Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan was bornabout 1480 in Sabrosa of a noble Portuguese family. His parents, who were members of nobility, died when he was about10 years old. At the age of 12, Magellan became a page to Queen Leanor at the royal court. Such a position commonly served as a means of education for sons of the Portuguese nobility.

At the court, Magellan learned about the voyages of such explorers as Christopher Columbus of Italy and Vasco da Gama of Portugal. He also learned the fundamentalsof navigation. In 1496, Magellan was promoted to rank of squire and became a clerk in the marine department. There, he helped outfit ships for trade along the west coast of Arfica.

Magellan first went into sea in 1505, when he sailed to India with the fleet of Francisco Almeida, Portugal?s first ruler to that country. In 1506, Magellan went on an expedition sent by Almeida to the east coast of Africa to strengthen Portuguese bases there. The next year, he returned to India, where he participated in trade and in several naval battles against Turkish fleets.

In 1509, Magellan sailed with a Portuguese fleet to Malaka, a commercial center in what is now Malaysia. The Malays attacked the Portuguese who went to shore, and Magellan helped rescue his comrades. In 1511, he took part in an expedition that conquered Malaka. After this victory, a Portuguese fleet sailed farther to the Spice Islands which were called the Molucca Islands. Portugal claimed the islands at this time. Magellan?s close personal friend Francisco Serraro went along on the voyage to the Spice Islands and wrote to Magellan, describing the route and the island of Ternate. Serrao?s letters helped establish in Magellan?s mind the location of the Spice Islands, which later became the destination of his great voyage.

Magellan returned to Portugal in1513. He then joined a military expedition to Morocco. On this expedition, Magellan would suffer a wound that would make him limp for the rest of his life.

After returning to Portugal from Morocco, Magellan sought the support of King Manuel 1 for a voyage to the Spice Islands. The best maps available had convinced Magellan that he could reach the Spice Islands by sailing south of South America. Magellan beleived such a route would be shorter than the eastward voyage around the southern tip of Africa and across the Indian Ocean. However, Manuel disliked Magellan and refused to support the proposed voyage.

Magellan then studied astronomy and navigation for about two years in Porto in northern Portugal. In Porto, he met Ruy Faleiro an astronomer and a geographer who strongly influenced his ideas. Magellan and Faleiro concluded from their studies thst the Spice Islands lay in the territory that had been awarded to Spain in 1494. Therefore, Magellan decided to seek support for his plans from the king of Spain.

In 1517, Magellan went to Spain. There, he presented his proposal for visiting the Spice Islands as a part of a westward circumnavigation of the earth. The next year, Magellan convinced Charles 1 of Spain to support such a voyage. The king promised Magellan a fifth of the profits from the voyage to the Spice Islands, plus a salary.

Preparations for the expedition took more than a year. The Spaniards became suspicius of Magellan, partly because he recruited mant Portuguese sailors. Asa result, the king forced magellan to replace most of the Portuguese with Spanish crewmen.

On September 20, 1519, Magellan set sail from Sanlucar de Berrameda in southern Spain. Magellan commanded a total of 241 men and a fleet of five ships, the Concepcion, San Antonio, Santiago, Trinidad, and Victoria. Dissatisfaction among the crewmen plagued from the begining, and hostilityamong the Spaniards toward Magellan grew rapidly. About a month after the voyage began, the Spanish captain of San Antonio challenged Magellan?s authority, and Magellan had the captain arrested.

The fleet sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the coast of Brazil. The ships then followed the South American coast to the bay where Rio de Janiero now stands. They remained there for two weeks and then sailed south in search of passage to the Pacific Ocean. However, the ships could not find a passage before the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. In late March 1520, Magellan?s fleet anchored for the winter at Puerto San Julian in what is now southern Argentina.

During the winter, a storm destroyed the Santiago. In addition, a mutiny broke out