 13 May 1607. In December Smith was captured and taken to the Chief Powhatan, but released, he claimed, because of Pocahontas.

In 1607 and 1608, Smith explored the Chesapeake Bay area. In 1608, Smith was elected president of the council. Injured, he returned to England in 1609.

In 1614 Smith visited Maine and Massachusetts and coined the term 'New England'.


Exploration of Lake Huron

Commander: Étienne Brûlé

Explorer, Coureur des bois, and voyageur for the French in Canada. In 1608, Brûlé travelled with Champlain and was sent to live with the Huron Indians in 1610. He became a scout for the French.

In c1612 he travelled into the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, and guided Champlain to both lakes Huron and Ontario. He was probably the first known white man to visit all the Great Lakes - except Lake Michigan. He was captured by the Iroquois Indians but escaped in 1618. He visited Chesapeake Bay, but was never trusted again by Champlain as he had become too Indian-like.

In 1621 Brûlé explored Lake Superior.

In 1629, Brulé guided the Kirke brothers (English merchants who had been supplying New France) to Québec City, which they then occupied until 1632.


English Northwest Passage & Arctic Island Exploration

Commanders: Captains Robert Bylot, William Baffin

Baffin was a pilot on James Hall's 1612 exploration of Greenland. In 1614-1615 Baffin sailed as pilot for the English Muscovy Company into the Spitzbergen area, where he was able to explore much of the coast.

In 1615, Bylot was contracted by the Northwest Company to search for the Northwest Passage and his pilot was again Baffin. Baffin was able to determine their longitude and they explored Hudson Strait and Southampton Island, but ran into ice and gave up the search for the Passage.

Bylot and his pilot Baffin sailed again leaving Gravesend on 26 March 1616. They reached 77º45´ and then charted and mapped Baffin's Bay and the Smith, Jones, and Lancaster Sounds.

In 1617, Bylot explored Ellesmere, Devon Islands and Named Bylot Island.


Exploration from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan

Commander: Captain Jean Nicolette

French Explorer and voyageur for Champlain, whom he accompanied to Canada in 1618. Directed by Champlain he searched for the northwest passage by canoe and explored Lake Michigan and the Fox River.

French Exploration of Lakes Superior & Michigan

1668 - two ships

Commanders: Médard Chouart des Groseilliers and Pierre-Esprit Radisson

Brothers-in-law, these men were coureurs des bois, explorers, fur traders, and voyageurs who opened up land routes within Canada and to the Hudson Bay.

Des Groseilliers worked among the Hurons in the 1640s and was one of the first white men to reach Lake Superior. The Indians told him of the large number of fur-bearing animals between Lake Superior and the Hudson Bay. The two men decided to go trapping and in 1660 brought back thousands of furs. They promptly ran into French bureaucracy, which confiscated all ther furs because they had no licenses.

Des Groseilliers and Radisson then went to the English in Boston, met King Charles II, and led the ship Nonsuch into Hudson Bay in June 1668, by-passing New France. The English built Fort Rupert and founded the Hudson's Bay Company in 1670. The two Frenchmen men were, of course considered traitors by the French, and Radisson in fact became an English citizen and joined the HBC in 1684.


French Exploration Down Mississippi River and Back to Lake Michigan

two canoes and seven men

Commanders: Père Jacques Marquette & Louis Jolliet


La Nouvelle France

Marquette was a French member of the Society of Jesus and was sent to Québec to preach to the Indians, and where he learned Huron language. Louis Jolliet was a Canadian explorer born in Québec and the two men were the first white men to map the Mississippi River.

In 1673, Father Marquette had heard of the 'great river' and gained permission to explore it. Joliet joined him and they left from St Ignace on 17 May 1673 with two canoes and entered the Mississippi on 17 June. They explored to the junction with the Arkansas River, but turned around fearing to meet Spaniards and to cause fighting. They returned via Lake Michigan at Chicago.

Louis Joliet turned map-maker in 1674 to show the Mississippi to Québec.


French Exploration Down Mississippi River to Gulf of Mexico and Failed Colonisation

1681 - 40 men, 1683 - four ships and 200 men

Commanders: René Robert Cavalier Sieur de la Salle, Henri de Tonti

La Salle was sent by Louis XIV to travel south from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico on the Mississippi. He left Montréal in 1669 and explored the lakes Ontario and Erie. In 1678 he built a fort on the Niagara River and then sailed up Lake Erie into Lake Huron and portaged into Lake Michigan.

