"After dire straits, an agonizing haul across the Pacific"
by Simon Winchester
in "Smithsonian" (April 1991, pp. 84-95)
It was only a generation after Columbus that Magellan's tiny fleet
sailed west, via his strait, then on around the world.
     Balboa found the ocean.  Then, in their droves, explorers
emerged to circle and probe and colonize it, but first, in that
most daring of all endeavors, to cross it.
     No one could be sure how wide it was.  No one could be sure
where lay the Terra Australis Incognita, which Ptolemy had
postulated and which Mercator would argue was a necessary balance
for a spherical world--without it the whole planet might simply
topple over, to be lost among the stars.  No one knew the weather
or the currents or the winds.  But one small certainty spurred the
would-be circumnavigators onward.  It was that the Spice Islands,
the Moluccas, lay at the farthest side of whatever might lie beyond
the waters, pacific or unpacific, that Balboa had discovered.
     Traders buying nutmegs and cloves from Arabian merchants had
known about the Spice Islands for centuries; in the 1200s Marco
Polo knew roughly where they were, for he saw junk traffic in the
ports of North China loaded with spices and manned by crews who had
come from the south.  In 1511 a Portuguese expedition led by
Antonio d'Abreu actually discovered them by moving eastward, after
passing the tip of Africa, to Malacca, thence down the strait and
past the immense island of Borneo to the confused archipelago where
nearly all known spices grew in wild profusion.  The reach their
goal, d'Abreu's men had gone halfway round the world from Europe
to the Orient.
     The geographical fact they established was of great political
and imperial importance.  Since 1494, when the Treaty of
Tordesillas was signed, all of the unknown world to the east of an
imaginary line that had been drawn 370 leagues west of the Cape
Verde Islands would belong to Portugal.  Everything to the west of
that line would belong to Spain.  So far as the Atlantic and the
Indian oceans were concerned, there was no problem; but what about
the other side of the world?  Conquest, squatter's rights,
annexation, force majeure--these cruder tools of geopolitics might
well dictate its eventual position.  Thus the Moluccas, if
discovered by going eastward around the globe, would belong to
Portugal--at least by the logic of some explorers.  But the
Moluccas claimed by a party going westward might belong to Spain.
So while d'Abreu and his colleagues went off eastward, even braver
or more foolhardy men, carrying the banner of Castile, were
determined to discover--heroically and, as it turned out for many
of them, fatally--the way to reach this same Orient by traveling
westward across the vast unknown.
     There is thus a nice irony in the fact that the man who
undertook the seminal voyage, and did so in the name of Spain, was
in fact Portuguese.  He was born Fernao de Magalhaes, and the
Portuguese--"He is ours," they insist--rarely care to acknowledge
that he renounced his citizenship after a row, pledged his
allegiance to King Charles I (later to become Emperor Charles V)
and was given a new name: Hernando de Magallanes.  The English-
speaking world, which reveres him quite as much as does Iberia,
knows him as Ferdinand Magellan.
     He set off on September 20, 1519, with a royal mandate to
search for a passage to El Mar del Sur, and thus determine for
certain that the Spice Islands were within the Spanish domains.
He had not the foggiest notion of how far he might have to travel.
For all Magellan's 237 men in their five little ships knew,
Balboa's Panama and the northern coast of South America, which
Columbus had sighted in 1498 on his third voyage, might be the
equatorial portions of a continent extending without a break to the
Antarctic pole, making the southern sea they sought quite
unreachable from the west.  Johann Schoner's globe of the world,
then the best known, placed Japan a few hundred miles off Mexico.
The historian Lopez de Gomara asserts that Magellan always insisted
that the Moluccas were "no great distance from Panama and the Gulf
of San Miguel, which Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovered."  Magellan
would rapidly discover precisely what "no great distance" was to
     The five vessels that would soon make history--the Victoria,
the Trinidada (the Trinidad), the San Antonio, the Concepcion and
the Santiago--were small, the largest being 120 tons, and
hopelessly unseaworthy.  ("I would not care to sail to the Canaries
in such crates," wrote the Portuguese consul in Seville, with
obvious pleasure.  "Their ribs are soft as butter.")
