Fernando de Magallanes(1480-1521)


Best known for captaining the first European expedition across the Pacific Ocean. This was also the first successful attempt to circumnavigate the Earth, and the first to navigate the strait in South America connecting the Atlantic and Pacificic oceans.

Fernando de Magallanes, portuguese navigator and explorer, was born in Oporto into a noble family. He served from 1501 in expeditions to the East Indies under Francisco de Almeida and later under Alfonso de Alburquerque. However, while he was serving in Morocco, he was accused of financial irregularities, it made that he lost the favor of  king Manuel I. In that moment, he decides to go to Spain, where he presents to king Carlos I the plan that would give the ships of the Crown of Castilla full access to the lands of the Moluccas (Spice Islands), because he thought that the Moluccas were close to South America, and he wanted to find a westward route.

The main motive was economic, because Carlos I wanted to trade in the East Indies, but he did not know that the Moluccas were in Portuguese hands. In 1519 five ships ( San Antonio,Trinidad,Concepción,Victoria and Santiago) with about 265 men under  Magallanes´s command sailed from Sanlucar de Barrameda. Magallanes and his crew were the first Europeans to enter the Pacific through the Strait of Magallanes, which he discovered. Only three of the original five ships entere The Pacific on Nov.28 (1520), because two of them were lost, one by shipwreck, the other by mutiny. Magallanes reached Sebu in The Philipines in April 1521, where he became involved in a local war and was killed. Later, with the crew wasted from sickness, the survivors had to destroy the Concepción.

The Victoria, was commanded by Juan Sebastián del Cano, who continued n to the Moluccas, he picked up a small cargo of spices there, and then crossed the Indian Ocean, travelling around the Cape of Good Hope from the East.  Finally, with a reduced crew J.S. el Cano reached Sevilla on Sept. 1522, almost three years later they had departed.

The benefit economic that this project brought to Spain was  too small, although it was proved to be the greates of all the conquest undertaken by the gold, slaves , and spice-seeking overseas adventurers of early modern Europe. Furthermore, the geographical impact of the circumnavigation was enormous, not only by the new geographical data that it produced, but also by the irrefutable proof of the sphericity of the Earth, as well as the preponderance of water over continental masses on the Earth’s surface.

by Belen


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