This map is part of a series of 16 animated maps showing the history of The Age of Discovery.
Following Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World, several expeditions tried to reach China and the Indies by sailing west. Gradually, the Europeans found themselves sailing along the coast of a new continent.
In 1497, the Venetian John Cabot was given a mission to seek out a route to Asia by King Henry VII of England and landed at Newfoundland.
Between 1499 and 1502, the pilot and mapmaker Amerigo Vespucci sailed across the Atlantic, financed first by Spain, then by Portugal, and surveyed the coast of South America. In a letter dated 1504 and entitled “The New World”, Vespucci indicated that the lands he had discovered were neither islands nor the coast of Asia, but a new world that was unknown to Europeans.
In the early years of the 16th century, several expeditions were sent to the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico.
In 1513, Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and discovered the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
Meanwhile Ponce de Leon was exploring the coast of Florida.
In 1519, Pineda’s voyage brought to an end the exploration of the coast around the Gulf of Mexico with the conclusion that it did not offer a passage to Asia.
The following year, Magellan travelled further south and discovered the passage towards the Pacific.
In 1524, the Florentine explorer Verrazzano was sent to find a northern passage to Asia by King François I of France.
He landed probably somewhere near Cape Fear and followed the coast to the Bay of New York, which he called New Angoulême. He continued along this route as far as Newfoundland before returning to France.