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Magellan, Ferdinand (1480?-1521)
"The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church."

--Ferdinand Magellan


Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese maritime explorer who led the first successful attempt to circumnavigate the Earth. He did not complete his final voyage; he was killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines. He did, however, die further west than the Spice Islands, which he had visited on earlier voyages, making him one of the first individuals to cross all the meridians of the globe. He became the first person to lead an expedition sailing westward from Europe to Asia and to cross the Pacific Ocean.

Of the 237 or 270 crew members who set out with Magellan to circumnavigate the globe, only 18 managed to return to Spain and thereby complete the circumnavigation. They were led by Spaniard Juan Sebastián Elcano, who took over command of the expedition after Magellan's death.

Early life
Magellan was born in Sabrosa, near Vila Real in the province of Trás-os-Montes, Portugal. He was the son of Alda de Mesquita and Pedro Rui de Magalhães, the mayor of the town. He had two siblings, an elder brother Diogo de Sousa (named after his grandmother) and a sister Isabel.

Magellan's parents died when he was ten. At 12, he followed his brother to become a page at the court of John II of Portugal and Queen Eleonora in Lisbon. Here, alongside his cousin Francisco Serrão, Magellan continued his education and became interested in geography and astronomy. He may have been taught by Martin Behaim. In 1496, at age 16, Magellan became a squire.

First voyages
Magellan went on his first voyage on the sea at the age of 25 in 1505 when he was sent to India to install Francisco de Almeida as the Portuguese viceroy. The voyage gave Magellan his first experience of battle when a local king, who had paid tribute to da Gama three years earlier, refused to pay tribute to Almeida. Almedia's party attacked and conquered the capital of Kilwa in present-day Tanzania.

In 1506, Magellan travelled to the East Indies and joined expeditions to the Spice Islands. In February 1509, he took part in the naval Battle of Diu,(a critical spice trading outpost) which marked the decline of Ottoman influence in the area. In 1510, he was made a captain. Within a year, however, he had lost his commission after sailing a ship eastward without permission. He was forced to return to Portugal.

In 1511, Magellan was sent to Morocco, where he fought in the Battle of Azamor. In the midst of the battle he received a severe knee wound. After taking leave without permission, he fell out of favor with Almeida, and was also accused of trading illegally with the Moors. Several of the accusations were subsequently dropped, but Magellan fell into disfavor at the court of the new king, Manuel I. He refused to increase Magellan's pension and told him that there would be no further offers of employment after May 15, 1514. Magellan therefore decided to offer his services to the court of Spain.

Move to Spain
Magellan arrived in Seville, Spain's major port, on October 20, 1517. From there he traveled to Valladolid to see the teenage Spanish king, Charles I (later Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor). With the endorsement of friends such as Diogo Barbosa (the Portuguese father of Duarte Barbosa) and Juan de Aranda, one of the three chief officials of Seville's India House, Magellan became a naturalized Spaniard. He soon acquired great influence, gaining the ear of Charles I and Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, bishop of Burgos and enemy of Christopher Columbus.

Having revealed the Portuguese cartographical knowledge to the Spanish court, Magellan pointed out that there would exist some passage (that he thought would be the Río de la Plata) from South America to the Pacific Ocean, forming a large bay-like river delta. He decided to pioneer this route and reach the Moluccas (Spice Islands), the key to the strategic and tremendously lucrative spice trade. He allegedly declared himself ready to sail southward as far as 75° to realize his project.

Ruy Faleiro, an astronomer and Portuguese exile, aided Magellan in his planning. Magellan also made a financial alliance with Christopher de Haro, a member of a large Antwerp firm that was against the king of Portugal. On March 22, 1518, Charles approved Magellan's plan and granted him generous funds. Under the contract, Magellan and Faleiro, as joint captains-general, would receive one-twentieth of all profits and the title of Adelantados. Magellan also took an oath of allegiance in the church of Santa María de la Victoria de Triana, giving money to the monks of the monastery so they would pray for his success.

With the money that Magellan and Faleiro had received from the king, the pair obtained five ships: Trinidad (tonnage 110, crew 55), San Antonio (tonnage 120, crew 60), Concepción (tonnage 90, crew 45), Victoria (tonnage 85, crew 42), and Santiago (tonnage 75, crew 32). The Trinidad was Magellan's flagship, and besides Faleiro, the captains for the other four were Juan de Cartagena, Esteban Gómez, Gaspar de Quesada and Luis de Mendoza, respectively.

