The golden age of exploration began in the 15th century and lasted more than 200 years. During the reign of Elizabeth 1, many sailors went in search of unknown lands. There were two main reasons: one was adventure and the other was money.
Portugal and Spain led the way, exploring the coasts of Africa, Asia and the 'New World' of the Americas. English exploration began in the reign of Henry VII, who sent Italian-born navigator John Cabot to find a northwestern route to Asia.
Raleigh l Drake l Cabot l Hawkins l Columbus
A poet, Tudor Courtier and adventurer.
Sir Walter Raleigh was born in 1554 in Devon. He was a handsome man with dark brown
hair and was one of Elizabeth I's favourite
courtiers. He was also a poet and a fearless soldier.
He led many expeditions to America and introduced
tobacco and the potato into England. He chose the name of the first English colony in America. He named it Virginia after Queen Elizabeth.
It is said that he spread
his cloak in
she did not have to stand in a puddle. There is no evidence to support
Elizabeth didn't like her courtiers to fall in love with anyone except
her. Sir Walter lost her friendship after he fell in love and married one
of Elizabeth's maids of honour. He was
to the Tower
The life of Sir Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh
Francis Drake was born in 1540 in Tavistock, Devon, England. He first started going to sea while living in Chatham in Kent, at the age of 12 or 13. He was an apprentice on a small trading ship which was left to him when the master died. but became famous as a pirate and explorer.
life, Protestant England was often at war with Catholic Spain and there
were rich rewards for capturing Spanish ships.
Drake, who was an incredibly bold and brilliant sailor, captured more
than his fair share of Spanish ships. His pirate raids on Spanish ships off the coast of America were encouraged by Queen Elizabeth I. Drake's successful battles against
the Spanish helped England become a major sea power.
He was the first Englishman to sail around the world,
which he did (1577 - 1580) in his ship The Golden
Hinde. Drake started his famous circumnavigation of the world from Plymouth, England, November 15, 1577, passed through the Straight of Magellan (southern tip of South America) into the Pacific, coasted up the western shores of the Americas, crossed to Asia and the Philippines, and finally returned to Britain on September 26, 1580.
Drake's route around the world
On the way round the world, Drake landed in what is now California, naming it Nova Albion (New England) and claiming it for his queen.
Drake returned from his voyage with his ship packed full of spices from the Indies, and plundered Spanish silver and treasure.
Drake was knighted by
Queen Elizabeth l for his courage, and for the treasures he brought back
with him. He brought back enough treasure to pay off the entire national
In 1587, Elizabeth I put Drake in command of an expedition to attack a Spanish
fleet which was getting ready to attack England. Drake sailed right in
to Cadiz harbour and wrecked the ships there, before going on to capture
another hundred Spanish ships elsewhere. It was said he'd 'singed
the king of Spain's beard'. By 1588, he was Vice-Admiral of the fleet which defeated
Follow this link to read more about the Spanish Armada
As a sailor, adventurer, navigator, politician, engineer
and landowner, Drake
as David Beckham
is today. He was one of the most famous men in Elizabethan times.
Sir Francis Drake
Questions and answers about Drake
Sir Francis Drake
These pages focus on Sir Francis Drake, and in particular on his "Famous Voyage" - the circumnavigation of the world in the sixteenth century, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
Golden Hind Website - Click on the Education Centre
The Golden Hind captained by Sir Francis Drake undertook one of the most historic and exciting voyages of all time.
John Cabot was born in Italy and was an explorer of Italian origin. He came to live in England during the reign of Henry VII and is best known for his explorations made under the English flag.
In 1497 Cabot sailed west from Bristol, on his ship, the Matthew, hoping to find a shorter route to Asia. After a month, he discovered an unknown land – he called it 'new found land', today still known as Newfoundland in Canada.
Arrow points from the UK to Newfoundland
Many explorers were desperate to reach Asia because they knew great wealth was to be made there. Not only would they become rich themselves and be rewarded for their great achievements but their countries would benefit too.
Hawkins was a cousin of Drake. He was the first Englishman to trade in slaves. He bought slaves in west Africa and sold them to the Spanish colonies in the West Indies, often raiding Spanish ships as he went.
John Hawkins - Channel 4 site