     They set sail from the Guadalquivir River under the proud
corporate title of the Armada de Molucca, amply armed but
hopelessly provisioned, with crews composed of men of nine
different nationalities including a lone Englishman.  There was one
Moluccan slave, Enrique, who would act as an interpreter if the
crossing was accomplished.  There was a journalist, too, Antonio
Francesca Pigafetta, who may have been a Venetian spy.  In any
case, Pigafetta's diaries remained the source for all future
accounts of the voyage; he had joined the ships, he said, because
he was "desirous of sailing with the expedition so that I might see
the wonders of the world."
     The sorry tales of sodomy and mutiny, of yardarm justice and
abrupt changes of command, and of all the other trials that
attended the armada on its path south and west across the Atlantic
do not belong here.  The truly important phase of the journey
starts on February 3, 1520, when the vessels left their anchorage
near today's Montevideo and headed south.  No charts or sailing
directions existed then.  The sailors were passing unknown coasts,
and confronting increasingly terrifying seas and temperatures that
dropped steadily day by day.
     They began to see penguins--"ducks without wings," they called
them, patos sin alas--and "sea-wolves," or seals.  Seeking a way
to the Pacific, they explored every indentation in the coast off
which they sailed, and with depressing regularity each
indentation--even though some were extremely capacious and tempted
the navigators to believe that they might be the longed-for
straits--proved to be a cul-de-sac.  They spent much of the winter,
from Palm Sunday until late August, in the center of a chilly and
miserable bay at what is now Puerto San Julian.  The winter was
made doubly wretched by an appalling mutiny and the consequent
executions and maroonings that Captain-General Magellan ordered;
by the wrecking of the Santiago, which he had sent on a depth-
sounding expedition; and by the realization of the dreadful damage
done to the remaining ships by the chomping of those plank-
gourmets of the seas, teredo worms.
     But one important discovery was made at Puerto San Julian:
these southern plains were inhabited by enormous nomadic shepherds
who herded not sheep, but little wild llamas known as guanacos, and
who dressed in their skins.  Magellan captured a number of these
immense people--one pair by the cruel trick of showing them leg-
irons and insisting that the proper way to carry the shackles was
to allow them to locked around their ankles.  Magellan's men also
liked the giants' tricks: one, who stayed aboard only a week but
allowed himself to ba called Juan and learned some biblical
phrases, caught and ate all the rats and mice on board, to the
pleasure of the cook and the entertainment of the men.  Magellan
called these men "patagones"--"big feet"; the land in which he
found them has been known ever since as Patagonia.
     By late August the fleet set sail again.  Two men had been
left behind, marooned for mutiny by Magellan's orders.  They had
a supply of wine and hardtack, guns and shot, but when other, later
expeditions entered the bay, no trace of them was found.  They may
have been killed by the giants; they may have starved to death.
All that the men of the armada remembered were their pitiful wails
echoing over the still waters as the ships sailed out of the bay
into the open sea, and then south.
     By the time the flotilla had reached 50 degrees south latitude
(not far from the Falkland Islands), the men were restive.  Their
artless plea now was: If the expedition wanted to reach the Spice
Islands, why not turn east toward them and pass below the Cape of
Good Hope, as others had?  Magellan, sensible enough to know this
would make a nonsense of the whole plan to render the Spice Islands
Spanish, refused.  But he promised that if no strait was found by
the time they had eaten up another 25 degrees of latitude, he would
turn east as they wished.  The murmurs stilled.  The Captain-
General clearly had no idea of the utter impossibility of
navigating at 75 degrees south latitude, for on that longitudinal
track his ships would get stuck fast in the thick ice of what is
now the Weddell Sea, hemmed in by the yet unimagined continent and
the unendurable cold of the Antarctic.
The Captain-General sights a virgin cape
     On October 21, 1520, Magellan sighted a headland to starboard.
