Ferdinand Magellan


Who was the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe and
cross the Pacific Ocean? Ferdinand Magellan did it on his
famous voyage in search of a westward route to the Moluccas
(now Melaka). This is one of the greatest Portuguese
explorers to ever sail the ocean. Ferdinand Magellan was
born in about 1480 in Sabrosa of a noble family, and he
spent his years as a court page. He ran errands and helped
out with general chores but he was still looking for
something more. He wanted to see the world and find out
what there was to explore. In 1506 he went to the East
Indies, participating in many military and exploratory
expeditions in Malacca and the Moluccas, know as the Spice
Islands, and by 1510 he had been promoted to the rank of
captain. He returned to Portugal in 1512 and in 1513 was
stationed in Morocco, where he got wounds that maimed him
for life. He requested an increase in his royal allowance
but was rejected by Emanuel, king of Portugal, who didn't
agree with Magellan's plan to find a westward route to the
Moluccas. This made Magellan renounce his Portuguese
nationality. In 1517 he offered his services to the king of
Spain, Charles I (later Holy Roman Emperor Charles V). With
his good salesmanship skills, Magellan convinced Charles to
fund the expedition to find a westward route to the
Moluccas. If Magellan could reach the Moluccas from the
West, Spain's wealth would surpass all other countries. On
September 20,1519 Magellan started his great journey to the
Moluccas from Sanlucar de Barrameda with five ships. In
November of that year he reached South America. In February
1520 he explored the Rio de la Plata estuary, and on March
31, 1520 his fleet put in to port at San Julian. His fleet
remained there for six months because of disease and
complications. One ship was wrecked causing a mutiny. After
the mutiny had been settled, Magellan sailed the passage to
the Pacific Ocean named after him, the Strait of Magellan,
losing another ship by desertion, en route. After 38 days
and traveling 330 miles, on November 28, 1520, his three
great ships sailed into the ocean, which Magellan named
"Pacific" because it was so calm. He reached the Marianas,
or Ladrone, Islands on March 6, 1521, and ten days later he
discovered the Phillipines. He landed on the island of Cebu
on April 7. There he made an alliance with the ruler of the
island and agreed to help him attack the neighboring
natives on the island of Mactan. Magellan was killed on
April 27, 1521 during the Mactan expedition. What happens
to the crew now that their leader is dead? A young Spanish
navigator named Juan Sebastian del Cano takes over.
Meanwhile two ships escaped and the other one was burned.
The last ship, Victoria, was commanded by del Cano through
the Cape of Good Hope route to Seville on September 6,1522.
Although Magellan did not live to make the journey home he
did circumnavigate the globe by passing the easternmost
point he had visited on an earlier voyage. The cargo of
spices brought back to Spain on the Victoria alone paid for
the expenses of the Expedition. The passage through the
Strait of Magellan was too long and difficult to be a
practical trade route from Europe to the Moluccas, however,
and Spain sold her interests there to Portugal. The voyage
laid a foundation for trade in the Pacific between the New
World and the East. Though Spain did not recognize the
importance of the Phillipines immediately, before the end
of the century, Manila became the greatest Spanish trading
center in the East. Ferdinand Magellan proved to the world
and all those who rejected his ideas that one could
circumnavigate the world. His discoveries and passages
opened new doors to a larger world. He will always be
remembered as the first man who sailed around the world.

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