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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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Anthony de la Roche

aka: la Roché
bornactivedied
unknown1674-1675unknown
an English merchant born in London to a French Huguenot father and an English mother. During a commercial voyage between Europe and South America he was blown off course, and visited the Antarctic island of South Georgia, making the first ever discovery of land south of the Antarctic Convergence.
Links (1)


Cross-listed in Military

Pierre Gaultier de La Verendrye the Younger

aka: La Vérendrye
borndied
1714, Dec 11755, Sep 13
the second son of Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye. An explorer and fur trader who served many years under the command of his father, he was born on Île aux Vaches, (Isle of Cows) near Sorel, New France. The young Pierre spent two years in the colonial regular troops las a cadet, doing garrison duty in Montreal. In 1731, when his father p...
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Timeline (1)Links (1)


Cross-listed in WritersScientists

Jean-Baptiste Labat

borndied
16631738, Jan 6
a French clergyman, botanist, writer, explorer, ethnographer, soldier, engineer, and landowner. Labat was born and died in Paris. In 1693, determined to devote himself to foreign missionary work, he received permission from the general of his order to travel to the West Indies, then under French domination. In 1696 he travelled to Guadeloupe, and was appoint...
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Links (1)


Pierre Laclede

aka: Laclède, Pierre Laclède Liguest
borndied
1729, Nov 221778, Jun 20
a French fur trader who, with his young assistant and stepson Auguste Chouteau, founded St. Louis in 1764, in what was then Spanish Upper Louisiana, in present-day Missouri. In 1755, Laclède arrived in New Orleans at the age of 26. The cause of his trip is argued about; some historians believe he was traveling for pleasure. Others say that he was looking to...
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Timeline (1)Links (1)


Alexander Gordon Laing

bornactivedied
1793, Dec 271810s-18261826, Sep 26
a Scottish explorer and the first European to reach Timbuktu via the north/south route. Explored West Africa (Niger River and Timbuktu)
Links (1)


Richard Lemon Lander

bornactivedied
1804, Feb 81820s-18341834, Feb 6
a Cornish explorer of western Africa. Explored the Niger and Benue Rivers. While journeying upstream in a canoe, Lander was attacked by African tribesmen and wounded by a musket ball in his thigh. He managed to return to the coast, but died there from his injuries.
Links (1)


Grigori Ivanovitch Langsdorff

bornactivedied
1774, Apr 81803-18301852, Jun 9
a German-Russian naturalist and explorer. He was a member and correspondent of the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences and a respected physician, graduated in medicine and natural history at the University of Göttingen, Germany. Explored Brazil.
Links (1)


Joao Fernandes Lavrador

aka: João
bornactivedied
14531498-15011501 ca
a Portuguese explorer of the late 15th century. He was the first modern explorer in the coasts of the Northeast of Northern America, including the Labrador peninsula, which bears his name.
Links (3)


Cross-listed in Writers

John Lawson

borndied
1674 ca1711
an English explorer, naturalist and writer. He played an important role in exploring the interior of colonial North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, publicizing his expeditions in a book. He founded two settlements in North Carolina: Bath and New Bern, both at the coast. He was killed by Tuscarora people, who were beginning to resist European encroachme...
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Links (1)


Jacob Le Maire

bornactivedied
1585 ca1615-16161616, Dec 22
a Dutch mariner who circumnavigated the earth in 1615 and 1616. Eendracht rounded Cape Horn, proving that Tierra del Fuego was not a continent. Explored the South Pacific (Cape Horn, Tonga Islands, Wallis and Futuna).
Timeline (2)Links (4)


Cross-listed in Governance

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne [1]

aka: Sieur de Bienville
borndied
1680, Feb 231767, Mar 7
a colonizer, born in Montreal, New France, and an early, repeated governor of French Louisiana, appointed four separate times during 1701–1743. At the age of seventeen, Bienville joined his brother Iberville on an expedition to establish the colony of Louisiana. Bienville explored the Gulf of Mexico coastline, discovering the Chandeleur Islands off the coa...
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Cross-listed in PiratesCartographers

