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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 PiratesWriters

William Dampier

bornactivedied
1651, Sep1673-17151715, Mar
the first Englishman to explore parts of what is today Australia, and the first person to circumnavigate the world three times. He has also been described as Australia's first natural historian, as well as one of the most important He came from Somerset, England, and fought alongside buccaneers in Central America. Marooned on the Nicobar Islands in the India...
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Timeline (1)Links (2)Gallery (1)Notes (2)


Cross-listed in WritersScientists

Charles Darwin

bornactivedied
1809, Feb 121827-18721882, Apr 19
an English naturalist and geologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, and in a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace introduced h...
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Timeline (85)Links (8)


Isaac Davis

borndied
1758 ca1810, Apr
a British advisor to Kamehameha I and helped form the Kingdom of Hawaii. He arrived in Hawaii in 1790 as the sole survivor of the massacre of the crew of The Fair American. He along with John Young became friends and advisors to Kamehameha. He brought western military knowledge to Hawaii and played a prominent role during Hawaii's first contacts with the Eur...
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Links (1)


Juan de Fuca

aka: Ioánnis Phokás
borndied
15361602
a Greek maritime pilot in the service of the King of Spain, Philip II. He is best known for his claim to have explored the Strait of Anián, now known as the Strait of Juan de Fuca, between Vancouver Island (now part of British Columbia, Canada) and the Olympic Peninsula (northwestern Washington State, United States).
Links (1)


Binot Paulmier de Gonneville

bornactivedied
unknown1500s-1510sunknown
French navigator of the early 16th century, was widely believed in 17th and 18th century France to have been the true discoverer of the Terra Australis (which does not refer to Australia). This claim is not now accepted by historians. Explored Brazil (Santa Catarina).
Links (1)


Cross-listed in Clergy

Miguel de Palomares

borndied
unknown1542
Priest in Spanish-settled Mexico, buried in Aztec temple.


Pierre-Jean de Smet

borndied
1801, Jan 301873, May 23
a Belgian Roman Catholic priest and member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), active in missionary work among the Native Americans of the Midwestern United States and Western United States in the mid-19th century. Explored North America.
Links (1)


Hernando de Soto

borndied
1496/981542, May 21
a Spanish explorer and conquistador who led the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States (Florida, Georgia, Alabama and most likely Arkansas), and the first documented European to have crossed the Mississippi River. Explored Central America and the southern United States
Timeline (7)Links (2)


Gerrit de Veer

borndied
1570 ca1598 ca
a Dutch officer on Willem Barentsz' second and third voyages (1595 and 1596) in search of the Northeast passage. De Veer kept a diary of the voyages and in 1597 was the first person to observe and record the Novaya Zemlya effect, and the first westerner to obser...
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Links (1)


Francisco del Puerto

bornactivedied
unknown1510sunknown
a cabin boy of the expedition of Juan Díaz de Solís to the Río de la Plata. His last name seems to come from his origin, El Puerto de Santa María. There are no known facts about his life in Spain . On October 8, 1515 he embarked as a cabin boy on the aforementioned expedition, which departed from the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda with three ships. At th...
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Bartolomeu Dias

bornactivedied
1451 ca1480s-15001500, May 29
a nobleman of the Portuguese royal household, was a Portuguese explorer. He sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, reaching the Indian Ocean from the Atlantic, the first European known to have done so. Explored Africa
Links (1)


Diogo Dias

aka: Diogo Gomes
bornactivedied
unknown1490s-1500sunknown
a 15th-century Portuguese explorer. He was the brother of Bartolomeu Dias and discovered some of the Cape Verde islands together with António Noli. In 1497 on the first Portuguese India Armadas expedition to India, Diogo Dias served as clerk aboard Vasco da Gama...
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Timeline (1)Links (1)


Melchior Diaz

aka: Díaz
borndied
unknownunknown
an early Spanish explorer of Western North America who "was a hard worker and skillful organizer and leader. He inspired confidence in his companions and followers, and always maintained the best of order and of diligence among those who were under his charge". He was involved in three expeditions associated with the explorations of Francisco Vásquez de Cor...
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Links (1)


Juan Diaz de Solis

bornactivedied
14701500-15161516
In 1500 and 1508, Diaz de Solis joined Vincente Pinzón on two voyages exploring along the coast of South America. He was appointed as chief pilot in 1512 and three years later was commissioned to lead an expedition to an area south of the Isthmus of Panama. He reached the estuary of Rio de la Plata in 1516 and sailed up the Uruguay River. He and all but one...
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Links (1)


Cross-listed in Writers

Bernal Diaz del Castillo

borndied
1494 ca1584
a Spanish conquistador, who participated as a foot soldier in the conquest of Mexico with Hernán Cortés. He is often considered the "Man of Castilla" having many relationships due to his handsome demeanor. As a soldier of fortune, he participated in expeditions to Tierra Firme, to Cuba, and to the Yucatán peninsula before joining Cortés. In his later yea...
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Links (2)


Cross-listed in Writers

Karl von Ditmar

borndied
1822, Aug 271892, Apr 13
a Baltic German geologist and explorer, who travelled in and contributed to the scientific understanding of Kamchatka. In 1851 Ditmar undertook a voyage to Kamchatka which would last until 1854, and there undertook important scientific investigations. His account of the travels in Kamchatka, published first in 1890, is still used by scientists involved in st...
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Links (1)


Cross-listed in Clergy

Francisco Dominguez

aka: Francisco Atanasio
bornactivedied
1740 ca1757-18001804 ca
One of the leaders of the Dominguez-Escalante Expedition, a journey under a commission from the Spanish government to find a route from Santa Fe to Monterey and to record certain facts about the North American southwest.
Timeline (1)Links (1)Notes (1)


Cross-listed in Pirates

Thomas Doughty [1]

bornactivedied
15451577-15781578, Jul 2
an English nobleman, soldier, scholar and personal secretary of Christopher Hatton. His association with Francis Drake, on a 1577 voyage to interfere with Spanish treasure fleets, ended in a shipboard trial for treason and witchcraft and Doughty's execution.
Links (1)


Cross-listed in PiratesNaval

Sir Francis Drake

aka: el Draque (the Dragon)
bornactivedied
1540 ca1563-15961596, Jan 27/28
an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Drake carried out the second circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition, and was the first to complete it as captain and leader of the expedition throughout the entire circumnavigation. Elizabeth I awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-comma...
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Timeline (11)Links (28)Notes (4)


Cross-listed in WritersCartographers

Sir Robert Dudley [2]

bornactivedied
1574, Aug 71594-16031649, Sep 6
an English explorer and cartographer. In 1594, he led an expedition to the West Indies, of which he wrote an account. The illegitimate son of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, he inherited the bulk of the Earl's estate in accordance with his father's will, including Kenilworth Castle. In 1603–1605, he tried unsuccessfully to establish his legitimacy in...
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Links (1)


Cross-listed in NavalScientistsCartographers

Jules Dumont d'Urville

borndied
1790, May 231842, May 8
a French explorer, naval officer and rear admiral, who explored the south and western Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica. As a botanist and cartographer he left his mark, giving his name to several seaweeds, plants and shrubs, and places such as D'Urville Island.
Timeline (1)Links (1)

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