The Tudors

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The Tudors

by Mandy Barrow

WW ll
Roamn Britain
Saxon Britain
Viking Britain
Norman Britain
Tudor Britain
Victorian Britain
World War Two
500 BC
AD 43
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Tudor Explorers


The golden age of exploration began in the 15th century and lasted more than 200 years. During the reign of Elizabeth 1, many sailors went in search of unknown lands. There were two main reasons: one was adventure and the other was money.

Portugal and Spain led the way, exploring the coasts of Africa, Asia and the 'New World' of the Americas. English exploration began in the reign of Henry VII, who sent Italian-born navigator John Cabot to find a northwestern route to Asia.

Raleigh l Drake l Cabot l Hawkins l Columbus
Spanish Armada

Sir Walter Raleighrose Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618)

A poet, Tudor Courtier and adventurer.

Sir Walter Raleigh was born in 1554 in Devon. He was a handsome man with dark brown hair and was one of Elizabeth I's favourite courtiers. He was also a poet and a fearless soldier.

He led many expeditions to America and introduced tobacco and the potato into England. He chose the name of the first English colony in America. He named it Virginia after Queen Elizabeth.

It is said that he spread his cloak in front of Queen Elizabeth so that she did not have to stand in a puddle. There is no evidence to support this.

Elizabeth didn't like her courtiers to fall in love with anyone except her. Sir Walter lost her friendship after he fell in love and married one of Elizabeth's maids of honour. He was briefly sent to the Tower of London.

Further information

The life of Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh
Britannia site

rose Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596)

Sir Francis DrakeSir Francis Drake was born in 1540 in Tavistock, Devon, England. He first started going to sea while living in Chatham in Kent, at the age of 12 or 13. He was an apprentice on a small trading ship which was left to him when the master died. but became famous as a pirate and explorer.

During his life, Protestant England was often at war with Catholic Spain and there were rich rewards for capturing Spanish ships.

Drake, who was an incredibly bold and brilliant sailor, captured more than his fair share of Spanish ships. His pirate raids on Spanish ships off the coast of America were encouraged by Queen Elizabeth I. Drake's successful battles against the Spanish helped England become a major sea power.

He was the first Englishman to sail around the world, which he did (1577 - 1580) in his ship The Golden Hinde. Drake started his famous circumnavigation of the world from Plymouth, England, November 15, 1577, passed through the Straight of Magellan (southern tip of South America) into the Pacific, coasted up the western shores of the Americas, crossed to Asia and the Philippines, and finally returned to Britain on September 26, 1580.

cirumnavigation by Sir Francis Drake
Drake's route around the world

On the way round the world, Drake landed in what is now California, naming it Nova Albion (New England) and claiming it for his queen.

Drake returned from his voyage with his ship packed full of spices from the Indies, and plundered Spanish silver and treasure.


Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth l for his courage, and for the treasures he brought back with him. He brought back enough treasure to pay off the entire national debt.

Spanish Armada

In 1587, Elizabeth I put Drake in command of an expedition to attack a Spanish fleet which was getting ready to attack England. Drake sailed right in to Cadiz harbour and wrecked the ships there, before going on to capture another hundred Spanish ships elsewhere. It was said he'd 'singed the king of Spain's beard'. By 1588, he was Vice-Admiral of the fleet which defeated the Spanish Armada.

Follow this link to read more about the Spanish Armada

As a sailor, adventurer, navigator, politician, engineer and landowner, Drake was as famous in his own lifetime as David Beckham is today. He was one of the most famous men in Elizabethan times.

Website links

Sir Francis Drake
Questions and answers about Drake

Sir Francis Drake
These pages focus on Sir Francis Drake, and in particular on his "Famous Voyage" - the circumnavigation of the world in the sixteenth century, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

Golden Hind Website - Click on the Education Centre
The Golden Hind captained by Sir Francis Drake undertook one of the most historic and exciting voyages of all time.

rose John Cabot

John Cabot was born in Italy and was an explorer of Italian origin. He came to live in England during the reign of Henry VII and is best known for his explorations made under the English flag.

Discovered Newfoundland.

In 1497 Cabot sailed west from Bristol, on his ship, the Matthew, hoping to find a shorter route to Asia. After a month, he discovered an unknown land – he called it 'new found land', today still known as Newfoundland in Canada.

Arrow points from the UK to Newfoundland

Why Asia?

Many explorers were desperate to reach Asia because they knew great wealth was to be made there. Not only would they become rich themselves and be rewarded for their great achievements but their countries would benefit too.

rose John Hawkins

Hawkins was a cousin of Drake. He was the first Englishman to trade in slaves. He bought slaves in west Africa and sold them to the Spanish colonies in the West Indies, often raiding Spanish ships as he went.

West Indies

Further information

John Hawkins - Channel 4 site

Tudor Explorers
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