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Exploration

EXPLORATION

EXPLORATION. The early modern period, in European usage, defined the centuries in which Europeans explored the rest of the world. The motivations of individual explorers and their sponsors varied, but taken collectively, their efforts greatly increased European knowledge about the world's lands and peoples and brought vast continents and their inhabitants into contact with Europe, for both good and ill.

RENAISSANCE BEGINNINGS OF EXPLORATION

The so-called Age of Discovery began in the late fifteenth century, but Europeans had been probing the known areas and boundaries of their world for several centuries before that, motivated by tales of fabulous riches in distant kingdoms in Africa and Asia. Christian missionaries and leaders of the Catholic Church in Rome had also sent emissaries into Asia in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, seeking to fulfill the biblical mandate to spread the message of Christianity. Later they sought allies against the growing power of Muslim rulers in the Middle East. Developments in the mid-fifteenth century added momentum to those efforts. Western Europe showed unmistakable signs of economic growth by 1450, as population and the economy recovered from the century of crisis that began in the early fourteenth century and was worsened by waves of epidemic disease from 1348 on. In 1453 the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople, the heir to ancient Rome and capital of Orthodox Christianity, and brought it within the Muslim world. At about the same time, the invention of movable type (associated with Johannes Gutenberg) made it possible to reproduce written materials more cheaply and quickly. Reports on great events such as the fall of Constantinople, plus ancient treatises about geography and real or fanciful books about travel, inspired many Europeans to seek new venues for trade, spread the message of Christianity, and search for allies against Ottoman expansion.

Potential explorers sought out investors among wealthy merchant communities, and asked for sponsorship from the various national monarchies emerging in the climate of economic recovery that marked the late fifteenth century. Portuguese explorers such as Gil Eanes, Nuno Tristão, and Alvise da Cada Mosto had explored down the western coast of Africa in the 1430s, 1440s, and 1450s, respectively. After 1479 and a treaty with Castile that gave them exclusive rights to African exploration, Portuguese expeditions continued their search for trade opportunities and a sea route to India. The voyages of Diogo Cão, Bartolomeu Dias, and Vasco da Gama (1498) established that route by 1500. Castilian expeditions after 1479 explored westward in search of fabled islands, conquering the Canary Islands in the process. Isabella of Castile and her husband Ferdinand of Aragón also sponsored the four voyages of Christopher Columbus between 1492 and 1504 to search westward for Asia, as well as sponsoring voyages by other explorers in the same period.

By the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, Portugal and Castile agreed upon spheres of influence in lands discovered across the Ocean Sea (the Atlantic Ocean). Probing the treaty's limits, the Portuguese brothers Gaspar and Miguel Corte-Real explored a northern route across the Atlantic, staking a claim to rich fishing grounds near Labrador; Pedro Álvares Cabral touched the northeast coast of Brazil in 1500 on the way to India. The Italian father and son John and Sebastian Cabot and their associates aimed above all to find a northwest passage to Asiaan aim that would continue to inspire explorers thereafter. Henry VII of England (ruled 14851509) sponsored expeditions by the Cabots in the 1490s to explore toward the northwest, following up on presumed voyages from Bristol in the 1480s that left little or no trace in the records.

THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY

In terms of sea and overland routes established and coastlines and hinterlands explored and mapped, Europeans probably accomplished more in the early sixteenth century than in any other half-century in history. In 1513 the Spaniard Vasco Núñez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and saw the great western ocean that would be named the Pacific. That same year his compatriot Juan Ponce de León cruised around the southern tip of Florida. In 1519 the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan, having quarreled with the king of Portugal, sailed under Spanish auspices to find a westward route to Asia that would challenge the south and eastward route pioneered by the Portuguese. Sailing south beyond the known coastlines of America, Magellan explored the treacherous strait that would bear his name and crossed the vast Pacific Ocean to the islands of East Asia, where the Portuguese were already established. Anxious to spread the Christian Gospel and support local allies, Magellan was killed in a skirmish in the islands later known as the Philippines. The remnant of his expedition finally made it back to Spain in 1522 under the leadership of Juan Sebastián de Elcano (del Cano), sailing ever westward around Africa and accomplishing the first voyage around the world.

From the 1520s through the 1540s, Spaniards, Portuguese, and a few Germans, Frenchmen, and others probed the interior of the Americas, from the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains of North America to the great river and mountain systems of South America, mapping lands of stunning natural beauty and awesome physical challenges. In the process, Hernán Cortés (14851547) conquered the Aztec empire, Francisco Pizarro (c. 14751541) conquered the Inca empire, and numerous other explorers, conquerors, clerics, and officials working for the crown established the administrative structure of a Spanish empire in the Americas.

Francis I of France, the great rival of Spanish King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, supported several expeditions to North America. Among others, he sponsored the Italian Giovanni da Verrazano's discovery (1524) of New York Bay and Jacques Cartier's exploration (15341541) of the Gulf and river of St. Lawrence. Wherever Europeans went, they inadvertently brought with them the whole array of diseases that Europeans, Africans, and Asians had long endured, but which the native populations of the Americas had never experienced. The result was a demographic catastrophe for native populations. Many scholars argue that syphilis was transferred from the Americas to the Old World, with serious but not devastating effect.

The Portuguese established a basic administrative structure in Brazil, but their overseas efforts focused largely on Asia in the sixteenth century. Portuguese mariners learned how to navigate the trade routes of the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the South China Searoutes that were well known to local peoples but were new to Europeans. A Dutch expedition would find its way to East Asia in 1595, challenging the Portuguese thereafter. Although several expeditions sailed westward to Asia from America in the decades after Magellan, Spaniards did not discover the eastward route back across the Pacific until the voyage of Andrés de Urdaneta in 1565. Thereafter, they established a trading base at Manila, with regular voyages between New Spain (Mexico) and the Philippines, and discovered various other island groups in the South Pacific.

At the same time, English expeditions under Hugh Willoughby and Richard Chancellor (1553), and Arthur Pet and Charles Jackman (1580), plus a Dutch expedition under Willem Barents (15941597), tried to find a viable northeast route through the Arctic Ocean to Asia in the late sixteenth century. Russian fur-trading expeditions probed the area as well; one of these expeditions, under the Cossack Ermak Timofeevich (15811582), began the exploration of Siberia. The continuing search for a northern passage to Asia inspired English efforts under Martin Frobisher (15761578) and John Davis (15851587), who sailed eastward, and Francis Drake (15771580), who sailed westward. By the late sixteenth century, some European mapmakers showed a clear understanding of the world's major coastlines and oceans, but others replicated antiquated or misleading information. Similarly, Europeans still knew little about the vast interior spaces of Africa, Asia, North America, and parts of South America.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

By the early seventeenth century, Europeans competed for trade and colonies in the areas already discovered and explored the boundaries of a known world that was already much larger than it had been at the start of the early modern period. The Portuguese António Fernandes (1613) and the Spanish Jesuit Pedro Paez (1618) explored the interior of East Africa, while Dutch expeditions under Willem Schouten and Isaac Le Maire (16151616) discovered Cape Horn, and Frederik de Houtman (1619) traced the western coast of Australia. Expeditions under Franz Thyssen (1627) and Abel Janszoon Tasman (1640s) explored and charted other parts of Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, and nearby island groups, but never found the legendary great southern continent (Terra Australis) that had graced many early maps.

In North America, Henry Hudson (1610) discovered the bay later named for him, thinking it was the great western ocean at the end of the Northwest Passage. Other expeditions proved him wrong, but the search at least increased geographical knowledge. The vast lands south of Hudson's Bay and north of New Spain remained largely unknown to Europeans in the early seventeenth century, apart from a few Spanish settlements in the southeast and a few English and Dutch settlements in the northeast. During the century, France sponsored a series of expeditions that challenged the English presence in the north and sought a route through the continent. Samuel de Champlain (16031615) explored the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. Jean Nicolet (1634) and Pierre Esprit Radisson and Médard Chomart, Sieur des Groseillers (16581659), continued French exploration of the Great Lakes region. In the last few decades of the century, King Louis XIV sponsored a series of expeditions that explored from the Great Lakes to the network of river systems in central North America, aiming to establish a French empire between the English in the north and the Spanish in the south. The most famous expeditions were led by Réné-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (16731687), Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet (1673), and Louis Hennepin (16791680). Approaching from the Gulf of Mexico, Pierre le Moyne d'Iberville (1699) discovered the mouth of the Mississippi River. By the time Louis XIV died in 1715, France had a chain of settlements from Quebec to the Gulf of Mexico, though they remained small and vulnerable to hostile local peoples and international rivals alike.

In South America, expeditions from the 1630s to the 1660s traced the awesome extent of the Orinoco and Amazon River systems, as Spain and Portugal struggled to grasp the true extent of their colonial dominions. The discovery in the 1690s of gold and gem deposits in Brazil gave added impetus to exploration of the interior, within the structure of settled colonial regimes run by Spain and Portugal. Nonetheless, huge areas would remain unknown to Europeans until well beyond the early modern period.

European exploration in the eighteenth century, as in earlier times, was motivated in large part by political rivalries as well as by enduring goals such as oceanic passages northwest and northeast from Europe to Asia and the search for the elusive great southern continent. Vitus Bering, a Dane in the service of Tsar Peter I ("the Great") of Russia, made two major voyages (1728 and 17331741) in search of a northeast passage, in the process mapping much of coastal Siberia and discovering the strait later named for him between Asia and Alaska. In the Americas, the French founded New Orleans in 1718 and sponsored expeditions in the 1720s and 1730s to continue exploration in the middle of North America, even as they faced increasing pressure from England in the northeast. In the Seven Years' War (17561763) they lost most of the territory they claimed in North America to England. Nonetheless, French exploration continued, driven by the increased interest in scientific endeavors that was part of the Enlightenment.