Journey
On August 10, 1519, five ships under Magellan's command left Seville and traveled from the Guadalquivir River to San Lucar de Barrameda at the mouth of the rivers, where they remained more than five weeks. Spanish authorities were wary of the Portuguese admiral and almost prevented Magellan from sailing, but on September 20, Magellan set sail from Sanlúcar de Barrameda with about 270 men.

King Manuel ordered a naval detachment to pursue Ferdinand Magellan, but Magellan avoided the Portuguese. After stopping at the Canary Islands, Ferdinand Magellan arrived at the Cape Verde Islands, where they set course for Cape St. Augustine in Brazil. On November 20, they crossed the equator; on December 6, the crew sighted Brazil.

Since Brazil was Portuguese territory, Magellan avoided it, and on December 13 anchored near present-day Rio de Janeiro. There the crew was resupplied, but these good conditions caused them to delay. Afterwards, they continued to sail south along South America's east coast, looking for the strait that Magellan believed would lead to the Spice Islands. The fleet reached Río de la Plata on January 10, 1520.

On March 31, the crew established a settlement that they called Puerto San Julian. A mutiny involving two of the five ship captains broke out. It was unsuccessful because the crew remained loyal. Quesada was executed; Cartagena and a priest were marooned on the coast.

The journey resumed. Santiago, sent down the coast on a scouting expedition, was wrecked in a sudden storm. All of its crewmembers survived and made it safely to shore. Two of them returned, overland, to inform Magellan of what had happened, and bring rescue to their comrades. After this experience, Magellan decided to wait for a few weeks more before again resuming the voyage.

At 52°S latitude on August 24, 1520, the fleet reached Cape Virgenes and concluded they had found the passage, because the waters were brine and deep inland. Four ships began an arduous passage through the 373-mile long passage that Magellan called the Estreito (Canal) de Todos los Santos, ("All Saints' Channel"), because the fleet traveled through it on November 1–All Saints' Day. The strait is now named the Strait of Magellan.

Magellan first assigned Concepcion and San Antonio to explore the strait, but the latter, commanded by Gomez, deserted and returned to Spain. On November 28, the three remaining ships entered the South Pacific. Magellan named the waters the Mar Pacifico (Pacific Ocean) because of its apparent stillness.

Death
Heading northwest, the crew reached the equator on February 13, 1521. On March 6, they reached the Marianas and on March 16, the island of Homonhon in the Philippines, with 150 crewmen left. Magellan was able to communicate with the native peoples because his Malay interpreter could understand their language. They traded gifts with Rajah Kolambu of Limasawa, who guided them to Cebu, on April 7. Rajah Humabon of Cebu was friendly to them, and even agreed to accept Christianity.

The initial peace with the Philippine natives proved misleading. Magellan was killed in the Battle of Mactan against indigenous forces led by Lapu-Lapu on April 27, 1521. Antonio Pigafetta, a wealthy tourist who paid to be on the Magellan voyage, provided the only extant eyewitness account of the events culminating in Magellan's death, as follows:

"When morning came, forty-nine of us leaped into the water up to our thighs, and walked through water for more than two cross-bow flights before we could reach the shore. The boats could not approach nearer because of certain rocks in the water. The other eleven men remained behind to guard the boats. When we reached land, [the natives] had formed in three divisions to the number of more than one thousand five hundred persons. When they saw us, they charged down upon us with exceeding loud cries... The musketeers and crossbow-men shot from a distance for about a half-hour, but uselessly... Recognizing the captain, so many turned upon him that they knocked his helmet off his head twice... An Indian hurled a bamboo spear into the captain's face, but the latter immediately killed him with his lance, which he left in the Indian's body. Then, trying to lay hand on sword, he could draw it out but halfway, because he had been wounded in the arm with a bamboo spear. When the natives saw that, they all hurled themselves upon him. One of them wounded him on the left leg with a large cutlass, which resembles a scimitar, only being larger. That caused the captain to fall face downward, when immediately they rushed upon him with iron and bamboo spears and with their cutlasses, until they killed our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide. When they wounded him, he turned back many times to see whether we were all in the boats. Thereupon, beholding him dead, we, wounded, retreated, as best we could, to the boats, which were already pulling off."

Circumnavigation and return
Magellan had provided in his will that his Malay interpreter was to be freed upon his death. His interpreter, who was baptized as Enrique (Henry the Black) in Malacca in 1511, had been captured by Sumatran slavers from his home islands. Thus Enrique became the first man to circumnavigate the globe (in multiple voyages). Enrique was indentured by Magellan during his earlier voyages to Malacca, and was at his side during the battles in Africa, during Magellan's disgrace at the King's court in Portugal, and during Magellan's successful raising of a fleet.

