Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan Explorer

Ferdinand Magellan - Explorer (1480 - 1521)

A Portuguese explorer who became the first European to cross the Pacific, he also played a prominent part in the expedition that led to the first circumnavigation of the world. The Strait of Magellan, off the coast of South America, is named after him.

This page details facts about Ferdinand Magellan's life and the events that shaped his history.

Ferdinand Magellan the Explorer - Fun Facts for Kids !

1: Ferdinand Magellan was born in Sabrosa in Portugal in 1480. His father, Rodrigo de Magalhaes was the Mayor of Alveiro. Both his parents died when he was young.

2: Ferdinand Magellan was brought up in the Portuguese Royal Court as a page of Leonor, Queen to King John II of Portugal. He then went into the service of King Manuel I who succeeded King John II.

3: In 1505, Ferdinand Magellan enlisted in the fleet of the viceroy of the Portuguese Indies, and took part in several battles and expeditions in India and Africa.

4: In 1511, Ferdinand Magellan took part in the conquest of Malacca, on the Malay Peninsula, after which he gained a promotion.

5: Ferdinand Magellan returned to Portugal in 1512 then, in 1513, went on an expedition to Morocco. While in Morocco he sustained a wound that left him with a permanent limp.

6: Following constant requests from Magellan, to King Manuel I, to head an expedition to the Moluccas by sailing west, the two fell out. Ferdinand Magellan then left for Spain.

7: While in Spain, Ferdinand Magellan married the daughter of his friend Diogo Barbosa, and had two children, both of whom died while young. His wife also died around 1521.

8: Ferdinand Magellan teamed up with Rui Faleiro, a cosmographer. Studying the most recent charts, he began investigating a gateway from the Atlantic Ocean to the South Pacific.

9: Ferdinand Magellan and Faleiro approached King Charles I of Spain with their idea. As the Portuguese had reserved the eastern routes to the Moluccas, the Spanish King seized this opportunity to approach the Moluccas without upsetting them, and on 22nd March 1518 the King pronounced Ferdinand Magellan and Faleiro as captains to undertake the expedition.

10: Ferdinand Magellan set sail to cross the Atlantic Ocean in September 1519. His fleet consisted of five ships, the Trinidad, the San Antonio, the Concepcion, the Santiago and the Victoria. The Portuguese King, Manuel I, sent some of his navy to intercept Magellan, however he managed to avoid them.

11: He sailed to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde before heading for South America. Ferdinand Magellan reached South America and, after resupplying, headed south reaching Rio de la Plata in January 1520. He decided to stay there over the winter and set up a temporary settlement called Puerto San Julian.

12: During April 1520, three of the captains were involved in a mutiny. Ferdinand Magellan acted quickly to stem the problem. The captain of the Victoria, Luis de Mendoza was killed by Ferdinand Magellanís men and the ship recovered. They also cut the Concepcionís anchor cable, resulting in the ship drifting towards the Trinidad, Magellanís ship, and captain Gaspar Quesada and his crew surrendered. Then Juan de Cartegena, captain of the San Antonio, also surrendered.

13: Ferdinand Magellan Marooned Juan de Cartegena and a priest called Padre Sanchez de la Reina, and executed Gaspar Quesada and some of the other mutineers. Many of the other men were needed, so were forgiven. It is believed that the remains of those executed were later found by Francis Drake during his expedition.

14: The Santiago, which was sent ahead on a scouting expedition, became wrecked in a violent storm. The crew managed to get safely to shore, and two of them made their way back to Magellan to let him know. This resulted in the expedition being delayed by a few more weeks.

15: On 21st October 1520, Ferdinand Magellan reached Cape Virgenes on the coast of modern day Argentina. The fleet began to make its way through what is now known as the Strait of Magellan. He sent the San Antonio and the Concepcion ahead to explore the Strait, however, the San Antonio deserted the fleet and set sail for Spain.

16: The remaining three ships sailed into the South Pacific on 28th November 1520. Ferdinand Magellan gave it the name 'Pacifico' (Pacific) because it was so calm with gentle winds.

17: On the 6th March, following a journey with no fresh provisions and little water, Ferdinand Magellan reached Guam. He stopped there to refit the ships and take on fresh supplies. Leaving Guam on the 9th March 1521, He reached, what would become known as, the Philippines a week later.

18: On 7th April 1521 Ferdinand Magellan met with the King of Cebu, Rajah Hamabon, who claimed to be Christian, and befriended him. Rajah Hamabon convinced Ferdinand Magellan to conquer the neighbouring island of Mactan for him, in the name of Catholicism.

19: Magellan sailed to the island of Mactan with a small force on 27th April 1521. A battle ensued and Ferdinand Magellan was hit by a bamboo spear before being surrounded and killed. Consequently, he didnít make it all the way to the Moluccas, but had paved the way for the remaining members of the expedition.

20: Being few in number, the survivors burned the Concepcion, and continued to the Moluccas in the Trinidad and the Victoria. Soon after leaving, the Trinidad developed leaks so was left behind with some of her crew. The Victoria, commanded by Juan Sebastian Elcano, carried on and, having completed the first circumnavigation of the world, arrived back in Spain on 6th September 1522.

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