Scientific voyages of exploration are traditionally associated with the eighteenth century, although the scientific urge to discover, classify, and understand lands, peoples, animals, and plants characterized European exploration throughout the early modern period. Eighteenth-century voyages concentrated on the Pacific Ocean, one of the last great spaces on Earth that remained largely unexplored. The Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen (1722) is credited with discovering Easter Island and some of the Samoan islands in the South Pacific, though he claimed to have sighted the great southern continent as well. Pacific voyages in the last half of the century reflected the rivalry between England and France, while at the same time searching for that elusive continent and other new lands and observing various natural phenomena. Samuel Wallis of England, while circumnavigating the globe from 1766 to 1768, discovered the Society Islands (Tahiti), while Philip Carteret on another ship in the expedition sailed farther south looking for Terra Australis. A French expedition under Louis Antoine de Bougainville also reached Tahiti in 1768. The greatest of the eighteenth-century voyages were those of the Englishman James Cook. In three major expeditions (17681771, 17721775, and 17761779), Cook probed and tested most of the legends and lore about the vast Pacific Ocean. With superb mapmaking skills, and aided on the second and third voyages by the most accurate timepiece yet developed and other modern navigational aids, Cook was able to chart the Pacific and its islands with unprecedented accuracy. He confirmed the existence of and mapped numerous islands, explored the northwest coast of North America, and proved to all but the most diehard believers in Terra Australis that whatever land existed in the far south was not habitable. His reports and maps became best-sellers among the literate public in Enlightenment Europe. On his third voyage, Cook's expedition became the first documented European arrival at the Hawaiian Islands. Although some of the officers who accompanied him assumed that some Spanish voyage or other must have preceded them, Cook dismissed those assumptions. He died in a skirmish with local islanders in 1779, on a return visit to the islands. A French expedition under Jean-François de Galaup, Count of la Pérouse (17851788) and a Spanish expedition under the Italian Alessandro Malaspina (17891795) carried out their own extensive Pacific voyages. Their agendas reflected European political rivalries as well as a search for scientific knowledge.

In North America as well, exploration by Daniel Boone into Kentucky (17691775), Alexander Mackenzie across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific (17891793), and George Vancouver along the northwest coast (17921794) established an English presence in an area long claimed by Spain but hardly settled or defended by her. Belatedly, Spain dispatched expeditions along the coast from Mexico that established a chain of presidios (garrisons) and missions along the length of California, exploring and mapping as they went. By land José Ortega discovered San Francisco Bay in 1769, and by sea Juan Pérez and Bruno Heceta discovered Nootka Sound (17741775). The far northwest corner of North America thus became a focus of rivalry for England, Russia, Spain, andafter 1783the fledgling United States, which sponsored Robert Gray's expedition along the northwest coast (17871793).

At the very end of the early modern period, English expeditions into the African interior (Mungo Park to the Gambia and Niger Rivers in 17951805 and Sir John Barrow northward from the Cape of Good Hope in 17971798), foreshadowed a major focus for European exploration in the nineteenth century. During the early modern centuries, Europeans had explored and mapped much of the world, driven by a combination of motives that ranged from religious zeal and scientific curiosity to commercial and political rivalries and personal ambitions. In their travels, they had not only explored the world; they had changed it forever.

See also Africa ; Asia ; British Colonies ; Cartography and Geography ; Columbus, Christopher ; Cortés, Hernán ; Dutch Colonies ; Europe and the World ; French Colonies ; Gama, Vasco da ; Islands ; Magellan, Ferdinand ; Pizarro Brothers ; Portuguese Colonies ; Shipbuilding and Navigation ; Spanish Colonies .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Daniel B., ed. Explorers and Discoverers of the World. Detroit, 1993.

Fernández-Armesto, Felipe. Before Columbus: Exploration and Colonization from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, 12291492. Philadelphia, 1987.

Fernández-Armesto, Felipe, ed. The Times Atlas of World Exploration. London, 1991.

Goetzmann, William, and Glydwr Williams. The Atlas of North American Exploration: From the Norse Voyages to the Race to the Pole. New York, 1992.

Newby, Eric. The Rand McNally World Atlas of Exploration. Chicago, 1975.

Penrose, Boies. Travel and Discovery in the Renaissance, 14201620. Cambridge, Mass., 1952.

Phillips, William D., Jr., and Carla Rahn Phillips. The Worlds of Christopher Columbus. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1992.

Williams, Glyn. Voyages of Delusion: The Northwest Passage in the Age of Reason. London, 2002.

Carla Rahn Phillips

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"Exploration." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Exploration

Exploration

Sources

Mapping the Continent . Well before Meriwether Lewis and William Clarks monumental journey from

Saint Louis to the mouth of the Columbia River, explorers were mapping what would soon become the western coast of the United States. British Capt. George Vancouver explored and mapped the Pacific coast in 17901792, and published an atlas with the first accurate maps of that region in 1798. The federal government started mapping with the creation of the U.S. Coast Survey (today known as the Coast and Geodetic Survey) in 1807. In addition to such government-sponsored expeditions, private trade missions were often the driving force behind geographic exploration. Robert Gray of Boston, on a fur-trading mission to China, commanded the first ship to travel around the world under the American flag (17871789). On his next voyage (17901793) he was the first to explore the Columbia River, which he named after his ship. American statesmen would later use Grays short voyage up the Columbia as the basis for the United States claim to Oregon, which was not included in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

The Great Von Humboldt . The most famous explorer of the age was the German Alexander von Humboldt, whom Ralph Waldo Emerson called one of those wonders of the world who appear from time to time as if to show us the possibilities of the human mind, the force and range of his facultiesa universal man. His extraordinary five-year journey throughout South America and Mexico (17991804) resulted in the classification of thirty-five hundred new botanical species; a better understanding of Native American cultures; the first link between volcanoes and the dynamic structure of the earth; the discovery of declining magnetic intensity from the poles to the equator; and more important, detailed maps of the Pacific coast. Humboldt was drawn to the political principles of the United States, which he described as the only corner of the earth where man possesses liberty and where the small evils are compensated by the great goods, although he added that slavery was detestable. He also greatly admired Thomas Jefferson and visited him at Monticello in 1804. Jefferson was always pleased to meet fellow scientists, and doubly so in this case because of Humboldts intimate knowledge and maps of the northern portion of Mexico, which bordered the newly acquired Louisiana Territory. At the time of Humboldts visit, in fact, Lewis and Clark were on the outbound portion of their own long and extraordinary journey through the million-square-mile expanse of uncharted land.

Lewis and Clark Expedition . The greatest American scientific expedition of the time was Meriwether Lewis and William Clarks journey through the wilderness of northwestern America between 1804 and 1806. Like Humboldts expedition, Lewis and Clarks goal was scientific discovery, but political purposes were equally important. President Thomas Jefferson planned the expedition, which resulted in an enormous increase in knowledge of American flora, fauna, geography, and native culture. It also opened up the vast Louisiana Territory, stretching from New Orleans to the headwaters of the Missouri River, to further exploration, trade, and eventual civilization. Jefferson and the American Philosophical Society had wanted to do such an expedition for years, but since the United States did not own this territory, they had been prevented. Still, the Lewis and Clark expedition had been planned before Jefferson knew he might be able to purchase this vast area. When the federal government acquired the region from France, it doubled the size of the United States, and Jefferson was prepared to find out what was there, and not just in scientific and geographical terms. The president also wanted to know the extent of the Missouri River watershed, which the United States could legally claim as part of Louisiana. If it extended far to the North, he could push the British out of the profitable western fur trade.

Journey to the Pacific . Lewis and Clarks epic journey took twenty-eight months. The company consisted of thirty-four permanent members plus fifteen soldiers and experienced rivermen for the first leg up the Missouri. The main boat, fifty-five feet long, with a sail and twenty-two oars, and two smaller open boats were crammed with supplies: firearms, gunpowder, medicine, and whiskey, plus a large supply of coats, plumed hats, glass, beads, and knives to trade with the Indians. Two horses, led along the riverbank, would be used for extended hunting trips. Leaving Saint Louis on 14 May 1804, the party traveled up the Missouri as far as the season would permit, spending the winter near the friendly Mandan Indians in what is now North Dakota. In the spring they pushed on to the headwaters of the Missouri, where they were forced to abandon their canoes and trade for horses to carry them over the Rocky Mountains in search of the River of the West. A young Shoshone woman named Sacajawea played a vital role as interpreter for Lewis and Clark. Many legends have sprung up around her, investing her with magical powers. She was an indispensable member of the expedition and made this incredible journey carrying her infant child on her back. With help from Sacajawea and Nez Percé Indians the white explorers made it to the Snake River, then to the Columbia River, which carried them to the Pacific Ocean. After spending the rainy winter of 18051806 in a collection of huts they called Fort Clatsop near the mouth of the Columbia River, they retraced their steps but with notable variations, including splitting the party into two groups for several weeks, which could have left them vulnerable to hostile Indians. But they survived the return journey to arrive in Saint Louis on 23 September 1806. Along the way they had peacefully negotiated with dozens of Indian nationsmany at war with each otherand recorded valuable scientific, geographical, and cultural information, including the sad state of many of the Indian villages that had been decimated by smallpox. They had traveled almost eight thousand miles amid Indians both friendly and hostile, raging rivers, bears, bitter cold, and near starvationall with the loss of only one man.

