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Biography of Ferdinand Magellan

Biography of Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan was among the first few explorers who crossed every single time meridian on the globe. He was also the first European to access the Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Magellan, a route dared for the first time and thus, appropriately named after him.
Historyplex Staff
Ferdinand Magellan was born Fernão de Magalhães, in the spring of 1480. He was a maritime explorer from Portugal, who was the first man to explore the Pacific Ocean. This successful exploration in pursuit of Indonesia, made him the first person to circumnavigate the Earth. He was killed in the Battle of Mactan, in the Philippines, on April 27, 1521.

Ferdinand Magellan Biography

Magellan was page to Queen Leonor, and in line with family heritage and legacy. He became an integral part of the royal court, orphaned at the age of 10. Magellan was the son of Rui de Magalhães and Alda de Mesquita. He had two brothers, Duarte de Sousa and Diogo de Sousa; and a sister, Isabel de Magalhães. He married Beatriz Barbosa and had two children, both of whom died at a very young age.

Magellan dared the high seas at 25, in the year 1505. The mission was to declare Francisco de Almeida, Portuguese viceroy in India. Magellan engaged in the Battle of Diu in 1509, when the local king refused to pay tribute. He lost employment due to accusations that were later proved, that he traded with the Moors illegally.

When the expedition of Christopher Columbus reached The Bahamas instead of the 'Spice Islands' or the Indies, the arrival of Vasco da Gama in India, in 1498, triggered the need to establish shorter commercial trade routes to Asia. Magellan took up the challenge with support from King Charles V of Spain. In 1519, with full command over five ships, Magellan set sail. He commanded the 'Trinidad', 'Santiago', 'San Antonio', ''Victoria' and Concepción', from Guadalquivir.

With distrustful Spanish authorities close on his heels, Magellan managed to sail from Sanlúcar de Barrameda with a crew of little over 250 men. His voyage took him to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde, before crossing the equator and moving towards South America. En route, Magellan avoided Brazil and anchored instead, near Rio de Janeiro. They continued to sail along the east coast of South America.

He faced the perils of a mutiny at a settlement established by his crew and a storm, before resuming the voyage. The ships reached Cape Virgenes on brine waters and followed each other through a 373 mile passage. Magellan's travelogue refers to the passage as Estrecho de Todos los Santos or the All Saints' Channel, since the passage was explored on All Saints' Day, November 1. Today, maritime maps highlight the route as the Strait of Magellan.

On March 16, 1521, Magellan reached Homonhon and became the first European to land on the Philippines islands. He got politically implicated in a feud between the King of Cebu Rajah Humabon and Rajah Lapu-Lapu of Mactan. During the Battle of Mactan, Magellan succumbed to a poison arrow. Magellan's expedition had successfully defined the strait-route in South America that connected the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

The closest galaxies are called the Magellanic Clouds, since they were discovered on the expedition. The mapping of 14,460 leagues by crew members also gave early scientists an estimate on the Earth's extent. It also helped establish the International Date Line, according to the meticulously maintained log by Magellan. Magellan course to the east was later followed by famous navigators like Sir Francis Drake, Garcia Jofre de Loaisa, Manila Galleon and Andres de Urdaneta. The famous probe that incepted and charted details on Venus between 1990 and 1994 was named the Magellan probe, after the great explorer.