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A few hundred years ago, the known physical world was a lot smaller. With the discovery of the 'new world' (and its gold deposits), many Europeans were emboldened to find out more about what was out there and wasted no time launching ships and staking claims. Here are many of the more successful.
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Cross-listed in Physicians

Michel-Gabriel Paccard

borndied
17571827
a Savoyard doctor and alpinist, citizen of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Born in Chamonix, he studied medicine in Turin. Due to his passion for botany and minerals, he met Horace Benedict de Saussure, who initiated the race to be the first to ascend Mo...
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Timeline (1)Links (1)


Cross-listed in ClergyWriters

Pedro Paez

aka: Páez
bornactivedied
15641589-16221622, May 25
a Spanish Jesuit missionary in Ethiopia. Páez is considered by many experts on Ethiopia to be the most effective Catholic missionary in Ethiopia. He is believed to be the first European to see and describe the source of the Blue Nile. His two-volume História da Ethiópia (History of Ethiopia) is regarded by scholars of Ethiopian history as one of the most ...
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Timeline (1)Links (3)


Nathaniel B. Palmer

borndied
1799, Aug 81877, Jun 21
an American seal hunter, explorer, sailing captain, and ship designer. He was born in Stonington, Connecticut. Aggressively searching for new seal rookeries south of Cape Horn, on 17 November 1820, Palmer and his men became the first Americans and the third group of people to discover the Antarctic Peninsula. Along with English sealer George Powell, Palmer a...
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Links (1)


Cross-listed in Writers

Mungo Park

borndied
1771, Sep 111806
a Scottish explorer of the African continent. He was the first Westerner known to have travelled to the central portion of the Niger River. In 1794 he offered his services to the African Association, then looking for a successor to Major Daniel Houghton, who had been sent in 1790 to discover the course of the Niger River and had died in the Sahara. Supporte...
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Timeline (1)Links (1)


Cross-listed in Naval

William Parry

borndied
1790, Dec 191855, Jul 8/9
an English rear-admiral and Arctic explorer. His 1819 voyage through the Parry Channel was probably the most successful in the long quest for the Northwest Passage. In 1827 he attempted one of the earliest expeditions to the North Pole. He reached 82°45' North latitude, setting the record for human exploration farthest North that stood for nearly five decad...
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Links (1)


Diogo Fernandes Pereira

aka: Diogo Fernandes
bornactivedied
unknown1500sunknown
a Portuguese 16th-century navigator, originally from Setúbal, Portugal. Diogo Fernandes was the first known European captain to visit the island of Socotra in 1503 and the discoverer of the Mascarenes archipelago (Réunion, Mauritius, and Rodrigues) in 1507. He may also have been the first European to sail east of Madagascar island ('outer route' to the Ea...
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Links (1)


Cross-listed in MilitaryCartographers

Duarte Pacheco Pereira

borndied
1460 ca1533
a Portuguese sea captain, soldier, explorer and cartographer. He travelled particularly in the central Atlantic Ocean west of the Cape Verde islands, along the coast of West Africa and to India. His accomplishments in strategic warfare, exploration, mathematics and astronomy were of an exceptional level.
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Juan Perez

aka: Pérez, Juan José Pérez Hernández
borndied
1725 ca1775, Nov 3
an 18th-century Spanish explorer. He was the first European to sight, examine, name, and record the islands near present-day British Columbia, Canada, in the Pacific Northwest. Born in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, he first served as a piloto in western Spanish colonial North America on Manila galleons en route to and from the Philippines in the Spanish East Ind...
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Cross-listed in Military

Zebulon Pike

bornactivedied
1779, Jan 51799-18131813, Apr 27
an American brigadier general and explorer for whom Pikes Peak in Colorado is named. As a United States Army captain in 1806–1807, he led the Pike Expedition, sent out by President Thomas Jefferson, to explore and document the southern portion of the Louisi...
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Timeline (5)Links (15)


Cross-listed in Cartographers

Alonso Alvarez de Pineda

borndied
14941520
a Spanish explorer and cartographer whose map marks the first document in Texas history. In 1517, Alonso Alvarez de Pineda had led several expeditions to map the western coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico, from the Yucatán Peninsula to the Pánuco River, just north of Veracruz. Ponce de León had previously mapped parts of Florida, which he believed to be an ...
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Links (1)


Fernao Mendes Pinto

aka: Fernão, Fernando de Noronha, Fernando della Rogna
borndied
1509 ca1583, Jul 8
a Portuguese explorer and writer. His voyages are recorded in Pilgrimage (Portuguese: Peregrinação) (1614), his autobiographical memoir. The historical accuracy of the work is debatable due to the many events which seem far fetched or at least exaggerated. Some aspects of the work can be verified, particularly through Pinto's service to the Portuguese Crow...
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Links (1)


