Medieval England Mary Rose Longbow
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Tudor Times Exploration of the World

During the Tudor period, a lot of people undertook explorations. Tudor monarchs also supported expeditions to discover new sea-routes for trade. Ships played a pivotal role in exploration. Henry VIII was known to have spent a good amount on building ships. However, it was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I that most of the explorations were undertaken.

Tudor Times Exploration: Ship Design


The ships were called galleons and were high. Also, they were narrow in breadth. The ships were believed to be 20 feet in width and 75 feet in length. The size of the ships made them slow while sailing.

Although the ships looked bulky in size, living on the ship for several months at a stretch was not an easy task. The main problem was that there was very little space available for the men or sailors to accommodate themselves. All had to survive in the compact space of the ship.

Tudor Ships
Tudor Ships

Normally before going on sailing, the troops would stock up the food supply, even carry live animals. Although people joined the voyages, the time required to complete the same was not fixed. The expeditions took months, even years in some cases to reach their final destination.

Another aspect of the exploration was that unhealthy living conditions led to many of the sailors falling sick very often. Some even contracted terminal diseases. Thus, living on a ship was not easy. The reasons for men wanting to go on an exploration varied.

What did Tudor explorers discover?

The explorers during the Tudor period were commissioned by the rulers to explore sea routes to various places such as Africa, Asia and the Americas, where they thought they could find riches and enslave native people.

Tudor Period

Why did Tudors want to explore the world?

Some wanted to find a new sea route for trade purposes, while others wanted to make money. Also, another reason could be that the religious turmoil during the Tudor period forced people to migrate to other places where they would have the freedom to practice their own religion.

How did Tudor sailors navigate?

The sailors used a compass to navigate. Sometimes an astrolabe was also used by the sailors. The ships in that time had many masts and sails which helped the sailors to understand the directions in the sea.

Some of the Famous Explorers who Undertook Expeditions During the Tudor Period were-

1) Sir Walter Raleigh

He was a poet and Tudor courtier during the rule of Elizabeth I. In fact, it is said that he was one of her favourite courtiers.

Queen Elizabeth Portrait
Queen Elizabeth Portrait

He was a famous explorer who undertook many expeditions to America and even named a British colony in America as Virginia.

2) John Hawkins

He sold slaves purchased from the African region. He traded them with the Spanish. He also was a part of the Royal Navy and would rebuild older ships.

Sir John Hawkins
Sir John Hawkins

For his contribution to the Spanish Armada, he received a knighthood. He also imported potatoes and tobacco in England.

3) Sir Francis Drake

He raided Spanish ships off the American coast. He received the support of Queen Elizabeth I for the same. He was the first Englishman to have sailed around the world. He brought with him large quantities of spices from the Indies and treasure from the Spanish.

Sir Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake

Francis Drake was awarded a knighthood for his contribution to making England a powerful country, especially at sea. He played a significant role in earning the victory for England in the Spanish Armada.

4) John Cabot

He was an Italian explorer but is popular for his expeditions undertaken for England. He is known for discovering the Newfoundland during one of his voyages.

John Cabot
John Cabot

The path for exploration was mainly led by countries like Portugal and Spain. Spain had the strongest hold River the sea because of its strong navy. The Spanish armada, which was considered invincible, made Spain capable of exploring the sea routes to different places.

Africa, Asia and the coasts of America were all reached and explored during the Tudor period. England began exploring mainly during the rule of Henry VII who was to one to send John Cabot to discover a route to Asia.

More Info On- Queen Elizabeth I Biography, Tudor Trade Items

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