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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

Cayetano Valdes y Flores

aka: Valdés y Flores
bornactivedied
17671782-18331835
a commander of the Spanish Navy, explorer, and captain general who served in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, fighting for both sides at different times due to the changing fortunes of Spain in the conflict. Also an explorer, most notable in the Pacific Northwest, where he and Dionisio Alcalá Galiano conducted the first circumnavigation of Vanc...
more
Links (1)


Cross-listed in MilitaryGovernance

Pedro de Valdivia

bornactivedied
1497, Apr 171520-15531553, Dec 25
a Spanish conquistador and the first royal governor of Chile. After serving with the Spanish army in Italy and Flanders, he was sent to South America in 1534, where he served as lieutenant under Francisco Pizarro in Peru, acting as his second in command. In 1540 he led an expedition of 150 Spaniards into Chile, where he defeated a large force of indigenous n...
more
Links (4)


Cross-listed in Naval

Jacob van Neck

aka: Jacob Corneliszoon, Jacob Cornelius
borndied
15641638
a Dutch naval officer and explorer who led the second Dutch expedition to Indonesia from 1598 to 1599. Van Neck was from an Amsterdam family in good standing, and received a thorough education. Since he came from a commercial background and was not experienced in sailing, he took extra classes in navigation. Following the success of the first Dutch expeditio...
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Timeline (4)Links (1)


Cross-listed in GovernanceCommerce

Abraham van Riebeeck

borndied
1653, Oct 181713, Nov 17
a merchant with the Dutch East India Company and the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies from 1709 to 1713. After his studies, he became a merchant with the Dutch East India Company and travelled on the ship De Vrijheyt to Batavia, where he arrived 1677. He was Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies from 1709 until his death in 1713. He was a...
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Links (1)Notes (1)


Cross-listed in Naval

George Vancouver

bornactivedied
1757, Jun 221772-17951798, May 10
an English officer of the Royal Navy, who explored and charted North America's northwestern Pacific Coast regions, including the coasts of contemporary Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. He also explored the Hawaiian Islands and the southwest coast of Australia.
Timeline (5)Links (13)Notes (1)


Cross-listed in Writers

Ludovico di Varthema

aka: Barthema, Vertomannus
bornactivedied
1470 ca1502-15071517
an Italian traveller, diarist and aristocrat known for being the first non-Muslim European to enter Mecca as a pilgrim. Nearly everything that is known about his life comes from his own account of his travels, Itinerario de Ludouico de Varthema Bolognese, published in Rome in 1510. Explored Arabian Peninsula, Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia
Links (1)


Cross-listed in Governance

Diego Velasquez de Cuellar

bornactivedied
14651490s-1510s1524, Jun 12
a Spanish conquistador. He first visited the New World with the crew of Christopher Columbus' second voyage in 1493. He conquered and governed Cuba on behalf of Spain.
Links (2)


Cross-listed in Pirates

Giovanni da Verrazzano

bornactivedied
14851508-15281528
an Italian explorer of North America, in the service of King Francis I of France. He is renowned as the first European since the Norse to explore the Atlantic coast of North America between Florida and New Brunswick, including New York Bay and Narragan...
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Timeline (2)Links (19)


Cross-listed in Cartographers

Amerigo Vespucci

bornactivedied
1454, Mar 91497-1500s1512, Feb 22
an Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer who first demonstrated that Brazil and the West Indies did not represent Asia's eastern outskirts as initially conjectured from Columbus' voyages, but instead constituted an entirely separate landmass hitherto unknown to Afro-Eurasians. Colloquially referred to as the New World, this second super con...
more
Timeline (1)Links (2)


Cross-listed in GovernanceWriters

Gaspar Perez de Villagra

aka: Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá
borndied
15551620
a captain and legal officer (procurador general) in the Juan de Oñate expedition that first colonized Santa Fe de Nuevo México in 1598. Between 1601 and 1603, he served as the Alcalde mayor of the Guanacevi mines in what is now the Mexican state of Durango. He is better known for his authorship of Historia de la Nueva México, published in 1610.
Links (1)


Ruy López de Villalobos

bornactivedied
1500 ca1520s-15441544, Apr 4
a Spanish explorer who sailed the Pacific from Mexico to establish a permanent foothold for Spain in the East Indies. Explored Pacific Ocean, Philippines
Links (1)


Sebastián Vizcaíno

bornactivedied
15481580s-1610s1624
a Spanish soldier, entrepreneur, explorer, and diplomat whose varied roles took him to New Spain, the Philippines, the Baja California peninsula, the California coast and Japan.
Links (2)


Willem de Vlamingh

bornactivedied
1640, Nov 281688-1698unknown
a Dutch sea-captain who explored the central west coast of Australia (then "New Holland") in the late 17th century. The mission proved fruitless, but Vlamingh charted parts of the continent's western coast.
Timeline (1)Links (1)


Cross-listed in Cartographers

Maarten Gerritsz Vries

bornactivedied
1589, Feb 181640s1647
a 17th-century Dutch cartographer and explorer, the first Western European to leave an account of his visit to the Sea of Okhotsk and the island of Sakhalin.
Links (1)

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