Interactive graphic shows route of Magellan’s voyage
GN39503

HISTORY

Epic voyage of Ferdinand Magellan

By Ben Mullins

September 20, 2019 - Five hundred years ago, Ferdinand Magellan sailed from Spain to find a western passage to the Indies. He did not survive but three years later his ship Victoria completed the first circumnavigation of the globe.

After a quarrel with the Portuguese king, Ferdinand Magellan enlisted the support of Spain’s king Charles I for an expedition to reach the Moluccas by sailing westwards. The Spanish wanted a share in the valuable spice trade from the Moluccas, but the Portuguese controlled the eastward route around southern Africa.

On September 20, 1519, Magellan set out with a fleet of five vessels. In spite of a mutinous crew, rough weather, scurvy, a desperate lack of provisions and unknown waters, Magellan successfully crossed the Atlantic and eventually navigated through the strait at the southern point of South America which was later named after him.

The three remaining ships crossed the Pacific Ocean in a northwesterly arc for three and a half months without once encountering inhabited islands. Hunger, thirst and illness claimed 19 lives before the crews found fresh provisions in the Mariana Islands.

They finally reached the Philippines in March 1521, the first Europeans ever to set foot there. Within weeks Magellan was killed after becoming involved in a battle between two rival local chieftains.

The Victoria, the only remaining ship from the original fleet, eventually returned to Spain in September 1522 under the command of Juan Sebastian Elcano, having completed the first ever circumnavigation of the globe.

PUBLISHED: 12/09/2019; ORIGINAL GRAPHIC: GN39474 HISTORY: First circumnavigation of the world, by Jordi Bou; TECHNICAL SUPPORT: Phil Bainbridge; STORY: Graphic News
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