November 04, 2022

Video Find: The Evolution of the Galleon


A thorough documentary on the evolution of the galleon using excellent video footage and illustrations. The film covers caravels, carracks, and galleons, and how they differed/evolved.

Books on Ferdinand Magellan, Christopher Columbus, and Portuguese exploration constantly mention all three types of ships, but rarely pause to assess and appreciate their differences, and what those differences meant to expeditions.

Fun quote from Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, "mariner," on the galleon, which was larger than the carrack and had integrated forecastles and aftcastles: 

The thing that would surprise most people today is just how small they were. Most of the galleons used during the voyages of exploration were no more than a couple of hundred tons … about the size of an offshore fishing boat. But on these you'd have perhaps sixty to eighty men, perhaps, depending on the purpose. They have to live in there, cook, eat, sleep, carry all their stores, supplies, everything. No hammocks, they slept on the decks, and, really, life was pretty rough …

… on Vasco da Gama's voyage three quarters of the crew died on the way to India and back, and yet they thought it was worth it. But then again, life was no better ashore, so I guess they looked thought it was a good way of getting away from the wife. [Face fades from seriousness to a slight smile.]

This is a fine old History Channel documentary—which prompted one YouTube viewer to comment "Man, the good ol' days when watching something on the History channel wasn't a waste of time."

(C) 2022, by

• Ptolemy World Map
• Fra Mauro Map
• Cantino Planisphere
• Contarini-Rosselli Map
• Johannes Ruysch World Map


Frequently Asked Questions

• Who was Enrique of Malacca? (History/Biography)
• What was Enrique of Malacca’s Real Name
• What was Enrique of Malacca’s Cause of Death?
• Was Enrique First to Circumnavigate the Earth?
• Where was Enrique of Malacca from?
• Was Enrique of Malacca Filipino?

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: