18 April 2013
Ferdinand Magellan was an explorer who wanted to get to the Spice Islands sailing west instead of east. He was the first to circumnavigate the globe. Magellan wanted to get to the Spice Islands and prove that they were not far from the new world colonies in doing so, Spain could claim the islands. In completing the task, he gained profit and knowledge first for Spain then himself and he would have had more possibilities to explore if he had not died. Ferdinand Magellan was born in Portugal in 1480. His parents died when he was a boy. He married his friends daughter her name was Maria Calderna Beatriz Barbosa. They had two children who both died at a young age along with his wife who died later on. He was then sent to the royal court to work because of his family’s heritage. The king allowed him to volunteer to assist Don Francisco de Almeida. At the age of twenty-five Magellan joined a fleet ship of twenty-two ships sent to Francisco de Almeida as his first voyage to Portuguese India. He participated in many battles and wounded himself and then had a limp.
In 1517 Magellan asked King Manuel I to go to the Spice Islands by sailing west but was denied. A few years earlier in 1511 the king sent one of three ships sent from Portugal to conquer the Spice Islands. In the Spice Islands were cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves- spices which were highly prized because they covered up the bad taste if meat spoiled. He approached the king twice but the king thought the easiest way to get to the Spice Islands would be to travel around Africa. Magellan went elsewhere to a Portuguese king and got turned down again just like Columbus. He went to Spain and asked King Charles and the king agreed. Spain was rich because of the new discovery of the new world so the king could financially afford to send Magellan and a crew. He wanted to claim the Spice Islands in the name of Spain and get them away from their main rival Portugal. In the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, the Pope Alexander VI made a line that would divide the world between Spain and Portugal. If Magellan could prove that the Spice Islands were not far from the new world colonies then Spain could claim the valuable islands. So he renounced his Portuguese citizenship and became a Spaniard. Magellan got Spain’s support and became a citizen.
September 1519 he left Spain with five ships including The Flagship Trinidad that was under Magellan’s command, San Antonio, Concepcion, Santiago, and Victoria. They set out to the Canery Islands with nearly two hundred and seventy men. Magellan was warned that the king of Portugal had sent a fleet to stop him from crossing the Atlantic. The King of Portugal didn’t want Spain to gain from Magellan even though he did not want to support the voyage himself. So instead he sailed south along the African coast before turning west. He received a letter from his father in law that three of his Spanish captains were out to kill him. As they got near the equator one of the captains provoked a fight and said he would not obey Magellan anymore, so they arrested him the captain. They continued and avoided a Portuguese fort and instead sailed south to Rio de Janeiro and spent Christmas there in 1519. Then continued and ended up in Patagonia. The winter was near so they decided to wait there for five months. At one point Magellan only controlled two of the five ships. The men in the other ships claimed they were leading them too far south looking for the passage. Magellan and the rest of his crew left the rioters on shore and sailed on in August. They began the search once more and lost one of his ships on the Patagonian coast. Then moved further south spending the last of their winter at Santa Cruz. The crew of one of his ships put their captain in chains and returned to Spain.
On October 21,1520 they reached what today is called the Strait of Magellan, a dangerous route that twists and turns for over 300 miles. Shipwrecks are still common today. It took them a month to navigate the waters and winds. On November 28,1520 they entered a large quiet ocean, Magellan named it El mar Pacifco because it was calm and peaceful but he did not realize Spain already discovered mar del sur. Eventually he didn’t have enough food for the trip because he underestimated the size of the ocean. They had bad luck because where he missed islands he could’ve stopped. They had no fresh food or water for nearly four months, they ate biscuits, rats, and became so desperate they even ate leather. It took them fourteen weeks to reach Guam. Many of his men died on the way.
They moved on and went to the Philippines where he rested his men and took care of them. In Guam they had bananas and coconuts that they had never seen before.
They continued on to Cebu a small island. Rajah Humabon the king of Cebu and his queen Hara Amihan were both friendly to Magellan and his crew. Magellan convinced them both to be baptized as Christians. Afterward, Rajah and his ally Datu Zula convinced Magellan to kill their enemy Datu Lapu-Lapu on Mactan. Magellan wanted Lapu-Lapu to convert to Christianity but he refused. On the morning of April 27,1521 Magellan sailed to Mactan with a small number of people to attack. Forty-nine of Magellan’s crew jumped into the water and walked to shore. They could not pull up to the shore because rocks got in the way. During the walk they had to go through more than two crossbow flights. Magellan ordered the other eleven men to stay behind and guard the boats. When they finally reached land they realized more than one thousand people outnumbered them. When the natives saw them, they charged. As soon as someone recognized Magellan, many of the natives gathered around him and stabbed him to death. The eleven men guarding the longboats retreated. Magellan fought until the end; he died trying to protect his crew.
The two remaining ships set sail through the Philippians; in November they reached the Spice Islands in the Moluccas. The survivors reached the Spice Islands in 1521. Of the two remaining ships one was captured by Portugal who stole 50 tons of cloves and imprisoned the crew. The other ship Victoria reached Spain in September 1522. Eighteen men out of the two hundred and seventy survived to tell the story. Magellan’s own records were captured by the Portugal. The cargo of the voyage was enough to pay for the voyage and make a profit.
Magellan traveled 42,000 miles; he survived enemy plots, starvation, and rebellions until he was finally killed protecting his men. Spain was never able to take over the Spice Islands but they did gain new land and a wealth of navigational knowledge if it was not for Ferdinand Magellan.
Bohlander, Richard E., and John L. Allen. World Explorers and Discoverers. New York
(N.Y.): Da Capo, 1998. Print.
Explorers of the World Ferdinand Magellan. *Schlessinger Media, May 23, 2006. DVD.
Thomas, Hugh. "36." Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, from
Columbus to Magellan. New York: Random House, 2003. 495-510. Print.
Cited: Bohlander, Richard E., and John L. Allen. World Explorers and Discoverers. New York (N.Y.): Da Capo, 1998. Print. Explorers of the World Ferdinand Magellan. *Schlessinger Media, May 23, 2006. DVD. Thomas, Hugh. "36." Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, from Columbus to Magellan. New York: Random House, 2003. 495-510. Print.