The Pirate-y Life of Ferdinand Magellan

Magellan’s voyage in search of the “Spice Islands” was marked by storms, sharks, and scurvy—plus multiple attempts at mutiny. By Lorraine Boissoneault From the start, it was hard to know whose side Ferdinand Magellan was on. Born in northern Portugal around 1480, Magellan, an orphaned son of lesser nobles, spent decades serving the Portuguese crown[…]

Icescapes: A History of Exploring and Printing the Arctic

Arctic ice has long proved a stern adversary to explorers. Exploring the representation of this fearful foe by explorers across the centuries. As Francis Spufford’s 2003 book I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination argues, ice has a powerful hold on the English imagination. Today this is commonly articulated by summoning the names of[…]

European Explorations in the 18th and 19th Centuries

An introduction to the development, sponsorship, and goals of European expeditions from the eighteenth to the nineteenth centuries. By Christopher Lawrence Introduction In David Livingstone’s overland expeditions in Africa, as in most nineteenth-century expeditions, science and medicine played a key role in geographic exploration. In fact, many expeditions deliberately set out to acquire new scientific[…]

18th-Century Voyage for the Northwest Passage

There were many expeditions in search of a Northwest Passage during the 1700s. They include the voyages of Frances Smith, Samuel Hearne and James Cook. By the end of the century, George Vancouver had explored the northwest coast in detail. In 1670 the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) was founded as a commercial enterprise to obtain[…]

The Spice Islands and the Age of Exploration

It can easilybe argued that the United States exists today becausemedieval Europeans liked spicy food. Introduction The Spice of Life History can be changed by many things. A battle,an election, an earthquake, or even a rainstorm can alter the course of events. But would you ever have thought that peppercorns and cinnamon sticks could lead[…]