Postclassical Era (500-1500) |

Drake’s Journey Begins – 12/13/1577

History has recorded explorations achieved by man for centuries. When looking at the technology that is available to those seeking to explore today, one cannot help but wonder how early explorers were able to accomplish all that they did. One particular boon for exploration was that it was not limited to one nation which meant there was more of a chance of areas around the world to be discovered. Spain was known for the success of their explorers as one of them is celebrated today as a national holiday; the holiday is Columbus Day which is named after the Spanish explorer known as Christopher Columbus. Although a certain British explorer does not have a holiday named after him, what he did was an achievement in the eyes of the British people.

Francis Drake was an English seaman who set sail from Plymouth, England on December 13th, 1577 with 164 men on five ships. Their assignment was to sail to the Pacific coast to acquire Spanish holdings in the New World as well as to explore the Pacific Ocean. Drake’s voyage back to Plymouth three years later marked the first time a British explorer had circumnavigated the earth.

Drake had to leave behind two of his vessels in South America once he crossed the Atlantic and then with the ships remaining set forth into the Straits of Magellan. Unfortunately, several destructive storms had devastating effects on his expedition within the treacherous straits; one vessel had to sail back to England while the other was destroyed. The only ship to reach the Pacific Ocean was The Golden Hind but Drake still sailed on up the western coast of South America; Drake and his crew was able to secure a wealthy treasure vessel as well as raiding Spanish settlements.

Looking for an alternative northeast route back to the Atlantic, Drake sailed up the western coast of North America. He ended up as far north as where Washington presently is, he turned back end stopped to repair his vessel in June of 1579 close to San Francisco; Drake was getting prepared for his voyage across the Pacific. He acknowledged the territory for Queen Elizabeth I and named it “Nova Albion.”

The ship began its’ voyage across the Pacific in July and investigated some islands until returning to the Atlantic Ocean by rounding Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. The Golden Hind had finally arrived in Plymouth, England on September 26th, 1580 with spice, treasure and important information regarding the greatest oceans of the world. Drake had accomplished being the original captain to travel on his own vessel completely around the world. Portuguese’s explorer Ferdinand Magellan did travel three quarters of the journey around the world earlier in the century; however, he had been murdered in the Philippines which left the Basque navigator Juan Sebastian de Elcano to finish the voyage.

During a visit to Drake’s ship in 1581, Queen Elizabeth I knighted the son of a tenant farmer; Francis Drake. Sir Francis Drake would soon play a pivotal part in the Spanish Armada’s defeat as well as being remembered as the most renowned of the Elizabethan seamen.

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Kelly Sutherland


Hi! I'm Kelly. My favorite time period was the 70s. I had a boatloads of fun traveling around with my close friends spreading love and just living my life to the fullest... if you know what I mean ;) Now I enjoy sitting in my cozy nook writing and learning about history.