I really shouldn’t claim to be a history major since my lack of basic historical knowledge is woefully inadequate. But finishing this gripping tale of exploration has added some fantastic tidbits of information, and I highly recommend it.
Magellan was Portuguese, and rejected by his king several times when he proposed to find the Spice Islands via water route (also publicly humiliated when the king refused to let Magellan kiss his rings). While trained in the Portuguese royal navigation school, he learned state of the art techniques and routes. Eventually he got the picture after yet another rejection and asked to be allowed to leave Portugal to sail for another country. The king granted his request, and off to Spain Magellan went.
Spain was only too happy to have Magellan aboard as expedition leader (we find out later this is because Spain has yet to find the islands, while Portugal has been secretly trading there for a few decades), and King Charles quickly outfits him with an armada of 5 ships and 250 men. Of this, only one ship (Victoria) returns triumphantly laden with spices, and with 18 men barely alive. The Trinidad was the lead ship, jettisoned to undergo needed repairs while Victoria sailed home, and ending up captured by the Portuguese, ripped apart by the sea, and whose wood was used to build the Portuguese fort on the island of Ternate. The first ship to be lost was the Santiago, wrecked on the shores of Patagonia during the attempt to find the Strait. The San Antonio was the second boat to be lost from the armada, as it was taken over by mutineers who sailed back to Spain after Magellan found the Strait. The Concepcion was burned in the Philippines after the crew found they were too shorthanded to man 3 ships.
Magellan skillfully dealt with multiple mutinies, but resorted to torture techniques left over from the Spanish Inquisition (drawing and quartering, loading weights on a hung man to pull his limbs off). He also named Patagonia, by calling the giants who lived there patacones, or dogs with big feet. Magellan’s stern discipline kept the crew in line, but caused friction since he was not a native Spaniard. After discovering the Strait, they sailed for 90 days across the Pacific before finding land and food. Something happens along the way that turns Magellan from his quest for spices to quest for men’s souls to be saved by Christianity. After taking sides between warring island nations, Magellan is hacked to pieces on a beach in the Philippines. He does not live to circumnavigate the globe, but a handful of his crew do.
The voyage is known throughout history due to the efforts of scribes on board, the most prolific being Pigafetta, an avowed Magellan supporter.
sub=Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe