PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540 - 1596). English explorer, seaman and buccaneer pirate. Earning his fortune in plundering Spansih ships in the Caribbean, he was sponsored by Queen Elizabeth I to lead a fleet of ships on an exploration of the Pacific in 1577. The fleet was battered by storms in South America but Drake continued alone in the Golden Hind, robbing Spanish vessels as he went. Within three years he had crossed the Pacific, rounded Africa and returned to England. The second expedition to ever circumnavigate the globe. He brought the potato to Britain from western South America, a crop which would later have profound socio-economic influence worldwide. Later in 1588 he helped defeat the invading Spanish Armada. He died aged 55, out of favour, suffering from dysentry during a failed campaign anchored off the coast of Panama.
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