Christopher Columbus (c. 1451 – 20 May 1506) was a navigator, colonizer, and explorer whose voyages across the Atlantic Ocean led to general European awareness of the American continents in the Western Hemisphere. With his four voyages of exploration and several attempts at establishing a settlement on the island of Hispaniola, all funded by Isabella I of Castile, heinitiated the process of Spanish colonization which foreshadowed general European colonization of the "New World".
Although not the first to reach the Americas from Europe—he was preceded by at least one other group, the Norse, led by Leif Ericson, who built a temporary settlement 500 years earlier at L'Anse aux Meadows, Columbus initiated widespread contact between Europeans and indigenous Americans.Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan (birth name in Portuguese: Fernão de Magalhães, Portuguese pronunciation: [fɨɾˈnɐ̃ũ ðɨ mɐɡɐˈʎɐ̃ĩs]; Spanish: Hernando de Magallanes; c. 1480 – April 27, 1521) was a Portuguese explorer. He was born at Sabrosa, in northern Portugal, but later obtained Spanish nationality in order to serve king Charles I of Spain in search of a westward route to the "SpiceIslands" (modern Maluku Islands in Indonesia).
Magellan's expedition of 1519–1522 became the first expedition to sail from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean (then named "peaceful sea" by Magellan; the passage being made via the Strait of Magellan), and the first to cross the Pacific. It also completed the first circumnavigation of the Earth, although Magellan himself did not complete theentire voyage, being killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines. (Magellan had, however, traveled eastwards to the Malay Peninsula on an earlier voyage, so he became one of the first explorers to cross all of the meridians of the globe.) Of the 237 men who set out on five ships, only 18 completed the circumnavigation and managed to return to Spain in 1522, led by the Basque navigator JuanSebastián Elcano, who took over command of the expedition after Magellan's death. Seventeen other men arrived later in Spain: twelve men captured by the Portuguese in Cape Verde some weeks earlier and between 1525 and 1527, and five survivors of the Trinidad.
Magellan also gives his name to the Magellanic Penguin, which he was the first European to note, and the Magellanic clouds, now known tobe nearby dwarf galaxies.
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valle de Oaxaca (Spanish pronunciation: [erˈnan korˈtes]; 1485 – December 2, 1547) was a Spanish conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the King of Castile, in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of thegeneration of Spanish colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
Born in Medellín, Spain, to a family of lesser nobility, Cortés chose to pursue a livelihood in the New World. He went to Hispaniola and later to Cuba, where he received an encomienda and, for a short time, became alcalde (magistrate) of the second Spanish town founded on the island. In 1519, he waselected captain of the third expedition to the mainland, an expedition which he partly funded. His enmity with the Governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, resulted in the recall of the expedition at the last moment, an order which Cortés ignored. Arriving on the continent, Cortés executed a successful strategy of allying with some indigenous peoples against others. He also used a nativewoman, Doña Marina, as an interpreter; she would later bear Cortés a son. When the Governor of Cuba sent emissaries to arrest Cortés, he fought them and won, using the extra troops as reinforcements. Cortés wrote letters directly to the king asking to be acknowledged for his successes instead of punished for mutiny. After he overthrew the Aztec Empire, Cortés was awarded the title of Marqués del...