About Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan

Ferninand Magellan was born around 1480 in Portugal. At the age of 25 he enlisted in the fleet of 22 ships sent to host the first viceroy of Portuguese India where he remained eight years. In 1511 he participated in the conquest of Malacca. Afterwards Magellan was promoted and returned to Portugal in 1512.

In 1517 after a quarrel with King Manuel I, who denied his demands to lead an expedition to reach the Spice Islands from the east (sailing westwards, seeking to avoid the need to sail around the tip of Africa), he left to Spain.

In Seville he befriended his countryman Diogo Barbosa and soon married his daughter Maria with whom he had two children: Rodrigo and Carlos, both of whom died at a young age. Maria died in Seville around 1521.

In October 1517 Magellan presented its project to the Spanish king, Charles I, future Holy Roman Emperor Charles V who liked it since it would open the "spice route" without damaging relations with the neighboring Portuguese. The king provided Magellan with five ships and a crew of 270.

Magellan Ship

Furnishing Magellan's fleet


The Voyage
On September 20, 1519 the fleet set sail from Sanlucar de Barrameda and reached Rio de la Plata on January 10, 1520 and was forced to spend the winter in Puerto San Julian. In April 1 a mutiny broke out involving three of the five ship captains. Magellan took quick and decisive action. Some mutineers were executed and others marooned on the coast. Most of the men were needed and thus forgiven.

Finally on November 1, after losing the Santiago in a storm the remaining four ships began an arduous trip through a 600 kilometers (373 miles) passage that Magellan called All Saints Channel. On November 20 the San Antonio deserted and returned to Spain. On November 28 the three remaining ships entered the South Pacific. Magellan named the waters Mar Pacifico (Pacific Sea) because of its apparent stillness.

After almost four months heading northwest Magellan reached the island of Homonhon in the Philippines with 150 crewmen left. Some of the Rajahs of the area were friendly to Magellan while others weren't. On April 27, 1521, Magellan was involved in a battle against the Rajah of Mactan Island and was killed.

Magellan death

Death of Ferdinand Magellan by Frey Oliver


The Return
The casualties suffered in the Philippines left the expedition with too few men to sail the remaining ships so they burned the ConcepciĆ³n and the two remaining ships, the Trinidad and the Victoria, fled westward.

They reached the Spice Islands on 6 November with 115 crewmen left. The two ships, laden with valuable spices, attempted to return to Spain by sailing westwards.

However, as they left the Spice Islands, the Trinidad began to take on water. The crew tried to repair the leak, but failed and the ship was later captured by the Portuguese.

As a result, the Victoria sailed back to Spain via the Indian Ocean route on December 21, commanded by Juan SebastiƔn Elcano. On September 6, 1522 the ship with 28 men on board arrived in Spain.

Magellan circumnavigating Voyage

First circumnavigation voyage


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