Ferdinand Magellan

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Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan.jpg
Ferdinand Magellan, in a 16/17th century anonymous portrait
Born
Fernão de Magalhães

c.1480
DiedApril 27, 1521(1521-04-27) (aged 41)
Nationality Portuguese
Known forThe first circumnavigation of the Earth
Signature
Magellan Signature.svg

Ferdinand Magellan ( /məˈɡɛlən/ [1] or /məˈɛlən/ ; [2] Portuguese : Fernão de Magalhães, IPA:  [fɨɾˈnɐ̃w dɨ mɐɣɐˈʎɐ̃jʃ] ; Spanish: Fernando de Magallanes, IPA:  [feɾˈnando ðe maɣaˈʎanes] ; c. 1480 – 27 April 1521) was a Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth, completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano.

Contents

Born into a family of minor Portuguese nobility in around 1480, Magellan became a skilled sailor and naval officer and was in service of the Portuguese crown in Asia. After King Manuel I of Portugal refused to support his plan to reach India by a new route, by sailing around the southern end of the South American continent, he was eventually selected by King Charles I of Spain to search for a westward route to the Maluku Islands (the "Spice Islands"). Commanding a fleet of five vessels, he headed south through the Atlantic Ocean to Patagonia. Despite a series of storms and mutinies, they made it through the Strait of Magellan into a body of water he named the "peaceful sea" (the modern Pacific Ocean). [3] The expedition reached the Philippine islands, where Magellan was killed during the Battle of Mactan. The expedition later reached the Spice Islands in 1521 and one of the surviving ships eventually returned home via the Indian Ocean, completing the first circuit of the globe.

Magellan had already reached the Malay Archipelago in Southeast Asia on previous voyages traveling east (from 1505 to 1511–1512). By visiting this area again but now travelling west, Magellan achieved a nearly complete personal circumnavigation of the globe for the first time in history. [4] [5]

Early life and travels

House where Magellan lived, in Sabrosa, Portugal. Sabrosa- Casa de Fernao Magalhaes.jpg
House where Magellan lived, in Sabrosa, Portugal.

Magellan was born in the Portuguese town of Sabrosa in or around 1480. [6] His father, Pedro de Magalhães, was a minor member of Portuguese nobility [6] and mayor of the town. His mother was Alda de Mezquita. [7] Magellan's siblings included Diego de Sosa and Isabel Magellan. [8] He was brought up as a page of Queen Eleanor, consort of King John II. In 1495 he entered the service of Manuel I, John's successor. [9]

In March 1505 at the age of 25, Magellan enlisted in the fleet of 22 ships sent to host Francisco de Almeida as the first viceroy of Portuguese India. Although his name does not appear in the chronicles, it is known that he remained there eight years, in Goa, Cochin and Quilon. He participated in several battles, including the battle of Cannanore in 1506, where he was wounded. In 1509 he fought in the battle of Diu. [10]

Effigy of Ferdinand Magellan in the Monument of the Discoveries, in Lisbon, Portugal. Fernao de Magalhaes - Padrao dos Descobrimentos.png
Effigy of Ferdinand Magellan in the Monument of the Discoveries, in Lisbon, Portugal.

He later sailed under Diogo Lopes de Sequeira in the first Portuguese embassy to Malacca, with Francisco Serrão, his friend and possibly cousin. [11] In September, after arriving at Malacca, the expedition fell victim to a conspiracy ending in retreat. Magellan had a crucial role, warning Sequeira and risking his life to rescue Francisco Serrão and others who had landed. [12] [13]

In 1511, under the new governor Afonso de Albuquerque, Magellan and Serrão participated in the conquest of Malacca. After the conquest their ways parted: Magellan was promoted, with a rich plunder and, in the company of a Malay he had indentured and baptized, Enrique of Malacca, he returned to Portugal in 1512 or 1513. [14] Serrão departed in the first expedition sent to find the "Spice Islands" in the Moluccas, where he remained. He married a woman from Amboina and became a military advisor to the Sultan of Ternate, Bayan Sirrullah. His letters to Magellan would prove decisive, giving information about the spice-producing territories. [15] [16]

After taking a leave without permission, Magellan fell out of favour. Serving in Morocco, he was wounded, resulting in a permanent limp. He was accused of trading illegally with the Moors. The accusations were proven false, but he received no further offers of employment after 15 May 1514. Later on in 1515, he got an employment offer as a crew member on a Portuguese ship, but rejected this. In 1517 after a quarrel with King Manuel I, who denied his persistent demands to lead an expedition to reach the spice islands from the east (i.e., while sailing westwards, seeking to avoid the need to sail around the tip of Africa [17] ), he was allowed to leave for Spain. In Seville he befriended his countryman Diogo Barbosa and soon married the daughter of Diogo's second wife, Maria Caldera Beatriz Barbosa. [18] They had two children: Rodrigo de Magalhães [19] and Carlos de Magalhães, both of whom died at a young age. His wife died in Seville around 1521.

