Our world, as we know it, would not be the same without the work of different explorers in our history. It is all written in our history books the names and expeditions of the brave people who explored the vast oceans during the early times. Apparently, it seems pretty challenging as it sounds, mainly because of the means of transportation the humans have back then. Furthermore, we don’t have the same kind of technology, similar to what we have today.
However, out of all the expeditions conducted by the early people, there are only a few significant ventures that stood out from the rest. These expeditions made a remarkable impact on our history, culture, and civilization, as well as our origins. In this article, we are going to look into the greatest expeditions in history.
- Christopher Columbus –we all probably know the great Italian explorer and colonizer, Christopher Columbus. It was during the 15th century when Columbus started to set sail on his journey in search of the “New World.”There were various claims as to how his journey began. In 1485, Columbus proposed his plans to King John II of Portugal, saying that he needs three ships and a year duration to sail across the Atlantic, in search faster sea route the Indies – a term used to describe some places in Asia. Some people claim that the king didn’t believe Columbus since it was a well-known fact during that time that the world was flat. However, others argue that the king declined his proposal due to its impossibility, in terms of food and supply. Rejected by the king, Columbus then proposed his idea to different authorities and officials, although none of them accepted the offer. It was when Columbus talked to King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, he had his permission granted. Columbus received 12,000 annually, as well as food and supplies. He then started his journey across the Atlantic and came across a large landmass, which he first thought was Asia. Unknowingly, the island was called Guanahani, known today as San Salvador in Central America. Upon setting foot on land, Columbus met its native people, which he called Indians. This discovery of Columbus gained his wealth and recognition as governor, which lead to another travel back to the Americas for colonizing. After the colonization, the King and Queen of Spain permitted Columbus for a third voyage, still in search of a route to Asia; also to send supplies to the colonists. However, things came out of hand when Columbus reached the colonists in Hispaniola. It came to his surprise that the colonists already formed a rebellion against him due to misconception about the New World’s bountiful riches. Because of this, Columbus got arrested and removed his title as governor. Eventually, he got free was still allowed to return to the New World. This opportunity started his fourth and last voyage. He set sail on May 11, 1502, in hopes of finding the Strait of Malacca, which would lead to the Indian Ocean. However, Columbus and his crew got caught in the storm and ended up unable to go further. They were rescued back to Spain with no records of Columbus reaching Asia. On May 20, 1506, the fifty-four-year-old Columbus died in Valladolid, Spain, after being bedridden for months due to a severe illness.
- Amerigo Vespucci –next on our list is another Italian explorer and navigator whose ventures significantly contributed to our modern culture. One interesting fact about Vespucci is that his name is where the term – America, derived. Despite the success of the earlier voyage of Columbus on America, Vespucci gained honor because of particularly pointing out that the New World or America, is a large isolated land and not a part of Asia. Columbus apparently did an excellent jobof colonizing and locating the New World. However, he believed, as well as other people during that time, that the New World is a part of Asia. This misbelief is what made Vespucci’s voyage more remarkable.Apart from this, Vespucci had several other significant expeditions to the west. Similar to Columbus, Vespucci had four voyages in his lifetime, in which one of those is the exploration of the mouth of Amazon River.
- Marco Polo –is an Italian merchant, writer, and one of the most famous explorers even until today. His expeditions influenced several European cartographers and explorers, including Christopher Columbus. His magnificent adventures inspired the Italian writer, Rustichello de Pisa, to write a travelogue about his voyages called – The Travels of Marco Polo. His expedition started when he was still seventeen years old, along with his father and uncle. They traveled towards the Mongol empire in the east, where they are regular merchants who traded valuable materials. Although this time, they head to the Mongol Empire in compliance with the request of Kublai Khan, the great ruler of eastern Asia. Kublai Khan requested for the Polo family to bring 100 priests to the Mongol Empire to introduce Christianity all over the land. However, the Polo family is only able to bring two out of the one hundred priests that were requested. Upon reaching the Mongol Empire, Kublai Khan got impressed with the young Marco Polo because of his intelligence, mainly for his ability to quickly learn the Asian language along with four other languages. Because of this, Kublai Khan made Marco Polo as one of his ambassadors and is free to travel throughout the Mongol Empire. It became the start of Marco Polo’s travels throughout the east in service to Kublai khan. With his expeditions, he saw all the great riches of Asia, and he encountered different people and cultures along the way. He served Kublai Khan for seventeen years, then head back to Venice. He became a prisoner during the Venice and Genoa war, wherein he met another prisoner, Rustichello de Pisa. He told Da Pisa about his great voyage to the east, and that is when Da Pisa wrote a book about Marco Polo’s detailed accounts called – The Million. The expedition of Marco Polo heavily influenced many other explorers to unravel the world and find new places. His works are known by the world, mainly in Europe, since during that time, he was the only European to have traveled in different parts of Asia.
