//
you're reading...
Daily History

April 27, 1521 Ferdinand Magellan killed in the Philippines


On April 27th 1521, after travelling three-quarters of the way around the globe, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan was killed during a tribal skirmish on Mactan Island in the Philippines. Earlier in the month, his ships had dropped anchor at the Philippine island of Cebu, and Magellan met with the local chief, who after converting to Christianity persuaded the Europeans to assist him in conquering a rival tribe on the neighbouring island of Mactan. In the subsequent fighting, Magellan was hit by a poisoned arrow and left to die by his retreating comrades.

Magellan was born around 1480 either at Vila Nova de Gaia, near Porto, in Douro Litoral Province, or at Sabrosa, near Vila Real, in Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro Province, in northern Portugal. After the death of his parents during his tenth year he became a page to Queen Leonor at the Portuguese royal court because of his family’s heritage.

He fought for his country against the Muslim domination of the Indian Ocean and Morocco. He participated in a number of key battles and in 1514 asked Portugal’s King Manuel for an increase in his pension. The king refused, having heard unfounded rumours of improper conduct on Magellan’s part after a siege in Morocco. In 1516, Magellan again made the request and the king again refused, so Magellan went to Spain in 1517 to offer his services to King Charles I, later Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

In 1494, Portugal and Spain, at the prompting of Pope Alexander VI, settled disputes over newly discovered lands in America and elsewhere by dividing the world into two spheres of influence. A line of demarcation was agreed to in the Atlantic Ocean–all new discoveries west of the line were to be Spanish, and all to the east Portuguese. Thus, South and Central America became dominated by the Spanish, with the exception of Brazil, which was discovered by the Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral in 1500 and was somewhat east of the demarcation line. Other Portuguese discoveries in the early 16th century, such as the Moluccas Islands–the Spice Islands of Indonesia–made the Spanish jealous.

To King Charles, Magellan proposed sailing west, finding a strait through the Americas, and then continuing west to the Moluccas, which would prove that the Spice Islands lay west of the demarcation line and thus in the Spanish sphere. Magellan knew that the world was round but underestimated its size, thinking that the Moluccas must be situated just west of the American continent, not on the other side of a great uncharted ocean. The king accepted the plan, and on September 20th 1519, Magellan set sail from Spain.

The fleet provided by King Charles V included five ships: the flagship Trinidad, under Magellan’s command; San Antonio commanded by Juan de Cartagena; Concepcion commanded by Gaspar de Quesada; Santiago commanded by Juan Serrano; and Victoria, commanded by Luis Mendoza. Victoria was named after the church of Santa Maria de la Victoria de Triana, where Magellan took an oath of allegiance to Charles V. The crew of about 270 included men from several nations: including Portuguese, Spanish, Italians, Germans, Flemish, Greeks, English and French. Spanish authorities were wary of Magellan, so that they almost prevented him from sailing, switching his mostly Portuguese crew to mostly men of Spain. Nevertheless, it included about 40 Portuguese, among them Magellan’s brother-in-law.

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 Rio 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 quarter 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.

On October 21st, 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 reached the Philippines–they were only about 400 miles from the Spice Islands.

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 Victoria, continued west under the command of the Basque navigator Juan Sebastian de Elcano. The vessel sailed across the Indian Ocean, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at Seville on September 9, 1522, becoming the first ship to circumnavigate the globe.

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “April 27, 1521 Ferdinand Magellan killed in the Philippines

  1. Wonderful history of Magellan who discovered the Philippines…

    Posted by jennysserendipity | April 27, 2012, 00:06
  2. Never heard of him … but he was before my generation !!! Fantastic facts – you’re very good on what your are doing.

    Posted by viveka | April 27, 2012, 01:02
  3. He was a scientific giant.

    Posted by eideard | April 27, 2012, 10:41
  4. Reblogged this on China Daily Mail.

