Age of Exploration Timeline (1500-1800)

  • Period: 1488 to 1500

    Bartolomeu Dias (1488-1500)

    Bartolomeu Dias, a nobleman of the royal household of Portugal, was a Portuguese explorer. He sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, the first European to do so, and later set up a road from Europe to Asia. Bartolomeu Dias rounded off the tip of Africa, also known as the Cape of Good Hope.
  • Period: 1492 to 1504

    Christopher Columbus (1492-1504)

    Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, trying to find a road to India to trade in spices. On his third expedition May 30, 1498-October 1500, Columbus sailed farther south, to Trinidad and Venezuela including the mouth of the Orinoco River. On his fourth and last expedition May 9, 1502-Nov. 7, 1504, Columbus sailed to Mexico, Honduras and Panama (in Central America) and Santiago (Jamaica).
  • Period: 1497 to 1500

    John Cabot (1497-1500)

    Hoping to find a northwest passage to Asia, explorer John Cabot sets out on a voyage from England. When he lands on the east coast of North America, he claims the land in the name of King Henry VII, mistakenly believing he is in Asia.
  • Period: 1497 to 1524

    Vasco Da Gama (1497-1524)

    Vasco da Gama is a Portuguese explorer. After sailing down the western coast of Africa and rounding the Cape of Good Hope, his expedition made numerous stops in Africa before reaching the trading post of Calicut, India, in May 1498. Da Gama was sent on a second expedition to India in 1502, during which he brutally clashed with Muslim traders in the region. Two decades later, da Gama again returned to India, this time as Portuguese viceroy
  • 1500

    Pedro Álvares Cabral (1500)

    Pedro Álvares Cabral (1500)
    People started figuring out how to make more efficient and more accurate maps; more technological advances like more efficient sails and boats were made and better navigational techniques using compass and astrolabe. Pedro Álvares Cabral was a Portuguese explorer who is credited with discovering Brazil in South America. He landed near present-day Bahia off the eastern coast of South America. A fleet led by Pedro Álvares Cabral reached the Brazilian coast on April 22nd, 1500.
  • 1519

    Hernan Cortes (1519)

    Hernan Cortes (1519)
    Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernan Cortés lands on the coast of Mexico with 600 men, 16 horses, and a few cannons. While the Spaniards are vastly outnumbered by the Aztecs, they capture and demolish the capital city of Tenochtitlán in a brutal assault in 1521. Their actions inspire other conquistadors to conquer regions in the Americas.
  • 1522

    Ferdinand Magellan (1522)

    Ferdinand Magellan (1522)
    Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth. In 1522. He set out from Spain in 1519 with a fleet of five ships to discover a western sea route to the Spice Islands. En route he discovered what is now known as the Strait of Magellan and became the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean.
  • 1524

    Giovanni da Verrazzano (1524)

    Giovanni da Verrazzano (1524)
    Verrazano was an Italian explorer of North America, in the service of King Francis I of France. He is renowned as the first European to explore the Atlantic coast of North America between Florida and New Brunswick in 1524, including New York Bay and Narragansett Bay.
  • 1526

    King Afonso I (1526)

    King Afonso I (1526)
    African slave trade started getting so bad – 2,000 slaves were going at first and in a couple years, there were over 10 million slaves. King Afonso of Congo wrote a letter saying the corruption was so great, it was depopulating their country. Afonso I attempts to restrict slave trade.
  • 1532

    Francisco Pizarro (1532)

    Francisco Pizarro executes the last Inca emperor. Inspired by the success of Cortés in Mexico, Francisco Pizarro arrived in Peru in 1532. He capitalizes on the unrest in the Incan empire and quickly captures the Inca emperor, whom he executes in 1533. The Spanish spread across Ecuador and Chile, adding much of South America to Spain's empire.
  • 1534

    Jacques Cartier (1534)