In 1681 la Salle and 40 men travelled to the Mississippi, which they reached on 6 February 1682 and then paddled down it in canoes. They built Fort Prud'homme at Memphis Tennessee and reached the Gulf on 9 April 1682. They claimed Louisiana for France.

In 1684, la Salle returned from France to establish a colony in the Mississippi River Valley. Disaster followed the French and la Salle arrived in Texas in 1686 with one ship, which was then wrecked by accident.

The French colony was a disaster and failed. La Salle explored Texas Gulf coast but failed to find the Mississippi River mouth to follow back to New France. Mutineers killed la Salle on 19 March 1687. Some of the colony returned on foot to Montréal in 1687.


Rediscovered Pensacola Bay

Commander: Andrés Matías de Pez

De Pez explored the coast of the Gulf of Mexico for a colony site and recommended Spain found a colony at Pensacola.

Spanish Expedition to Limit French

with 114 men

Commander: Gobernador Don Alonso de León

Don Alonso led four expeditions between 1686 and 1689 to find and expel the French from Spanish Luisiana. He followed the Rio Grande and crossed New Mexico and Texas to confirm La Salle’s Fort St Louis vacated.
1686 -1689

Colonised Louisiana

Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville

Born in Montréal, d'Iberville was a French soldier and sailor. He captured The Hudson's Bay Fort Severn on the Hudson Bay in 1690. In 1696 d'Iberville led an attack and destroyed Fort William Henry on Newfoundland in the spring and after an overland march helped destroy and burn St John's.

In 1698 d'Iberville was tasked to re-discover the mouth of the Mississippi and to settle a colony. On 25 January 1699, d'Iberville and his brother the Sieur de Bienville reached Pensacola. They sailed on to Mobile Bay and landed on 13 February 1699 at Biloxi. By 1 May he had begun the colony and built Fort Maurepas.

In 1706, d'Iberville captured the Caribbean island of Nevis from the English.


Reconquest of New Mexico

Commander: Captain General Don Diego de Vargas Zapata y Luján, Ponce de Léon, Marqués de la Nava de Brazinas, Captains Eusebio de Vargas, Antonio Jorge,

Reconquest of New Mexico, 1691-1696. 28 December 1693, Pueblo Siege of Santa Fe, 12 April 1694, Battle with Cochita Indians,

Spanish Exploration of South-Western America

22 Spaniards and 100 Indians

Commander: Juan de Ulibarri,

July 1706, Explored, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, rescued Picuris Indians.


French Exploration up Red River, 24 men

Commander: Louis Juchereau de St Denis,

1713, Explored the border area of Louisiana and Texas for trade


Spanish Reconnaissance to Limit French

40 Spaniards and 70 Indian allies

Commander: Teniente General Pedro de Villasur, Captain Tomás Olguin,

Although Spain claimed the American plains, the French were settled and trading there in the early 1700s. In 1720, the governor of New Mexico appointed Villasur to limit the French.

Villasur left Santa Fe on 16 June 1720. explored Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska, and on 14 August 1720 was surprised and were thoroughly defeated in a battle on the Platte River with Pawnee and Oto Indians and some French.[12] Only a few survivors returned to Santa Fe in September.


Reconquest of Texas

500 men

Commander: Don José de Azlor y Virto de Vera, Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo, Gobernador y General del Capitán de las Provincias de Coahuila y de Tejas

In 1719, after a French military invasion, Aguyao offered to drive the French out of Spanish lands - at his own cost. The Spanish viceroy accepted and Aguyao was appointed governor of his provinces, with a commission in 1720.

In 1720, when Aguyao began his mission Spain had one presidio and one mission (plus San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, which Aguyao had just established. When the expedition returned on 31 May 1722 there were four presidios and ten missions. In March 1721, the Spanish fought a battle with the Comanche Indians. In April 1721 Aguyao directed that a Spanish fort be raised on the site of La Salle's abandoned French Fort St Louis.

Aguyao additionally left breeding pairs of horses and cattle at each river crossing and ensured that effective new forts (presidios) were well located. He directed that the forts be made of adobe to ensure that they were fireproof. He finally recommended that serious colonisation be undertaken by settling at least 400 Spanish families between San Antonio and the East Texas missions. The governor resigned in 1722.