Cabo Virjenes, which today is equipped with a lighthouse that
flashes a powerful beam and a radio direction beacon, is an
important navigation point on the South American coast.  It marks,
as Magellan was soon to discover, the eastern end of the strait
that bears his name--the tortuous entrance, at long last, to the
     Ranges of immense, show-covered mountains crowded into view;
there could be, Magellan must have thought, no possible exit.
Still, he ordered the San Antonio and the Concepcion into the
headwaters of the bay--only to be horrified when he saw them being
swept into a huge maelstrom of surf and spindrift by unsuspected
currents and winds.  But he had no time to dwell on such miseries,
for an immense storm broke over his own ship, the Trinidad, as well
as the Victoria, alongside.  Men were hurled overboard.  One vessel
was dismasted; the other nearly turned turtle several times.  The
storm went on and on and on.  When relief finally came to the
exhausted crews, the only recourse, it seemed, was to turn tail and
head for home.  The expedition was over, an abject failure.
     Yet just at that moment (one occasionally suspects that the
mythmakers have been at work on the story) the lookout sighted
sails on the western horizon.  They were indeed what they could
only have been: the two scouting vessels had returned.  Not
shattered and aground, they were safe and sound.  The joy Magellan
must have felt at realizing his men were still alive was, however,
as nothing when, as the San Antonio and the Concepcion drew closer,
he saw their yardarms hung with bunting, music being played, and
the crews dancing and singing.
     As an account of the long voyage puts it, "Suddenly, they saw
a narrow passage, like the mouth of a river, ahead of them in the
surf, and they managed to steer into it.  Driven on by wind and
tide they raced through this passage and into a wide lake.  Still
driven by the storm they were carried west for some hours into
another narrow passage, though now the current had reversed, so
what appeared to a great ebb tide came rushing towards them.  They
debouched from this second strait into a broad body of water which
stretched as far as the eye could see toward the setting sun...."
     By tasting the water and finding it salty, and then making
sure that both the ebb tides and flood tides were of equal strength
(tests that argued against this body of water being a river), the
captains of the scout ships realized they had, indeed, discovered
the way through.  Magellan, believing that his ultimate goal was
within his grasp, brushed aside the persistent doubter's view that
he should, despite the discovery, turn back eastward for the
Moluccas.  "Though we have nothing to eat but the leather wrapping
from our masts," he declared, "we shall go on!"
     The Strait of Magellan is as darkly beautiful as it is useful.
Before I first visited the strait I supposed, wrongly, that since
its latitude to the south is more or less the same distance from
the Equator as Maine's latitude is to the north, the coastline
would also be vaguely similar.  But it is much starker, more
hostile, more grand.  Heading west, as Magellan did, the land
begins flat, and wind reduces such trees as there are to stunted
survivors.  Even today the strait is not an easy place for sailing
vessels: "... both difficult and dangerous, because of incomplete
surveys, the lack of aids to navigation, the great distance between
anchorages, the strong current, and the narrow limits for the
maneuvering of vessels," says the pilot manual.
"A cargo of falsehood against Magellan"
     For Magellan and his men it was a nightmare.  The currents
were treacherous.  Unexpected winds, now known as williwaws,
flashed down steep cliffs, threatening to drive the little fleet
onto the rocks.  He lost another ship; though he did not know it
at the time, the San Antonio had turned tail and was heading back
to Spain, "bearing a cargo of falsehood against Magellan."  She
also took away supplies vital for all of the fleet--one-third of
the armada's biscuits, one-third of its meat and two-thirds of its
currants, chickpeas and figs.  The men began begging to turn back.
     Days passed.  Finally, on November 28, 1520, Trinidad,
Victoria and Concepcion passed beyond the horrors of the strait,
and sailed westward into an evening that became, suddenly,
magically serene.  We are told that "the iron-willed Admiral" broke
down and cried.  Then he assembled his men on deck.  Pedro de
Valderrama, the Trinidad's priest, stood on the poop deck and
called down on the crew of all three remaining vessels the blessing
of Our Lady of Victory.  The men sang hymns.  The gunners fired
broadsides.  And Magellan proudly unfurled the flag of Castile.
     "We are about to stand into an ocean where no ship has ever
sailed before," Magellan is said to have cried (though it has to
be emphasized that there is no hard evidence that he did so).  "May
the ocean be always as calm and benevolent as it is today.  In this
hope I name in the Mar Pacifico."  And just in case it was not
Magellan who first uttered the name, then perhaps it was Pigafetta:
"We debouched from that strait," he later wrote, "engulfing
ourselves in the Pacific Sea."
The European dawn breaks on the Pacific
     The concept of the Pacific Ocean, the greatest physical unit
on Earth, had been born.  Balboa had seen it.  D'Abreu had ventured
onto its western edges.  Magellan had reached its eastern
periphery.  Now it was up to the explorers to try to comprehend the
enormity of their discovery.  But before they could do that,
Magellan had to sail across it.  This was his determined aim, and
the aim of those who sponsored his venture.
     So the Captain-General ordered the sails set to carry the
shrunken, but now at long last triumphant, armada northward.  He
thought it might take three or four days to reach the Spice
Islands.  It was a savage underestimate--a tragically optimistic
forecast, based quite probably on the terrible inability of long-
distance navigators to calculate longitude (an inability that
insured that not a single estimate then available to Magellan was
even 80 percent of the true size of the ocean).
     Not that anyone suspected tragedy as they breezed to the north
of Cape Desado.  Far from it.  Once the armada had reached the
lower southern latitudes, the winds began to blow balmily and
unceasingly from the southeast.  They were trade winds, just like
those well known in the southern Atlantic and Indian oceans, and
they were pleasantly warm.  Their effect produced nothing but
splendid sailing: no undue swells, no angry squalls, no cyclonic
outbursts.  Just endless days and nights of leisured running before
a steady, powerful breeze.  "Well was it name Pacific," wrote
Pigafetta later, confirming his master's choice of name, "for
during this period we met with no storms."
     And for weeks and weeks, simply by wafting before the winds
with sails unchanged, the fleet managed to miss every single one
of the islands with which the Pacific Ocean is littered.
Magellan's course, sedulously recorded by his pilot, Francisco
Albo, shows him--almost uncannily--leading his vessels past the
Juan Fernandez Islands, past Sala y Gomez and Easter islands, past
Pitcairn, Ducie, Oeno and Henderson and, indeed past everything
else.  His astrolabe, his crude speed recorder, his hourglass (a
watchkeeper would be flogged for holding it against his chest,
since to warm it made the sand flow faster, the hour pass more
quickly, the watch be more rapidly over) served Magellan admirably:
he plotted the likely course to the Spice Islands, and his ships
took him there, more or less.
     Any deviation could have caused disaster.  Had he strayed just
3 degrees north of Albo's recorded track, he would have hit the
Marquesas; 3 degrees south, he would have come to Tahiti.  He was
a hundred miles off Bikini Atoll.  He passed within a half day's
sailing of razor-sharp coral reefs--thundering surfs, huge spikes
and lances that would have ruined his ships forever.  At this
distance in time, it seems as if some guardian angel had Magellan's
tiny fleet under benevolent invigilation for days and nights too
numerous to count.  Yet this providence has a less kindly face.
Six weeks out of the strait, Magellan's men began to die.  In the
monotony of a long, landless passage, what proved unbearable was
the lack of food aboard the sea-locked ships.
     Much of the stores had already gone, carried off on the
treacherous San Antonio.  Such food as the three ships carried
began to rot under the soggy tropical airs.  The penguins and seals
they had killed and salted in Patagonia started to turn putrid;
maggots raged through the ships, eating clothes and supplies and
rigging; water supplies turned scummy and rank.  Men began to
develop the classic symptoms of scurvy--their teeth loosened in
their gums, their breath began to smell horribly sour, huge boils
erupted from their shrunken frames, they sank into inconsolable
     In January men began to die.  One of the Patagonian behemoths
whom Magellan had persuaded aboard was, despite his immense
physique and power, the first to go; he begged to be made a
Christian, was baptized "Paul" and then died.  By mid-January a
third of the sailors were too sick to stagger along the decks.
