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Willem Barents: Northeast Passage Quest

Near the end of the sixteenth century, several expeditions tried to find a north-east passage to Asia. No one pursued this quest with such persistence and skill as the Dutch navigator Willem Barents (for whom the Barents Sea is named).

Seeking the illusive north-east passage, Barents made three voyages in 1594, 1595, and 1596-97 along the frozen and dangerous northern shores of Eurasia. He reached the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya, rediscovering Spitsbergen (Svalbard) and Bear Island and sailing east into the Kara Sea.

On his last voyage, he became marooned when his ship was crushed in the ice, and he and his crew were forced to winter there. In the spring the crew started for the mainland in two small boats but Barents died on the way.
Picture: "The Death of Willem Barents".

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