Ferdinand Magellan

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Ferdinand Magellan. Anonymous 16th or 17th century portrait, Naval Museum, Newport News

Ferdinand Magellan , Portuguese Fernão de Magalhães, pronunciation: [ fɨr'nãu̯ dɨ mɐɣɐ'ʎãi̯ʃ ], Spanish Fernando de Magallanes , German also Fernando Magellan (* before 1485 probably in Vila Nova de Gaia , Kingdom of Portugal ; † April 27, 1521 in Mactan , Philippines ) was a Portuguese seafarer who, on behalf of the Spanish Crown , was supposed to find a western route to the Spice Islands and thereby initiated the first historically documented circumnavigation of the worldhas been. This provided the last, practical proof of the already well-known spherical shape of the earth .

With Magellan as captain general, five ships set sail from Sanlúcar de Barrameda on September 20, 1519 . He and his team discovered the Strait of Magellan at the end of 1520 and were then the first Europeans to cross the Pacific . After reaching today's Philippines, Magellan died in battle with warriors of the Visayas . Under the command of Juan Sebastián Elcano , only one ship from Magellan's fleet, the Victoria , returned to Sanlúcar on the route around the Cape of Good Hope on September 6, 1522. Of the more than 240 men of the original crew, only 35 circumnavigated the world: 18 on the Victoria and 17 others who had been captured by Portugal on the way. Around 55 other men returned on the eastern route, so that a total of around 90 of the original expedition members made it back to Spain alive. The story of the first trip around the world was best known through the report of a survivor, the Italian Antonio Pigafetta .

Origin and family

There is no source-based reliable knowledge about Magellan's childhood and adolescence. It is known that he came from a large aristocratic family who belonged to the vassals of the dukes of Braganza . Resident in northern Portugal since the 13th century at the latest, it had its headquarters in the Terra da Nóbrega . The small town of Sabrosa in the former province of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro has long been considered the birthplace of Magellan . More recent sources suggest, however, that he came from Vila Nova de Gaia , the neighboring community of the port city of Porto . His parents, Rui de Magalhães and Alda de la Mesquita, had bequeathed him an estate with vineyards, chestnut groves and fields there, which he gave to his then unmarried sister Isabel before his expedition in March 1519. As further siblings he had at least two - presumably younger - brothers, Duarte and Diogo de Sousa.

In late 1517 or early 1518, Magellan married Beatriz Barbosa, a Sevillian woman of Portuguese descent and daughter of his patron Diogo Barbosa (see below). She bore him a son in 1519, who was baptized Rodrigo. When Magellan's departure in September 1519, Beatrice was pregnant again, but suffered a miscarriage. She died in March 1522 without knowing about her husband's fate. The firstborn Rodrigo followed her to the grave in the autumn of 1522.

Military service in India and Africa

The oldest historical document that can be known to refer to Magellan dates back to 1505. It is a list of crews for the Portuguese India Armada of that year under the command of Viceroy Francisco de Almeida . This list includes a Fernão de Magalhães and his brother Diogo de Sousa. According to this list, both were Moradores da Casa del Rey, that is, servants of King Manuel I , who received a small monthly pension for their service at court.

Sea route to India

Notes on Magellan's stay in India from 1505 can be found primarily in Portuguese historians of the 16th century such as João de Barros , in the correspondence of the second governor of Portuguese India , Afonso de Albuquerque , and in the Portuguese national archive Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo . Magellan took part in the forcible capture of Mombasa in what is now Kenya and possibly in the Battle of Kannur (1506). In 1507 he stayed again on the East African coast, in Kilwa and on the Ilha de Moçambique . In 1509 he fought in the historically momentous naval battle of Diu and took part in the first Portuguese advance to Malacca , at that time the hub of trade in Southeast Asia. However, this attempt failed. On this trip at the latest, Magellan made friends with Francisco Serrão , whose life he twice saved. Serrão later became the first European to settle in the Moluccas and from there informed his friend Magellan by letter about the location of these islands and their abundance of cloves . In the winter of 1509/10 Magellan made his way home to Portugal, but was shipwrecked with the Bassas de Pedro off the west coast of India and had to return to Kannur. According to Barros, he then went back to Malacca under the command of Albuquerques and was involved in the forcible conquest of this city in the summer of 1511. After that, Magellan's trail is lost in India, which has given rise to some speculation that he traveled to China or with António de Abreu's expedition to Banda . However, there is no reliable evidence to support this speculation.

Magellan must have returned to Portugal with the spice fleet of 1513 at the latest, because at the end of August of this year he took part in a punitive expedition against the Moroccan city of Azemmour under the command of Duke Jaime de Braganza . In the process he lost his horse and was wounded in the knee, so that from then on he limped slightly. In the following three years he seems to have stayed alternately in Portugal and Morocco, where he was in royal service and took on military duties. During these years Magellan continued to receive a salary at the court of King Manuel I , but probably also invested in the extremely lucrative spice trade. This is borne out by the files of a trial that Magellan had successfully brought against the merchant Pedro Anes Abraldez. He owed him over 200 cruzados , the profit from a spice deal that both of them had concluded in India.

The circumnavigation of the earth

Circumnavigation of the world by Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastian Elcano.png

Idea and background

As far as can be seen from the surviving documents, Magellan's never intended to orbit the earth. The contract that he concluded with the Castilian King Charles I on March 22, 1518 , even contained the implicit prohibition of circumnavigating the world, as this would have violated the interests and rights of Charles' uncle and brother-in-law, the Portuguese King Manuel I. The impetus for Magellan's voyage was the same as that for Christopher Columbus 27 years earlier: to sail west to get east ( sea ​​route to India ). The main aim was to find the shortest possible route to the Spice Islands , the exact location of which was hardly known at the time because it was kept strictly secret. The extremely lucrative trade in spices to Europe was shared by Indian, Persian, Arab, Ottoman and Venetian merchants overland and by sea in Portugal.

It was also unclear whether the islands were under Portuguese or Spanish control under the Treaty of Tordesillas . In this treaty, the Castilian and Portuguese crowns split the globe in half in 1494 . A meridian 370 Leguas west of the Cape Verde Islands was established as the demarcation line . All seas, islands and mainlands east of this meridian should belong to Portugal, all to the west of it to Castile. In 1498 a Portuguese fleet under Vasco da Gama first reached the west coast of India . The Portuguese immediately began to build a trading empire in the Indian Ocean . In 1511 they conquered the trading center of Malacca on the Malay Peninsula and prepared to expand further east by sending an expedition under António de Abreu to the Moluccas , at that time the only clove- growing areas in the world.

While the Portuguese continued to expand eastwards, Castile saw "his", that is, the western route to the treasures of Asia blocked by a land mass, the immense extent of which from the Arctic to the Antarctic was only gradually becoming apparent: America . From around 1505, Bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca , responsible for colonial policy in the Royal Council of Castile, the navigator Vicente Yáñez Pinzón , who commanded one of Columbus' ships, and Amerigo Vespucci , who was later appointed chief helmsman, developed the plan, south of Brazil to seek a sea route to Asia. The existence of the Pacific  - then known as the South Sea - had been known in Spain since 1515, after the explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa had crossed the Isthmus of Panama two years earlier . The Portuguese helmsman Juan Díaz de Solís made several attempts on behalf of the Castilian crown to find a passage to this southern sea and thus to East Asia. All attempts failed, however, and in 1516 Solis found death on the Río de la Plata .

Western hemisphere of the Beautiful Globe (1515, edition of 1520)

Around the same time, the merchant Cristóbal de Haro , who came from Burgos and operates from Lisbon , had two ships sail to South America to buy brazil wood and slaves and to explore the coast. The Newe Zeytung from Presillg Landt, one of the oldest German newsletters of its kind in German, reported on this expedition that Haro's ships had discovered a strait similar to that of Gibraltar on the coast at about 40 ° south , which led to the west of the American continent and continue to Asia. Shortly afterwards, this strait can be found on a terrestrial globe made by the scholar Johannes Schöner from Karlstadt am Main in 1515.

Magellan must have found out about this venture and its supposed results in Lisbon. He and Cristóbal de Haro probably met there in 1515 or 1516. In the summer of 1516 Magellan received letters from Francisco Serrão , who had settled in the Moluccas and wrote to his friend that these islands were very far east of Malacca , so that Magellan became convinced that they were in the Castilian hemisphere. The same belief was shared by the studied cosmographer Rui Faleiro , who also claimed to have developed a reliable method for measuring longitude . Thus it would be possible to pinpoint the east-west position of the Moluccas. Magellan and Faleiro then signed a treaty: They agreed to propose an expedition to the Castilian king that would reach the Moluccas on the western route and take possession of them for Castile. Meanwhile, Cristóbal de Haro was compelled to leave Portugal because of business quarrels with the Portuguese crown; he returned to Castile in the spring of 1517 at the latest.

The contract with the Spanish king

Magellan arrived in Seville on October 20, 1517. He stayed in the house of the native Portuguese Diogo Barbosa - his future father-in-law - who, as a servant of a Portuguese exile from the House of Braganza, administered the royal castles and shipyards in Seville. At that time the Casa de la Contratación , the Castilian foreign trade agency, had its premises in these buildings . Magellan contacted their factor Juan de Aranda. Aranda offered to arrange an audience for Magellan and Faleiro with the new King Charles I , who was then staying with his court in Valladolid . In return, Aranda requested a stake in Magellan's and Faleiros companies, for which a contract was signed. Aranda, Magellan and Faleiro traveled to Valladolid, where they were received around February 20 by the Royal Council and Bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca and by Grand Chancellor Jean le Sauvage , and, according to Magellan's statement, later also by Charles I personally. In Jean le Sauvage's anteroom Magellan ran into the missionary Bartolomé de las Casas , who described the navigator in his Historia de las Indias as “short stature” and “inconspicuous”, but “brave in his thoughts and ready for great deeds” - the only surviving contemporary description of Magellan's appearance. After Magellan and Faleiro presented their company, Jean le Sauvage asked them to produce a memorandum with their terms and conditions. On the basis of this memorandum, King Charles I concluded a " surrender ", that is, a contract, with the two entrepreneurs on March 22, 1518 .

