486 "Voyage of Brendan" - Saint Brendan, also known as Saint Brendon, Brendan the Bold, and Brendan the Voyager was an Irish abbot, monastery founder, and legendary sea voyager. He sailed in the Atlantic Ocean, traveling to the Hebrides (islands off the west coast of Scotland), Scotland, and perhaps to Wales and Brittany (the northwestern coast of France along the English Channel). He may have also sailed to the Canary Islands (off the northwest coast of Africa), the Azores (islands far off the coast of Portugal), and Iceland.
622 The Muslim Empire began with the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, It's expansion under the Umayyad Caliphate (7th century), extended conquests to southern Europe, including North Africa, Caucasus and central Asia until 1099.
668 The 3 Kingdoms of the Korean Peninsula were unified under the Kingdom of Silla.
950 Eric the Red, Viking explorer. was the first European to sail to Greenland. He sailed from Iceland in 982 and led a group of colonists to Greenland in 985-986.
1000 ERIKSSON LEIF, one of the sons of the explorer Eric the Red, was possibly the first European to sail to North America. Leif sailed north from the southern tip of Greenland, then went south along the coast of Baffin Island down to Labrador, and then landed in what is now called Newfoundland (which he called Vinland). Ericsson was probably preceded to Vinland by the Icelandic explorer Bjarni Herjulfsson, who spotted the coast of North America when blown off course from Iceland to Greenland (but he did not go ashore).
- The Aztecs. The Nahua people and the Aztlan migrants formed what was to become the Aztec Empire. It ended with the Spanish conquest under Hernan Cortes. (15th century)
- The Incas begun in the area of Cusco Peru. They were conquered by the Spanish Francisco Pizarro in the mid 15th century.
1206 Genghis Khan proclaimed ruler of the Mongols. Followed 2 centuries of conquest to create the largest contiguous land Empire in history. Civil war and division ended this huge Empire.
1271 Marco Polo Italian voyager and merchant who was one of the first Europeans to travel across Asia through China, visiting the Kublai Khan in Beijing.
1492 Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, hoping to find a route to India (in order to trade for spices). Sailing for King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain, Columbus led an expedition with three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria to the Caribbean and South America.
- John Cabot explored the Canadian coastline and named many of its islands and capes. The mission's purpose was to search for a Northwest passage across North America to Asia (a seaway to Asia).
- Vasco da Gama, Portuguese explorer who found a route from Spain to the East. He sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, around Africa's Cape of Good Hope, to India (and back) in 1497-1499. At that time, many people thought that it was impossible to do this since they thought that the Indian Ocean was not connected to any other seas.
16th Century saw the rise of the Spanish Empire. It became a global power by the 18th century with the greatest territorial expansion.
1507 Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci discovered the mouth of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers in South America, thinking it was part of Asia. On his second expedition (sailing for Portugal, 1501-02) he mapped some of the eastern coast of South America, and came to realize that it not part of Asia, but a New World.
1519-1522 Ferdinand Magellan, Portuguese explorer who led the first expedition that sailed around the Earth (1519-1522). Magellan also named the Pacific Ocean.
Late 16th Century
- The British Empire, a Global power by the late 1800's. Largest Empire in history.
- The French Colonial Empire, became Napoleon's conquest Empire in the early 1800's.
17th Century Russian Empire stretching over 3 continents, defeated Napoleon's ambitions.
1768-1779 James Cook, circumnavigated the globe at an extreme southern latitude, becoming one of the first to cross the Antarctic Circle (17 January 1773). In the Antarctic fog, Resolution and Adventure became separated. Furneaux made his way to New Zealand, where he lost some of his men during an encounter with Māori, and eventually sailed back to Britain, while Cook continued to explore the Antarctic, reaching 71°10'S on 31 January 1774.
1841 James Clark Ross
Led an Antarctic expedition (1839-43), commanding the "Erebus" while his friend Francis Crozier commanded the "Terror." [These two ships were lost years later when Franklin's Arctic expedition failed.] Ross charted much of the coastline and in 1841 discovered the Ross Sea, the Victoria Land area of Antarctica, Mount Erebus (a 12,400-foot tall volcano on Antarctica), and Mount Terror (a smaller, nearby, extinct volcano). Ross also discovered the Victoria Barrier, which was later renamed the Ross Ice Shelf. Ross wrote his memoirs, "A Voyage of Discovery and Research in the Southern and Antarctic Regions" (1847).
1926 Richard Byrd
Byrd (the navigator) and Floyd Bennett (the pilot) made what may have been the first airplane trip over the North Pole, in a 15 1/2 hour flight; they flew from King's Bay, Spitsbergen, Norway, to the North Pole and back again. There is a dispute as to whether or not they actually reached the pole. He also made four Antarctic land expeditions:
- During the 1928-30 expedition, the base called Little America was built on the Ross Ice Shelf; the nearby Marie Byrd Land was named for Byrd's wife, and on Nov. 29, 1929, Byrd (as navigator) and three others made a 19-hour flight over the South Pole.
- During the 1933-35 mapping, land-claiming, and scientific expedition, Byrd spent five months isolated at a weather station hut (called Bolling Advance Base) and was rescued after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning.
- During the 1939-41 US government expedition (called the US Antarctic Service Expedition), Byrd discovered Thurston Island.
- During the huge 1946-47 US government expedition (called Operation Highjump), ship-based and land-based aircraft mapped 537,000 square miles (1,390,000 square km) along the Antarctic coast.
Byrd was also involved with two later Antarctic expeditions. Byrd wrote about his adventures in his books: Skyward (1928), Little America (1930), and Alone (1938).
"...there is left in the world today an area as big as the United States, that's never been seen by human beings, and that's beyond the pole, on the other side of the South pole, from middle America. And I think it's quite astonishing ...." _ Admiral Byrd