Francisco Martin Pinzon

aka: Francisco Martín Pinzón
borndied
1445 ca1502 ca
a Spanish navigator and explorer, co-discoverer of America. He is undoubtedly the least remembered of the three brothers Pinzón co-discoverers of America with Christopher Columbus. He was born in Palos around 1445. He was, therefore, the second of the bro...
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Links (1)


Martin Alonso Pinzon

aka: Pinzón
borndied
1441 ca1493
captained the Pinta on Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to America. He was part owner of the Niña and Pinta and helped to prepare them for the voyage. His brother, Francisco Pinzón, served as his Pilot for the voyage.Martin’s suggesti...
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Timeline (1)Links (1)


Cross-listed in

Vicente Yanez Pinzon

aka: Vicente Yáñez Pinzón
borndied
1462 ca1514 ca
a Spanish navigator, explorer, and conquistador, the younger of the Pinzón brothers. Along with his older brother, Martín Alonso Pinzón (c. 1441 – c. 1493), who captained the Pinta, he sailed with Christopher Columbus on the first voyage to the New World, in 1492, as captain of the Niña. Scholars believe his claims of fortune raised by him fuele...
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Links (1)


Vicente Yanez Pinzon

aka: Vicente Yáñez Pinzón
borndied
1462 ca1514 ca
a Spanish navigator, explorer, and conquistador, the youngest of the Pinzón brothers. Along with his older brother, Martín Alonso Pinzón, who captained the Pinta, he sailed with Christopher Columbus on the first voyage to the New World, in 1492, ...
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Timeline (1)Links (2)


Luis Pires

aka: Luís
bornactivedied
unknown1490s-1500sunknown
a Portuguese explorer who accompanied Pedro Álvares Cabral in the discovery of Brazil, being one of the captains of the fleet. On leaving the Cape Verde Islands, Pires was forced by a storm to return to Lisbon, never having reached Brazil or India (the initial and official destination of the journey).
Links (1)


Cross-listed in NavalScientistsCartographers

Piri Reis

aka: Ahmed Muhiddin Piri
bornactivedied
1467 ca1481-15531553
an Ottoman admiral, geographer, and cartographer. Piri began engaging in government-supported privateering (a common practice in the Mediterranean Sea among both the Muslim and Christian states of the 15th and 16th centuries) when he was young, He is primarily known today for his maps and charts collected in his Kitab-i Bahriye (Book of Navigation), a book t...
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Links (6)


Cross-listed in Governance

Francisco Pizarro

borndied
14751541
a Spanish conquistador who conquered the Incan Empire. Reports of Peru's riches and Cortés's success in Mexico tantalized Pizarro and he undertook two expeditions to conquer the Incan Empire in 1524 and in 1526. Both failed as a result of native hostilities, bad weather, and lack of provisions. In April 1528, he reached northern Peru and found the natives r...
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Timeline (8)Links (17)


Juan Ponce de Leon

aka: Ponce de León
borndied
14741521, Jul
a Spanish explorer and conquistador. He became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown. He led the first European expedition to Florida, which he named. He is associated with the legend of the Fountain of Youth, reputed to be in Florida.
Timeline (2)Links (2)


Cross-listed in MilitaryCartographersLegal

Peter Pond

borndied
1739/40, Jan 181807
a soldier with a Connecticut regiment, a fur trader, a founding member of the North West Company and the Beaver Club, an explorer and a cartographer. Though he was born and died in Milford, Connecticut, most of his life was spent in northwestern North America, where he explored waterways around Lake Athabasca and determined the approximate locations of Great...
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Links (1)


Cross-listed in Military

Gaspar de Portola

aka: Portolà
borndied
17161786
a soldier and administrator in New Spain; explorer and founder of San Diego and Monterey; governor of Las Californias and first Governor of Alta California (1768–1770). Portolá led the first land exploration from San Diego to San Francisco. He named many landmarks features on his trip, many names that are still in use today.
Links (1)


Gavriil Pribylov

borndied
unknown1796
a Russian navigator who discovered the Bering Sea islands of St. George Island and St. Paul Island in 1786 and 1787. The islands, and surrounding small islets, now bear his name, being known as the Pribilof Islands.
Links (1)


Nathaniel Hale Pryor

borndied
17721831
Sergeant in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He was born in Virginia and was a cousin of fellow expedition member Charles Floyd. His family moved to Kentucky when he was eleven. He was married in 1798 to Peggy Patton, though the marriage may have ended before he joined the expedition on October 20, 1803, in Clarksville, Indiana; he was one of the "nine young...
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Links (1)

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