French Exploration of Lakes Superior & Winnipeg

Commander: Captain Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye

La Vérendrye was a French Canadian military officer, fur trader and explorer. In 1728 he commanded the French military on the north shore of Lake Superior. By 1737 he had built several trading posts between Lake Superior and Lake Winnipeg.

During his travels he continually explored the area and familiarised himself with the local Indians. La Vérendrye's sons discovered both the Saskatchewan River and the Rockey Mountains.

In 1738 he built Fort Rouge and Fort La Reine in Manitoba, and ordered Fort St Charles and Fort Dauphin, while he was exploring a route to the Missouri River in the Mandan Indian country of North Dakota. With his forts La Vérendrye created a large French trading area.


Arctic Exploration into Alaska

Commanders: Captain Vitrus Bering and Alexei Chirikov

Bering ws a Dane in Russian Navy service. In 1725 he helped implement Peter the Great's plan to build a Russian empire and Bering explored the Sibian northeast. He went overland to Kamchatka, built a small ship and in 1728 sailed to the northern coast and through the Bering Strait to Asia and the North West Passage. In 1729 Bering sought land to the east (in the Bering Strait), but found only islands. In 1735 he returned to Okhotsk and built two more ships.

In 1740 Bering sailed to Kamchatka and led an expedition to Alaska in 1741. Bering found Kayak Island and Chirikov, his partner in the other ship, found Alaska. On return they discovered the Aleutian Islands, but the crew developed scury and Bering died.


British Arctic Exploration of Coppermine River in Canadian Arctic

Commander: Captain Samuel Herne

Canoed up the Coppermine River to the Arctic Coast and the Beaufort Sea from northern Canada.

Spanish Exploration of Pacific Coast from California, the Queen Charlotte Islands, to Alaska

1774 - one ship, 1775 - three ships and 160 men, 1779 - two ships,

Commanders: Tenientes Juan José Pérez Hernández, Juan Manuel de Ayala, Bruno de Hezeta y Dudagoitia, Ignacio Arteyoa, Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra

In 1774 Hernández explored coastal California but failed to verify reports of Russian settlements.

In 1775 Hezeta and Ayala repeated the coastal search as far as Washington and the Columbia River, then Bodega took command of Ayala's ship and continued to Sitka in Alaska. In September 1775 both ships returned to San Blas in Mexico having again failed to find any Russians, and having claimed the land as Spanish.

In 1779 Arteaga and Bodega charted the North American west coast from the Queen Charlotte Islands to 59° N in Alaska, again claiming the land for Spain.

In 1792, having established a small Spanish settlement on Vancouver Island now Capitán Bodega met the British Captain Vancouver at Nootka on Vancouver Island in August to resolve sovereignty claims.


Exploration and Charting West Coast

two ships

Commander: Captain James Cook

Cook, who had made two previous Pacific voyages and had also sailed to Canada during the Seven Years' War with Wolfe, sailed again into the Pacific in 1777. In 1778 he sailed to Hawaii in January and then on to the American west coast. Cook explored and mapped the coast from California to the Bering Strait. In 1779 Cook returned to Hawaii where he was killed after a violent argument.

It was Cook, of course, who prevented his men from getting scurvy by feeding them citrus fruit (and vitamin C). Cook's colleague, Captain James Lind a Scottish physician, who introduced hygiene into the British navy and promoted the use of citrus and fresh vegetables to prevent and cure scurvy. Lind's advice had been ignored until Cook ordered it implemented on his ship.


Named Queen Charlotte Islands

Commander: Captain George Dixon

Re-discovered the Georgia Strait and named the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Overland to Pacific

1789 - canoe and c10 people, 1793 - canoe and 10 people (including some wives)

Commander: Sir Alexander Mackenzie


Alex Mackenzie, 1793

In 1788, Mackenzie travelled to Lake Athabasca and built Fort Chipewyan for the North West fur-trading company. He explored and found the Mackenzie River by canoe and followed it to the Arctic Ocean in 1789.

In 1792 he continued to search for a route to the Pacific by travelling up the Peace River. On 9 May 1793 he left with a 25' birchbark canoe. He became the first European to cross the North American Continental Divide and Rocky Mountains. He found the upper Fraser River and followed it course to the Canadian Pacific coast on July 20 1793. Mackenzie's trip (both ways) was , was somewhat more than 3,700 kms, which he travelled with no major injuries, or conflicts with local Indians.


Exploration and Charting West Coast

Commander: Captain George Vancouver

Vancouver sailed with Cook on two trips in the 1770s. In 1792, Vancouver sailed from Oregon, via Washington State and British Columbia north to Kodiak Island, Alaska. He entered the Juan de Fuca Strait and met with with the Spanish Capitán Bodega y Quadra to try to resolve land claims.

In 1793, Vancouver returned to Canadian waters and sailed to 56° N. In 1794 he again sailed north, this time to Cook Inlet and Baranov Island in Alaska. He was considered one of Britain's greatest navigators.


Explored American West to Pacific

40 men

Commanders: Captain Meriwether Lewis & Lieutenant William Clark

Captain Meriwether Lewis was c ommissioned by President Thomas Jefferson in June 1803 to explore the Mississippi River, claim Louisiana, and map and chart the West to the 'Western Ocean'.

Lewis selected Clark and they left on 14 May 1804. They passed through Sioux Indian territory and stopped for the winter in Mandan Indian territory in North Dakota. They picked up a French Canadian Voyageur and his wife Sacagawea, who acted as an interpreter for much of the remaining journey. After crossing the mountains they reached the Pacific on 3 December 1805 via the Columbia River in Oregon, where they spent another winter. They broke their camp on 23 March and returned to St Louis on 23 September 1806.


Northern Explorations

1818 - two ships, 1819-1820 - two ships, 1821-1823 - two ships, 1824-1825 - two ships, 1829 - one ship, 1850 - one ship

Commanders: Captains Sir John Ross, Sir Edward Parry

Ross commanded an 1818 British Royal Naval arctic expedition to seek a Northwest Passage, but that only explored Baffin Bay and failed to enter new areas. Ross was discredited, but Parry had commanded one of the ships and Parry led later efforts.

In 1819 Parry led an expedition which succeeded in finding the Passage and travelled half-way from Greenland to the Bering Strait. Parry charted and named Baffin Island.

In 1821 and 1824 Parry tried unsuccessfully again to complete the Passage transit and he lost one ship in 1824/5.

In 1829 Ross sailed in a steam ship past Lancaster Sound and into new areas. The ship became stuck in ice and the crew was stranded for four years. Ross then left the ship and with his crew walked over the ice to find another wooden ship also stuck in ice from a prior expedition. En route they met Inuit and explored their area. They finally escaped by life boats from the second ship.

In 1850 Ross led a failed search for John Franklin.


British Northern Exploration

Commanders: Captain John Franklin

Travelled north from Great Slave Lake and down the Coppermine River, 11 men died, most starved.

British Northern Exploration of Northwest Passage

two ships and 129 men

Commanders: Captain Sir John Franklin

Franklin failed while trying to discover full Northwest Passage but Franklin and 128 crew members died.

Modern autopsies suggest lead poisoning from lead-soldered, canned food killed many and affected the rational thinking of others.



1               For maps see Houghton Mifflin map, http://www.reisenett.no/ekstern.html?url=http://www.eduplace.com/ss/ssmaps/wrldcont.html, and http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/islands_oceans_poles/arctic_region_pol02.jpg.

