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Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés (c. 1485-1547) is best known for conquering the Aztecs and claiming Mexico on behalf of Spain. Cortés (full name Don Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca) first served as a soldier in an expedition of ...read more
Born into Spanish nobility, Juan Ponce de León (1460-1521) may have accompanied Christopher Columbus on his 1493 voyage to the New World. A decade later, he was serving as governor of the eastern province of Hispaniola when he decided to explore a nearby island, which became ...read more
The explorer Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. He was determined to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, he stumbled upon the Americas. Though he did not really ...read more
Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian-born merchant and explorer who took part in early voyages to the New World on behalf of Spain around the late 15th century. By that time, the Vikings had established settlements in present-day North America as early as 1,000 A.D. and Christopher ...read more
Francisco Pizarro was an explorer, soldier and conquistador best known for conquering the Incas and executing their leader, Atahuapla. He was born around 1474 in Trujillo, Spain. As a soldier, he served on the 1513 expedition of Vasco Núñez de Balboa, during which he discovered ...read more
Amelia Earhart was an American aviator who set many flying records and championed the advancement of women in aviation. She became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and the first person ever to fly solo from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland. During a flight to ...read more
Leif Erikson was the son of Erik the Red, founder of the first European settlement on what is now called Greenland. Around A.D. 1000, Erikson sailed to Norway, where King Olaf I converted him to Christianity. According to one school of thought, Erikson sailed off course on his ...read more
Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) was an English adventurer, writer and nobleman. After growing close to Elizabeth I during his time in the army, Raleigh was knighted in 1585 and became captain of the guard. During Elizabeth’s reign, Raleigh organized three major expeditions to ...read more