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Famous Explorers

Picture of Sir Francis Drake

Picture of Sir Francis Drake

Famous Explorers
There were many Famous Explorers during 1400 - 1600. What were the names of the most famous explorers? What were the major accomplishments and achievements of the famous explorers? This page provides a list of the names and lifespan dates of all the Famous Explorers and their accomplishments, achievements and voyages of discovery.

All the famous explorers mentioned in the list has a link providing details of timelines, biography, life, facts, history, pictures and information about these brave, famous explorers.

 Famous European Explorers
The famous European explorers came from England, Portugal, Spain, Italy and France. The voyages of discovery undertaken by these famous European explorers were motivated by:

  • Wealth - gold, silver and spices
  • Increased Power in Europe
  • Prestige
  • Increasing opportunities for trade
  • Spreading the Christian Religion
  • Building European Empires

Famous European explorers included Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco de Gama, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Hernando Cortes, John Cabot and Samuel de Champlain.

Famous Canadian Explorers
The discovery of the New World opened up new colonies and settlements in Canada. One of the most famous of the Canadian explorers was Louis Joliet who explored the Great Lakes area and discovered the Mississippi River.

Famous Spanish Explorers
Famous Spanish Explorers and Conquistadors explored the Caribbean and South America. Just a few famous Spanish explorers conquered the millions who made up the nations of the Incas and the Aztecs. Famous Spanish explorers included Hernando Cortes, Francisco Pizarro, Hernando De Soto, Vasco Nunez de Balboa and Juan Ponce de Leon

Famous English Explorers
The famous English explorers were referred to as pirates and privateers by their enemies. The most famous English explorers embarked on their voyages of discovery during the Elizabethan reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The most famous English explorers included Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Martin Frobisher and Sir John Hawkins.

Famous Portuguese Explorers
The famous Portuguese explorers led the way when it came to exploration. The most famous Portuguese explorers included Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gama, Bartholomeu Dias and Gaspar and Miguel Corte Real.

Famous French Explorers
The famous French explorers included Jacques Cartier, Jacques Marquette and Samuel de Champlain The Who's Who List of famous European Explorers
There were so many European Explorers during the Renaissance period it was referred to as the Age of Exploration. The following facts and information chart the voyages, explorations, major accomplishments and achievements in this list of the most famous European explorers:

  • Sir Francis Drake: Circumnavigates the World

  • Sir Walter Raleigh: The  Discovery of Guiana and establishing the Virginia colony of Roanoke Island in 1584

  • Ferdinand Magellan: First voyage around the World by a European explorer

  • Christopher Columbus: Discovering the New World

  • Francisco Pizarro: European Explorer who conquered the Incas of Peru

  • Amerigo Vespucci: America was named after this explorer

  • Vasco Nunez de Balboa: First European explorer to see the Pacific Ocean from its eastern shore

  • Vasco da Gama: Discovered an ocean route from Portugal to the East

  • Sir Humphrey Gilbert: Established St Johns, Newfoundland

  • Juan Ponce de Leon: First European to set foot in Florida

  • Sir Richard Grenville: Voyages to Virginia and Roanoke Island and the Azores

  • Sir John Hawkins: Voyages to West Africa and South America

  • Francisco Vasquez de Coronado: First European to explore the Southwest of North America in Arizona and New Mexico

  • Sir Martin Frobisher: Voyages to Labrador and Greenland

  • Hernando De Soto: First European to explore Florida and South East America

  • Sir Richard Hawkins: Voyages to South America

  • Hernando Cortes: Spanish conqueror of Mexico and the Aztec Empire

  • Bartolomeu Dias: The first European to lead a 1487 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope on the Southern most tip of South Africa

  • Pedro Alvares Cabral: The first European to see Brazil in 1500

  • Giovanni da Verrazzano: European explorer from Italy who explored the NE coast of North America from Cape Fear, North Carolina to Maine

  • Gaspar and Miguel Corte Real: Exploring Greenland and the coast of Newfoundland

  • John Cabot: Exploring the coastline of Canada the subsequent colonization of Canada. Cabot was the second European to find North America (after Christopher Columbus)

  • Sebastian Cabot: Son of John Cabot. Searching for the Northwest passage across North America, attempting to circumnavigate the world and making expeditions to Russia

  • Jacques Cartier: Led three expeditions of exploration to Canada

  • Henry Hudson: The discovery of the  Hudson River

  • Jacques Marquette: Discovering the Mississippi River with Louis Joliet

  • Samuel de Champlain: The Founder of Quebec City. Known as 'The Father of Canada'

  • Marco Polo: Famous explorer and traveller to China, Japan and Persia

Sir Francis Drake
Sir Walter Raleigh
Sir Humphrey Gilbert
Sir Richard Grenville
Sir John Hawkins
Sir Martin Frobisher
Sir Richard Hawkins
John Cabot
Sebastian Cabot
Henry Hudson
Christopher Columbus
Francisco Pizarro
Amerigo Vespucci
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
Giovanni da Verrazzano
Portuguese Explorers
Ferdinand Magellan
Vasco da Gama
Bartholomeu Dias
Pedro Alvares Cabral
Gaspar and Miguel Corte Real
Jacques Cartier
Jacques Marquette
Samuel de Champlain
Marco Polo
The Age of Exploration
Elizabethan Era Index

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