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

March 14, 2022

Video: India, China, and the Maritime Silk Road

Here's a detailed video mapping out maritime trades routes in the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, and East Asia—from ancient times to the medieval era: India, China, and the Maritime Silk Road.

Hubs like Malacca linked together trade networks between China and the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and down East Africa coast.

When Ferdinand Magellan's fleet reached Limasawa Island (modern-day Philippines), they touched base for the first time with the well-established East Asian network—in fact an eastern edge. They had just survived a harrowing journey across the Pacific Ocean, and had just chanced upon the isolated island of Guam (imagine that!) before Limasawa.

When the fleet arrived at Limasawa, Enrique of Malacca was suddenly able to converse with locals, likely in a Malay language or dialect used by merchants. Ten years earlier, Magellan had taken Enrique as a slave following the sack of Malacca. Magellan put the teenage boy to work as an interpreter as he grilled merchants and pilots in the city to learn all he could about trade to the east, the Spice Islands, and the north, up into China and Okinawa.

Magellan's goal was the fabled Spice Islands, the Moluccas, the soul source of cloves, nutmeg, and mace that Europeans craved. And on March 28, 1521, Magellan finally reached the eastern edge of that Asian trade network, ten years after departing the same network's western edge in Malacca. (He took the scenic route.)
Video by Odd Compass.

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