James Cook was the greatest explorer of his age. He was born in 1728, the son of a Yorkshire farm labourer. Cook rose from these humble origins to lead three voyages of exploration to the Pacific between 1768 and 1779.
|Captain James Cook. © NMM|
Cook's voyages changed Europe's understanding of the world and also its shape. They were planned as scientific explorations and were sponsored by George III, the Admiralty and the Royal Society.
Although the voyages were not really designed to enlarge Britain's empire, colonisation of Australia and New Zealand followed them.