Meanwhile, Magellan devoted himself to studying the most recent charts, investigating, in partnership with cosmographer Rui Faleiro, a gateway from the Atlantic to the South Pacific and the possibility of the Moluccas being Spanish according to the demarcation of the Treaty of Tordesillas.

Voyage of circumnavigation

Background and preparations

Victoria, the sole ship of Magellan's fleet to complete the circumnavigation. Detail from a map by Ortelius, 1590. Detail from a map of Ortelius - Magellan's ship Victoria.png
Victoria , the sole ship of Magellan's fleet to complete the circumnavigation. Detail from a map by Ortelius, 1590.

After having his proposed expeditions to the Spice Islands repeatedly rejected by King Manuel of Portugal, Magellan turned to Charles I, the young King of Spain (and future Holy Roman Emperor). Under the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, Portugal controlled the eastern routes to Asia that went around Africa. Magellan instead proposed reaching the Spice Islands by a western route, a feat which had never been accomplished. Hoping that this would yield a commercially useful trade route for Spain, Charles approved the expedition, and provided most of the funding.

Magellan's fleet consisted of five ships, carrying supplies for two years of travel. The crew consisted of about 270 men. [20] Most were Spanish, but around 40 were Portuguese. [21]

Voyage

The fleet left Spain on 20 September 1519, sailing west across the Atlantic toward South America. In December, they made landfall at Rio de Janeiro. From there, they sailed south along the coast, searching for a way through or around the continent. After three months of searching (including a false start in the estuary of Río de la Plata), weather conditions forced the fleet to stop their search to wait out the winter. They found a sheltered natural harbor at the port of Saint Julian, and remained there for five months.

Shortly after landing at St. Julian, there was a mutiny attempt led by the Spanish captains Juan de Cartagena, Gaspar de Quesada and Luiz Mendoza. Magellan barely managed to quell the mutiny, despite at one point losing control of three of his five ships to the mutineers. Mendoza was killed during the conflict, and Magellan sentenced Quesada and Cartagena to being beheaded and marooned, respectively. Lower-level conspirators were made to do hard labor in chains over the winter, but later freed.

During the winter, one of the fleet's ships, the Santiago, was lost in a storm while surveying nearby waters, though no men were killed.

Following the winter, the fleet resumed their search for a passage to the Pacific in October 1520. Three days later, they found a bay which eventually led them to a strait, now known as the Strait of Magellan, which allowed them passage through to the Pacific. While exploring the strait, one of the remaining four ships, the San Antonio, deserted the fleet, returning east to Spain.

The fleet reached the Pacific by the end of November 1520. Based on the incomplete understanding of world geography at the time, Magellan expected a short journey to Asia, perhaps taking as little as three or four days. [22] In fact, the Pacific crossing took three months and twenty days. The long journey exhausted their supply of food and water, and around 30 men died, mostly of scurvy. [23] Magellan himself remained healthy, perhaps because of his personal supply of preserved quince.

On 6 March 1521, the exhausted fleet made landfall at the island of Guam and were met by native Chamorro people who came aboard the ships and took items such as rigging, knives, and a ship's boat. Magellan sent a raiding party ashore to retaliate, killing several Chamorro men, burning their houses, and recovering the stolen goods. [24]

On 16 March, the fleet reached the Philippines, where they would remain for a month and a half. Magellan befriended local leaders on the island of Limasawa, and on March 31, held the first Mass in the Philippines, planting a cross on the island's highest hill. Magellan set about converting the locals to Christianity. Most accepted the new religion readily, but the island of Mactan resisted. On 21 April, Magellan and members of his crew attempted to subdue the Mactan natives by force, but in the ensuing battle, the Europeans were overpowered and Magellan was killed.