However, after Mactan, the remaining ship's masters refused to free Enrique. Enrique escaped his indenture on May 1, with the aid of Rajah Humabon, amid the deaths of almost 30 crewmen. However, Antonio Pigafetta had been making notes about the language, and was apparently able to continue communications during the rest of the voyage.

The casualties suffered in the Philippines left the expedition with too few men to sail the three remaining ships. Accordingly, on May 2, 1521, they abandoned Concepción, burning the ship to make sure it could not be used against them. The fleet, now reduced to Trinidad and Victoria, fled westward to Palawan. They left that island on June 21, 1521, and were guided to Brunei, Borneo by Moro pilots, who could navigate the shallow seas.

They anchored off the Brunei breakwater for 35 days, where the Venetian Pigafetta mentions the splendor of Rajah Siripada's court (gold, two pearls the size of hens' eggs, etc.). In addition, Brunei boasted tame elephants and armament of 62 cannon, more than 5 times the armament of Magellan's ships. Brunei disdained the cloves which were to prove more valuable than gold, upon the return to Spain. Pigafetta mentions some of the technology of the court, such as porcelain (which was not yet widely available in Europe), and spectacles (eyeglasses were only just becoming available in Europe).

After reaching the Maluku Islands (the Spice Islands) November 6, 1521, 115 crew were left. They managed to trade with the Sultan of Tidore, a rival of the Sultan of Ternate, who was the ally of the Portuguese.

The two remaining ships, laden with valuable spices, attempted to return to Spain by sailing west. As they left the Moluccas, however, Trinidad was found to be taking on water. The crew tried to discover and repair the leak, but failed. They concluded that Trinidad would need to spend considerable time being overhauled. The small Victoria was not large enough to accommodate all the surviving crewmembers. As a result, Victoria with some of the crew sailed west for Spain. Several weeks later, Trinidad left the Moluccas to attempt to return to Spain via the Pacific route. This attempt failed; the ship was captured by the Portuguese, and was eventually wrecked in a storm while at anchor under Portuguese control.

The Victoria set sail via the Indian Ocean route home on December 21, 1521. By May 6, 1522, the Victoria, commanded by Juan Sebastián Elcano, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, with only rice for rations. Twenty crewmen died of starvation before Elcano put in to the Cape Verde Islands, a Portuguese holding, where he abandoned 13 more crewmen on July 9 in fear of losing his cargo of 26 tons of spices (cloves and cinnamon).

On September 6, 1522, Juan Sebastián Elcano and the remaining crew of Magellan's voyage and the last ship of the fleet, Victoria, arrived in San Lucar, Spain, almost exactly three years after leaving. The expedition actually eked out a small profit, but the crew were not paid their full wages. Maximilianus Transylvanus interviewed the surviving members of the expedition when they presented themselves to the Spanish court at Valladolid in the fall of 1522, and wrote the first account of the voyage, which was published in 1523. The account written by Pigafetta did not appear until 1525, in Paris, and was not wholly published until the late eighteenth century.

Four crewmen of the original 55 on the Trinidad finally returned to Spain in 1525.

Discoveries
Magellan's expedition was the first to circumnavigate the globe and the first to navigate the strait in South America connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Magellan's crew observed several animals that didn't live in Europe. These included the "camel without humps", which could have been the llama, guanaco, vicuña, or alpaca. A black "goose" which had to be skinned instead of plucked was the penguin.

Two of the closest galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, were discovered by crew members in the Southern Hemisphere. The full extent of the Earth was also realized, since their voyage was 14,460 leagues (69,800 km or 43,400 mi).

Finally, the need for an International date line was established. Upon their return they observed a mismatch of one day between their calendars and those who did not travel, even though they faithfully maintained their ship's log. However, they did not have clocks accurate enough to observe the variation in the length of the day during the journey. This phenomenon caused great excitement at the time, to the extent that a special delegation was sent to the Pope to explain this oddity to him.

Trivia
Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to reach Tierra del Fuego on South America's southern tip.

He was the first European to see a South American Native American tribe. He saw a "race of giant sub-humans." The race he saw was the Dagons. After the encounter he brought a few to the Philippines as slaves. He also the first European to land in The Philippines and meet its native people.

He had professional scientists on the trip to help determine the species of some of the animals he found on his voyage.

About 232 Portuguese, French, English and Greek sailors died on the expedition around the world with Magellan.

 
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