Spanish Explorers


Updated Jul 18th, 2021

Vasquez Nunes Balboa

Burn the ships dude? While exploring the coast of Panama he heard of and found the Pacific Ocean and claimed the sea for Spain. Accused of Treason and beheaded.

Hernan Cortes

Exploration of Mexico. Landed in Mayan territory. Does Montezuma have much gold? In 1519, found capital of Aztec empire, Tenochtitlan, which had 20,000 Native Americans. Tenochtitlan fell by 1521, because of smallpox. The mesomeric world is fascinating. Cortez really botched the invasion but was saved by another landing Spanish ship and a starving city. It took 2.5 months in all. Modern Mexico and new Spain was born.

Hernando de Soto

Born into poverty. Got rich exploring Nicaragua and also Peru but couldn’t settle in Spain bored of domestic life, so went to Cuba in 1537, with orders to explore north and discovered Tampa bay in 1539. First European to discover Mississippi. Died in Louisiana.

Juan Ponce de Leon

Born 1474 in Spain. Signed up with CC to sail on second trip. Became gov of Puerto Rico. Told to explore area and found Florida. Died from poisoned arrow in Florida.

Christopher Columbus

Sailed in 1492 after pleading for 6 years to Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Italian Mariner. Born 1451 in Italy. 87 men on 3 vessels and 29 days later made landfall in the Bahamas. 1493-1504 took a few trips and died in 1506.

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado

Covered a ton of ground, 1500 miles, on land from Mexico to Kansas and Nebraska. Never found his riches but found grand canyon. 1535 came to Mexico/New Spain. Died 1554 in Mexico City.


Born Portugal in 1480 and sailed around the world. 6 months of open ocean. Killed 1527 on Phillipines.

Diego Velazquez

On Cuba, dispatched Hernan Cortez.


Found Gulf in 1508

See Also

Pueblo Revolt

Also known as Pope’s rebellion, Taos, New Mexico

Spanish Caste System

How much Spanish blood. Lots of mixing in this time period. Mestizo, Mulata.