Vasco da Gama Explorer Information Placard

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1 Vasco da Gama Vasco da Game was born in 1460 in Sines, Portugal. His family was of nobility, so he had access to better education and training, but he chose to follow in his father s footsteps as a sea explorer. In 1497, on July 8 th, da Gama set sale from Lisbon Portugal to try to find a route to the East. Supported by the King, his trip was still not expected to do well, with many questioning any other sear access beyond the Indian Ocean. To the surprise of many, da Gama did reach India in May of There he found great Indian and other Eastern goods, and filled up his ship with the new findings. On the trip back toward home, many of da Gama s crew became ill and died of scurvy. Despite these great human losses, the King hailed Da Gama as a hero when he returned with all of the valuable goods in the name of Portugal. More importantly, he was given credit for finding a sea route to India. Following his first expedition, he continued to sail for Portugal and its king. Guarded by Portuguese naval ships, he was able to successfully travel and trade through the region. In addition to his trading ventures, he and his crew were responsible for killing many Muslims along the way to show his power and that of the Christian Europeans. After numerous sailings, Vasco da Gama became the King s representative in India and lived there until his death in His body was then sent home for an honorable burial in Portugal.

2 Ferdinand Magellan Ferdinand Magellan was born in 1480 to a noble family in northern Portugal. From early on, he sailed for Portugal on many voyages from the Portuguese coast to India and the Far East along the route passing the Cape of Good Hope. After a dispute with the king, he changed his loyalties and began to sail for the Spanish crown. It was in Spain that Magellan convinced King Charles V to allow him and a 270 man crew to sail westward in search of another route to the Far East. His argument was that by sailing west, they would avoid interacting with the Portuguese ships and would have better access to the trading lands. On September 8, 1519, Magellan and his crew set sail from Spain. His five ships sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, along the South American Coast, and through the Pacific Ocean to the Far East. In his passing the southern point of the continent, he named it the Magellan Strait, and he is also given credit for naming the Pacific Ocean for its peaceful nature compared to the rocky and rough Atlantic. After three years of the sailing, one of the 5 ships and 18 of the original crew members returned to Spain having completed the first circumnavigation of the globe. While this great feat was credited to Magellan, he did not make it back to Spain. He was killed in the Philippines after falling into a civil war among the natives on the island.

3 Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 to a merchant family in Italy. He sailed for Italy to India for the trading of spices, but wanted to find another route to India by sailing to the west. The Italian king would not support his westward sailing, so Columbus moved to Spain to petition the Spanish royalty. After convincing King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to support his westward sailing, Columbus and his 3 ship crew set out on their trip in August of He sailed with the three ships, the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria with a total of 90 crewmen. After a month of sailing, his crew was very restless and Columbus feared a mutiny, but by fixing his travel logs, he convinced his crew they were soon to land, and on October 11, 1492, they found the first of the Caribbean islands they would visit. Columbus named this island San Salvador (Holy Savior), and went ashore to meet the natives. Still believing he had found islands off of India, he called these natives Indians. He also names the region of islands there the Indies. Columbus took some of the natives captive and eventually sold them as slaves. He also sailed around to some of the other islands, and searched the region for valuables such as gold. He finally arrived back in Spain in 1493 and was hailed a hero by the Spanish royalty for finding this new western route. He continued to sail for Spain and made three more trips to the Americas. In his latter trips, he traveled the islands and the mainland, always believing he was in the region of India. He died in Hispaniola in 1506 while on his fourth trip to the area.

4 Hernan Cortes Hernan Cortes was born in 1485 and sailed for the Spanish crown after failing an attempt at law school. He went on to sail in search of gold and glory in the Americas. After hearing many rumors about the gold and other riches of the native people in the Yucatan Peninsula, he set sail for the region in Upon finding the Aztec people, he first befriended the Aztec emperor in order to trick the native people into allegiance. Once the Aztec people began to revolt, a war broke out among between the natives and the Spanish conquistadors. Finally, after the Aztec leader Montezuma s death, the Aztec people were overtaken by the Spanish soldiers and were killed, displaced, or enslaved. For the Spanish, the entire Aztec Empire was taken by the European Empire. With a claim over all of the Mexico region, a strong foothold was placed on the Americas for Spain. In addition to the territory gain, great treasures were brought from the region back to Spain, and Cortes was welcomed back as a great hero for the country. For a while after his claim for Spain, he served as the governor of the region before returning to Spain where he died in 1547.

5 John Cabot John Cabot was born in Italy in 1450, but moved to become an English citizen in It was in England that Cabot began sailing toward the Americas at the request of the English King Henry VII. In 1497, he set sail for the northern part of the American continent, and sailed to the region that is now Canada. With his landing in the area of Newfoundland, he laid claim for England upon the land. From there, he continued to explore the region and named the islands, waterways and capes that he encountered along the way. Cabot s main goal was to find a northwest passage through the American continent to Asia. Despite his sailings through the region, he was unsuccessful in this ultimate goal, and at some points believed he was in the northeastern region of Asia. He again sailed for England in 1498, but it is unsure if he reached the new continent in this trip. He later died in England in 1499.

6 Francisco Pizarro Francisco Pizarro was born in Italy in 1478, however, he sailed for the Spanish as a conquistador throughout the region of the America along the Pacific coast of Peru. In 1532, Pizarro and his crew arrived in the area controlled by the Incan Empire. There, after first befriending and then capturing the Incan emperor, he overtook the Incan people and claimed the land and treasures for Spain. In the process, thousands of the Incans were killed and many more were enslaved or pushed out of their own empire. In his trickiest move, he had taken a large ransom for the emperor himself, but then had the emperor executed after the treasure was paid. Pizarro went on to the city of Lima pillaging and plundering along the way. Upon his arrival in the city, he claimed it as his find and renamed it the City of Kings. However, in 1541, other Spanish conquistadors sailing with Cortes, who were also in the city of Lima and planned to claim it and its riches as their own, assassinated him.

7 Amerigo Vespucci Amerigo Vespucci was born in Italy in 1454 and was a studied sailor who eventually sailed for the Spanish crown in As the navigator of the ship on his first Spanish sailing, he encountered the Amazon River and the Orinoco River in South America. While the others he was sailing with still felt as though they were traveling in Asia, he determined that he was in another land. In 1501, Vespucci returned to the eastern coast of South America, and it was then that he mapped out the region. Back in Europe, he met with a mapmaker friend, and they printed the first map with the continents identified as new lands. The mapmaker named the new lands after Amerigo, thus the continents of America were named.

8 Vasco Nunez de Balboa Vasco Nunez de Balboa was born in Sailing for Spain as the empire continued to learn more about the new land and the other seas, he was among the conquistadors who sailed looking for treasure along the coast. Settling in the area for a while, and marrying the daughter of an Indian chief, he was often exploring the region and looking for additional valuable to claim for Spain. During part of this time, he settled a colony for Spain in South America, and continued to sail with Spaniards and some Indians throughout the region. In 1513, on an overland expedition with his men, he (leading the way) was the first European in this era to see the eastern region of the Pacific Ocean after crossing the Isthmus of Panama. He claimed all of the land along the coast of this new ocean for Spain and spent an additional month fighting natives along the coast for their gold and other treasures. One of the men that had been part of Balboa s crew on the expedition to the Pacific Ocean was Francisco Pizarro. However, it was Pizarro who arrested Balboa of treason against Spain in 1518, a crime that Balboa had not committed. Despite his plea of innocence, Balboa was found guilty of treason and was beheaded in January of 1519.

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