- Ferdinand Magellan –is a Portuguese explorer who led the Spanish expedition to the east. During his early times, he became a brilliant sailor and naval officer in service to the King of Portugal. During that time, Portugal had a deal with the Maluku Islands, also known as the Spice Islands, with their trade route across the Indian Ocean. Magellan proposed a new trade route to King Manuel I of Portugal, saying that they could reach the Spice Islands by sailing around the south of the Americas. However, the King of Portugal rejected his proposal.
Interestingly, King Charles I of Spain is looking for a new trade route to the Spice Islands since the Portuguese already conquered the path going to the Indian Ocean.Because of this, King Charles appointed Magellan to lead a fleet of five vessels and proceed with his idea to search for a new route to the Spice Islands. His voyage started with roughly 270 crewmen, and Magellan as their commander, sailing the oceans aboard the Trinidad as his flagship. They sailed the Atlantic Ocean, and in December, they reached Rio de Janeiro, wherein they traded food and supplies to its native tribesmen. The fleet stopped at the natural harbor of Saint Julian to seek shelter during winter, which lasted five months. After they departed from Saint Julian, the Spanish Captains, Juan de Cartagena, Gaspar de Quesada, and Luis De Mendoza, attempted a mutiny. The Spanish leaders are against the rule of Magellan since he is Portuguese. Magellan overcame the rebellion, which resulted in the death of Mendoza and Quesada while leaving behind Cartagena on an unknown island. The rest of the rebels were fairly punished.In the southern end of the Americas, the fleets are searching for a passage leading tothe Pacific Ocean; until they found a strait. The strait is now known as the Strait of Magellan, wherein they sailed across and led them to the vast Pacific Ocean. They continued their journey to the Spice Islands, while their food and supplies are running low, some of the crewmen are dying of scurvy and exhaustion until they reached Guam. On March 16, the fleet landfall on the Philippines, where they stayed for one month and a half and befriended some of the native people and leaders. They went to the island of Mactan in hopes of converting the native tribesmen to Christianity. However, the people in Mactan resisted, resulting in a battle wherein Magellan was killed. Despite the more advanced weaponry and equipment of the Europeans, they lost the battle because of the native tribesmen greatly outnumbered them. The death of Magellan signaled the remaining crewmen and co-commanders to leave the Philippines, which was supposedly led by Juan Serrano and Duarte Barbosa. However, both of them died in the betrayal of former allies from the native tribesmen. After all of the chaos that happened in their venture, they reached the Moluccas and brought all of the spices they could carry – using the only functioning ship, Victoria. Juan Sebastian Elcano captained their travel back to Spain, which completes the circumnavigation. They reached Spain, exhausted, with only eighteen crewmen remaining out of the 270 that started the journey. The expedition of Magellan is truly remarkable all around the globe and not only in Europe. The result of the voyage brought solid proof to the people that the Earth is indeed round.
5. Neil Armstrong – hundreds of years later, after the age of discovery, another historical expedition took place, not just on our planet. On July 16, 1969, the American astronaut and aeronautical engineer Neil Armstrong led the Apollo 11 – which is humanity’s first voyage to the moon. Millions of people all around the globe witnessed the happening during the Apollo 11 via television. On July 20, at precisely 10:56 pm EDT, Armstrong made his first step on the moon. After spending almost a day on the moon’s surface, the team headed back to Earth. Neil Armstrong returned to Earth on July 24. The expedition of Neil Armstrong is still widely known until today. It brought excellent knowledge to scientists and astronomers. Furthermore, it is another proof to humanity that our planet is round.