By Ryan LiebeFerdinand Magellan, pronounced Me-jel-an and in Portuguese, Fernando deMegalnaes, was born in Oporto of noble parentage.
Magellan was a page for the Queen,when he entered the Portuguese service in the East in 1505.Magellan went to East Africa and was in the battle of Dju. The Portuguesedestroyed the Egyptian Naval Fleet in the Arabian Sea at the battle of Dju.. He wenttwice to Malucca, the Malayan spice port. There he participated in its conquest by thePortuguese. He may also have gone on an exploratory mission to the Molucca Island(Spice Islands) which was the original source of some of the most valuable spices.
In 1513, Magellan was wounded in one of the many frustrating battles against theMoors in North Africa. His services brought him little favor from the crown. In 1517,accompanied by his friend, a Cosmographer, Ruy Faleiro, Magellan went to Seville wherehe offered his services to the Spanish Court.King Charles V of Spain (the Emperor Charles V) endorsed the plans of Magellanand Falerio. On September 20, 1519, after preparing for a year, Magellan led a fleet offive ships out into the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, the five ships were full of men whowere barely sea worthy. But with the loyalty of the men to their leader, Magellan, they successfully sailed down the South American coast to the Patagonian Bay of San Julian. At the Bay of San Julian they wintered from March to August, 1320.
There was anattempted mutiny, but the mutiny was squelched. Only the top leader’s were punished. Thereafter, however, the ship, Santiago, was wrecked and its crew had to be taken aboardthe other vessels.Leaving San Julian, the fleet sailed southward. On October 21, 1520, the fleetentered what is now called the Strait of Magellan. There they proceeded cautiously,taking over a month to pass through the Strait. During this time, the master of the ship,San Antonio, deserted and sailed back to Spain.
Only three of the original five shipsentered the Pacific and it was March 6, 1521 that the fleet finally anchored at Guam.Magellan then passed eastward to Cebu in the Philippines. There, in an effort togain the favor of a local ruler, he became embroiled in a local war.
He was slain in battleon April 27, 1321. Two men that sailed with Magellan, Barbosa and Serrao, were killedshortly thereafter. With the crew wasted from sickness, the survivors were forced todestroy the ship, Concepcion. The great voyage circling the world was completed by a courageous formermaritimer, a Basque named Juan Sebastian del Cano. Commanding the ship, Victoria,Juan Sebastian del Cano picked up a small cargo of spices in the Moluccas, crossed theIndian Ocean, and traveled around the Cape of Good Hope from the East.
With a greatlyreduced crew, he finally reached Seville on September 8, 1522. In the meantime, the ship, Trinidad, was considered unfit to make the long voyagehome. The Trinidad had tried to beat its way against cross winds back across the Pacificto Panama. The voyage revealed the vast extent of the Northern Pacific, but their attemptto reach Panama failed. The Trinidad was forced back to the Moluccas.
There its crewwas jailed by the Portuguese. Only four men returned to Spain after 3 years.Magellan’s project brought little in the way of material benefit to Spain. ThePortuguese were well entrenched in the East. Their trans-African route, at the time,proved to be the only feasible maritime connection to the Indian rights held by Portugal. These rights were later, in part, resumed with the Spanish on their colonization of thePhilippines.Yet, though nearly destroying itself in the process, the Magellan fleet, forthe first time, revealed a navigable way to circle the world. His route brought the Spanishexplorers to South America, northward to Mexico and the western United States.
In this,its scientific aspect, it proved to be the greatest of all of the “conquests” undertaken by theoverseas adventurers of early modern Europe which were seeking gold, slaves and spices.