The pattern I’ve been seeing recently while studying events in history is when a person finds an undiscovered place, they instantly become famous and conquer the inhabitants. I put it this way: Discover & Conquer.
1. 1513, a Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon made the first Spanish landing on the mainland of North America.
2. Also in 1513, this Portuguese guy named Vasco de Balboa discovered the Pacific ocean, which made the Europeans quite upset. There was a newly discovered ocean between the New World and the treasure, spices, silk and other goodies in the Far East.
3. By the way, this is my favorite out of all of the voyages made in the history of historic voyages. It is now 1519, and Ferdinand Magellan embarks on an epic three-year voyage around the world. He sailed west across the Atlantic and south along the coast of South America, passing through a strait which now bears his name: The strait of Magellan. He continued his trip west across the Pacific. Unfortunately, Magellan died in the Philippines. However, his crew completed the journey. His expedition once and for all proved that the Earth is round. Way to go, Magellan! Nowadays, however, the Magellan you use in your car is, to tell you the truth, quite dumb.
4. By 1521, Hernando Cortes had conquered the Aztecs of Mexico. He conquered them with the help of neighboring tribes and claimed their wealth for Spain.
5.1553, Fransisco Pizarro conquered the Incas of Peru. He conquered them as Cortes did, sadly because he was a greedy man, only wanting them for their wealth and for the slaves he could put to work in the gold and silver mines of Spain.
6. Between 1528 and 1536, Hernando de Soto explores the southeastern half of the United States. In 1541, he discovers the Mississippi river.
7. 1542, and Juan Cabrillo explores the coast of California.
Then Philip the Second marches in and says, “I’ll take that,” snatching the numerous explorations and discoveries that other people had made and stuffing them into his own pocket. He now probably controlled more of the Earth’s surface than any other man in history. He wanted more. He wanted England, and his plans to gain control were thwarted more than once. It infuriated him and he wanted the English throne. Unfortunately, he wasn’t getting it.
When the Roman church responded to the Protestant Reformation with a Counter-Reformation to crush Protestantism and to bring as many souls as possible back to the Catholic fold, Philip finds his chance to attack England openly and invade.
By 1588, he was prepared, with an awesome fleet of 130 ships and about 30,000 men he called the “Invincible Armada”. His plan was that this “Invincible Armada” would sail up the English Channel, pick up some troops from the Netherlands, and invade England. If Philip had been successful in conquering England, there would be no English colonies in the New World and no United States of America.
God was faithful to his people and intervened. The Armada never made it to the Netherlands. The English fleet, with smaller, easier to maneuver ships, attacked the heavy Spanish galleons while they were still in the English Channel. The remainder of the ships attempted to escape, but that’s where God stepped in. A storm arose, smashing many of the ships to pieces on the shores of Ireland and Scotland.
The English naturally credited their victory to God, making a dedicatory medal which read, “God blew and they scattered.”
The defeat of the Invisible Armada was a place mark for the beginning of Spain’s decline as a world power. If Philip had succeeded, the whole subsequent history of Scotland and England would have been greatly affected; there would have been no Protestant North America, and no Anglo-Saxon civilization. It would have made Spain queen of the world, and that nation would have set the type of civilization in the ages which have followed.
Here are some links to find out more about all of these explorers: