Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan was born in 1480 in Portuguese Sabros in a small-noble family. At the age of 10, he was orphaned by his parents and two years later he went to the royal court as an It allowed him to get a good education. At the age of 25, he was sent to India as part of an expedition over which the then viceroy of Portuguese India, Francisco de Almeida, was in charge. Although Magellan showed his talent for sailing and courage, he was also a rebellious youth and often had problems with insubordination. For this reason, after obtaining the captain’s patent, he was sent to his homeland by criminal means.

In 1513 he was one of the soldiers fighting in Morocco. During the fights he again showed courage and was injured in the knee. However, he was wrongly accused of conducting illegal trade with Muslims. These charges led to a conflict on the Magellan-Manuel I line. The king expelled Ferdinand Magellan from the Portuguese fleet. Demotified by this fact, Magellan decided to emigrate to Spain and offer his service to the monarchs there. He even changed his name to the Spanish equivalent. The Spaniards wanted to find the route leading to Asia as soon as possible, as neighboring Portugal, with which Spain competed commercially, already had such an exclusive route.

Magellan’s preparation for trip

Magellan lived in the conviction that the Spice Islands could be reached not only by sailing east, but also in the opposite direction, flowing through the strait crossing Latin America. He was determined to do so, whether for his native Portugal or another flag. In 1517, when he was 37 years old, he was allowed to be interviewed by the King of Spain, Charles I (Emperor Charles V). The young ruler, after listening to the plan, was charmed by the prospect of the possibility of trading in spices without engaging in a conflict with Portugal. He thus allocated substantial funds for the implementation of the Magellan plan, which set out on the expedition on August 10, 1519, commanding a fleet of five ships: “Victoria”, “San Antonio”, “Concepcion”, “Santiago” and the flagship “Trinidad”.

Begining of journey around the world

They sailed to the full sea on September 20 from the port of San Luca de Barrameda. Ferdinand Magellan had to deal with difficulties from the very beginning. Juan de Cartagena, the Vice Admiral of the expedition, rebelled against Magellan’s orders and set the other captains against him. The commander of the “Victoria” ship was also caught on sexual intercourse with one of the ship’s boys. He was sentenced to death, and Magellan lost one of the commanders. As if that was not enough, the flotilla hit the equator on windless weather. This and poor quality stock led to their corruption and it was necessary to determine food rations halfway across the Atlantic.

After two months an expedition crossed the equator. At the beginning of December the outline of the Brazilian coast was noticed. They stopped for a few weeks in Rio de Janeiro to replenish their supplies and gather strength for their further journey. Then it went south to find the road leading west. Sailing to the south, the sailors realized that they were getting closer to the winter in the southern hemisphere. At the end of March the winter was very cold. There were even rumors among the crew that Ferdinand Magellan was heading for suicide.

Suppression of rebellions

Numerous rebellions resulted, even among the captains, who demanded a return course towards Spain, but Magellan firmly refused. However, he made a decision to stop on the shores of today’s Argentina to repair ships and wait out the coldest. An offshore settlement was built, which was called Puerto San Julian. On the first day of April, Cartagena, along with three others and captains, initiated a rebellion against the commander. Magellan’s reaction was surprisingly fast. It tricked aboard a few soldiers who had taken over the ship and eliminated Captain Mendoza.

The other crew surrendered, being aware of the superiority of the number of Magellan supporters. 40 rebels were sentenced to death, but Ferdinand Magellan turned it into hard work. One of them was, however, subjected to torture, and the captain of the Concepcion ship was decapitated. The perpetrators of the rebellion, Vice Admiral Cartagena and chaplain Pero Sanchez de la Reina were left on the shore.

Reaching Pacific Ocean

After waiting out the harsh winter, spring again set off to the south. While searching for the isthmus and surveying the coastline, the ship “Santiago” crashed against the rocks but managed to save the crew. After more than a year since the beginning of the expedition, on October 21, the ships had to get through a few hundred meters long, extremely intricate fiord. The rebel captain of the San Antonio ship decided to flee and return to Spain. As a result, only three ships and 200 people were left to Magellan.