No Northwest Passage . Lewis and Clark did not achieve one of their main goals: they did not find an all-water route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Between the point at which the Missouri River became too shallow for navigation and the start of the westward flowing river system were hundreds of miles of wild country, and instead of the Stony mountains shown on early maps were the almost impenetrable Rockies. Jeffersons hope of a Northwest Passage had been shattered, yet the West had been opened and the stage set for the expansion of the United States to the Pacific.

Exploring the East . The West was not the only scene of adventurous expeditions, for there was still much to be explored in the East. In 1791 William Bartram published his Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, The Cherokee Country, The Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws, an account of his journey through the forests of the Southeast from 1773 to 1777. In addition to rich descriptions of the beauty of nature in the United States, and detailed drawings of a wide variety of plants and animals, Bartram also portrayed with unusual empathy the Native Americans that he encountered along the way. Son of the British natural scientist John Bartram, William was the first American-born botanist of international stature. His writing inspired,

among others, William Wordsworth, James Fenimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Tho-reau.

Sources

Stephen E. Ambrose, Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996);

Douglas Botting, Humboldt and the Cosmos (New York: Harper & Row, 1973);

Thomas P. Slaughter, The Natures of John and William Bartram (New York: Knopf, 1996);

Page Smith, The Shaping of America (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980).

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exploration

exploration

The people of medieval times knew little of the world outside their towns and villages. The most knowledgeable people were unaware of distant continents and had no idea of the true size of the earth. Sailors had no maps to guide them beyond the familiar coasts. Navigational tools were of very limited use in long-distance voyages, especially in uncharted waters. Only a few merchants traveled any distance. Their reports from the coasts of Africa and Arabia, and the overland caravan route known as the Silk Road, made up the limits of exploration.

In the fifteenth century, Portugal began an important era of long-distance exploration. Portuguese navigators began maneuvering a lighter, more nimble craft known as the caravel down the western coasts of Africa. They sailed beyond the capes, which experienced mariners believed lay at the edge of the world. The craft of shipbuilding improved the caravels, making them larger and rigging them to handle the varying wind conditions of long sea voyages. With their larger holds and ability to support crews for months at a time, carracks came into use around the turn of the sixteenth century and allowed even longer voyages.

Henry the Navigator, a prince of Portugal, began sponsoring voyages of exploration after the conquest of Ceuta in North Africa. Henry sought to expand Portugal's trade with Africa and to convert that continent's pagan souls to Christianity. His officers touched at the island of Madeira, the Canary Islands, and the Azores. Gil Eanes passed Cape Bojador, the traditional limit of southern navigation, in 1434. Diogo Gomes reached the Cape Verde Islands in 1455. The Portuguese built fortified trading posts at the river mouths and obtained gold, slaves, and ivory. After figuring a method for determining latitude in the southern hemisphere, Portuguese sailors were able to navigate to the Cape of Good Hope, at the southern tip of Africa. After the death of Henry the Navigator, King Joao II continued royal patronage of exploration. The superior navy of the Portuguese limited the expeditions of their main rival, Castile. By a treaty signed in 1479, Castilian ships were barred from sailing past Cape Bojador. In 1487, Bartolomeo Dias became the first to round the Cape and explore the Indian Ocean coasts of Africa.

Vasco da Gama followed Dias in 1497, sailing up the east African coast and then across the Indian Ocean to India. This important voyage opened up trade in the valuable spices of the Moluccas and the East Indies. After da Gama returned, King Manuel I commissioned a second journey to the Indian Ocean in 1500 by Pedro Alvares de Cabral. Blown off course, Cabral was brought by wind and current to the coast of Brazil.

In the meantime, Spain was exploring west to the Americas, beginning with the first voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492. Columbus had failed to interest the Portuguese king Joao II in a westward voyage that Columbus believed would reveal a faster route to the East Indies. Despite skepticism on the part of court scientists and astronomers, Ferdinand and Isabella agreed to back him in 1492. After Columbus returned with reports of unknown islands to the west, Spain claimed the new lands with the support of the Spanish pope Alexander VI. Columbus returned to the Caribbean three times, each time bringing home further knowledge of what European geographers now realized was an entirely new hemisphere.

Spain and Portugal were building rival commercial empires, and racing to establish hegemony over previously unknown parts of the world. The Portuguese established forts in India, Malaysia, and the Moluccas and prevented Spain from exploiting the rich trade in spices. By the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, a line drawn in the western hemisphere granted Africa, India, and Brazil trade to Portugal and all lands to the west to Spain.

