May 31 – Exploring Explorers

Posted on May 31, 2017

Exploration - traveling to unknown places - requires a kind of bold courage. 

Exploration usually also requires a lot of very particular skills. How to sail, how to survive off the land, how to predict and survive storms - these are just a few examples of skills an explorer might need.

Exploration almost always requires money! Money for vehicles, equipment, food, a crew...

Today we celebrate several birthdays of men involved in the history of exploration:

On this date in 1469, Manuel I was born into Portugal's royal family. When he became King Manuel I of Portugal, in 1495, he chose to support his nation's further exploration of the world. 

That meant that he paid for expeditions such as Vasco de Gama's sea journey, which established a route to India, and Pedro Alvares Cabral's journey to the "New World," which resulted in the "discovery" (by Europeans) of Brazil.

We now look at the imperialism resulting from European nations' voyages of discovery and establishment of trade routes, and we shudder. We know how much slavery, misery, death through illness, and war resulted from this imperialism. But at the time, Manuel I's investment in exploration paid off in increased wealth and knowledge.

One this date in 1852, an Argentinian explorer named Francisco Moreno was born. As a youth, Moreno studied science and collected fossils and archeological artifacts (thingsmade by ancient peoples). 

After graduating from his formal schooling, Moreno launched several scientific expeditions, and he mapped out previously uncharted territory in Patagonia. I gather that it was on the basis of knowledge he gained in his travels that Argentina was able to set up a boundary with Chile.

Above and below: Patagonia

Moreno learned about the native peoples who lived in the lands he explored - although he was taken prisoner by one group and was condemned to death; he escaped one day before his scheduled execution. Moreno continued to collect prehistoric artifacts and skulls. Later, he founded an archeological museum.

On this date in 1863, a fellow named Francis E. Younghusband was born in British India. He grew up to serve in the military, to travel and climb mountains, and to write about it all. Some of his expeditions to the Far East and Central Asia were journeys of exploration, and Younghusband's books were able to describe these exotic lands.
Younghusband, like most of these explorers, was involved in some very problematic events caused by (again) imperialism. The worst was Younghusband's participation in an invasion of Tibet and a massacre - British soldiers killing Tibetan monks and other Tibetan people!
Above and below: Tibet

On this date in 1937, Vladislav Ivanovich Gulyayev was born in Russia. He grew up to become a cosmonaut - specifically, a flight engineer. 

Even though Gulyayev wasn't the first human (or even the first Russian) to go to space, space travel is still very dangerous, and to a huge extent - whether a flight is a success or a failure - we learn with every spaceflight.

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1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post! There are many things of which I had no information. Your post has provided me with the information about various explorations.