Magellan's Unlikely Explorers: Stories of the First Circumnavigation

Released on the 500-year anniversary of the first circumnavigation, Magellan's Unlikely Explorers tells of the first circumnavigation through stories of the far-fetched individuals who joined the expedition. The book finds a unique way to retell this three-year voyage that circled the globe and crossed wide swatches of history along the way. 

Among Magellan’s crew were Antonio Pigafetta, the Italian scholar who passing through Spain in 1519 just happened to hear about a fleet being prepared—and went on to write its history; Duarte Barbosa, a relation and confidant of Magellan's; Joãozito Lopes Carvalho, a young boy who became the first native of Brazil to cross the Pacific; and Enrique of Malacca, the first person to circumnavigate the globe linguistically, and possibly altogether.

Magellan's enterprise was anything but normal. Magellan sought to travel to the East by sailing west, with plans to navigate waters that Cristopher Columbus and others had failed to cross. Along the way he fought intrigue, sabotage, and mutiny including from the Spanish officials who were supposedly backing him. 

In the end, Magellan crossed the Pacific and reached the Visayan Islands (modern-day Philippines), there already proving the world was round and could be circumnavigated. Incredibly, after Magellan's death at Mactan, a handful of his unlikely crew did just that: they completed a full circuit of the globe.

The stories of the individuals who completed the journey and those lost along the way show how implausible the expedition was. 

Cast of characters:

Antonio Pigafetta

Charles V and Family

• Christopher Columbus

• Francisco Albo

Juan de Cartagena

Juan Rodríguez Serrano

Paulo and the Patagonian Giants

Joãozito Lopes Carvalho

Duarte Barbosa

Ferdinand Magellan

• Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa

• Juan Sebastián de Elcano

Phileas Fogg and Sir John Mandeville

• The Austronesian peoples who sailed and settled the world

Enrique of Malacca, first circumnavigator

As for Enrique of Malacca, his circumnavigation was a ten-year journey from Portugal's colonial entrance into Southeast Asia in 1511 … to Spain's colonial debut in the Philippines a decade later. Enrique took the long way.

Available in print and on Kindle.

(C) 2022, by John Sailors.

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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:

Find us:

Learn more about Enrique at EnriqueOfMalacca.com.

(C) 2022 by John Sailors. All rights reserved.