    Posted by China Daily Mail | April 27, 2012, 11:00

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 14,942 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

  • RT @chaser: NSW to receive $700m disaster relief package after Victoria hit by earthquake 3 hours ago
  • RT @f_mols: Earthquakes are a natural phenomenon, but (as the Dutch discovered the hard way in recent years) gas extraction can trigger ear… 3 hours ago
  • RT @cheryl_kernot: For someone who was not going to do many future press conferences (because she had to run the state) Gladys is doing a g… 4 hours ago
  • Now the earthquakes have started. Morrison will be convinced that the rapture is upon us. @ScottMorrisonMP #auspol 6 hours ago
  • So this will put a bit of a dent in Australia's overseas coal market. If only we had a government that had made alt… twitter.com/i/web/status/1… 7 hours ago

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

China’s military has an Achilles’ heel: Low troop morale

China’s military has an Achilles’ heel: Low troop morale

The Chinese Communist Party has unintentionally revealed weaknesses of the country’s military. One indication came with the building of facilities for launching new intercontinental ballistic missiles in an inland desert region. The other was a series of further attempts to increase childbirths, including measures to help reduce the costly burden of educating children. Behind these […]

Cadence Column: Asia, September 20, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, September 20, 2021

China steps up expansion via Hong Kong elections. Seven editors are banned from Wikipedia on concerns of not acting in good faith and with relation to China. The US sails through the Taiwan Straight again, this time a destroyer. Taiwan wants more backup runways for fighter jets. Escalations only continue and no side shows any […]

China adds powerful new ship to maritime patrol fleet

China adds powerful new ship to maritime patrol fleet

China has added a new powerful ship to its fleet of maritime patrol vessels in the South China Sea, state media has reported. The 5,560-ton Hai Xun 03 was launched on Tuesday and will become the largest ocean patrol ship under the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration (MSA), the official China News Service reported, adding that […]

A lesson in political economy on investments in China

A lesson in political economy on investments in China

Paul Krugman, the eminent Nobel laureate in economics, recalls how companies are different from nations and their reasons. Business managers have different perspectives. It is economists – not managers – who place the question of foreign trade, the balance of payments and the exchange rate at the center of their reflections. Since 1989, China and […]

Are China’s climate promises just a load of hot air? (Yes!)

Are China’s climate promises just a load of hot air? (Yes!)

China is prepared to hold its cooperation on climate issues hostage to Western concessions elsewhere. Few cities in China represent the country’s addiction to coal more than Tianjin, where Alok Sharma travelled this week to talk about cooperation on climate issues. It sits on the coast of one of China’s most polluted regions, and its […]

The vanishing allure of doing business in China

The vanishing allure of doing business in China

It is nothing new for foreign firms to endure shakedowns by the Chinese Communist Party. As far back as revolutionary times, Chairman Mao’s victorious troops did not directly confiscate foreign-owned assets as their Bolshevik forerunners had done in Russia. Instead, they wore them down with higher taxes and fines so big that eventually companies gave […]

Wikipedia blames pro-China infiltration for bans

Wikipedia blames pro-China infiltration for bans

Wikipedia has suffered an “infiltration” that sought to advance the aims of China, the US non-profit organisation that owns the volunteer-edited encyclopaedia has said. The Wikimedia Foundation told BBC News the infiltration had threatened the “very foundations of Wikipedia”. The foundation banned seven editors linked to a mainland China group. Wikimedians of Mainland China accused […]

Diaries of former Mao aide spark custody battle over unofficial history of China

Diaries of former Mao aide spark custody battle over unofficial history of China

Today, “Li materials” are the subject of a legal battle between Stanford University and Mr. Li’s widow in Beijing. This is a battle for custody of an unofficial history of China. In millions of handwritten Chinese characters, Mr. Li documents his early days in the party, the revolution that brought him to power and his […]

World’s dirtiest cities list raises issue: Why don’t politicians call out China?

World’s dirtiest cities list raises issue: Why don’t politicians call out China?

Ponder this: A new tally of global cities’ emissions finds that the top 25 are responsible for 52% of the planet’s urban greenhouse gas emissions. Twenty-three of those are in China. New York City is the first American city to appear, at No. 26. Out of the top 75, just four other American cities are listed […]

Cadence Column: Asia, September 13, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, September 13, 2021

The easiest solution to China’s escalating situation in the South Sea is to enforce China’s own formal statements at face value. China says they respect other countries and do not want to militarize the South Sea. Leave it at that. Any disrespect toward other countries is not at the behest of Xijinping. Any militarization of […]

%d bloggers like this: