Fernand Magellan, portrait by an unknown artist of the XNUMXth century. Uffizi Gallery
Fernand Magellan, along with Christopher Columbus, was an outstanding navigator of his time. Even if you counted crows in your geography class, you still heard about the Strait of Magellan. This strait between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean was discovered by Fernand Magellan and named after him.
If Columbus dreamed of finding a short sea route from Europe to India and by chance coincidence discovered America, then Fernand Magellan was obsessed with another idea. The dream of the Portuguese navigator was to make the first round-the-world voyage around the Earth and forever inscribe his name in history.
With the latter, Magellan definitely succeeded. His name is heard even after half a thousand years after a perfect trip. True, for Magellan himself, who had previously taken part in various battles, the trip around the world ended in death. Exactly 500 years ago, on April 27, 1521, the navigator was killed in a battle with the inhabitants of the island of Mactan in the Philippines.
How Fernand Magellan got into the Navy
The future navigator and discoverer of new lands was born on November 20, 1480 in Portugal in the small town of Ponti da Barca. It is believed that he came from a provincial noble family, which, although he was a noble, by that time was practically in decline. The fact that Magellan was still from a fairly noble family is evidenced by the fact that in his youth he was a page in the royal family of Leonora of Aviss.
Childhood and adolescence of Magellan fell on the period of the Great Geographical Discoveries. Naturally, he heard about the voyage of Columbus, and about the voyage of his compatriot Vasco da Gama, who in 1498 opened the sea route to India for Portugal. It was after Vasco da Gama that one squadron after another pulled out of the country to conquer new lands in the east.
Moreover, each such expedition required more and more new personnel, and over time there were fewer and fewer experienced sailors, captains and navigators. In 1505, when the squadron of Viceroy Francisco de Almeida was sent from Portugal, there were really not enough sailors, and almost everyone was recruited into the fleet. In this expedition, which became the first for him, Fernand Magellan took part as a supernumerary warrior (sobresaliente).
At that time, he was known by his Portuguese surname de Magalhães, Later he changed it to the Spanish manner. After he fell out with the king of Portugal and offered his services to the Spanish crown. But it was in 1505, back in Portugal, that his naval career and adventures around the world began.
It is unlikely that Magellan deliberately planned a career as a navigator. Rather, he was drawn into the funnel of the great geographical discoveries and the desire of Portugal and Spain to conquer more and more lands in the struggle for resources and influence. But, being drawn into these campaigns and sea life, Magellan was saturated with them through and through. He returned to Lisbon from numerous campaigns only in the summer of 1512, having managed to take part in many battles in India. Magellan no longer imagined his life without voyages and adventures.
How a Portuguese navigator becomes Spanish
After returning home, Magellan was entitled to a pension of up to 1850 reais, but it was not large enough to discourage the seafarer from re-establishing himself in the service. In 1514, Fernand Magellan takes part in hostilities on the territory of modern Morocco, where in one of the battles he is wounded in the leg (after that he will limp for the rest of his life). In another battle near Magellan, a horse was killed. In total, he was wounded in battles at least twice.
There, in Morocco, an incident occurred that caused the wrath of the Portuguese king. Magellan was tasked with guarding the cattle taken from the Moors, after which someone accused him of secretly selling part of the protected booty back to the Moors. This story so angered Fernand Magellan that he voluntarily left Africa and got to Portugal to justify himself. At the same time, the unauthorized actions of Magellan caused the anger of the king of Portugal, and the nobleman himself was forced to return to his place of service.
In Africa, all charges against Magellan were dropped. But the sediment, as they say, remained. Fernand Magellan decided to retire officially and return to his homeland. Already at home, he has the idea of sailing, which will become the journey of his whole life.
Perhaps the idea of a circumnavigation of the world appeared in Magellan's head even earlier during the battle for the port of Malacca in southeast Asia (in modern Malaysia). Magellan took part in this campaign back in 1511. 19 ships in this expedition were able to take the city, which came under the rule of the Portuguese monarchs.
It was then that Magellan could have conceived a plan to further monopolize control over the region. In those years, all merchants from Europe and just adventurers traveled to Southeast Asia along a route that skirted Africa, passing around the Cape of Good Hope. Magellan believed that to reach the Molucx Islands, which at that time were the birthplace of spices, could be done in a different way, sailing not to the east, but to the west.
Regardless of when this plan arose, Fernand Magellan approached the Portuguese king with a proposal to equip a naval expedition. However, the monarch Manuel I rejected his proposal, considering the idea of the navigator stupid and unworthy of the attention and funds of the treasury. Having received neither recognition nor material support in his homeland, offended by the harassment that has already become for many years, Magellan turns to the monarch of the neighboring country.
In 1518 Fernand Magellan moved to live in Spain, where he got married in Seville. And he quickly gains the favor of the then young Spanish king Carlos I (the future Charles V - the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire). The King of Spain agrees with Magellan's arguments that the spice-rich Moluccas can be reached by sailing westward, rather than bypassing Africa, as Portuguese sailors did.
The first round-the-world trip
King Carlos I of Spain agreed to pay for Magellan's expedition by providing five small vessels: Trinidad, Concepción, Santiago, San Antonio and Victoria. In total, about 300 sailors set sail from the Spanish port of Sanlucar. In addition to the Portuguese and Spaniards, there were approximately 10 other nationalities among them. A small squadron sailed from Spain on September 20, 1519, the flagship was the Trinidad.
All ships that set off on the voyage were not particularly seaworthy and large in size. At the same time, Magellan did not have nautical charts, in fact, he sailed with people who trusted him into the unknown. Despite the fact that by that time he already possessed a sufficient set of maritime knowledge and skills and was good at determining latitude from the sun, there were no instruments for at least an approximate determination of longitude on the ships. Almost all the equipment of the expedition ships was reduced to a compass, an astrolabe and an hourglass.
After crossing the Atlantic, Magellan's ships reached La Plata in December 1519, sailing further down the coast of South America. The farther south the expedition ships sailed, the worse the weather became and the less food supplies remained. The search for the desired strait, instead of the planned several weeks, took several months.
In April 1520, a rebellion predictably broke out among the crew of ships, which consisted of sailors of various nationalities. Fernand Magellan, who at that time had rich combat experience, coped with the situation. But suppressing the insurgency had its consequences. Magellan had to carry out the execution of two conspirators, as well as leave some of the rioters on the shore in anticipation of imminent death by starvation. Such decisions undermined his authority in the eyes of the members of the expedition.
The state of affairs was also worsened by the loss of one and five ships, which crashed in bad weather. But, despite all the difficulties, the strait was still found. In October 1520, the ship carrying the flag of Fernand Magellan caught a strong current that carried him westward. Passing through the strait, which will be named after him, Magellan saw a new land, which today is known as the Tierra del Fuego archipelago.
Magellan gave this name to the new lands because of the numerous bonfires on the shore, which were burned by local residents. Most likely, they did it corny in order to keep warm, but from board the ship Magellan mistook the bonfires for volcanic eruptions.
Strait of Magellan, view from space
At the same time, the problems of the expedition were not exhausted even after reaching the strait. On one of the ships, a rebellion broke out again, his team decided to return to Spain. Thus, on November 28, 1520, only the three remaining ships of the expedition entered the ocean, which Magellan called Mare Pacificum (Pacific Ocean).
The death of Fernand Magellan
Hunger and scurvy became companions of the expedition, which entered the Pacific Ocean without even realizing its true size. For many weeks, people washed themselves exclusively with salty sea water, and there was simply nowhere to replenish supplies of food and fresh water. The teams were interrupted by moldy breadcrumbs, and catching a rat was a blessing.
On March 6, 1521, the expedition reached the Mariana Islands, and on March 17 landed on vacation on the small uninhabited island of Homnohon, part of the Philippine archipelago. Magellan and his companions became the first Europeans to reach the Philippines. Here, unlike the Mariana Islands, the team was able to establish warm contact with the natives. The inhabitants of the neighboring island brought fruits and coconuts to the expedition.
At the same time, the Spaniards noticed gold jewelry, which attracted their attention, and were able to establish a brisk trade and exchange. Magellan was willing to hand out various ivory trinkets and mirrors to the natives in exchange for jewelry. In March 1521, the expedition managed to map the islands of Leyte, Cebu and Bohol, previously unknown to the inhabitants of Europe. For Europeans, it is this event that becomes the discovery of the Philippines.
And then an event happened that cost Magellan his life. Trying to spread the power of the Spanish crown and Christianity, Fernand Magellan supported one ruler against another on the small island of Mactan, intervening in the course of internecine conflict. On the night of April 27, 1521, Magellan went to the island in a detachment of 60 people in boats.
Death of Fernand Magellan. Drawing of 1860
Due to the presence of coral reefs, the boats could not come close to the shore. As a result, crossbowmen and musketeers did not land on the island, remaining in boats. The rest of the landing party went to the island ford. Already on the approach to the shore, they were attacked by the natives. At the same time, firing from boats turned out to be ineffective due to the long range.
Under a hail of arrows, spears and stones, the detachment began to retreat. As the historian of the expedition Pigafett later recalled, most of the Spaniards from Magellan's detachment fled. With the expedition commander, no more than 6–8 people remained, who took up the battle with the outnumbered enemy forces. At the same time, the natives quickly established the leader of the strangers, focusing all their efforts on Magellan.
In an unequal battle, Magellan and the members of the expedition who remained with him were killed. Magellan died literally one step away from triumph and return to Spain. He practically managed to accomplish what he dreamed of for many years. Further voyage continued without the commander of the expedition. Of the five ships that left Spain in September 1519, three returned. They arrived home after completing their first trip around the world on September 6, 1522.
This swimming was of great importance for marine science. Returning sailors provided irrefutable evidence that our planet is a spinning ball, and all the seas on Earth are an indivisible body of water. Thanks to the first round-the-world sea expedition, the cartographic works of the ancient Romans and ancient Greeks were finally "buried" as untenable.