Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521)

Ferdinand Magellan

1480 During spring, Ferdinand Magellan (spanish: Fernando Magellan; Portuguese: Fernão de Magalhães) was born at Sabrosa, in the North of Portugal. He was a Spanish-Portuguese explorer and sailor, the first European who crossed Pacific Ocean and made the first travel around the Earth. He undoubtedly proved that the Earth is round and that Pacific and Atlantic are two different oceans.

Son of Pedro Rui of Magalhaes, a short nobleman and mayor of his town. Magellan grew up at Royal Court in Lisbon, one of the greatest discovery expeditions’ Center, expeditions which opened new borders for Europe.

1505 He sailed since he was young and fought within Portuguese expeditions sent to Africa and India in order to take the control over Arabian Sea and to establish commercial harbours into Indian Ocean.

1511 Magellan took also part in Malacca Malay port’s conquest by Portuguese people – a gateway to rich trade with the Orient. Whence, Portuguese went to Moluccas or Spices’ Island.

1512 Magellan came back home as a Captain and next year he was seriously wounded during the battle in Morocco, so having a walking disease.

1513 He was wounded during Portuguese expedition to Morocco. During this time he also argued with King of Portugal. King Emanuel refused to give him a higher salary and more than this, he denied listening to Magellan’s plan to sail towards West, bypassing South America to find an alternative way to Spices’ Island.

1519 Magellan did not give up and went to Portugal’s neighbour and enemy, offering his services to young King Carol I of Spain. His plan seemed very attractive for Spanish because according to Tordesillas Treaty’s stipulations, the world known at that time was divided into two parts: Portugal owned all that was in the East of a wall of partition and Spain owned all that was in the West. If Magellan had found a way by West, bypassing South America, islands full of spices would have been opened to Spanish. Magellan totally adopted Spain. He became a Spanish citizen and married to the daughter of an important official in Sevilla; together they had one child.

1519 On September he left leading a five Spanish ships and 250 people fleet. After crossing the Atlantic, his fleet sailed across South America Coast, in a territory which had not been examined yet. The fleet tried initially to find a gorge through large Estuary River Plata, then it went to the South and wintered for six months in Patagonia’s South where Magellan suppressed a revolt, killing the leaders and abandoning to the shore one of the conspirators.

1520 After losing one of the ships, the fleet bypassed the Southern end of the continent on the 21st of October and entered the pass that is known nowadays as Magellan. The fight against the rough waves and wind gusts from the West lasted 38 days until the vessels succeeded to find a way by treacherous strait; San Antonio crew deserted and went back to Spain.

They had completed 330 miles – less than 10 miles a day – until they finally succeeded to go out to the water, into the Pacific Ocean. As Columbus, when he had reached the first time Caribbean 30 years before, he did not know where he was – and for sure they did not know that the ocean that was laying in front of them was so wide. Magellan went to the North and then to the West reaching Pacific. Because a big part of food was on the way to go back to Spain – aboard of San Antonio ship that had deserted – Magellan used all the courage and all leading skills he had in order to lead the fleet ahead.

1521 Magellan continued to sail towards Philippines becoming the first European who reached these islands then he foolishly implied in a local war sustaining the leader in Cebu. He was killed by a poisoned arrow while he was attacking Mactan Island.

1522 Two of his surviving ships continued the travel to Spice Island where they loaded the very valuable cargo and one of them, Victoria, succeeded to finish the trip around the world, bypassing Cape of Good Hope then reaching Sevilla on the 9th of September. The spice cargo was enough valuable in order to pay the whole expedition but there were only 18 Europeans and 4 Indians aboard.[1]



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