Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan was the first man to circumnavigate-go around the world. When he presented his scheme to the Portugese King Emanuel, he was unable to obtain funding and so he renounced his Portuguese nationality. In 1517 he went to Spain to see if the King of Spain, Charles I would give him funding. Charles the first decided to fund Magellan's expedition to find a route to the Moluccas from the West. This was because of two things: a) Magellan's salesmanship skills and b)The King was hoping that Magellan would actually find the Molluccas and give spain access to the rare goods and spices there, catapulting its wealth past that of all the other European Countries.

So after aquiring funding from the Spanish, on September 20,1519 magellan departed from Sanlucar de Barrameda with 5 ships and a crew of 280 men. Sailing South-West across the Atlantic and reached Brazil in November 1519. Then on Febuary of 1520 he navigated around inside the Rio de la Plata estuary, after that he then continued down the coast of South America until he reached the port of San Julian on March 31, 1520. This turned out to be their resting place for the whole of six months because of the fact that almost all of his crew had contracted scurvy which is a disease you get from lack of vitamin c. This disease rots the gums so those affected can't eat, the joints get weak and as a result you can't stand up. Anyone who had it ended up as a deadweight to the voyage. As well as this many of his sailors were scared and unhappy with what he was forcing them to do. One of his was wrecked and usless for the rest of the voyage and thus was left behind. After taking stock of who was affected by the various illnesses and realocating people to different ships, Magellan set sail again.

He set sail to Magellan's Strait which is a passage to the Pacific Ocean, going through this he lost another ship when its crew mutinied and returned to Spain. After 38 days of sailing, (330 miles in total) he finally got into the calm of the Pacific ocean on November 28, 1520. It is named the Pacific Ocean by Magellan because of it being Pacific (peaceful). On March the Sixth 1521, Magellan came to the Ladrone Islands and a mere ten days later he had discovered the Philippines and achieved his goal of finding a Western route there! He then traveled a little bit more and on April the Seventh he docked in on the Island of Cebu. Here he made friends with with the ruler of the Cebu converting them to Christianity. He wished to help the King of Cebu impose his authority on that of his neighbours who were on the island of Mactan. Magellan and his crew went forward to Mactan where Magellan was killed on April 27, 1521 in a battle against the Mactan natives.

You would think that being killed dramatically reduces your chances of circumnavigating the world and would most likely stop you altogether. But not in the case of Ferdinand Magellan. This was because while on the journey to the Philippines, he crossed the furthest point east that he had traveled to on another journey. (not the actual point but a fair way above or below it, but because it was inline with it he is acredited with being the first to circumnavigate the globe.) Although even that fact in itself isn't entirely true, one of his slaves who was named Henrique and was Malayan in origin was the first. This was because when they reached the Philippines, he went ahead and acted as an interputure. After Magellan was killed, one of his crew, a young Spanish navigator called Juan Sebastian del Cano took command of the fleet. In retreating from the battle, del Cano decided to only take 2 ships and burned the 3rd. In an attempt to make sure one of the ships survived the trip to Spain, del Cano sent the two ships separate ways. The ship that del Cano commanded, the Victoria survived and reached Spain on Septmber the 6th 1522 after going north up the cape of good hope.

Although the fleet suffered heavy losses and only brought back one cargo of spices to Spain the value of the spices alone payed for the trip. Spices price was so high because you could only obtain them in the east or on spice islands. So they were rare, the trip Magellan's crew took wasn't practical enough to be set up as a trade route from Spain to the Phillipines and so Spain sold the rights to it to Portugal. This would seem that it made the journey usless though, it didn't, it showed that you could travel to the spice islands near indonesia and was the foundation for further voyages there.

Spain And Back Again!
By Jeremy Martin