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Spanish Explorers

Picture of Hernando de Soto's Burial at sea

Picture of Hernando de Soto's Burial at sea


Spanish Explorers of the Elizabethan Age

The Renaissance & Elizabethan Age of Exploration was at first dominated by the brave Spanish Explorers. The Renaissance saw the success of the Spanish explorers in acquiring monopolies on much of the Eastern spice trade and their expeditions to the New World brought great wealth and power to Spain.

The new discoveries made by the Spanish Explorers brought untold riches in terms of gold and silver and spices but it also brought power and influence...

The Motives of the Spanish Explorers
he motives of the Spanish Explorers and their patrons were prompted by:

  • Wealth - gold, silver and spices
  • Power
  • Prestige
  • Increasing opportunities for Spanish trade
  • Spreading the Catholic Religion
  • Building a Spanish Empire

The people of Spain adhered to the Catholic religion. Many were fanatical about their religion - the Spanish Inquisition was an example of this. The idea of spreading the Catholic faith to heathen races was seen as a primary reason for the Spanish Explorers, including the Conquistadors, to undertake voyages of discovery.

Early Spanish Explorers
The early Spanish explorers established the overseas Empire of Spain. The Empire dates to 1469 when Princess Isabella of Castile married Ferdinand of Aragon. They became Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand V of Spain and they began to build an empire. In 1492 the King and Queen of Spain financed the voyage of Christopher Columbus to America, the New World. In 1494 all of the lands in the New World were claimed by Spain.

Timeline of Famous Spanish Explorers in the New World
Famous Early Spanish Explorers (1492 - 1520)

  • 1492: Christopher Columbus voyage to America, the New World, was financed by the King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain
  • 1492: Christopher Columbus visits the Dominican Republic, which he names Hispaniola ( translates as Little Spain)
  • 1492: Haiti and Jamaica discovered by Christopher Columbus
  • 1493: The island of Montserrat, in the Caribbean Sea, was named after the mountain by Christopher Columbus
  • 1494: Spain and Portugal claimed the lands of the New World
  • 1496: Spaniards set up first Spanish colony in the Dominican Republic and Santo Domingo was founded by Bartholomew Columbus, which subsequently served as the capital of all Spanish colonies in South America
  • 1498: Christopher Columbus landed in Venezuela
  • 1502: Columbus sails on his fourth and last voyage to the New World (Honduras and Panama)
  • 1502: Spanish explorer Rodrigo de Bastidas visits Panama, which was home to Cuna, Choco, Guaymi and other indigenous peoples
  • 1502: Christopher Columbus lands at "Cariari," now known as Puerto Limon
  • 1513: Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Spanish explorer, crossed the Isthmus of Panama and claimed the Pacific Ocean for Spain
  • 1516: Juan Diaz de Solis became the first European to land in Uruguay
  • 1517: Spanish expedition under Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba (1475-1526) lands on the Yucatan coast in Mexico
  • 1519: Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes (1485-1547) founds Veracruz in Mexico
  • 1519: Cortes enters Tenochtitlan and captures Moctezuma II ( aka Montezuma ) in Mexico

Famous Spanish Explorers in the New World (1520 - 1570)
For specific facts and information about America please refer to Colonial America

  • 1520: The Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro led an expedition into Peru
  • 1523: Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado led a Spanish expedition from Mexico and invaded Guatemala
  • 1524: Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado lands in El Salvador in Guatamala
  • 1525: Spain begins conquest of Puerto Rica (Rich Coast)
  • 1528: Juan de Zumarraga (1468-1548) arrives as bishop of Mexico City and begins native conversion to Catholicism
  • 1535: Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro overthrew the Incan Empire and Ecuador came under the rule of Spain
  • 1535: The Spanish conquistadors colonize the area of Venezuela
  • 1536: 1538 Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada (1509-1579) led an expedition into the Andes and obtained massive amounts of emeralds and gold in Colombia
  • 1540: Spanish conquistador Cabeza de Vaca was appointed governor of the Brazilian province of Rio de la Plata
  • 1541: Pedro de Valdivia begins Spanish conquest of Chile and founds Santiago
  • 1542: Spain invades Belize and conquest occurs
  • 1545: The Spanish conquer Bolivia
  • 1546: Rebellion and the Spanish are forced to leave Belize
  • 1547: Cuba is colonised by the Spanish
  • 1555: The Spanish claimed the Montserrat Islands
  • 1561: Santa Cruz was founded by the Spaniard Nuflo de Chavez
  • 1561: Spain's Juan de Cavallon leads the first successful Costa Rican colonisers
  • 1567: The Spanish re-conquest of Belize

Famous Spanish Explorers
A biography and timeline  about the most famous Spanish explorers have been developed with facts, history and information about the famous Spanish Explorers. Amerigo Vespucci was born an Italian but became a naturalised Spaniard. Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa in Italy but made his explorations working for Spain. Estevanico was a black African explorer who was enslaved by the Spanish. The most famous Spanish explorers are detailed in the above Timeline. The most famous Spanish explorers, or Explorers who were employed by the Spanish, can be accessed via the following links:

Spanish Conquistadors
Christopher Columbus
Amerigo Vespucci
Francisco Pizarro
Vasco Nunez de Balboa
Juan Ponce de Leon
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado
Hernando De Soto
Hernando Cortes
Cabeza de Vaca
Panfilo de Narvaez
Fray Marcos de Niza
Alonso Alvarez de Pineda
Juan de Onate
Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo
Estevanico
The Age of Exploration
Elizabethan Era Index

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