Their food was limited to scoops to flour stained yellow by the
urine of rats, and biscuits riddled with weevils.
     The depression and deep anxiety afflicted Magellan too.  At
one point he flung his charts overboard in a fit of rage.  "With
the pardon of the cartographers, the Moluccas are not to be found
in their appointed place!" he cried.  The fleet did, in fact,
strike land in late January--a tiny island they called St. Paul's,
and which seems to be the minute atoll now known as Pukapuka, in
the French Tuamotu group.  (Four centuries later, Pukapuka was the
first island to be spotted by Thor Heyerdahl aboard the balsa raft
Kon-Tiki after his long drift westward from Callao in Peru.)  They
stayed a week, replenishing their water butts and feasting on
turtle eggs.  They left in an optimistic mood; surely, they
surmised, this island must be the first of a vast skein of atolls
and lagoons stretching to the now close Moluccas.  But it was not
to be; the ships had barely traversed a third of their ocean.  Soon
the hunger pains, the racking thirst and the sense of unshakable
misery began anew, and the dying began once more.
After meals of leather--land!
     More and more terrible the voyage steadily became.  By March 4
the flagship had run out of food completely.  Men were eating the
oxhides and llama skins used to prevent the rigging from chafing
(not too bad a diet--so long as the crew's scurvy-ridden teeth hung
in).  The smell of death, the knowledge that it was both inevitable
and impending, gripped Magellan's sailors.  And then dawned March
6, when a seaman called Navarro, the only man still fit enough to
clamber up the ratlines, spied what everyone was waiting for--
     A great cheer went up.  Cannon were fired.  Men fell to their
knees in prayer.  A squadron of tiny dugouts sped from shore to
meet the Spaniards.  Magellan had reached the islands he first
called Las Islas de las Velas Latinas and later, after much of his
cargo had been filched, Las Islas de Ladrones, the Islands of
Thieves.  He had made his landfall at what we now call Guam.  It
was March 6, 1521.  Magellan had crossed the Pacific.  A voyage the
Captain-General had supposed might take three or four days had, in
fact, occupied three and a half months.
     The fleet stayed in Guam for only three days--to rest, make
minor repairs and take on food (such as the "figs, more than a palm
long," which must have been bananas) and fresh water.  Then
Magellan set off, still toward the Moluccas, standing down for the
southwest and to the Philippines, islands of which all travellers
to these parts had often heard, but which no European had ever
seen.  Though the Spice Islands, it must e recalled, were the
armada's prescribed goal, the official mandate and ambition of
Magellan was to discover, name and seize in the name of Spain the
immense archipelago that lay north of them.
     The only Briton on the expedition, Master Andrew of Bristol,
died on this last, short passage.  He was never to see the islands
that, a novelist was later to write, were "as fair as Eden, with
gold beaches, graceful palms, exotic fruits and soil so rich that
if one snapped off a twig and stuck in into the ground it would
start straightway to grow."
     Magellan made his landfall on March 16 on an island at the
southern end of the large Philippine island of Samar.  Two days
later, the first contact was made with Filipinos, though the name
"Philippines" was not to be given to the place until 1543, when
explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos named one after the Infante, later
to become King Philip II, the Spanish monarch whose reign made the
words "Spanish Armada" infamous.  (The name "Philippines" caught
on later to mean the entire island group.)  The significant moment
came two days later still, when the ships sailed down the Gulf of
Leyte and the Surigao Strait, where, more than four centuries later
in World War II, one of the world's last great naval battles was
fought, and Adm. William F. Halsey reduced the Japanese Imperial
Navy to vestigial strength.
     Once through the strait, Magellan landed at the island that
guarded its entrance, Limasawa.  Eight inhabitants sailed out to
the Trinidad in a small boat.  On orders from the Captain-General,
his Moluccan slave, Enrique, hailed them.  In a moment that must
have seemed frozen in time, it became clear that the men in the
approaching boat understood the words of the Moluccan perfectly.
