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Famous Explorers | Ferdinand Magellan

Updated on February 10, 2014
Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan

Who was Ferdinand Magellan?

Ferdinand Magellan is a famous Portuguese navigator (1480 - 27/4/1521). He was born in Sabrosa, in the Portuguese region of Tras-os-Montes. In the early sixteenth century he takes part in expeditions aimed at expanding the colonial domination of his country, Portugal. The time when the provincial nobility starts looking at the Overseas seeking the fame and glory by feats of arms, and wealth in trade.

As early as the year 1505, the navigator left for India in a armada commanded by D. Francisco de Almeida. He will remain in the Indian Ocean for the next eight years.

The Portuguese navigator, rallied brilliantly in India and Africa. But in 1515 Ferdinand Magellan quarreled with Portugal's King Manuel I, because of his earnings and rewards, and goes to offer his services to Spain, ruled at that time by the King Charles I.

From then on Ferdinand Magellan devotes himself entirely to devise a plan where by navigating to the West, he will try to prove that the Moluccas islands were out of the Portuguese hemisphere defined by the Treaty of Tordesillas. The treaty signed on 7 June 1494 divides the world and the newly discovered lands in two hemispheres between Portugal and Spain along a meridian just west of the Cape Verde islands, 370 leagues west to be precise.

Acording to the Treaty of Tordesillas, the kingdom of Spain has the right to the lands located on the west coast of the American continent discovered by Christopher Colombus. It is in fact necessary, to discover a passage in the new continent, that leads from the Atlantic Ocean to the yet unknown ocean. With this objective, Magellan, departs from Cadiz, Spain in September 1519.

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Ferdinand Magellan and the circumnavigation voyage

For the expedition, a fleet of five ships was setup. Provided with a crew of 265 men, with Ferdinand Magellan as chief captain they set sail of San Lucar de Barremeda port on the 20 of September 1519.

In 1519 the small fleet docks near present day Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, in the following month they enter the River Plate, in late March 1520, the fleet makes his entry into the strait that will be named after the Portuguese navigator (Strait of Magellan).

The voyage is troublesome, and Ferdinand Magellan faces in August 1520, a riot so serious that decides to kill one of the captains and leaves another to its own fate. In November of 1520, just three of the five vessels surpass, in the extreme south of America, the strait later named for the navigator and start the crossing of the new ocean he named the Pacific, for its calm waters.

With the fleet's crew decimated with scurvy, without water and almost without provisions, Ferdinand Magellan passes through several islands before docking in the Marianas, the islands of the Philippines, 99 days after the last standing on dry land.

Ferdinand Magellan voyage
Ferdinand Magellan voyage

But a few months later in April 1521 Ferdinand Magellan is killed in a skirmish with some indigenous people on the island of Cebu in the Philippines.

And so the first voyage around the world is completed by only one of ships in the fleet, the "Victoria", led by the Spanish Juan Sebastian Elcano, which continues to travel in the Cape of Good Hope route, looking for supplies in the Portuguese controlled Cape Verde islands. Uncovered by the Portuguese, the ship immediately sails to Spain, where it arrives at Seville on 6 September of 1522 with a crew of only 18 men!

And so the first circumnavigation voyage around the world was completed. With it, most of the geographical paradigms of that era, also fell to the ground as well. Did Ferdinand Magellan wanted to circumnavigate the globe? Or wanted to just touch the Moluccas and return to Spain to claim the islands for the Spanish Crown? We will never know for sure, but we know that he lead his men in a great voyage a that changed the world.

I hope you found this hub about the Ferdinand Magellan one of the most famous explorers of all times interesting. If you enjoyed reading it you can vote it up, you can also share it with your friends.


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