Enrique of Malacca Enrique of Malacca was the first person to circumnavigate the globe linguistically—he traveled so far in one direction (west) that he came to a place where his own language was spoken. Enrique may have also circumnavigated the globe completely, a full circle of the earth beginning and ending in Malacca or somewhere in the modern-day Philippines. 

Enrique departed Malacca on the Malay Peninsula in 1512 or 1513, taken as a slave by Ferdinand Magellan after the 1511 Portuguese invasion of the area trade hub. They went first to Lisbon and later to Spain before departing on the Magellan-Elcano expedition that first circled the globe. Enrique was last seen by Magellan's fleet at Cebu (Philippines), some 2,600 kilometers from Malacca.

1558 Carrack Pieter Bruegel the Elder

May 20, 2022

Video Find: Video Map History of Sumatra - Sejarah Sumatra

A picture is worth a thousand words, a map is worth so many more in the study of history. Add world music and learning goes even deeper. This video map history of Sumatra traces the Indonesian island's past, from Srivijaya to the present.

Sumatra's proximity to the Malay Peninsula makes this video also a history of Malacca and the peninsula.

May 19, 2022

Article: Myths and Truths About the First Circumnavigation of the Globe

This Philippine Daily Inquirer feature by Javier Galván explores the myths and the history surrounding the first circumnavigation as perceived in the Philippines, including whether Enrique of Malacca was the first person to circumnavigate the globe and what part was played by Lapulapu, datu at Mactan, where Ferdinand Magellan was killed in battle.

May 18, 2022

Article Find: "I Crossed the World," a Modern Circumnavigation

Here's a delightful New York Times feature on a modern circumnavigation of the globe, by John Weber. He compares his experience with those in history, including Enrique of Malacca's, noting that for him it was a bit easier with Kayak—the website, not the boat—and a laptop.

May 17, 2022

Magellan's Concepción Scuttled in the Philippines, Burned to Waterline

Three- and four-masted carracks.

The Nao Concepción was the third-largest ship in Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet in tonnage. The Concepción was recorded at 90 tons compared with the San Antonio’s 120 and the flagship Trinidad’s 110. Its crew included key figures in the Magellan-Elcano expedition. 

May 16, 2022

Video Find: Kidlat Tahimik Introduces Balikbayan #1, Enrique Film

Filipino filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik has spent more than thirty-five years putting together his film Balikbayan #1 (Memories of Overdevelopment Redux III)

A mix of historical documentary and fiction, Balikbayan tells the story of Enrique of Malacca, the slave of Ferdinand Magellan who was one of the first people to circumnavigate the globe.

May 15, 2022

Podcast Find: Felipe Fernández-Armesto Speaks on Magellan for BBC History Magazine

Go to podcast.

The British historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto is interviewed in this podcast on the story of Ferdinand Magellan. In his new book Straits: Beyond the Myth of Magellan, Fernández-Armesto describes Magellan as largely a failure. 

See also:

Was Enrique of Malacca Filipino?

Enrique of Malacca's origin is a subject of debate. Three places are considered possible: Malacca, then a major trade hub on the Malay Peninsula; Sumatra, the large island adjacent to Malacca; and the Visayan Islands in the (modern-day) Philippines. The evidence points to Malacca, though chronicler Antonio Pigafetta said Sumatra, and some scholars believe it's possibly Enrique was from the Visayan Islands in the modern-day Philippines? See the historical evidence in this post: Where was Enrique of Malacca from, Malacca or the Philippines?

May 14, 2022

Video Find: Elcano-Magellan Circumnavigation (Henry of Malacca)

This is a fun but cheesy dramatization of Enrique of Malacca using a Frankenstein-like collection of clips from other films. See the list of films the clips were taken from below.

It's a commendable effort, but beware of inaccurate historical details in the English subtitles. For instance, Ferdinand Magellan was not "dishonorably discharged" after a Malacca campaign. First, that wasn't a thing in 16th century Portugal, and second, Magellan later served the Portuguese king in battle in Morocco, where he was seriously wounded. It was that and other humiliations that prompted Magellan to defect to Spain.

May 12, 2022

Video Find: Don't Mess with 12-Foot Giants (Magellan and the Patagonians)

Here's a 13-minute video slideshow offering an introduction of Ferdinand Magellan's voyage and excerpts from the journal of Antonio Pigafetta, chronicler of the expedition. These include descriptions of the Tupi people in "Verzin" (Rio de Janeiro) and the Patagonian "giants." The video puts together an impressive range of images.

Ferdinand Magellan and his Armada de Molucca were the first Europeans to encounter the "Patagonian giants," whom Pigafetta described as so tall that "we reached only to his waist." Europeans on later voyages, including Sir Francis Drake's in 1579, also reported this race of giants living along the Patagonian coast (modern-day Argentina). The giants were likely Tehuelches, an indigenous people in the region.

May 11, 2022

Video Find: Introduction to the Majapahit Empire

Here's another video on Southeast Asian history from History Media-HD. Like their video on the Srivijaya Empire, which preceded Majapahit, this one is fast-spoken and detailed, introducing what is considered the biggest and most powerful empire in Indonesia's history. And like Srivijaya, the Majapahit was a thalassocratic empire built on maritime trade, its influence ranging from the Malay Peninsula to parts of the modern-day Philippines.

May 09, 2022

Video Find: Introduction to the Srivijaya Empire


Here's a fast-spoken, detailed account of the Srivijaya Empire, a maritime-based empire that grew on Southeast Asian trade from the seventh to the twelfth centuries. This was a civilization built on Malay seafaring, connecting Southeast Asia with China to the northeast and the Indian Ocean to the northwest.

May 04, 2022

News: Skola Gambar Enrique de Malacca exhibition at Ilham Gallery in Kuala Lumpur

The exhibition 'Skola Gambar Enrique de Malacca'
by artist Ahmad Fuad Osman. 
Photo: Ilham Gallery.

News piece on the Skola Gambar Enrique de Malacca exhibition in KL, from the Star.

Five hundred years ago, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan embarked on a historic journey to circumnavigate the globe.

Five ships with 270 crew members set sail on this perilous three-year expedition from Spain, among them an enslaved Malay sailor and interpreter named Enrique de Malacca, whom Magellan had acquired during the Portuguese conquest of Malacca in 1511.

April 29, 2022

Video Find: The History of the Malacca Sultanate


YouTube Introduction:

The historical journey of the Sultanate of Malacca every year (1402-1528). From its foundation as a small Hindu settlement in southern Malay Peninsula, its golden age as a powerful Islamic sultanate in late 15th century, until its decline and fall by the Portuguese in early 16th century. 

---- Music: - 'Zapin Ghalit' ~ Kedahan Malay Music by litmibimi (https://youtu.be/QJIcXkGE7rE)


Malacca was a unique city-state that sprang up out of nowhere in the early 1400s and for a century dominated trade between the Indian Ocean to the northwest, China and East Asia to the northeast, and Southeast Asia, where the most sought-after spices were produced.