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Ferdinand Magellan

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Ferdinand Magellan was born in Sabrosa Portugal in 1480. At the age of ten he and his brother Diogo moved to Lisbon and became pages for Queen Leonora's court. While there Magellan heard stories involving the spice trade in the East Indies in particular those of the Spice Islands, or Moluccas. During this time Magellan discovered an interest in maritime discovery which led him on his journey.

Magellan and his brother became part of fleet of several ships in 1505 that were headed for India, he participated in several trips to India and Africa participating in several battles during which he was wounded several times. They join a very large ship known as a 500 in 1513 which held a force of 15,000 soldiers the purpose of the trip was to challenge the Moroccan governor who is refusing to pay the yearly payment to the Portuguese Empire. The Moroccan forces were overwhelmed by the Portuguese attack and Magellan chose to stay in Morocco. Magellan was seriously wounded in a battle while at Morocco which left him with a permanent limp that he carried with him for the rest of his life.

On numerous occasions Ferdinand Magellan approached King Manuel of Portugal for support to sail to the Spice Islands from a different direction. King Manuel continually refused to support this cause. Because of this Ferdinand Magellan renounced his Portuguese nationality in 1517 and moved to Spain where he could seek royal support for this venture. He had little knowledge of the country and spoke very little Spanish, however he met Diogo Barbosa another transplanted Portuguese, and in less than a year he married Barbosa's daughter Beatriz, giving birth to a son Rodrigo the following year. The Barbosa family was well connected and introduced Ferdinand to officers who were directly involved with Spain's maritime exploration. They introduced Ferdinand Magellan to the King of Spain. This meeting opened the doors for his famous discovery of the Strait Magellan.

On August 10, 1519 Ferdinand Magellan left his wife and young son and set sail on the Armada De Maluccas headed for the Spice Islands, as commander of the ship Trinidad along with four other ships the San Antonio, the Conception, the Victoria, and the Santiago. Of these five ships the only one to return was the Victoria. While on his way to the Spice Islands he became the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean. The Victoria was the only ship of the five to return three years later from the long and dangerous journey. Magellan sailed to the East Coast of Argentina a.k.a. Patagonia where he put down a mutiny with loss of one ship. He sailed through a straight between the roaring forties, a place of strong westerly winds, and on to the Pacific (peaceful) ocean; one ship deserted and returned to Spain. Magellan continued on to Guam where he careened and refitted his ships. Ferdinand Magellan became involved in a local war in the Philippines where on April 27, 1521 he was killed. Juan Sebastian Del Cano commanded the last ship of the fleet along with 17 others returned to Spain on September 22, 1522 thus proving the world was round. Sadly of the crew of 270 there were only 18 remaining and Magellan himself was killed in battle on this voyage. To the credit of remaining crew the ship was overloaded with valuable spices from the East.

Due to Ferdinand Magellan's adventurous nature he proved that the world could be circled by the sea and the world itself was much larger than anybody had imagined. Interestingly during Magellan's time the will clove was the most valuable spice in Europe. Clove was used not only as a spice but medicinal purposes as well. It was believed that the powder could relieve fevers, improve vision, and when mixed with milk improved intercourse. Other spices that were highly valued at the time were cinnamon, nutmeg, and above all black pepper. The spices were used not only for flavoring but also for covering up the taste of meat that had gone bad.

Magellan's crews were the first known Europeans to travel on the great ocean which Magellan named Mar Pacifico translated the Pacific Ocean. He gave the name because of the peaceful nature being just the opposite of the Magellan Strait from which they traveled through. The straight is known even to this day for having extremely rough waters, typhoons and hurricanes and tsunamis have plummeted and damaged the islands and coastlines of the Pacific Ocean.



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