10th January 2003 at 00:00

A Spanish Conquistador, Pizarro defeated the Incan empire of Peru between 1530 and 1532. He governed them for eight years, imposing European administration and industry on the Incas. He was murdered in 1541 by Spanish soldiers in a personal feud.


An Italian explorer funded by the Spanish, Columbus discovered America in 1492 when, in fact, he was searching for China. Columbus made four voyages to America and the West Indies, providing Spain with great wealth. He died in poverty and relative obscurity in 1506.


A Spaniard, Cortes arrived in Veracruz on the Mexican coast in 1519, to be met by the indigenous population with gifts of gold. Cortes would eventually conquer the massive empire of the Aztecs by 1521.


Prince Henry the Navigator, of Portugal, only sailed in two voyages, however in the 1460s he financed many voyages of exploration into the New World. He also founded the Portuguese School of Navigation.


Employed by the Dutch East India Company to search for the North West Passage in America. In 1609 and 1610, he found the Hudson River, Strait and Bay. In 1611, his crew mutinied and he was set adrift in a boat - never to be heard of again.

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