At the same time, the English were sending expeditions across the North Atlantic. In 1497 Giovanni Caboto, known in English as John Cabot, reached Newfoundland. Cabot was lost on a second voyage with four of his ships, but the English did not give up their search for a northwest passage to Asia.

The Spanish explored the New World, the coast of Venezuela and the mouth of the Orinoco River. Goncalo Coelho led an expedition of 1501 that roamed the northern coasts of Brazil. A member of his company, Amerigo Vespucci, coined the term New World in his account of this voyage, which was the first to speculate that Europeans had found an entirely new continent. To honor Vespucci, the German mapmaker Martin Waldseemüller named this part of the world America.

In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan set out to reach the Spice Islands by a westerly route. Magellan navigated the straits at the southern tip of South America. After his death in battle in the Philippines, Sebastian del Cano led one ship back to Spain, becoming the first navigator to make a circumnavigation of the earth. The voyage brought the Philippines into Spain's possession and gave navigators a clear idea of the distances involved in transoceanic travel.

In the sixteenth century geographical knowledge of the Americas expanded as new voyages of exploration returned to Europe. Giovanni da Verrazano explored the Atlantic Coast of North America, from Maine to Florida, in 1524. Jacques Cartier made two voyages to Canada in the 1530s, attempting to colonize the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. Martin Frobisher and John Davis explored Greenland, Baffin Island, and the Arctic Ocean straits. Henry Hudson reached a great arctic bay in 1610, believing he had reached the Pacific Ocean. Hudson was cast adrift by his mutinous crew, but his discovery of Hudson Bay led to England's control of a new and lucrative fur trade.

Exploration in the Spanish Americas led to conquest and colonization. Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana navigated the entire Amazon River in 15411542. Francisco Pizarro conquered the Incas of Peru and Hernán Cortes, the Aztecs. Francisco Coronado explored the American southwest in 1540. Spain now had claim to the largest colonial empire on earth. Spain also established a cross-Pacific trade route between Mexico and China. European exploration had led to the colonization of much of the world and control of trade. In turn this expanding trade brought about Europe's economic expansion and industrialization, allowing Europeans to dominate the global economy for centuries to come.

See Also: Cartier, Jacques; Columbus, Christopher; Cortes, Hernán; da Gama, Vasco; Henry the Navigator; Magellan, Ferdinand

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exploration

exploration. The notion of Europeans discovering other peoples and telling them who they are and where they live is now suspect, especially as an explorer's discourse is said to be determined by his mind-set rather than any objective reality. Yet descriptions of the surface of the globe and its peoples have been put into a framework of knowledge which has affected historical development. In fact exploration has been linked with the exercise of political and economic power and sometimes religious evangelism. Britain's increasing domination of exploration broadly accompanied the rise of the English and then the British state to world power after 1500. From the late 18th cent., Britain not only organized the most important expeditions but also set the agenda by insisting that exploration be ‘scientific’—which meant at the very least that latitudes and longitudes must be established.

More science did not lessen the connections between exploration and other aspects of British life. The state continued to be closely involved, partly for strategic reasons and partly because naval or military personnel so often led expeditions. The upper-class tradition of the grand tour with travel seen as heightening knowledge and experience had a powerful effect on the organization of exploration and the way it was written up. Another spur to expeditions from the 1790s was the desire of British protestant churches to evangelize overseas. Livingstone is the perfect example of the missionary becoming a great scientist and associating with aristocratic hunters and travellers before writing a best-selling travel work.

Exploration entered British consciousness in other ways: explorers became the pattern for heroes of boys' adventure stories and the subjects of numerous anthologizers and biographers. Hakluyt began the anthologies with his Principall Navigations … of 1589. The great 18th-cent. travel collections continued the tradition and in 1846 William Desborough Cooley founded the Hakluyt Society to publish historical accounts of voyages and travels, as it has done ever since. Biographies abound. We learn that Livingstone was a victim of cyclothymia, or that Speke had a mother fixation. This sort of writing has had the unfortunate effect of grossly distorting the true significance of explorers in the history both of Britain and of the regions they explored.

Despite Hakluyt, the English contribution to primary exploration in the great age of maritime discovery was rather modest. John and Sebastian Cabot, English by adoption, contributed to the discovery of the Americas in 1497 and 1509, but most English maritime adventurers in the Tudor period merely followed the Portuguese and Spanish and attempted to steal some of their treasures. This was true of Drake although his circumnavigation of 1577–8 involved the discovery of California. But the English did try to open up new routes to the Orient—the North-East and North-West Passages with the voyages of Willoughby and Chancellor to Russia in 1558 and the contemporary landward travels in central Asia of Jenkinson matched by the voyages to the west of Frobisher in 1576 and Davis in 1585–7. The North-West Passage was to preoccupy Britain for 300 years, no doubt because of its comparative proximity to Canada. Hudson reached the bay bearing his name in 1607–11 and in the following century attempts on the passage were to be made from the Pacific as well as the Atlantic.

Partly for this reason, the Pacific attracted much British attention in the 18th cent. with Dampier's New Voyage round the World of 1697 and the circumnavigations of Anson in 1740–4 and Byron of 1764–6 adding interest. The prize would be the trade of the great southern continent believed to exist. Cook's first voyage of 1768–71 did reveal New Zealand and eastern Australia but the second voyage of 1772–5 effectively disproved the existence of a southern continent. Cook's third voyage was to the northern Pacific, so completing the greatest series of scientific expeditions ever undertaken. Banks had been on the first voyage and then came to dominate British exploratory activity, sending out more naturalist travellers and being instrumental in founding the African Association in 1788. This aimed to do for the interior of Africa what Cook had done for the Pacific. Mungo Park reached the upper Niger in 1795–6. Government took over the organization of expeditions by Clapperton and others and in 1830 Lander solved the vexed question of where the Niger debouched into the sea. The mantle of the African Association was taken on by the Royal Geographical Society, founded in 1830, which, often in association with government, sent explorers especially to eastern and central Africa and to the Polar regions. Livingstone, Burton, Speke—who reached the source of the Nile—Cameron, Stanley, and Thomson were the great African explorers, while the old obsession with the North-West Passage led to the expeditions of Parry, and especially of Franklin whose disappearance after 1845 led to no fewer than 40 search expeditions. In the south polar region, Ross, Bruce, Shackleton, and Scott are the great names.

Scott's failure to be first to the South Pole in 1912 was perhaps a sign that the age of British dominance in exploration was coming to an end. Perhaps the era did end when a British expedition was the first to conquer Everest in 1953, albeit with a New Zealander and a Nepalese actually reaching the summit.

Roy C. Bridges

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exploration

exploration, travel to a part of the earth that is relatively unknown to the traveler's culture, historically often motivated by a desire for colonization, conquest, or trade.

See also space exploration, geography, and articles on localities, e.g., Africa, Arctic, the, Australia.

Early Exploration

Early Egyptian expeditions penetrated into Nubia and Mesopotamia; the Phoenicians and the Greeks explored the Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions earlier than 600 BC; and a Phoenician expedition (c.600 BC) is said to have sailed around Africa. After 500 BC the Carthaginians explored beyond the Strait of Gibraltar to trade along the coasts of Spain and Africa. A Greek navigator, Pytheas, sailed beyond Britain c.310 BC The conquests of Alexander the Great brought the West in closer relationship with the East, and the Roman legions extended the limits of geographical knowledge, especially in N Europe. Trade with the East was stimulated by the discovery (c.AD 15) of a sea captain, Hippalus, that by using monsoon winds it was possible to sail across the Indian Ocean instead of hugging the coast. Roman trade was early established with India and Sri Lanka and later (c.AD 100) with China.

After the dissolution of the Roman Empire, the Arabs expanded their relationships with the East. The Chinese also made many explorations in this period. One of the best-known Chinese travelers is Hsüan-tsang, who traveled (AD 629–646) to India and farther west. Exploration by Europeans was carried on during the Middle Ages by Norse adventurers and colonists who crossed the Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland, and North America. Their journeys, however, did not have much influence on the rest of Europe. European knowledge of Asia gained during the Crusades was extended by the journeys across Asia made by missionaries and by Marco Polo.

The European Age of Discovery

By about 1400 the breakup of the Mongol empire and the growth of the Ottoman Empire had blocked Europe's overland trade routes to the East. The search for new trade routes, the rise of merchant capitalism, and the desire to exploit the potential of a global economy initiated the European "age of discovery." Henry the Navigator promoted voyages along the coast of Africa that helped dispel the superstition and misinformation that had impeded previous attempts to sail through the torrid zone. The extent of the globe was revealed by Bartholomew Diaz's rounding of the Cape of Good Hope (1486–87), Vasco da Gama's voyage to India (1497–98), Christopher Columbus's first voyage to America (1492), and the circumnavigation of the globe by the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan (1519–22). In the 16th cent. Spanish explorers, notably Vasco de Balboa, Hernán Cortés, Francisco Pizarro, Cabeza de Vaca, Hernán De Soto, and Francisco de Coronado, explored large areas of the Americas. Much of the interior of North America was revealed in the 17th cent. by Samuel de Champlain, Sieur de La Salle, Louis Jolliet, Jacques Marquette, and other French explorers.

A Spanish and Portuguese monopoly of the new trade routes stimulated attempts to find other passages to the East (see Northeast Passage and Northwest Passage) and was soon challenged by English and Dutch voyages in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Most of the major islands of the Pacific and the coastline of Australia became known to Europeans through the voyages of Francis Drake, Abel Tasman, William Dampier, James Cook, Vitus Bering, George Vancouver, and others. European exploration of the interior of Australia took place in the mid-19th cent., and by the end of the century most of Africa had been explored by David Livingstone, H. M. Stanley, and Richard Burton.

European exploration and colonization frequently had disastrous results for the indigenous peoples. Diseases brought to the Americas and Australia by Europeans decimated the inhabitants, and European intervention in Africa expanded the already thriving slave trade. The aboriginal peoples often viewed the presence of explorers as an encroachment, inevitably leading to war, repression, and dislocation.

Polar Explorations

In the late 19th and early 20th cent. the Arctic was explored by Nils Nordenskjöld, Roald Amundsen, Donald MacMillan, Richard Byrd, and others. In 1909, Robert E. Peary reached the North Pole. The continent of Antarctica was explored in the first half of the 20th cent. by William Bruce, Jean Charcot, Douglas Mawson, Ernest Shackleton, and others. The South Pole was reached first by Amundsen (Dec. 14, 1911) and almost immediately thereafter (Jan. 18, 1912) by Robert Scott. The airplane provided a new method of antarctic exploration, with George Wilkins and Richard E. Byrd as the pioneers. Since World War II there have been many well-equipped expeditions, most notably those during the International Geophysical Year (1957–58), to the Antarctic.

Bibliography

See R. I. Rotberg, Africa and Its Explorers (1970); J. H. Parry, Age of Reconnaissance: Discovery, Exploration, and Settlement, 1450–1650 (1970); S. E. Morison, The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages, AD 500–1600 (1971) and The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages, AD 1492–1616 (1974); K. R. Andrews, Trade, Plunder, and Settlement: Maritime Enterprise and the Genesis of the British Empire, 1480–1630 (1984); P. D. Curtin, Cross-Cultural Trade in World History (1984).

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Exploration

236. Exploration (See also Frontier.)

  1. Balboa, Vasco Nuñez de (14751517) discovered the Pacific Ocean. [Sp. Hist.: Benét, 75]
  2. Columbus, Christopher (14461506) expeditions to West Indies, South and Central America; said to have discovered America in 1492. [Ital. Hist.: Jameson, 107108]
  3. de Soto, Hernando (c. 15001542) discovered the Mississippi River. [Sp. Hist.: Benét, 266]
  4. Enterprise starship on 5-year mission to explore space. [Am. TV: Star Trek in Terrace]
  5. Gama, Vasco da (c. 14601524) navigator who discovered route around Africa to India. [Port. Hist.: NCE, 1040]
  6. Golden Hind ship on which Sir Francis Drake (15401596) became the first Englishman to sail around the world. [Br. Hist.: EB (1963) VII, 575]
  7. Hudson, Henry seeking a northwest passage to the Orient, in 1609 he explored the river later named for him. [Am. Hist.: Benét, 482]
  8. Journey to the Center of the Earth expedition through the core of a volcano to the earths center. [Fr. Lit.: Verne A Journey to the Center of the Earth in Benét, 1055]
  9. Lewis and Clark Expedition proved feasibility of overland route to the Pacific. [Am. Hist.: Benét, 583]
  10. Polo, Marco (12541324) Venetian traveler in China. [Ital. Hist.: NCE, 1695]
  11. Ponce de Leon, Juan (c. 14601521) seeking the fountain of youth, he discovered Florida and explored its coast. [Sp. Hist.: Benét, 802]

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exploration

ex·plo·ra·tion / ˌekspləˈrāshən/ • n. the action of traveling in or through an unfamiliar area in order to learn about it: voyages of exploration. ∎  thorough analysis of a subject or theme: an exploration of the religious dimensions of our lives. DERIVATIVES: ex·plo·ra·tion·al / -ˈrāshənl/ adj.

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exploration

exploration (eks-plŏ-ray-shŏn) n. (in surgery) an investigative operation on a wound, tissue, or cavity to determine the cause of symptoms.
exploratory (iks-plo-ră-ter-i) adj.

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explorer

explorerabhorrer, adorer, Andorra, angora, aura, aurora, bora, Bora-Bora, borer, Camorra, Cora, corer, Dora, Eleonora, Eudora, explorer, fedora, flora, fora, ignorer, Isadora, Kia-Ora, Laura, Leonora, Maura, menorah, Nora, pakora, Pandora, pourer, roarer, scorer, senhora, señora, signora, snorer, soarer, Sonora, sora, storer, Theodora, Torah, Tuscarora, Vlorë •goalscorer • cobra • okra • Oprah •Socotra • Moira • Sudra •chaulmoogra • supra •Brahmaputra, sutra •Zarathustra • Louvre • fulcra •Tripura •borough, burgh, Burra, curragh, demurrer, thorough •Rubbra •penumbra, umbra •tundra • chakra • ultra • kookaburra

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