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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 Naval

Jean-Francois de Galaup

aka: comte de La Pérouse, Jean-François
borndied
1741, Aug 231788 ca
a French Naval officer and explorer whose expedition vanished in Oceania. Explored Australia and the Pacific Rim. Lapérouse wrote that he expected to be back in France by June 1789. The documents that he dispatched with the Alexander from the in-progress expedition were returned to Paris, where they were published after his presumed death. However, neither ...
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Links (1)


Cross-listed in NavalCartographers

Dionisio Alcala Galiano

aka: Dionisio Alcalá
borndied
1760, Oct 81805, Oct 21
a Spanish naval officer, cartographer, and explorer. He mapped various coastlines in Europe and the Americas with unprecedented accuracy, using new technology such as chronometers. He commanded an expedition that explored and mapped the the pacific Northwest. the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia, and made the first European circumnavigation o...
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Links (1)


Cross-listed in Military

Juan Galindo

borndied
18021839
a Central American explorer and army officer. He fought for Central American independence from Spain and led the charge that took the fortress at Omoa, the last Spanish stronghold in Central America. Galindo worked for the government of the United Provinces of Central America. In addition to his military duties, his work included a stint as governor of Peté...
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Estevao da Gama

aka: Estevão
borndied
1505 ca1576
the Portuguese governor of Portuguese Gold Coast (1529–15??) and Portuguese India (1540–1542). He commanded the fleet that entered the Red Sea, with the intent of attacking the Ottoman fleet in its harbor at Suez, leaving Goa December 31, 1540 and reaching Aden January 27, 1541. Explored Trindade and Martim Vaz islands, Indian Ocean
Links (1)


Vasco da Gama

aka: 1st Count of Vidigueira
bornactivedied
1460s1480-15241524, Dec 24
a Portuguese explorer. He was the first European to reach India by sea, linking Europe and Asia for the first time by ocean route, as well as linking the Atlantic and the Indian oceans entirely and definitively, and in this way, the West and the Orient. This was accomplished on his first voyage to India (1497–1499). Da Gama's discovery was significant and ...
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Timeline (5)Links (19)


Cross-listed in AstronomersWritersScientistsCartographers

Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa

borndied
15321592
a Spanish explorer, author, historian, astronomer, and scientist. His birthplace is not certain and may have been Pontevedra, in Galicia. In Lima he was accused by the Inquisition of possessing two magic rings and some magic ink and of following the precepts of Moses. In 1572 he was commissioned by Francisco de Toledo, the fifth Viceroy of Peru, to write a h...
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Aleixo Garcia

aka: Alejo García
borndied
unknown1525
a Portuguese explorer and conquistador who explored the Rio de la Plata in service to Spain, and later the Paraguay and Bolivia. He was possibly a member of the failed expedition of Juan Díaz de Solís, seeking to find a passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. He explored Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia
Links (1)


Cross-listed in Military

Pierre Gaultier de Varennes

aka: sieur de La Vérendrye
bornactivedied
1685, Nov 171726-17461749, Dec 5
a French Canadian military officer, fur trader and explorer. In the 1730s he and his four sons opened up the area west of Lake Superior and thus began the process that added Western Canada to the original New France in the Saint Lawrence basin. He was also the first known European to reach North Dakota and the upper Missouri River. In the 1740s two of his so...
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Cross-listed in Military

Sir Humphrey Gilbert

borndied
1539 ca1583, Sep 9
Adventurer, explorer, member of parliament, and soldier, he served during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and was a pioneer of the English colonial empire in North America and the Plantations of Ireland. He was a half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh (they had the same mother, Catherine Champernowne), and cousin of Sir Richard Grenville. Gilbert was one of the lea...
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Timeline (3)Links (2)


Hugh Glass

borndied
1783 ca1833
an American frontiersman, fur trapper, fur trader, hunter, and explorer. Born in Pennsylvania to Scots-Irish parents, Glass became an explorer of the watershed of the Upper Missouri River, in present-day Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the Platte River area of Nebraska. Glass is best known for his story of survival and retribution, after being left ...
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Links (1)


Cross-listed in Scientists

Johann Georg Gmelin

borndied
1709, Aug 81755, May 20
a German naturalist, botanist and geographer. Gmelin was elected one out of three professors to join Vitus Bering’s Second Kamchatka Expedition (1733–43). During the early part of the expedition - leaving St Petersburg in August 1733 - he was accompanied by the young student Stepan Krasheninnikov. They travelled together through the Urals and western Sib...
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Links (1)


Andre Goncalves [1]

aka: André Gonçalves
bornactivedied
unknown1490s-1500sunknown
A Portuguese explorer that accompanied Pedro Álvares Cabral in the discovery of Brazil. Gonçalves was one of Cabral's captains of the fleet. Very little is known about his live, other than he explored Brazil.
Links (1)


Cross-listed in Pirates

Bartholomew Gosnold

borndied
15711607, Aug 22
an English lawyer, explorer, and privateer who was instrumental in founding the Virginia Company of London, and Jamestown in colonial America. He led the first recorded European expedition to Cape Cod. He is considered by Preservation Virginia (formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) to be the "prime mover of the colon...
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Timeline (2)Links (1)


Cross-listed in Writers

Christoph von Graffenried

borndied
1661, Nov 151743
a Swiss nobleman who led a group of Swiss and Palatine Germans to North Carolina in British North America in 1705. He later authored Relation of My American Project, an account of the establishment of New Bern.
Links (1)


Robert Gray

borndied
1755, May 101806, Jul
an American merchant sea captain who is known for his achievements in connection with two trading voyages to the northern Pacific coast of North America, between 1790 and 1793, which pioneered the American maritime fur trade in that region. In the course of those voyages, Gray explored portions of that coast and, in 1790, completed the first American circumn...
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Timeline (3)Links (1)


Cross-listed in Astronomers

Charles Green

bornactivedied
17351760-17711771, Jan 29
a British astronomer and member of the expedition to observe the transit of Venus aboard James Cook's Endeavour. Cook noted in his log that the times recorded by the three observers for the times of contact differed significantly; this anomaly, now generally attributed to the black drop effect, would cast significant doubt, in the eyes of the Royal So...
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Links (2)


Cross-listed in PiratesMilitary

Sir Richard Grenville

aka: Greynvile, Greeneville, Greenfield
borndied
1542, Jun 151591, Sep 10
an English sailor who as captain of the Revenge, died at the Battle of Flores (1591), fighting heroically against overwhelming odds, and refusing to surrender his ship to the far more numerous Spanish. He was also a soldier, an armed merchant fleet owner, privateer, colonizer, and explorer.
Links (1)Notes (2)


Juan de Grijalva

borndied
1489 ca1527, Jan 21
a Spanish conquistador, and relation of Diego Velázquez. He went to Hispaniola in 1508 and to Cuba in 1511. Grijalva was one of the earliest to explore the shores of Mexico. He was also the first Spaniard to encounter Moctezuma II's delegation. He also explored Nicaragua.
Links (2)


Gonzalo Guerrero

aka: Gonzalo Marinero, Gonzalo de Aroca, Gonzalo de Aroza
bornactivedied
unknown1510-1530 ca1530 ca
a sailor from Palos, in Spain who shipwrecked along the Yucatán Peninsula and was taken as a slave by the local Maya. Earning his freedom, Guerrero became a respected warrior under a Maya Lord and raised three of the first mestizo children in Mexico and presumably the first mixed children of the mainland Americas. Little is known of his early life. Explore...
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Links (1)

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