Guillaume Le Testu

aka: Guillaume Le Têtu
bornactivedied
1509 ca1560s-1570s1573
a French privateer, explorer and navigator. He was one of the foremost cartographers of his time and an author of the Dieppe maps. His maps were distinguished by their sophistication and detail; they influenced generations of cartographers, navigators and explorers. Le Testu was successful as a privateer during the early years of the French Wars of Religion....
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Links (6)Gallery (1)


Cross-listed in Writers

John Ledyard

bornactivedied
1751, Nov1770s-17891789, Jan 10
an American explorer and adventurer. In June 1776, Ledyard joined Captain James Cook's third and final voyage as a British marine. Explored Australasia, Oceania, and Russia. Ledyard was sent to Canada to fight in the American Revolution. Instead he deserted, returned to Dartmouth, and began to write his Journal of Captain Cook's Last Voyage. It was published...
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Links (1)


Cross-listed in Governance

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi

aka: Miguel López de Legazpi
bornactivedied
1502 ca1528-15651572, Aug 20
a Basque Spanish navigator and governor who established the first Spanish settlement in the East Indies when his expedition crossed the Pacific Ocean from the Viceroyalty of New Spain in modern-day Mexico, and founded Cebu on the Philippine Islands in 1565. He was the first Governor-General of Spanish East Indies which included the Philippines and other Pac...
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Timeline (1)Links (1)


Ludwig Leichhardt

bornactivedied
1813, Oct 231840s1848 ca
a Prussian explorer and naturalist, most famous for his exploration of northern and central Australia. Explored the Australian interior.
Links (1)


Gaspar de Lemos

bornactivedied
unknown1500s-1530sunknown
a Portuguese explorer and captain of the supply ship of Pedro Álvares Cabral's fleet that discovered Brazil. Gaspar de Lemos was sent back to Portugal with news of their discovery and was credited by the Viscount of Santarém as having discovered the Fernando de Noronha archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.
Links (1)


Meriwether Lewis

bornactivedied
1774, Aug 181800s1809, Oct 11
an American explorer, soldier, politician, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark. Explored the Western United States.
Timeline (21)Links (24)Notes (6)


David Livingstone

bornactivedied
1813, Mar 191840s-18731873, May 1
a Scottish Congregationalist pioneer medical missionary with the London Missionary Society and an explorer in Africa. Explored southern and eastern Africa
Timeline (1)Links (1)


Garcia Jofre de Loaisa

aka: García Jofre de Loaísa
bornactivedied
14901525-15261526, Jul 20
Commanded a 16th-century voyage of discovery to the Pacific Ocean and ordered by King Charles I of Spain to colonize the Spice Islands in the East Indies. Explored the Pacific Ocean.
Links (1)


Cross-listed in Writers

William Loftus

borndied
1820, Nov 131858, Nov 27
a British geologist, naturalist, explorer and archaeological excavator. He discovered the ancient Sumerian city of Uruk in 1849. He is credited with the discovery of the Apadana, later excavated by the French amateur archaeologist Marcel-Auguste Dieulafoy. Engaged in 1853 by the newly founded Assyrian Excavation Fund to conduct excavations in Warka, Loftus w...
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Links (1)


Fernao de Loronha

aka: Fernão, Fernando de Noronha, Fernando della Rogna
bornactivedied
1470 ca1500s-1510s1540 ca
a prominent 16th-century Portuguese merchant of Lisbon He was the first charter-holder (1502–1512), the first donatary captain in Brazil and sponsor of numerous early Portuguese overseas expeditions. The islands of Fernando de Noronha off the coast of Brazil, discovered by one of his expeditions and granted to Loronha and his heirs as a fief in 1504, are n...
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Links (2)


Tristan de Luna

aka: Tristán Luna y Arellano
borndied
15191573, Sep 16
a Spanish explorer and Conquistador of the 16th century. Born in Borobia, Spain,to a noble family he came to New Spain, and was sent on an expedition to colonize Florida in 1559. He was a cousin of the viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza, and of Juana de Zúñiga, wife of Hernán Cortés. In August of that year, he established an ephemeral colony at mod...
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Timeline (1)Links (2)

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