Thursday, September 19, 2019

How Magellan circumnavigated the globe

On September 6, 1522, the "Victoria" sailed into harbor in southern Spain.
The battered vessel and its 18 sailors were all that remained of a fleet that had departed three years before.
Yet her voyage was considered a success, for the "Victoria" had achieved something unprecedented – the first circumnavigation of the globe.


One of Ferdinand Magellan’s five ships–the Vittoria–arrives at Sanlucar de Barrameda in Spain, thus completing the first circumnavigation of the world.
The Vittoria was commanded by Basque navigator Juan Sebastian de Elcano, who took charge of the vessel after the murder of Magellan in the Philippines in April 1521.
During a long, hard journey home, the people on the ship suffered from starvation, scurvy, and harassment by Portuguese ships.
Only Elcano, 17 other Europeans, and four Indians survived to reach Spain on the 6th September 1522.

Victoria, the sole ship of Magellan's fleet to complete the circumnavigation.
Detail from a map by Ortelius, 1590.

On September 20, 1519, Magellan set sail from Spain in an effort to find a western sea route to the rich Spice Islands of Indonesia.
In command of five ships and 270 men, Magellan sailed to West Africa and then to Brazil, where he searched the South American coast for a strait that would take him to the Pacific.
He searched the RÍo de la Plata, a large estuary south of Brazil, for a way through; failing, he continued south along the coast of Patagonia.
At the end of March 1520, the expedition set up winter quarters at Port St. Julian.
On Easter day at midnight, the Spanish captains mutinied against their Portuguese captain, but Magellan crushed the revolt, executing one of the captains and leaving another ashore when his ship left St. Julian in August.
The Magellan–Elcano voyage. Victoria, one of the original five ships, circumnavigated the globe, finishing three years after setting out.

 Commemorative Chart of the Fifth Centenary of the Voyage of the Earth's Circum-Navigation, Magalhães (Magellan)-Elcano (1519-1522)
As part of the celebrations of the 5th Centenary of the Magalhães and Elcano Earth Circum-Navigation, the Portuguese Navy joined the program through the development of several projects. One of the projects, under the coordination of the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute, consisted in the elaboration of a Commemorative Chart whose historical component was coordinated by the Naval Research Center of the Naval Academy and the History Center of the University of Lisbon.
In this context, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the departure from Sanlúcar de Barrameda of the navy force commanded by the Portuguese Navigator Fernão de Magalhães (September 20, 1519), the Portuguese Newspaper “Jornal Expresso”,will promote the distribution of a version of the Commemorative Chart in his next edition of September 21th, 2019.

On October 21, he finally discovered the strait he had been seeking.
The Strait of Magellan, as it became known, is located near the tip of South America, separating Tierra del Fuego and the continental mainland.
Only three ships entered the passage; one had been wrecked and another deserted.
It took 38 days to navigate the treacherous strait, and when ocean was sighted at the other end Magellan wept with joy.
He was the first European explorer to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic.
His fleet accomplished the westward crossing of the ocean in 99 days, crossing waters so strangely calm that the ocean was named “Pacific,” from the Latin word pacificus, meaning “tranquil.”
By the end, the men were out of food and chewed the leather parts of their gear to keep themselves alive.
On March 6, 1521, the expedition landed at the island of Guam.

Ten days later, they dropped anchor at the Philippine island of Cebu–they were only about 400 miles from the Spice Islands.
Magellan met with the chief of Cebú, who after converting to Christianity persuaded the Europeans to assist him in conquering a rival tribe on the neighboring island of Mactan.
In subsequent fighting on April 27, Magellan was hit by a poisoned arrow and left to die by his retreating comrades.

A 1561 map of America showing Magellan's name for the pacific, Mare pacificum,
and the Strait of Magellan, labelled Frenum Magaliani.

After Magellan’s death, the survivors, in two ships, sailed on to the Moluccas and loaded the hulls with spice.
One ship attempted, unsuccessfully, to return across the Pacific.
The other ship, the Vittoria, continued west under the command of Juan SebastiÁn de Elcano.
The vessel sailed across the Indian Ocean, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at the Spanish port of SanlÚcar de Barrameda on September 6, 1522, becoming the first ship to circumnavigate the globe.
The Vittoria then sailed up the Guadalquivir River, reaching Seville a few days later.

Elcano was later appointed to lead a fleet of seven ships on another voyage to Moluccas on behalf of Emperor Charles V.

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