With the “surrender” of March 22, 1518, Magellan and Rui Faleiro received the order from Charles I to “discover islands and continents, rich spices and other things” within the Spanish half of the world. Under no circumstances should they operate in the Portuguese part of the world. As a reward for their "hardship and danger", King Magellan and Faleiro promised a fifth of the net profit from their enterprise. He promised to make them governors of the countries they would discover. In addition, they should receive a twentieth of all tax receipts from these countries and be allowed to trade for 1000 ducats each year with tax deductions. All these rights should pass to their heirs, if they were born and married in Castile.

The surrender also determined that the route through the presumed strait to the west was reserved for Magellan and Faleiro for ten years and could not be used by anyone else. To carry out their enterprise, the two five ships of two times 130, two times 90 and once 60 tons of cargo space were to be made available, a crew of 234 men as well as equipment, artillery and provisions for two years. On the same day, in separate documents, the king appointed the two Portuguese "captains both at sea and on land" with an annual salary of 50,000 maravedis each, and he determined that they should set sail on August 25, 1518.

Equipment of the Armada

In the end, it would take almost a year longer before Magellan's Armada was ready to sail. When Magellan arrived in Seville in May 1518, he found the managers of the Casa de la Contratación , who had been entrusted with equipping the Armada, not very cooperative. They asked for more precise instructions, but because of an epidemic at the royal court, they had to wait for months. So it was only in the late summer of 1518 that the ships could be bought. For this purpose, Juan de Aranda traveled to Cádiz . From among the merchant ships anchored there, he selected five suitable ones and had them confiscated in exchange for compensation.

Magellan's ship Victoria, detail from a world map by Abraham Ortelius
Reconstruction of the Victoria in the port of Nagoya

The fact that not all owners surrendered their ships voluntarily emerges from a notarized document with which two Basque shipowners from Ondarroa protested on September 23, 1518 against the expropriation of their ship "Santa María" by the king. Magellan later renamed this ship “Santa María de la Vitoria” - in honor of a monastery of the same name of the Paulaner Order in Triana , to which he felt particularly attached. Under the Latinized short form of her name - Victoria  - the Santa María de la Vitoria would soon achieve world fame. In total, Aranda acquired five ships as commissioned, all of which were ocean-going, three-masted Naos :

The general overhaul of the five ships, which Magellan managed personally, lasted until the spring of 1519. All were completely repaired, caulked , re- rigged , received new sails and a ship artillery consisting of bombards , falconets and versos  (smaller version of the falconet). The following were purchased to provide provisions for the crew during the voyage: 2,138 quintals of rusks , 508 barrels of wine, 50 Fanegas beans, 90 Fanegas chickpeas, 2 Fanegas lentils, 48 quintals of "oil for consumption", 200 barrels of anchovies and dried fish, 57 quintals of dried bacon, seven cows, 984 loaves of cheese, drinking water in barrels, 21 Arrobas sugar, 200 Arrobas vinegar, 250 braids of garlic, 18 quintals of raisins and small amounts of figs, almonds, honey, dried plums, salt, rice, mustard, wheat flour and others.

In the spring of 1519, Magellan's company ran into a financial bottleneck - probably as a result of Charles I's candidacy for Roman emperor , which required the use of horrific sums - from which it was only able to free itself when the merchant Cristóbal de Haro became an investor. Haro financed the trade goods (fabrics and clothing, glass beads, mirrors, combs, knives, etc.), which were to be exchanged for spices in the Moluccas, and contributed other funds to equip the fleet. Overall, his commitment was around a fifth of the total investment of 8,334,335 maravedis or just under 22,225 ducats . Haro probably also acted as a front man for other merchants; However , it cannot be proven that the Augsburg trading house of the Fuggers would have invested money in Magellan's Armada, as is often claimed. During this time, other leadership positions were filled: Juan de Cartagena, superintendent of the Armada and captain of the San Antonio ; Antonio de Coca, Armada accountant; Luis de Mendoza, treasurer of the Armada and captain of the Vitoria ; Gaspar de Quesada, captain of the Concepción.

There was a further delay in the summer of 1519 because too few Spanish sailors were willing to take part in the risky voyage, and Magellan had the ranks filled with Portuguese compatriots - which in turn caused discomfort among his clients. They enforced a numerical limit for sailors and cabin boys from Portugal, but in the end Magellan won the conflict. However, he sacrificed his partner Rui Faleiro , who was deposed as the second captain next to Magellan and excluded from the expedition.

beginning of the journey

The Moluccas Armada was finally able to cast off from Seville on August 10, 1519 - initially without Magellan, who had his will drawn up in Seville on August 24. The five ships were meanwhile going down the Guadalquivir , at the mouth of which at Sanlúcar de Barrameda they stayed for more than five weeks, because the ships could not go down the river fully loaded because of their draft and the supplies and barter goods were only by boat from Seville had to be brought in. On September 20, 1519, the fleet of Sanlúcar de Barrameda set sail.

Replica of the
Nao Victoria in the Museo Nao Victoria on Punta Arenas , Chile

Magellan had a torch installed on his flagship, the Trinidad, at night so that the other ships could maintain visual contact. The team consisted of a total of 237 men: mostly Spaniards, but also 37 Portuguese, 26 Italians, ten French, four Flemings, two Greeks, two Germans, one Englishman, a Norwegian and Magellan's Malay slave Enrique Melaka as interpreter. In the Canary Islands the number increased to a total of 242, which were distributed among the five ships as follows:

  • Trinidad (flagship): crew of 62; Captain: Ferdinand Magellan, helmsman: Estevão Gomes, master : Giovanni Battista de Punzorol
  • San Antonio : 57 men crew; Captain: Juan de Cartagena, helmsmen: Andrés de San Martín, Juan Rodríguez de Mafra; Master : Juan de Elorriaga
  • Concepción : 45 men crew; Captain: Gaspar de Quesada, helmsman: João Lopes Carvalho, master : Juan Sebastián Elcano
  • Victoria : 45 men crew; Captain: Luis de Mendoza, helmsman: Vasco Gallego, master : Anton Salamon
  • Santiago : 33 men crew; Captain and helmsman: Juan Serrano, master : Baltasar "the Genoese"

The preparations for the Spanish Moluccas were not hidden from the Portuguese King Manuel I. In order not to let the unpleasant competition come into play, he sent Portuguese squadrons to Brazil and southern Africa to block the path of the Spanish fleet, which however did not succeed.

South America

Magellan first sailed to the Canary Islands , where he took supplies on board again on September 26th in Tenerife , and then continued along the African coast to about 8 ° north. Off Sierra Leone , the Armada fell into a doldrums that lasted several weeks. When the Spanish captains then confronted the captain general, Magellan regarded this as an affront and left the superintendent of the Armada and captain of the San Antonio, Juan de Cartagena, who as a conjunta persona assigned to the captain general, and thus considered himself to be on a par with him the argument made it clear. In Cartagena's place, Magellan appointed the Armada's accountant , Antonio de Coca, captain of the San Antonio.

Finally they managed to cross the Atlantic and on December 6th the fleet sighted the South American coast, where they anchored on December 13th in Guanabara Bay , which Magellan named Bahia de Santa Lucía  - after the day saint Santa Lucia  . The Portuguese entered the same bay for the first time on January 1, 1502 and initially mistook it for a river to which they named St. Januarius - today's Rio de Janeiro . The local Tupis took Magellan and his companions - according to Pigafetta's interpretation - for gods, because with their arrival the first rain fell in a long time. They received the strangers in a friendly manner and traded with them.

Río de la Plata

Magellan's fleet stayed in Guanabara Bay for two weeks. On December 27, she set sail again and headed for the Río de la Plata , then known as the Río de Solís (after João de Solis ), whose mouth she reached on January 10, 1520. The strait hoped for there, however, remained undetectable. In exploring the vast estuary , Magellan lost about a month. He then continued the search by having his ships sail south along the South American coast, exploring all the bays and estuaries along the way.

On March 30, the fleet headed south of the 49th parallel to a bay that was soon named Puerto San Julián . As the season was now well advanced, Magellan decided to hibernate. Because of the running out of supplies, he had the food rations cut. As early as April 1, there was a mutiny due to the poor supply situation . Because of hunger, illness and exhaustion, some crew members asked to return to Spain. The mutiny was led by Gaspar de Quesada, Juan de Cartagena and Luis de Mendoza. The mutineers took over the San Antonio. During the battle, Magellan managed to board the Victoria . Luis de Mendoza was killed in the process. Now there were three against two ships and Magellan was able to put down the uprising. The captain of the Concepción, Gaspar de Quesada, was executed, the captain of the San Antonio, Juan de Cartagena, and the priest Sanchez de la Reina (according to other sources his name was Bernard Calmette) were later abandoned on the coast when the squadron left set off again. You never heard from them again.

Soon after the mutiny was put down, the Santiago was sent to scout south along the coast, where it was shipwrecked on May 22nd in the mouth of the Río Santa Cruz . Two sailors returned overland and brought the bad news, the others only managed the arduous march back weeks later. During their stay in Puerto San Julián came there for the first time to contacts with the Patagonians , which at that time were named - probably inspired by the 1512 published novel of chivalry Primaleón the Castilian author Francisco Vázquez in which a character named Patagón occurs.

On August 24, 1520, the four remaining ships left Puerto San Julián after five months of winter quarters . Again all bays and estuaries were searched for the paso .

Strait of Magellan

On October 21, 1520 Magellan reached a cape, which he called "Cabo Vírgenes" ("Cape of the Virgins"). The Concepción and the San Antonio were sent on a scouting trip south of the cape and discovered the entrance to the long-sought passage. Before the passage, Magellan asked the captains of the other ships whether they favored a continuation of the voyage or a return. Nobody but Estevão Gomes, the pilot of the San Antonio , dared to recommend a turnaround. Since the passage is divided several times, a boat and two ships were sent out to explore. The message came from the crew of the boat that the road had an exit to the northwest: the Southern Sea had been reached. But of the two ships sent, only the Concepción returned under Serrano. Another mutiny had taken place on the San Antonio ; the new captain Álvaro de la Mesquita was imprisoned, the largest ship with the richest supplies deserted and returned to Spain. The initiator was Gomes (the pilot ). So only three ships remained, which mastered the arduous journey through the strait, which is now known as the Strait of Magellan , and reached the Pacific Ocean on November 28th. Magellan called it the Pacific or the Pacific because the storms that had accompanied them subsided. Since the team celebrated All Saints 'Day during the passage , Magellan called the strait Estreito de Todos los Santos  - All Saints' Street.

