The first fifty years of the sixteenth century were so crowded with explorations and conquests of new lands that they may well be regarded as the most wonderful years in the whole history of travel. Not only were further great discoveries made by sea of new lands, but travelers such as Coronado in North and Orellana in South America, explored great areas and journeyed thousands of miles in the interior of the new continents—the latter traveler being the first to cross South America and to descend the Amazon. Cortez in Mexico and Pizarro in Peru, although led by somewhat different motives, traveled far and wide in their conquests of these, the two greatest and most cultured of the countries of the New World.

Although so great a mark was made during this period by Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish travelers, the nations of northern Europe soon entered the lists. England, France, and Holland began to take their part, and such names as Cabot, Cartier, and Hudson attest their prowess in the field. Raleigh’s ill-fated expedition to Guiana,〖H. C., xxxiii, 311ff.〗 and Drake’s great achievement in circumnavigating the globe,〖H. C., xxxiii, 199ff.〗 supply records of great interest, and bear witness to the part played by Englishmen in these stirring times. Drake and the sea rovers of the Elizabethan period〖See Lecture III, below.〗 were largely actuated by the desire to attack and pillage the rich commerce of Spain in the New World; Raleigh, Gilbert,〖H. C., xxxiii, 263ff.〗 and others, on the contrary, sought more the settlement and colonization of the new-found lands; yet the older impulse of the search for a shorter trade route to the East was still a factor, as one can see from the attempts by Frobisher, Davis, and others, to find the ever-elusive Northwest Passage.

With the beginning of the seventeenth century France supplies the names of many who deserve to rank among the great travelers of all time. Champlain, La Salle, Marquette, Verendrye, and many others both lay and cleric, were the pioneers in the exploration of New France, and the story of their journeys and lives forms a record of which any traveler might well be proud.

While France was thus engaged in America, the Dutch were no less bold explorers at the Antipodes. Although Australia had first been seen by the Spaniards in the middle of the previous century, the Dutch now, as the Portuguese before them had done in the case of Africa, began to push south along the western coast, their travels culminating in the expedition of Tasman, who not only showed that Australia was an island, but also was the first to see New Zealand.

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