Explorer Bios: Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan
Magellan (Source).
  • Ferdinand Magellan (1480 – 1521). Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer[1] who organized and launched the Armada de Molucca, an expedition that resulted in the first circumnavigation of the globe.[2] Earlier, Magellan served the Portuguese crown around the Indian Ocean for seven years from 1505 to 1512, and in 1519 he launched the famous expedition as captain-general aboard the Trinidad. The venture was backed by Spain’s new king (and Holy Roman Emperor), Charles V. Magellan’s expedition was the first to locate the strait that bears his name and cross the Pacific Ocean, which Magellan named for the calm waters (Pacifico) he found at first. But his underestimate of the size of the recently discovered "South Sea" proved deadly: More than 20 men died of starvation and scurvy during (and after) the three months it took the fleet to reach Guam in March 1521. Magellan was killed in battle the following month on the island of Mactan (Philippines), but two of his five ships went on to reach their destination, the Moluccas (Spice Islands). One of those, the Victoria, sailed under the command of Juan Sebastián Elcano sailed directly west across the southern Indian Ocean and back to Spain, making it the first ship to sail around the world—a feat associated globally with Magellan. Although he was killed halfway through the famed circumnavigation, along with distance covered in his earlier voyages, Magellan came within 2,600 kilometers of a full circuit of the globe, beginning in Malacca and ending on Mactan.

1. In the mindset of Europeans of the time, the concept of "exploring" and "discovering" often meant also "conquering and/or subjugating." Magellan certainly saw the world for the taking: Among the conditions he sought in an agreement with King Charles was being granted overlordship for himself and his heirs of he "discovered" more than six islands.

This is the second short bio in a series for our Resources section—more coming soon.

By EnriqueOfMalacca.com.

(C) 2023 by Enrique of Malacca's Voyage. All rights reserved.

Map of Enrique of Malacca's circumnavigation
Map of Enrique of Malacca's circumnavigation: Malacca, Lisbon, Seville,
Rio de Janeiro, Puerto San Julián, Guam, Limasawa, Cebu.[1]

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 own language was spoken. Enrique’s journey began a decade earlier following the sack of Malacca, when he was taken as a slave by 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. More about Enrique of Malacca.

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