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Biography of John Davis (ca. 1550-1605)


Navigator and English Explorer, born approximately in the year 1550 in Sandridger (Devonshire), near Dartmouth, and died in 1605 near Sumatra Island, victim of an attack by Japanese pirates. He was one of the first explorers in search the awaited Northwest Passage, following in the footsteps of the first launched this adventure, Martín Frobisher. Davis (or Madame) carried out a total of three attempts, all unsuccessful, from 1585.

His first trips were designed to find the Northwest passage from the Arctic regions to the Pacific. The day may 7, 1586 they left the port of Dartmouth four ships under his command; Once crossed the parallel 60 ° N, Davis divided his fleet into two groups: one would explore the East coast of Greenland, and the other, headed by him, internaría in the Strait that later would receive its name with boats Mermaid and Moon-Shine.

During the period of time between 1585 and 1587, Davis explored various sectors of the coast of Greenland (to reach the 72 ° 12' N) and Baffin Island, and discover the islands of Cumberland. When a storm forced him to change course, he moved towards the S and was paralyzed in Baffin Bay, appearing as "a powerful and endless ice Bank". In this way, Davis realized that the navigation to such northern latitudes would only be possible in certain seasons of the year and was heading to England, where he arrived September 15, 1586; shortly afterwards he would return from his third attempt to reach the pass, and again failed as a result of climatic calamities. Back in England, he accepted the command of the ship Black Dog sent against the Spanish Armada.

In 1590 he accompanied to Cavendish on his trip to the South seas. The death of Cavendish and after the rest of the expedition returned without having achieved his purpose, he continued on their own attempt to pass through the Strait of Magellan; again he failed, but he discovered Falklan (Malvinas) Islands.

Three years later he moved to London and published the Treaty of navigation The Seaman completo Secrets, and a world hydrographic description entitled The World completo Hydrographical Description, collecting the results of their studies around the Northwest Passage. He is also the invention of the double quadrant, used to calculate the height of the Sun, until the quadrant of reflection, very similar to the sextant invented by John Hadley in 1731 was introduced in the 18th century. He returned to the navigation with Walter Raleigh, embarking on the expedition of 1596 to the Azores and Cádiz. In 1601 he worked as first pilot, along with James Lancaster, at the service of the East India Company. Four years later and during a trip to the service of this same company, perished in the Strait of Malacca, near Sumatra, on Board of the ship Tiger, victim of an attack by Japanese pirates.

Despite not having found the desired Northwest Passage, the results of the voyages of Davis were not null; in 1616, on his return from his expedition, W. Baffinwrote in a letter that Davis had lent big services to its achievements.


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