The Pacific and East Asia

Magellan's Monument on Mactan
Inscription on the Magellan's Cross

It took the Armada three months and 20 days to cross the Pacific, during which time there was no land to be seen except for two tiny, uninhabited islands. Much of the team fell ill with scurvy ; there was nothing left to eat on board the ships except rusks streaked with worms and rat droppings. The seafarers therefore began to eat leather steamed and roasted in salt water or soup made from sawdust. Rats, which the sailors sold for half a ducat, were particularly popular. At least 19 men died.

On March 6, 1521 they reached the Mariana Islands . When the fleet anchored off one of the islands (possibly Guam ), the locals tried to take one of the dinghies. Magellan then had some of the indigenous people killed and their houses burned down. He named the islands Islas de los Ladrones (Islands of Thieves).

Magellan's death

Magellan's death.
Woodcut, 16th century

After taking in much-needed supplies, Magellan's fleet sailed on to the Philippines and reached Homonhon Island on March 16 . At that time 150 sailors were still alive. With the help of his slave Enrique as an interpreter, Magellan was able to exchange gifts with the prince of Limasawa , Raja Kolambu . Kolambu escorted the Spaniards to the island of Cebu , where they succeeded in converting the prince of Cebu, Raja Humabon , and many of his subjects to Christianity. Cebu also submitted to the King of Spain. However, the chief Lapu-Lapu on the neighboring island of Mactan rejected Spanish supremacy and missionary work . Magellan then tried to subjugate Lapu-Lapu and his village militarily.

But the attack on Mactan on April 27, 1521 failed: despite their firearms, the Spaniards were pushed back on the bank by the locals and had several casualties to complain about. Magellan was also killed. According to reports by his chronicler Pigafetta , he was still standing in the water and was one of the last to fight to cover the retreat of his people. A poisoned arrow pierced his thigh; shortly afterwards he was struck down by two lances, one wounding him in the face and the other under his right arm.

Soon after the unsuccessful attack on Mactan, the prince of Cebu broke away from Christianity and lured the Europeans into a trap. 35 of them were killed. The rest narrowly escaped, but they were so few that they sank the Concepción and distributed the survivors to the Trinidad and Victoria . The helmsman João Lopes Carvalho was elected as the new captain general and captain of the Trinidad , the "Alguacil" ( Profoss ) of the Armada, Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa, initially took over command of the Victoria.

Further course of the expedition

With the two remaining ships, the survivors sailed on to Borneo , where they spent 35 days in Brunei . After a hasty escape, João Lopes Carvalho was dismissed as captain general and Gómez de Espinosa was installed in his place, who also took command of the Trinidad . The former master of the Concepción, Juan Sebastián Elcano , was elected captain of the Victoria . On November 6th, the sailors reached Tidore , one of the Moluccas Islands, where they could trade with the Sultan and finally acquire the spices they longed for. The inhabitants there knew Europeans because the Portuguese had already got there via Africa and India. On December 21st, the Victoria sailed with 47 Europeans and 13 East Indians as a crew, but without the Trinidad, because it was leaked and had to be repaired.

The Trinidad sailed on April 6, 1522 with about 55 men on board under the command of Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa from Tidore towards South America. However, the crossing of the Pacific failed due to contrary winds, storms and finally food shortages, so that Gómez de Espinosa had to give the order to turn back. With the last of their strengths, he and his team managed to return to Halmahera , where they had no choice but to ask the Portuguese for help. The approximately 25 survivors were taken prisoner in Portugal. Only five of them, including Gómez de Espinosa himself, returned to Europe years later via Portuguese India.

The Victoria had meanwhile - on February 11, 1522 - began under the command of Elcano from the island of Timor to cross the Indian Ocean. The voyage home was characterized by difficult weather conditions, so that the Victoria needed 12 weeks to circumnavigate the Cape of Good Hope (May 19, 1522). It then took her until July 9th to reach the Cape Verde Islands. After 21 weeks at sea, the Victoria had lost her foremast and 21 crew members. While trying to buy food and slaves to operate the pumps on the Cape Verde Islands, 13 crew members were taken prisoner in Portugal. In view of the poor condition of the ship and crew and because they feared the Portuguese overwhelming power, Elcano and the other men on board did not even try to save their captured comrades, but sought their salvation in flight.

On September 6, 1522, the Victoria reached Sanlúcar, the Spanish port of departure. Only 18 men of the 242 that had set out once (minus the approx. 55 crew of the San Antonio mutinous in the Strait of Magellan ) went ashore, accompanied by three East Indian crew members. The first circumnavigation of the world was completed. It had lasted two years, eleven months and two weeks.

The Victoria brought home 520  quintales (about 26 tons) of spices from the Moluccas . The proceeds from the sale of the spices amounted to 8,680,500 maravedís . This covered the initial investments of the expedition, but not the passengers' claims for wages and a share of the spice sale that had accrued during the journey, so that the company ended with a loss that could not be offset by the Victoria auction .

