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Circles the Globe

Source: travelTVee

The Voyage of Magellan


In the 1500s a race was on to see who could pick up where Columbus had failed–– to be the first person to reach the east by sailing west. In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer hired by Spain, set off to sail around the southern coast of South America to find an all-water passage to the Pacific Ocean (which was discovered and named by him).


Leaving Spain with 5 ships loaded with supplies and trade goods along with 270 crew from all over Europe, they set out for what would become a 3 year adventure of epic proportions. Magellan was an excellent captain and sailor but was known for his short fuse.

This would be the wrong voyage for someone with little patience. Magellan sailed to Brazil and began mapping the coasts and rivers. He was hunted down by the Portuguese and managed to evade them. Continuing on, the crew reached Argentina on January 10, 1520 where they stayed for the summer. Two of his captains led a mutiny that Magellan put down. As an example to future mutineers he had them drawn- quartered and impaled.

The crew minus a few approached the tip of South America which is known for sudden and violent storms. One of their ships, the Santiago was wrecked in such a storm although the crew survived. In October 1520, one his captains deserted and headed back to Spain. The 3 remaining ships entered the South Pacific Ocean on November 28, 1520. In May 1521, they reached Guam which they named the island of thieves because the natives stole some of the smaller boats from one of their ships. Later that year they reached the Philippines where Magellan agreed to help the local chief defeat his enemies and in return he would allow Magellan to preach about Christianity.  During the battle, Magellan was hit with a bamboo spear and died. His crew of 150 made it to the Spice Islands.


On the voyage back they returned with goods like gold, pearls, sugar, cinnamon, eyeglasses, and porcelain. The remaining crew returned to Spain famous and very wealthy.

While Ferdinand Magellan was originally from Portugal, King Charles I of Spain ultimately sponsored his voyage. This outraged the King Manuel I of Portugal, who sent operatives to disrupt Magellan’s preparations, ordered that his family properties be vandalized and may have made an attempt to assassinate him. Once the expedition sailed, Manuel I even ordered two groups of Portuguese caravels to pursue Magellan’s fleet in the hopes of capturing the navigator and returning him to his homeland in chains."
Source: History Channel

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