Following his death, Magellan was initially succeeded by co-commanders Juan Serrano and Duarte Barbosa (with a series of other officers later leading). The fleet left the Philippines (following a bloody betrayal by former ally Rajah Humabon) and eventually made their way to the Moluccas in November 1521. Laden with spices, they attempted to set sail for Spain in December, but found that only one of their remaining two ships, the Victoria, was seaworthy. The Victoria, captained by Juan Sebastián Elcano, finally returned to Spain by 6 September 1522, completing the circumnavigation. Of the 270 men who left with the expedition, only 18 or 19 survivors returned. [25]

Death

Nineteenth-century artist's depiction of Magellan's death at the hands of Mactan warriors Magellans death.jpg
Nineteenth-century artist's depiction of Magellan's death at the hands of Mactan warriors

After several weeks in the Philippines, Magellan had converted as many as 2,200 locals to Christianity, including Rajah Humabon of Cebu and most leaders of the islands around Cebu. [26] However, the island of Mactan, led by Lapulapu, [27] resisted conversion.[ citation needed ] In order to gain the trust of Rajah Humabon, [28] [29] On the morning of 27 April 1521, Magellan sailed to Mactan with a small force. During the resulting battle against Lapulapu's troops, Magellan was struck by a bamboo spear, and later surrounded and finished off with other weapons. [30]

Pigafetta and Ginés de Mafra provided written documents of the events culminating in Magellan's death:

When morning came forty-nine of us leaped into the water up to our thighs, and walked through water for more than two crossbow flights before we could reach the shore. The boats could not approach nearer because of certain rocks in the water. The other eleven men remained behind to guard the boats. When we reached land, those men had formed in three divisions to the number of more than one thousand five hundred persons. When they saw us, they charged down upon us with exceeding loud cries, ... The musketeers and crossbowmen shot from a distance for about a half-hour, but uselessly; for the shots only passed through the shields ... Recognizing the captain, so many turned upon him that they knocked his helmet off his head twice, ... An Indian hurled a bamboo spear into the captain's face, but the latter immediately killed him with his lance, which he left in the Indian's body. Then, trying to lay hand on sword, he could draw it out but halfway, because he had been wounded in the arm with a bamboo spear. When the natives saw that, they all hurled themselves upon him. One of them wounded him on the left leg with a large cutlass, which resembles a scimitar, only being larger. That caused the captain to fall face downward, when immediately they rushed upon him with iron and bamboo spears and with their cutlasses, until they killed our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide. [30] :173-7

"Nothing of Magellan's body survived, that afternoon the grieving rajah-king, hoping to recover his remains, offered Mactan's victorious chief a handsome ransom of copper and iron for them but Datu Lapulapu refused. He intended to keep the body as a war trophy. Since his wife and child died in Seville before any member of the expedition could return to Spain, it seemed that every evidence of Ferdinand Magellan's existence had vanished from the earth." [31]

Reputation following circumnavigation

In the immediate aftermath of the circumnavigation, few celebrated Magellan for his accomplishments, and he was widely discredited and reviled in Spain and his native Portugal. [32] [33] The Portuguese regarded Magellan as a traitor for having sailed for Spain. In Spain, Magellan's reputation suffered due to the largely unflattering accounts of his actions given by the survivors of the expedition.

The first news of the expedition came from the crew of the San Antonio, led by Estêvão Gomes, which deserted the fleet in the Strait of Magellan and returned to Seville May 6, 1521. The deserters were put on trial, but eventually exonerated after producing a distorted version of the mutiny at Saint Julian, and depicting Magellan as disloyal to the king. The expedition was assumed to have perished. [34] The Casa de Contratación withheld Magellan's salary from his wife, Beatriz "considering the outcome of the voyage", and she was placed under house arrest with their young son on the orders of Archbishop Fonseca. [35]

The 18 survivors who eventually returned aboard the Victoria in September 1522 were also largely unfavourable to Magellan. Many, including the captain, Juan Sebastián Elcano, had participated in the mutiny at Saint Julian. On the ship's return, Charles summoned Elcano to Valladolid, inviting him to bring two guests. He brought sailors Francisco Albo and Hernándo de Bustamante, pointedly not including Antonio Pigafetta, the expedition's chronicler. Under questioning by Valladolid's mayor, the men claimed that Magellan refused to follow the king's orders (and gave this as the cause for the mutiny at Saint Julian), and that he unfairly favoured his relatives among the crew, and disfavoured the Spanish captains. [36]

One of the few survivors loyal to Magellan was Antonio Pigafetta. Though not invited to testify with Elcano, Pigafetta made his own way to Valladolid and presented Charles with a hand-written copy of his notes from the journey. He would later travel through Europe giving copies to other royals including John III of Portugal, Francis I of France, and Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam. After returning to his home of Venice, Pigafetta published his diary (as Relazione del primo viaggio intorno al mondo) around 1524. Scholars have come to view Pigafetta's diary as the most thorough and reliable account of the circumnavigation, and its publication helped to eventually counter the misinformation spread by Elcano and the other surviving mutineers. [37] In an often-cited passage following his description of Magellan's death in the Battle of Mactan, Pigafetta eulogizes the captain-general:

Magellan's main virtues were courage and perseverance, in even the most difficult situations; for example he bore hunger and fatigue better than all the rest of us. He was a magnificent practical seaman, who understood navigation better than all his pilots. The best proof of his genius is that he circumnavigated the world, none having preceded him. [38]

Legacy

A 1561 map of America showing Magellan's name for the pacific, Mare pacificum, and the Strait of Magellan, labelled Frenum Magaliani. Map of America by Sebastian Munster.JPG
A 1561 map of America showing Magellan's name for the pacific, Mare pacificum, and the Strait of Magellan, labelled Frenum Magaliani.

Magellan has come to be renowned for his navigational skill and tenacity. The first circumnavigation has been called "the greatest sea voyage in the Age of Discovery", [39] and even "the most important maritime voyage ever undertaken". [40] Appreciation of Magellan's accomplishments may have been enhanced over time by the failure of subsequent expeditions which attempted to retrace his route, beginning with the Loaísa expedition in 1525 (which featured Juan Sebastián Elcano as second-in-command). [41] The next expedition to successfully complete a circumnavigation, led by Francis Drake, would not occur until 1580, 58 years after the return of the Victoria. [42]

Magellan named the Pacific Ocean (which was also often called the Sea of Magellan in his honor until the eighteenth century [43] ), and lends his name to the Strait of Magellan. His name has also since been applied to a variety of other entities, including the Magellanic Clouds (two dwarf galaxies visible in the night sky of the southern hemisphere), Project Magellan (a Cold-War era US Navy project to circumnavigate the world by submarine), and NASA's Magellan spacecraft.

Quincentenary

Commemorations of the circumnavigation include:

See also

Related Research Articles

Battle of Mactan battle known as the first native resistance against the Spanish colonisation in the Philippines

The Battle of Mactan was fought in the Philippines on 27 April 1521, prior to Spanish colonization. The warriors of the native chieftain of Mactan Island Lapu-Lapu overpowered and defeated a Spanish force fighting for Rajah Humabon of Cebu, under the command of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who was killed in the battle.

Juan Sebastián Elcano Spanish seafarer and circumnavigator

Juan Sebastián Elcano was a Spanish explorer of Basque origin who completed the first circumnavigation of the Earth. After Magellan's death in the Philippines, Elcano took command of the carrack Victoria from the Moluccas to Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Spain. Even though Magellan didn't survive the trip, he has received more recognition for the expedition than Elcano has, since Magellan was the one who started it, since Portugal wanted to recognize a Portuguese explorer, and due to Spanish fears of Basque nationalism. In 2019, the 500th anniversary of the voyage, Spain and Magellan’s native Portugal have submitted a new joint application to UNESCO to honor the circumnavigation route.

Lapu-Lapu 1St Datu of the Kingdom of Mactan

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Enrique of Malacca Portuguese slave

Enrique of Malacca, was acquired as a slave in Melaka by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who subsequently took him on the first (Spanish) circumnavigation of the world in 1519–22. Italian historian Antonio Pigafetta, who wrote the most comprehensive account of Magellan's voyage, named him "Henrique". His name appears as "enrique", which is Portuguese. His name appears only in Pigafetta's account, in Magellan's Last Will, and in official documents at the Casa de Contratación de las Indias of the Magellan expedition to the Philippines.

Antonio Pigafetta Italian explorer of the Pacific and Chile, historian

Antonio Pigafetta was an Italian scholar and explorer from the Republic of Venice. He joined the expedition to the Spice Islands led by explorer Ferdinand Magellan under the flag of King Charles I of Spain and, after Magellan's death in the Philippines, the subsequent voyage around the world. During the expedition, he served as Magellan's assistant and kept an accurate journal which later assisted him in translating the Cebuano language. It is the first recorded document concerning the language.

Duarte Barbosa Portuguese explorer and writer

Duarte Barbosa was a Portuguese writer and officer from Portuguese India. He was a scrivener in a factory in Cannanore, and an interpreter of the local language, Malayalam. Barbosa wrote the Book of Duarte Barbosa c. 1516, making it one of the earliest examples of Portuguese travel literature. In 1519, Barbosa embarked on the first expedition to circumnavigate the world, led by his brother-in-law Ferdinand Magellan. He died in 1521 at the Battle of Mactan on Cebu Island in the Philippines.

<i>Victoria</i> (ship) Spanish ship.  the first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world.

Victoria was a carrack and the first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world. Victoria was part of a Spanish expedition commanded by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, and after his death during the voyage, by Juan Sebastián Elcano. The expedition began on August 10, 1519 with five ships. However, Victoria was the only ship to complete the voyage, returning on September 6, 1522. Magellan was killed in the Philippines.

The Loaísa expedition was a 16th-century voyage of discovery to the Pacific Ocean, commanded by García Jofre de Loaísa and ordered by King Charles I of Spain to colonize the Spice Islands in the East Indies. The seven-ship fleet sailed from La Coruña, Spain in July 1525 and became the second naval expedition to cross the Pacific Ocean in history, after the Magellan-Elcano circumnavigation. The expedition resulted in the discovery of the Sea of Hoces, south of Cape Horn and, the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. One ship ultimately arrived in the Spice Islands on New Year's Day of 1527.

Cristóbal de Haro was a Castilian financier and merchant, famous for having provided funding for the Magellan-Elcano expedition.

João Rodrigues Serrão, also known as Juan Serrano in the Spanish version, was a 16th-century Spanish navigator, born in Fregenal de la Sierra, Badajoz, who sailed with Fernão de Magalhães during the first circumnavigation of the world (1519-1521).

Francisco Serrão Portuguese explorer

Francisco Serrão was a Portuguese explorer and a cousin of Ferdinand Magellan. His 1512 voyage was the first known European sailing east past Malacca through modern Indonesia and the East Indies. He became a confidante of the Sultan Bayan Sirrullah, the ruler of Ternate, becoming his personal advisor. He remained in Ternate where he died around the same time Magellan died.

Rui (Ruy) Faleiro[ˈʁuj fɐˈlɐjɾu], also known as Ruy de Faleira, was a Portuguese cosmographer, astrologer, and astronomer who was the principal scientific organizer behind Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the world.

Estêvão Gomes Portuguese explorer

Estêvão Gomes, also known in the Spanish version of his name as Esteban Gómez, was a Portuguese cartographer and explorer. He sailed at the service of Castile (Spain) in the fleet of Ferdinand Magellan, but deserted the expedition when they had reached the Strait of Magellan, and returned to Spain in May 1521. In 1524 he explored present-day Nova Scotia sailing South along the Maine coast. While historical accounts vary, Gomes may have entered New York Harbor and seen the Hudson River. Because of his expedition, the 1529 Diogo Ribeiro world map outlines the East coast of North America almost perfectly.

Magellans circumnavigation 16th-century Spanish maritime expedition

In 1519, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan launched a Spanish expedition, the Armada de Molucca, that completed the first circumnavigation of the world in 1522, concluded by the Spanish Juan Sebastián Elcano. The goal of the expedition was to find a western route to the Moluccas and trade for spices. Magellan left Spain on 20 September 1519, sailed across the Atlantic, and discovered the strait that now bears his name, allowing him to pass through the southern tip of South America into the Pacific Ocean. The fleet performed the first ever crossing of the Pacific, stopping in what is today called the Philippines, and eventually reached the Moluccas, accomplishing its goal. A much-depleted crew finally returned to Spain on 6 September 1522.

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Treaty of Zaragoza peace treaty between Spain and Portugal signed on 22 April 1529

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Timeline of the Magellan–Elcano circumnavigation

The Magellan–Elcano circumnavigation was the first voyage around the world in human history. It was a Spanish expedition that sailed from Seville in 1519 under the command of Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, in search of a maritime path to East Asia through the Americas and across the Pacific Ocean, and concluded by Spanish navigator Juan Sebastian Elcano in 1522. Elcano and the 18 survivors of the expedition were the first men to circumnavigate the globe in a single expedition.

Juan de Cartagena was a Spanish accountant and captain of one of the five ships led by Ferdinand Magellan in his expedition of the first circumnavigation of the earth. Cartagena frequently argued with Magellan during the voyage and questioned his authority. Following a failed mutiny attempt of which Cartagena was the principal organizer, Magellan marooned Cartagena on a remote island in Patagonia in 1520, before continuing on to the Strait of Magellan.

First Mass in the Philippines

The first Catholic Mass in the Philippines was held on March 31, 1521, Easter Sunday. It was said by Father Pedro de Valderrama along the shores of what was referred to in the journals of Antonio Pigafetta as "Mazaua".

<i>Over the Edge of the World</i> book by Laurence Bergreen

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Sources

Online sources

Further reading

Primary sources

Secondary sources