Juan Sebastián Elcano reported the events to Emperor Charles V and was now officially promoted to the rank of captain and knighted . Elcano and Cristobal de Haro were each awarded an annual pension of 500 ducats.

Meaning and afterlife

Since the 19th century, Magellan's name has been associated with the first historically documented circumnavigation of the earth. However, Magellan neither circumnavigated the earth himself, nor has he ever planned a circumnavigation - even if his companion and admirer Antonio Pigafetta said so . But Pigafetta's statements about Magellan are clearly written with apologetic intent, that is, he wanted to defend the reputation of his deceased boss against his enemies and critics.

In the documents from the planning phase of the expedition there is not a single indication that Magellan or anyone else planned to circumnavigate the earth at that time. Ultimately, this only came about out of necessity, because Juan Sebastián Elcano , the last captain of the Victoria, and his crew hoped to bring their dismantled ship with its valuable spice cargo back to Spain in this way - which they finally succeeded in doing.

As a result, Elcano and his team earned the fame of being the first people to circumnavigate the world. Since every educated contemporary knew at the time that the earth was a sphere, the voyage of the Victoria was seen less as evidence of the spherical shape than of the superiority of their own time in which they lived over antiquity. Because the ancient Greeks had sung the Argonauts in high notes , but the journey of the Argo was a poor achievement compared to the circumnavigation of the earth by the Victoria .

Little of that fame fell on Magellan's before the 19th century. While his Spanish clients did not hold him in high esteem, neither during his lifetime nor afterwards, his Portuguese compatriots reviled him as a traitor. However, his seafaring and military achievements were recognized - especially the discovery and crossing of the strait between South America and Tierra del Fuego, which is known as the " Estrecho de Magallanes " (Magellan Strait) from around the middle of the 16th century .

Subsequent expeditions - namely those of García Jofre de Loaísa from 1525, in which Elcano also took part - showed, however, that the practical value of the sea route found by Magellan to the Pacific and further to Asia was very low. The passage of the Strait of Magellan was a game of chance, and the Pacific was not only immense, but made it impossible to establish lasting trade and rulership relationships as long as you knew how to cross it from east to west. The reverse direction only succeeded in 1565, when Andrés de Urdaneta managed to return from the Visayas to Mexico by sailing far into the North Pacific and taking advantage of the prevailing westerly winds there. Only now were the Spaniards able to colonize the (soon to be called) Philippines , but not directly from motherland Spain, but from their colony New Spain . Magellan had discovered the Philippines for the Europeans, but the fame of having conquered it for Spain, Miguel López de Legazpi was able to attach himself to the flag.

It was only when the Milanese scholar Carlo Amoretti found a hitherto unknown manuscript of Pigafetta's report on the circumnavigation in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana and published it in print in 1800 that Magellan's star began to rise. Alexander von Humboldt declared him a hero of scientific exploration of the world. Spanish, Chilean, and finally also English and Portuguese historians set about retrieving the reports and documents about his life and his expedition from the archives and telling his story anew. This is how the story of Magellan, the "ingenious" or even the greatest seafarer of all time, emerged, as in the German-speaking world, for example, from Stefan Zweig's biographical novel Magellan. The man and his act was cherished. However, this myth does not stand up to a more precise historical perspective. Strictly speaking, Magellan was not even a professional seafarer, but a military and commercial entrepreneur whose nautical and geographical knowledge, although at the height of his time, was anything but unique.

Memories and honors

  • The Strait of Magellan in South America is named after him, as is the Chilean province of Magallanes .
  • The two largest immediate neighboring galaxies of the Milky Way are named after him as the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds .
  • The American space probe Magellan is named after him.
  • Two craters on the moon and one on Mars are named after Magellan, using the spelling "Magelhaens".
  • There are also several ships, birds and a tree that bear his name.
  • The plant genus Magallana Cav. from the nasturtium family (Tropaeolaceae) is named after him. Today, however, it is incorporated into Tropaeolum .

See also


  • Christian Jostmann : Magellan or the first circumnavigation of the earth. Munich 2019. ISBN 978-3-406-73443-4 .
  • Laurence Bergreen: Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. Harpercollins, New York 2019, ISBN 978-0-06-289048-1 .
  • Antonio Pigafetta : Around the Earth with Magellan. An eyewitness account of the first circumnavigation of the world. Edition Erdmann, Wiesbaden 2011. ISBN 978-3-86539-811-6 .
  • Antonio Pigafetta : The first trip around the world. On board with Magellan . For the first time fully translated and commented by Christian Jostmann , wbg Edition, Darmstadt 2020, ISBN 978-3-534-27217-4 .
  • Xavier de Castro: Le voyage de Magellan (1519-1522). La relation d'Antonio Pigafetta & autres témoignages. 2 vols. Editions Chandeigne, Paris 2010. ISBN 978-2915540574 .
  • Tim Joyner: Magellan. International Marine, Camden, ME 1992. ISBN 0-87742-263-X .
  • Rüdiger Siebert: Magellan - explorer in the twilight. Searching for traces in Southeast Asia. Arena, Würzburg 1987, ISBN 3-401-01557-5 .
  • Siegfried Schmitz: Hermes Handlexikon Great explorers and explorers. ECON paperback, Düsseldorf 1983. ISBN 3-612-10008-4
  • Avelino Teixeira da Mota (ed.): A viagem de Fernão de Magalhães ea questão das Molucas. Actas do II Colóquio Luso-Espanhol de História Ultramarina. Lisboa 1975.

