Sir Francis Drake
England c.1540-1596

Reason for Exploration—to break the Spanish rule of the sea

Achievement—navigated around the globe and claimed the West Coast of North America for England

Routes—from England to the Strait of Magellan to the North American continent to the Indonesian Archipelago and back to England

Henry Hudson
England c.1575-c.1611

Reason for Exploration—to search for a passage across the Arctic Circle to Asia and to explore west in search of a sea passage through North America to the Indies

Achievement—explored the areas of the Hudson Bay, the Hudson River, and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay

On his fourth voyage, his crew mutinied, and Hudson was left to die on the Hudson Bay. He was never heard from again.

Routes—multiple routes into the Arctic and to North America

Sir Humphrey Gilbert
England c.1539-1583

Reason for Exploration—to establish an English colony in North America

Achievement—was unsuccessful at establishing an English colony, but inspired other British explorers, such as his half-brother Sir Walter Raleigh

Routes—from England to Newfoundland toward the Azores, where his ship sank and he lost his life

Christopher Columbus
Spain 1451-1506

Reason for Exploration—to sail west to Asia to reap trade profits for Spain and himself

Achievement—made four voyages exploring Caribbean islands and the coasts of Central and South America; established settlements and claimed lands for Spain

Routes—from Spain westward to the Caribbean Sea and to Central and South America

Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca
Spain c.1490-c.1556

Reason for Exploration—to explore and colonize Florida

Achievement—after being shipwrecked on the Gulf Coast of Texas, he and several other survivors explored southern and western Texas and northern Mexico

Routes—from Florida across the Gulf of Mexico to Gulf Coast near present-day Galveston; then across Texas and into northern Mexico

Hernando Cortes
Spain 1485-1547

Reason for Exploration—to explore and conquer the Aztec Empire

Achievement—conquered Mexico, explored the Pacific Coast of Central America and the Baja peninsula of (present-day) California

Routes—from Cuba to Veracruz, Mexico, and from there to Tlaxcala to Techochtitlan