2               General exploration sources and some specific internet citations include: Richard, David; Hakluyt's Voyages, A Selection, Andrew Taylor, The World of Gerard Mercator; Ole Klindt-Jensen, The World of the Vikings; SE Morison, both The European Discovery of America, The Northern Voyages, AD 500-1600 and The European Discovery of America, The Southern Voyages; AD 1492-1616, Lee Miller, Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke; Richard Middleton, Colonial America, A History, 1607-1760; Peter C, Newman, Company of Adventurers; Michael Wood, Conquistadors, Peter Winn, Americas; David Beers Quinn, Set Fair For Roanoke, Voyages and Colonies, 1584-1606, Farley Mowat, WestViking, The Ancient Norse in Greenland and North America, Gavin Menzies, 1421 The Year China Discovered America,Nora Chadwick, The Celts; FR Cruikshank, The Life of Sir Henry Morgan, With an Account of The English Settlement of The Island of Jamaica (1655-1688); Jan Rogoziñski, A Brief History of the Caribbean, From the Arawak and Carib to the Present;; Barry Gough, First Across the Continent, Sir Alexander Mackenzie; Gertrude Kerman, Cabeza de Vaca, Defender of the Indians; William H Prescott, History of the Conquest of Mexico, & History of the Conquest of Peru; Thor Heyerdahl, Early Man and The Ocean, A Search For the Beginnings Of Navigation and Seaborne Civilizations; Charles C Mann, 1491, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, The Sioux; Stephen Coote, Drake, The Life and Legend of an Elizabethan Hero; Reader’s Digest, Heritage Canada; Jan Rogoziñski, A Brief History of the Caribbean; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Ponce_de_Leon; Samuel Bawalf, The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake, 1577-1580; Nick Hazelwood, The Queen's Slave Trader.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Rodriguez_Cabrillo; Andrew Taylor, The World of Gerard Mercator. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Marquette; Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Pathfinders, A Global History of Exploration; Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact at, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Columbian_trans-oceanic_contact.http://www.pbs.org/opb/conquistadors/home.htm; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marco_Polo; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Franklin; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medard_des_Groseilliers; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_de_Champlain; http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=34160; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kensington_Runestone; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89tienne_Br%C3%BBl%C3%A9; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Magellan; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Raleigh; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_James_Cook#Third_voyage_.281776-1779.29; http://www.si.umich.edu/CHICO/UMS/Drummers/oralmstory.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus; http://www.enchantedlearning.com/explorers/1700.shtml; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acadian#History; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amerigo_Vespucci; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_de_Ulloa; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartolomeu_Dias; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Le_Moyne_d'Iberville; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_%C3%81lvares_Cabral; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_V%C3%A1squez_de_Coronado; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Drake; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Frobisher; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hernando_de_Soto_%28explorer%29; http://www.famousamericans.net/franciscodeulloa1/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Jolliet; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hern%C3%A1n_Cort%C3%A9s; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispaniola; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cabot; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Esprit_Radisson; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Rodriguez_Cabrillo; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Pizarro; htp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_de_Champlain; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebasti%C3%A1n_Vizca%C3%ADno; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Henry_Morgan; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasco_da_Gama; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pytheas; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno_de_Hezeta; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucas_V%C3%A1squez_de_Ayll%C3%B3n; http://www.1421.tv/; http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0300/frameset_reset.html?http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0300/stories/0301_0113.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasco_N%C3%BA%C3%B1ez_de_Balboa; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viceroy; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitus_Bering; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Edward_Parry; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Verendrye; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodes_Rogers; http://encarta.msn.com/ ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuit#Anthropological_analysis; http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/AUD_BAI/AYLLON_LUCAS_VASQUEZ_DE_c_t475_.html; http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/docs/e/english.htm; http://www.blupete.com/Hist/BiosNS/1600-00/Champlain.htm; http://www.collectionscanada.ca/explorers/h24-1460-e.html; http://www.collectionscanada.ca/explorers/h24-1530-e.html; http://www.enchantedlearning.com/explorers/namerica.shtml; http://columbia.thefreedictionary.com/Nicolet,+Jean; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_John_Smith; http://www.enchantedlearning.com/explorers/page/l/lasalle.shtml; http://www.fact-index.com/j/jo/john_beaufort__1st_earl_of_somerset.html; http://www.famousamericans.net/pierrelemoyneiberville/; http://www.gallica.co.uk/celts/timeline.htm; http://www.paulnoll.com/China/Dynasty/Ming-1403-Cheng-Zu.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ross_%28Arctic_explorer%29; http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/AA/fag2_print.html; http://www.nationalcenter.org/ColonyofRoanoke.html;

3               Portuguese Discoveries in North America, //www.thornr.demon.co.uk/kchrist/portam.html.

4               Mexico was known as España Nueva (New Spain) until the Mexican Revolution. Cortés made allies of the Tlaxcaltec Indians – enemies of the Aztecs, and won Mexico by defeating the Aztec Empire. Curiously New Mexico was always known as 'Nueva Mexico'.

5               Paul I Wellman, Glory, God and Gold, pp. 3-65. Coronado was also Governor of Nueva Galicia.

6               Gavin Menzies, 1421 The Year China Discovered America, p. 549.

7               Nick Hazelwood, The Queen's Slave Trader, provides a good account of the little known origins of English slaving.

8               Samuel Bawlf, The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake, 1577-1580. pp. 292-304.

9               Ibid.

10             Wellman, op. cit. pp. 65-77.

11             New Mexico was thus created officially in c1595.

12             Paul I Wellman, Glory, God and Gold, pp. 148-154. Villasur’s men were massacred and Spain withdrew colonising activity into New Mexico.

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