Literary adaptations

Web links

Commons : Ferdinand Magellan  - collection of images, videos and audio files


Individual evidence

  1. Jostmann, Christian: Magellan: or the first circumnavigation of the earth. CH Beck, 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-73444-1 , pp. 37 .
  2. Above all a donation agreement in the Archivo Provincial de Sevilla, Archivo de Protocolos n ° 9125 (= Libro del año 1519 - Oficio XV - Libro 1 - Escribanía: Bernal G. Vallesillo - f. 551v - Fecha: 19 marzo). See Catálogo de los fondos americanos del Archivo de Protocolos de Sevilla. Vol. 7 n ° s 1334f, Seville 1990.
  3. Irene da Silva Dantas: Entre Memorias: a Questão da naturalidade de Fernão de Magalhães. (pdf; 3.3 MB) Dissertation at the University of Minho . 2012, p. 13 , accessed November 28, 2020 (Portuguese). Manuel Abranches de Soveral: Ensaio sobre a origem dos Magalhães. (pdf; 969 kB) Porto, 2007, pp. 32–33 , accessed on March 22, 2019 (Portuguese).
  4. ^ Juan Gil: El exilio portugués en Sevilla. De los Braganza a Magallanes . Fundación Cajasol, 2009, ISBN 978-84-8455-303-8 , pp. 182, 251 f .
  5. Anselmo Braacamp Freire: Emmenta da Casa da Índia. In: Boletim da Sociedade de Geographia de Lisboa , 25a serie (1907), No. 7, p. 238, accessed on March 22, 2019 (Portuguese).
  6. Jostmann, Christian: Magellan: or the first circumnavigation of the earth. CH Beck, 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-73444-1 , pp. 31-63 .
  7. ^ Garcia, Jose Manuel: A viagem de Fernão de Magalhães e os Portugueses . Editorial Presença, 2007, p. 19 ff .
  8. Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (ed.): Colección general de documentos relativos a las Islas Filipinas existentes en el Archivo General de las Indias de Sevilla. Volume 1, Barcelona 1918, pp. 167 ff. (Spanish, bdh-rd.bne.es , accessed on March 28, 2019).
  9. On the Portuguese expansion to India see Reinhard, Wolfgang: Die Unterwerfung der Welt. Global history of European expansion 1415–2015. CH Beck, 2016, ISBN 978-3-406-68718-1 , pp. 113 ff .
  10. Jorge Díaz Ceballos: Las juntas de expertos y la configuración del sistema colonial castellano, 1503-1512 . In: Eliseo Serrano (ed.): De la tierra al cielo. Líneas recientes de investigación en Historia Moderna. Institución Fernando el Católico, Zaragoza 2013, ISBN 978-84-9911-234-3 , p. 265–278 (Spanish, ifc.dpz.es [PDF]).
  11. Rolando A. Laguarda triad Pilotos portugueses en el Río de la Plata durante el siglo XVI. In: Revista da Universidade de Coimbra. 34, 1988, pp. 57-84;
    José Toribio Medina: Juan Díaz de Solís. Estudio histórico . Casa del Autor, Santiago de Chile 1897, p. CCXVff . (Spanish, Text Archive - Internet Archive ).
  12. ^ Hermann Kellenbenz: The brothers Diego and Cristóbal de Haro. In: Portuguese research by the Görres Society. First series (= essays on Portuguese cultural history. 14), Münster 1976–1977, pp. 303–315 (305).
  13. Copia der newen Zeytung from Presillg Landt, approx. 1514 (accessed on March 28, 2019).
  14. Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (ed.): Colección general de documentos relativos a las Islas Filipinas existentes en el Archivo General de las Indias de Sevilla. Volume 1, Barcelona 1918, p. 237 (Spanish, bdh-rd.bne.es , accessed April 8, 2019).
  15. João de Barros: "Terceira decada da Asia", V, 8, Lisboa 1628, f. 139r (Portuguese, [1] , accessed on April 8, 2019).
  16. Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (ed.): Colección general de documentos relativos a las Islas Filipinas existentes en el Archivo General de las Indias de Sevilla. Volume 1, Barcelona 1918, p. 237 (Spanish, bdh-rd.bne.es , accessed April 8, 2019).
  17. Demetrio Ramos Pérez: El grupo financiero de Burgos en el momento que dominó la empresa ultramarina. In: Burgos y América. Las Jornadas de Historia. Burgos 1992, pp. 129-157.
  18. Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (ed.): Colección general de documentos relativos a las Islas Filipinas existentes en el Archivo General de las Indias de Sevilla. Volume 1, Barcelona 1918, p. 232 (Spanish, bdh-rd.bne.es , accessed April 8, 2019).
  19. Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (ed.): Colección general de documentos relativos a las Islas Filipinas existentes en el Archivo General de las Indias de Sevilla. Volume 1, Barcelona 1918, p. 234 (Spanish, bdh-rd.bne.es , accessed April 12, 2019). Because of this contract, a trial was initiated against Juan de Aranda in October 1518, in whose files essential data about Magellan's arrival and his first steps in Spain are handed down.
  20. Bartolomé de las Casas: Historia de las Indias. Volume 4, Madrid 1876, pp. 377f (Spanish, archive.org , accessed April 12, 2019).
  21. Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (ed.): Colección general de documentos relativos a las Islas Filipinas existentes en el Archivo General de las Indias de Sevilla. Volume 1, Barcelona 1918, pp. 161ff (Spanish, bdh-rd.bne.es , accessed April 12, 2019).
  22. Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (ed.): Colección general de documentos relativos a las Islas Filipinas existentes en el Archivo General de las Indias de Sevilla. Volume 1, Barcelona 1918, pp. 167ff (Spanish, bdh-rd.bne.es , accessed April 12, 2019).
  23. Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (ed.): Colección general de documentos relativos a las Islas Filipinas existentes en el Archivo General de las Indias de Sevilla. Volume 1, Barcelona 1918, pp. 193f, 197ff, 199ff, 203-208 (Spanish, bdh-rd.bne.es , accessed on May 3, 2019).
  24. ^ Archivo Provincial de Sevilla, Archivo de Protocolos n ° 9124 (= Libro del año 1519 - Oficio XV - Libro II - Escribanía: Bernal G. Vallesillo - f. 316r-317v - Fecha: 23 septiembre). See Catálogo de los fondos americanos del Archivo de Protocolos de Sevilla. Vol. 7 n ° 1170, Seville 1990.
  25. Fernando Agirre Aramaio: Nao Victoria, Ondarroa 2014 (Spanish / partly Basque, pdf, accessed on May 3, 2019).
  26. Cf. on this the accounting books of the Armada, and between the Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (ed.): Colección general de documentos relativos a las Islas Filipinas existentes en el Archivo General de las Indias de Sevilla. Volume 1, Barcelona 1918, pp. 277ff and Vol. 2, Barcelona 1919, pp. 3ff (Spanish, bdh-rd.bne.es , accessed on May 3, 2019).
  27. Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (ed.): Colección general de documentos relativos a las Islas Filipinas existentes en el Archivo General de las Indias de Sevilla. Volume 3, Barcelona 1920, pp. 15ff (Spanish, bdh-rd.bne.es , accessed April 12, 2019).
  28. Jostmann, Christian: Magellan: or the first circumnavigation of the earth. CH Beck, 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-73444-1 , pp. 133 .
  29. Jostmann, Christian: Magellan: or the first circumnavigation of the earth. CH Beck, 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-73444-1 , pp. 134 .
  30. Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (ed.): Colección general de documentos relativos a las Islas Filipinas existentes en el Archivo General de las Indias de Sevilla. Volume 2, Barcelona 1919, pp. 288ff and 305ff (Spanish, bdh-rd.bne.es , accessed on April 12, 2019).
  31. Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (ed.): Colección general de documentos relativos a las Islas Filipinas existentes en el Archivo General de las Indias de Sevilla. Volume 2, Barcelona 1919, pp. 314ff (Spanish, bdh-rd.bne.es , accessed on April 12, 2019).
  32. ^ Antonio Pigafetta, p. 55. Other sources give higher numbers. 239 men: Juan Sebastián de lcano. Auñamendi Eusko Entziklopedia, accessed March 27, 2016 (Spanish). - 250 men: Fernando Magellan. National Geographic Germany, accessed March 27, 2016 . - 265 men: Dr. Ralf Berhorst, Olaf Mischer: Around the world in 1082 days. In: Geo epoch. The Age of Discovery No. 24, 2006, p. 53.
  33. a b c d e f g Antonio Pigafetta, p. 47.
  34. For the route of the expedition see the interactive map on La Primera Vuelta al Mundo. Retrieved November 28, 2020 (Spanish, English, interactive map with the route of the first circumnavigation).
  35. María Alejandra Flores de la Flor: Los relatos de viaje al Océano Pacífico: el Estrecho de Magallanes y la leyenda de los patagones. (pdf; 1.1 MB) In: Tiempos modernos: Revista Electrónica de Historia Moderna. No. 28 (2014/1), June 28, 2014, accessed November 27, 2020 (Spanish, ISSN  1699-7778 ).
  36. Fernando Magellan. In: nationalgeographic.de . Archived from the original on June 22, 2013 ; accessed on May 16, 2016 .
  37. Jostmann, Christian: Magellan: or the first circumnavigation of the earth. CH Beck, 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-73444-1 , pp. 266 f .
  38. Jostmann, Christian: Magellan: or the first circumnavigation of the earth. CH Beck, 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-73444-1 , pp. 311 f .
  39. Geo Epoche, p. 60.
  40. Jostmann, Christian: Magellan: or the first circumnavigation of the earth. CH Beck, 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-73444-1 , pp. 308 ff .
  41. ^ Antonio Pigafetta, p. 273.
  42. Jostmann, Christian: Magellan: or the first circumnavigation of the earth. CH Beck, 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-73444-1 , pp. 315-323 .
  43. Lotte Burkhardt: Directory of eponymic plant names - extended edition. Part I and II. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin , Freie Universität Berlin , Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-946292-26-5 doi: 10.3372 / epolist2018 .