Captain Cook: The Sailor Who Wrote His Name in World History in Golden Letters

The Sailor Who Wrote His Name in World History in Golden Letters: Captain Cook

I’m sure you’ve seen and heard several times that these expressions were used to define many sailors. From Barbaros to Oruç Reis, even a pirate like Blackbeard was named in this way. However, the things that make these names special are the wars and conflicts they were in. At this point, the feature that distinguishes Captain Cook from them is that he gained this reputation not by fighting, but by exploring. Let’s take a look at the story of Cook and his crew that was in his shadow.


In the second half of the 1700s, England was the largest representative of the colonization movement, along with Spain and Portugal. One of the most important conditions of being a successful country in colonization is your success in maritime. A country in Europe was not going to establish a colony in a country in Europe. The underdeveloped and mysterious American continent or the southern parts of Africa, which had not yet been reached by land, were the regions where this trend (colonialism) was most effective.

The problem is that until the 19th century, shipping was not an easy task. Weather conditions determined your fate as soon as you boarded and sailed away. Going long distances was a very risky choice. Despite this, a country known for its ambition to win, like England, chose to do what is expected of it and continue to focus on these activities. For this, they sent many important sailors on adventures for exploration and to take control of the discovered areas. One of these important sailors was James Cook, who was a relatively young sailor.


At that time, our captain was at the head of the convoy that England formed both for geographical discoveries and to get to know the world with its “other” aspects. This voyage of discovery was a tiring and dangerous voyage for any sailor. There was another problem, the diseases that were a nightmare for the sailors of that period. With the acceleration of geographical discoveries, the death toll of captains and crews increased considerably. The reason for this increase was a disease rather than weather conditions or wars. Scurvy, a common disease among sailors, was one of them. Until then, sailors did not understand the cause of this disease. The first move that made Cook important in history was that he managed to find the cause of this disease and prevent it. Cook was the person who understood that scurvy is caused by a vitamin C deficiency. Not only that, he had stockpiled various citrus fruits on his ship to prevent the disease, and as far as Cook’s expeditions, none of his crew fell victim to the disease. There are many things that make Cook special, but those are the things we’ll cover as we talk about his discoveries. Let’s tackle the exploration part now!

Captain Cook and the Age of Discoveries

England is one of the countries that has not avoided using alternative realities throughout history. For those who want to clearly hear what I mean, let me explain. Some countries come out and say, “Smoking; reduces your stress and relaxes you.” instead of saying “Cigarettes will kill you.”. England can be considered one of these countries.

They describe Cook’s journey as a scientific expedition. They say that Cook and his crew actually went to explore different plants, animals, and lands. Perhaps it was indeed one of the purposes because a significant part of the crew consisted of scientists. If you do not count the military ships that went with them, which were more than the crew themselves. It is also known that a great deal of blood was shed in the lands they went to on this journey, and that this blood was shed on Cook’s orders.


Angel or Devil?

However, we should not think of Cook only as a bloody murderer, because Cook has stubbornly proven the importance he gave to discoveries with his effort to go to Antarctica. The Antarctic event is not a complete success, but his first expedition, the Tahiti expedition, was indeed a great success. While returning from here with many plant and animal species in hand, England somehow managed to make the mysterious lands themselves. While Cook contributed to both science and his country, he also made moves that might upset mother nature. But remember that Cook was truly an eye-opener for sailors. Although it is quite difficult to tell what kind of person he is in the eyes of the local people, he has been a guiding light to the sailors and has brought a lot of money and land to England. Well, everything has an end, and interestingly Cook’s end was also a very fitting end to the belief called karma because he was killed by a native on the island of Hawaii, which he discovered.

An Unforgettable Name

When we look back at Cook’s story, it is up to everyone’s own conscience and understanding to love or hate him, but it is an undeniable fact that Cook is not a name that history can ignore. He is not a person whose name cannot be mentioned in maritime history. In the end, Captain Cook saved the sailors twenty or thirty years and changed the course of history forever, maybe deliberately, maybe accidentally.

References and Further Reading Editors. (2021, March 31). James Cook. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

Harari, YN, & Taneli, PN (2016). Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow . Collective Book. Editors. (2010, February 9). Captain Cook killed in Hawaii. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

Villiers, A. J. (n.d.). James Cook. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

Images not cited are used through Canva Pro with a royalty payment.

The proofreading has been done by Asu Pelin Akköse and Mete Esencan.

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Tufan Özdemir

Hello there! I'm Tufan Özdemir. I am a philosophy student at METU. Philosophy has been a big part of my life and my life. For this reason, most of my articles on this site are on philosophy.

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