Thursday, July 5, 2012


Ferdinand Magellan's expedition of 1519-1522 became the first expedition to sail from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean (named by Magellan meaning peaceful) via the Strait of Magellan at the very bottom of South America. It also completed the first circumnavigation of the Earth, although Magellan himself did not complete the entire voyage, being killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines. Of the 237 men who set out on five ships, only 18 completed the circumnavigation and managed to return to Spain in 1522. So, on August 10, 1519, the five ships under Magellan's command - Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepción, Victoria and Santiago - left Seville and descended the South American Guadalquivir River to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, at the mouth of the river. 

Brazil was Portuguese territory and so Magellan avoided it and on December 13 anchored near present-day Rio de Janeiro. There the crew was resupplied, but bad conditions caused them to delay. Afterwards, they continued to sail south along South America's east coast, looking for the strait that Magellan believed would lead to the Spice Islands. The fleet reached Río de la Plata on January 10, 1520. 

On 30 March the crew established a settlement they called Puerto San Julian in Argentina. On April 2 a mutiny involving two of the five ship captains broke out, but it was unsuccessful because most of the crew remained loyal. Reportedly the bones of those killed for the crime of mutiny were found by Sir Francis Drake in his first voyage chasing the Spanish El Dorado! 

Magellan also gives his name to the Magellanic Penguin, which he was the first European to sight and the Magellanic clouds, now known to be nearby dwarf galaxies. 

By: Greg James Fishing

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