    Jacques Cartier (1534)
    Jacques Cartier was a Breton explorer who claimed what is now Canada for France. Jacques Cartier was the first European to describe and map the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the shores of the Saint Lawrence. was sent by King Francis I to the New World in search of riches and a new route to Asia in 1534. His exploration of the St. Lawrence River allowed France to lay claim to lands that would become Canada.
  • 1576

    Martin Frobisher (1576)

    Martin Frobisher (1576)
    Martin Frobisher sights land in North America. Determined to find the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic Ocean and Asia, English explorer Martin Frobisher sets sail for North America. In 1576 he visited the coast of what is now Labrador, Canada. Despite three voyages, Frobisher is unsuccessful in finding the Northwest Passage.
  • 1577

    Francis Drake (1577)

    Francis Drake (1577)
    Francis Drake from England was chosen as the leader of an expedition intended to pass around South America, through the Strait of Magellan, and explore the coast that lay beyond. Drake successfully completed the journey and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I upon his triumphant return.
  • John Watts (1600)

    John Watts (1600)
    English merchants John Watts found the East India Company. Hoping to exploit trade in East and Southeast Asia and India, a group of English merchants form the East India Company by royal charter. With this company, the English break the Spanish and Portuguese monopoly of the East Indian spice trade. The company later becomes involved in politics and acts as an agent of British imperialism in India.
  • Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1602)

    Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1602)
    Dutch merchants Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt found the Dutch East India Company. In the late 1500s, the Dutch set up colonies and trading posts around the world. A group of wealthy merchants found the Dutch East India Company, which furthers their quest to be the major European commercial power in the east. The company also comes into conflict with the English East India Company.
  • Henry Hudson (1609)

    Henry Hudson (1609)
    Henry Hudson was from the England. In 1609, he embarked on a third voyage funded by the Dutch East India Company that took him to the New World. Hudson came upon the body of water that would later be called the Hudson Bay. Was originally hired by the Dutch East India Company to find a trade route through the Americas to India. But instead discovered the Hudson River, Hudson Bay, and Hudson Strait. Found the Mississippi River. travelled along Lake Michigan to Green Bay.
  • René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (1669)

    René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle was a 17th-century French explorer and fur trader in North America. He explored the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico. They also discovered the Ohio River, descending as far as the Falls of the Ohio near the site of modern Louisville, Kentucky.
  • Jacques Marquette & Louis Joliet (1673)

    Jacques Marquette & Louis Joliet (1673)
    Jacques and Louis found the Mississippi River. They travelled along Lake Michigan to Green Bay, to Fox River, and the Wisconsin River to the Mississippi River. Joliet expanded fur trade westward, did extensive mapping, and established a fort on Anticosti Island.
  • Samuel Wallis (1767)

     Samuel Wallis (1767)
    Samuel Wallis was a British naval officer and explorer of the Pacific Ocean. He made the first recorded visit by a European navigator to Tahiti. He discovered Tahiti known as Wallis and Pitcairn Island known as Carteret, rediscovered the Solomon Islands known as Carteret in present days.
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    James Cook (1769-1778)

    James Cook was a naval captain, navigator and explorer who, in 1770, chartered New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. He later disproved the existence of Terra Australis, a fabled southern continent. He explored the Pacific Ocean and several islands in this region. He is credited as the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands. James Cook discovers Christmas Island and Hawaii, and also explores the Alaskan coast as far north as Icy Cape.
  • Jacob Roggeveen (1722)

    Jacob Roggeveen (1722)
    Jacob Roggeveen was a Dutch explorer who was sent to find Terra Australis, but instead discovered Easter Island. Jacob Roggeveen also discovered Bora Bora and Maupiti of the Society Islands and Samoa. He planned the expedition along with his brother Jan Roggeveen, who stayed in the Netherlands.
  • Mungo Park (1796)

    Mungo Park (1796)
    Mungo Park was a Scottish explorer of West Africa. After an exploration of the upper Niger River around 1796, he wrote a popular and influential travel book titled Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa in which he theorized the Niger and Congo merged to become the same river.