Sir Walter Raleigh (ca. 1552–1618)

Although a man of many accomplishments, Sir Walter Raleigh is best known as an explorer and the founder of Roanoke colony (1585), England’s first colonial settlement in the Americas.

Henry Hudson (ca. 1550–1611) explorer

The English navigator Henry Hudson was known for sailing farther north than any European had previously as he searched for the fabled northern passage to Asia.

Richard Hakluyt (ca. 1552–1616) geographer

Richard Hakluyt was the principal exponent of English colonization in the Americas, long before England acquired its transatlantic empire.

Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) explorer

Sailing for Spain during four voyages between 1492 and 1504, Christopher Columbus laid the foundation for an extensive Spanish empire in North, Central, and South America and eventually the Europeanization of the Western Hemisphere.

Samuel de Champlain (ca. 1567–1635) explorer, businessman

Samuel de Champlain was the principal founder of New France and the first European explorer of much of modern Quebec and Ontario.

Jacques Cartier (1491–1557) explorer

The French king Francis I’s (r. 1515–47) search for a seasoned mariner to lead his country’s challenge to Spain and Portugal in the recently discovered Americas brought to the forefront Jacques Cartier.

John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) (ca. 1450–ca. 1499) explorer

Giovanni Caboto, one of the ablest seamen of his day, spent the last years of his life searching for a northwestern route to the Indies.