On November 28, 1520, the flotilla eventually sailed to the open sea. Due to the use of incorrect maps developed on the basis of Ptolemy’s calculations, Ferdinand Magellan expected that they would reach the mainland quite quickly. The journey lasted, however, a few months. During this time, all supplies, including water, ran out. The crew decimated scurvy. It was only after about half a year that the mainland of the Guam island was reached, where supplies were finally replenished.

After two weeks, the expedition anchored off the coast of Homonhon Island in the Philippines, which the island of Magellan took possession of Spain. The commander serving in Malaysia was able to understand the language of the Homomhon inhabitants, which was evidence of the proximity of the target Islands of Spice. We went further west, converting friendly natives along the way to Christianity.

Ferdinand Magellan’s death – April 27, 1521

On the seventh day of April, the expedition reached the island of Cebu, where Ferdinand Magellan established commercial relations with the island’s council, helping him in the fight against his enemies. In exchange for the invaluable help, Raja Humabon was baptized and granted the monopolies to trade with the islands under his jurisdiction. However, ruling the neighboring island of Mactan, a certain Lapu Lapu objected to the Rajah.

Magellan, very confident in the possession of firearms, promised Humabon that he would take care of the rebel. He did not ask for any meals. Overconfidence has led to tragic consequences. Magellan, along with his 50-person squad, had to face a small army of over a thousand well-trained and brave warriors. In unfavorable conditions, on the beach, the Lapu Lapu army spread a handful of Spaniards to the dust. Magellan was cut into pieces, and along with it, eight other Spaniards were killed, the others survived happily.

Sailing back to Spain

Only 115 mariners remained alive. However, they were not enough to fill the remaining three ships, so they left “Concepcion”, which was in the worst condition. The other two ships attacked the villages of Mindanao, Palawan and Borneo for the next six months. They carried out thefts, rapes, abductions, etc. After some time it was decided to set off towards the Spice Islands. In November, the remaining members of the expedition reached Tidore, where the arrangement with the Sultan was made and the load of spices was removed.

The “Trinidad” ship turned out to be defective, so it was decided to leave it in Tidore so that it would set off on the return journey only after the necessary repairs had been made. After this and going to sea, the ship was again damaged, taken over by the Portuguese and the crew was imprisoned. At the turn of 1521 and 1522, “Victoria” embarked on the return journey. During the journey, due to insufficient food, the crew lived mainly by eating rice and drinking water. 20 crew members died, some deserted.

The surviving ship finally reached Portugal’s Cape Verde Islands, where a rather desperate decision was made to ask them to replenish the stock. The crew once again decreased, because the people responsible for transporting the supplies were arrested. On September 10, 1522, “Victoria” in a deplorable state and with the remaining 18 sailors, arrived at the port of Seville. At the time, spices were so valuable that only the contents of this ship’s hatch returned all the costs of the trip, and even brought a small profit.

Significance of Magellan’s journey

Ferdinand Magellan did not manage to circumnavigate the whole globe, but he had other, very significant merits. Through his expedition, the strait connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific was discovered and two galaxies were identified, which were named after Magellan the Great and the Small Cloud of Magellan. He also had a big impact on the time zones, because he discovered that depending on the direction of movement, he lost or gained one day (International Date Change Line). And finally, what is most important – Ferdinand Magellan confirmed the fact that the Earth is round and its circumference is 40,000 km. Many recognize that this is the most important expedition until the time the man acquires the space.

Travel route of Ferdinand Magellan

Travel route of Ferdinand Magellan

Source: Wiki


  • 1480 Ferdinand Magellan was born
  • 1490 Ferdinand's parents die
  • 1492 The queen's messenger work begins
  • 1505 Ocean expedition with Portugal's Top Admiral Francisco de Almedia
  • 1511 Expedition to Melaki and its conquest
  • 1512 Ferdinand is planning his big expedition
  • 1519 Magellan puts his sails in direction to India
  • 1520 South America's departure and the discovery of the Magellan Strait. Reaching guam island in the Pacific
  • April 27, 1521 The death of Magellan in the Philippines during fight against the natives
  • 1522 Magellana ships continue their journey and return to Spain
  • 1800 Naming the Magellana Cloud galaxy that Magellan discovered while traveling around the world


Map of the world 1720

Age of exploration

Great Age of exploration starts with improved sailing techniques and progressive development of trade in the Mediterranean Sea and open waters in 15th century. This story shows geographical discoveries and causes and effects on different cultures.

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