September 06, 2022

New Book – 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. This was a three-year voyage that circled the globe and crossed wide samples 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, who spent fifteen years in India, became fluent in the Malayalam language of Kerala, and wrote a detailed Asian travelogue; 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.

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:

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Learn more about Enrique at

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