Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca – Part 1

cabeza_de_vacaIn 1528, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca would wash up on the shores of modern-day Texas – a survivor of the ill-fated Narváez expedition. His story is really not one of exploration – but of survival – as he would spend eight years living and traveling the southwest of the United States and northern Mexico. It is an incredible journey – one of the most unusual in the history of exploration.

In Part 1 of our tale, we recount the aftermath of the destruction of the Narváez expedition, Cabeza de Vaca’s years-long struggle to survive – and thrive – in an alien environment, and ultimately his first steps to returning tp a home he had not seen for many, many years.

narvaez-de-vaca

Route of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca.

All images from Wikipedia.

Pánfilo de Narváez and the Narváez Expedition

narvaezSpanish conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez marched into to swamps and forests Florida in 1527 with 300 men. Narváez and his men were in search of gold. Unfortunately, they are in store for a whole lot of misery and death. The Narváez Expedition is notable in that it marked the beginning of the amazing story of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca – whose life we will cover in our next podcast.

Please note that the upcoming podcast on Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca is really an extension of the Narváez podcast. A link to that page will be added with the Cabeza de Vaca podcast has been published.

Resources

No better document for this podcast is the writings of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, the expedition’s second-in-command. You can read it free online. Here is a good online version – or you can download a PDF or eReader version at archive.org.

I also want to give a nod to the folks at Wikipedia. The page that was set up detailing the Narváez Expedition is wonderful. Also, from there, you can access links to the various players in our tale.

narvaez-de-vacaThis map shows the route taken by the Narváez Expedition – in addition to the later travels of Cabeza de Vaca.

All images are from Wikipedia.

Bartolomeu Dias and the Cape of Storms

diaz_on_his_voyage_to_the_capeIn 1487, Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias (aka Bartholomew Diaz) sailed from Lisbon with orders to round the southern tip of Africa and chart a trade route to Asia. Dias would make history as he would temp the fates by rounding the Cape of Storms (today known as the Cape of Good Hope), one of the deadliest places in the world for sailing ship.

bartolomeu_dias_voyage

Mungo Park and the Exploration of the Niger River – Part 2

mungo-park-bookAfrica is not done with Mungo Park. In Par 2 of our series on Mungo park, he returns to West Africa in 1805 with a large force – nearly 40 soldiers – determined to map the Niger to its outlet – as well as find the legendary city of Timbuktu.

Sources

There is no better source than Mungo Park himself for this podcast. His book, Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa is a classic. It holds up well today – and best of all – it’s free. In addition to Park’s book, many of the free versions include his journal from his second expedition – as well as notes explaining Park’s ultimate fate.

As usual, Wikipedia has a good page on Mungo Park.

mungo-park-map

The map (from Wikipedia) above shows Park’s travels, including his second one (in red), the subject of this podcast.

 

Mungo Park and the Exploration of the Niger River – Part 1

mungo-parkIn 1795, Mungo Park, a young Scottish doctor, set out for West Africa under the sponsorship of the African Association.

Park’s goals were to find the elusive Niger River – which no European had ever set their eyes on – as well as locate the legendary city of Timbuktu.

It would be an epic journey filled with hardship, lose and triumph.

mungo-park-map

Mungo Park’s journeys (in green).

All images courtesy of Wikipedia.

John Cabot and the Exploration of North America

john_cabotJohn Cabot, aka Giovanni Caboto, strikes out into the North Atlantic to become the first European to land in North America since the Vikings.

On his next voyage, Cabot would lead of fleet of ships west – only to have them disappear forever.

Sources

Bristol University’s Cabot Project is the most comprehensive site for all things Cabot. There are links to various research papers, analysis and much more.

The John Day letter is a rare original source item. It is pretty much contains the only mention of Cabot’s first voyage.

As always, Wikipedia provides a great amount of information about Cabot.

matthew-cabot

Replica of Cabot’s ship Matthew.

All images from Wikipedia.

Erik the Red and Leif Erikson

The father and son team of Erik the Red and Leif Erikson represent the most famous Viking explorers. Erik would found the Greenland colony in the 980s, while Leif would become the first European to set foot on the North American continent – as well as establish a settlement.

vikings-map2

This map gives an idea of the locations of various places in the Viking world – and the routes taken by Erik the Red and Leif Erikson. Map source: Wikipedia.

Sources

I used many sources, but some of the more recent books included Neil Oliver’s The Vikings: A New History as well as Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga, edited by William F. Fitzhugh and Elisabeth Ward.

For the Icelandic Sagas, the Icelandic Saga Database was awesome. It’s all free – so enjoy the fun.

Wikipedia has a lot of great information about our podcast:

knarr

The knarr was a cargo vessel used by the Vikings during this era. The ship was deeper and wider than the traditional Norse longship, and more suited to longer sea voyages.

This model can be found in the Hedeby Viking Museum in Germany.

leif-erikson-minnesota

Leif Erikson statue at the Minnesota State Capital in St. Paul. Source: Wikipedia.