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 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

December 03, 2021

“Magellan’s Crossing”: PBS Documentary Features Footage of Spanish Carracks


A documentary from PBS features excellent footage of replica sixteenth-century Spanish carracks and how they were built: “Magellan’s Crossing,” an hour-long episode of the PBS series “Secrets of the Dead.”

The documentary starts off portraying Ferdinand Magellan as a great “explorer” and adventurer and moves on to introduce Juan Sebastián Elcano, who took command of the fleet a while after Magellan's death and led the circumnavigation.

But it also covers more-honest assessments, such as the riches Magellan stood to earn and more importantly the atrocities committed by Europeans in the Americas and elsewhere. 

Not surprising for a short documentary, it contains some historical inaccuracies, but minor ones.

One plus, the film introduces Enrique of Malacca, Magellan’s slave and interpreter (and “confidant”). But one minus, for Enrique, they cast a middle-aged Asian actor with a gray beard—the real Enrique was likely in his mid-twenties during the circumnavigation voyage.

A key feature: The documentary offers graphic explanation of how these sixteenth-century ships were built, including how trees were trained to grow in the shapes needed for custom lumber used on the craft. There’s also excellent footage taken aboard a carrack replica at sea, showing sailors working sails and ropes and steering using the ship's primitive helm.

Subjects interviewed for the documentary span from shipbuilders in Spain making a replica sixteenth-century galleon to the crown prince of the Sultanate of Ternate and the prime minister of the Sultanate of Tidore—the legendary spice islands the Iberians sought.

It’s certainly a high-budget production.

The documentary premiered on Oct. 20, 2021, and is currently available on YouTube, as well as the PBS website:

PBS Website

YouTube




(C) 2021 by John Sailors. All rights reserved.




See Also:


On March 28, 1521, Enrique of Malacca became the first person to complete a
linguistic circumnavigation of the globe—he traveled so far in one direction that he reached a point where his language was spoken. Enrique’s journey began a decade earlier following the sack of Malacca, when he became a slave of Ferdinand Magellan. A teenager, he accompanied Magellan back to Portugal, then to Spain, and finally on the Armada de Molucca to locate a westward route to the Spice Islands.  Read more:




Ferdinand Magellan’s historic journey swept up several unlikely travelers along the way, among them a seven-year-old boy at Guanabara Bay (Rio de Janeiro). Half-Portuguese, half-Tupi Indian, he is remembered in history as Joãozito Lopes Carvalho. The young boy became the first native of Brazil and likely all of South America to cross the Pacific Ocean—on a year-and-a-half journey that for him ended at Brunei five hundred years ago this summer.

Joãozito was the son of João de Lopes Carvalho and a Tupi Indian woman in what is now Brazil. A Portuguese pilot, João Carvalho had traveled to Guanabara Bay in 1512 on the Bertoa, a commercial vessel sent to pick up dyewood there. A decade earlier a Portuguese fleet had landed at Guanabara Bay and claimed the area for Portugal, naming it Rio de Janeiro for the month they arrived, January 1502. Read more.

Antonio Pigafetta's account of the Magellan-Elcano voyage gives us both first-hand historical detail and color—the human aspects of the journey. The Italian scholar learned all he could about the cultures that Magellan's fleet encountered, even sitting down and recording samples of languages.

An excellent example of Pigafetta's curiosity and fascination is his description of the coconut and the palm tree, which he learned about soon after the fleet's arrival in the Philippines. Like the pineapple Magellan tried in Rio, the coconut was an unknown. "Cocoanuts are the fruit of the palmtree. Just as we have bread, wine, oil, and milk, so those people get everything from that tree. Read more.



A handful of medieval travelogues were the closest thing Ferdinand Magellan had to a travel guide when he sought a westward route to Asia—accounts credited to Marco Polo, John Mandeville, and others, and those all echoed the same monsters and myths repeated since the time of Pliny the Elder, the Roman author whose Naturalis Historiae helped inspire the encyclopedia.

It gets little mention today, but The Travels of Sir John Mandeville was a world atlas of sorts in medieval Europe, essential reading for navigators and explorers. The accounts became circulated widely in Europe in the fourteenth century. They detail travels in North Africa and the Middle East, and in India, China, and even the Malay Peninsula—which would have been of particular interest to Ferdinand Magellan, and also Enrique of Malacca, Magellan’s interpreter-slave. Read more.





Reni Roxas and Marc Singer brought the story of Enrique to life for children in 
First Around the Globe: The Story of Enrique. Twenty years on they released this anniversary edition in 2017 from Tahanan Books, Manila. Read more.




On March 16, 1521, Magellan and his crew reached the Philippines, where they would finally be able to recover after three months crossing the Pacific. They were unable to stop long at Guam—their encounter with the Chamorros they met there did not go well, as seen in their sendoff. As they were departing, more than a hundred of the Chamorros’ outrigger canoes followed for more than a league.

As Pigafetta wrote, “They approached the ships showing us fish, feigning that they would give them to us; but then threw stones at us and fled. And although the ships were under full sail, they passed between them and the small boats [longboats fastened astern], very adroitly in those small boats of theirs. We saw some women in their boats who were crying out and tearing their hair, for love, I believe, of those whom we had killed.” Read more.



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(C) 2022 by Enrique's Voyage, EnriqueOfMalacca.com. All rights reserved.