     Their language was being spoken to them by a man on a huge
ship that had come to them from the east.  The linguistic globe--
even if not necessarily the physical globe--had been
circumnavigated.  A man who had originated in these parts had
traveled across Asia and around Africa to Europe as a slave, and
had now returned home by the Americas and the Pacific.  Enrique de
Molucca may well have been, strictly speaking, the first of
humankind to circumnavigate the world; he was never to be honored
for so doing.
     Nor, by the unhappy coincidence of ill-temper and wretched
misfortune, was Ferdinand Magellan ever to be able to savor his own
triumph.  Just six weeks after the landing he was dead, cut down
on a Philippine island in a skirmish that is as unremembered as the
place in which it happened is unsung--a flat and muddy little
island called Mactan, where an airport has now been built to serve
the city of Cebu.
     The circumstances of the Captain-General's end, however, are
riven into every Iberian schoolchild's learning, even today.
Despite his crew's objections, Magellan insisted on exploring.  He
was pleased at the relative ease with which the people took to
Christianity.  (It is perhaps worth remembering that the Catholic
faith, which Magellan and his priests brought to Samar and Cebu and
northern Mindanao, flourishes there still today.  The Philippines,
in fact, is the only predominantly Christian country in Asia, and
the influence of the church contributed significantly to the recent
overthrow of President Ferdinand Marcos.)
     But the successful sewing of the seeds of Christianity were
to be Magellan's undoing.  His horribly unglorious end came in late
April.  The precise circumstances were chronicled.  Magellan had
demonstrated what he felt was his superior status to the local raja
of Cebu, and had made Christians of him and all his followers.  But
significantly, the rest of the Philippine nobility did not go
along.  Many local junior rajas objected, especially the minor raja
of Mactan, a man named Cilapulapu and now known to all Filipinos
simply as Lapu Lapu.  He declared that he was not going to pay
fealty to this Christian interloper, come what may.  He cared
little enough for the raja of Cebu, let along the Cebuano's
newfound foreign friends.
     The Spaniards soon got wind of this rebellious mood, and on
April 27 Magellan and 60 of his men paddled across the narrow
strait to Mactan in an attempt to bring Lapu Lapu to heel.  "You
will feel the iron of our lances," Lapu Lapu was told by Magellan's
interlocutor.  "But we have fire-hardened spears and stakes of
bamboo," replied a defiant chieftain.  "Come across whenever you
The last stand at Mactan Island
     The waters at the northern end of Mactan are very shallow and
degenerate into warm swamps.  A selected 48 of the Spaniards,
dressed in full armor, had to wade the last few hundred yards to
do battle with the Mactan warriors.  They fought for an hour,
thigh-deep in the water.  Then Magellan plunged his lance into the
body of an attacker and was unable to withdraw it quickly enough.
It was a fatal delay.  Another islander slashed Magellan's leg with
a scimitar.  He staggered.  Scores of others crowded around him as
he fell, and as Pigafetta was to write, "thus they killed our
mirror, our light, our comfort and our true guide."
     It is worth remembering that Fernao de Magalhaes was a native
Portuguese--of whom it used to be said, because they were such
energetic explorers, "they have a small country to live in, but all
the world to die in."  There is a monument near the spot where he
fell, a tall white obelisk, guarded solicitously for the past 15
years by a man with the splendid name Jesus Baring.  There are two
accounts of the event, one engraved on either side of the cross.
Senor Baring derives much amusement from showing his occasional
visitors--and there are very few, considering how globally
important this spot should be--how markedly they differ.
     The one on the monument's eastern side--the side that pedant
geographers will recognize as marginally nearer to the Spanish
Main--records the event as a European tragedy.  "Here on 27th April
1521 the great Portuguese navigator Hernando de Magallanes, in the
service of the King of Spain, was slain by native Filipinos...."
On the other side, by contrast, it is seen as an Oriental triumph--
a heroic blow struck for Philippine nationalism.  "Here on this
spot the great chieftain Lapu Lapu repelled an attack by Ferdinand
Magellan, killing him and sending his forces away...."  Baring
points to the later and roars with laughter.  "This is the real
story.  This is the one we Filipinos like to hear!"
     Lapu Lapu is thus the first, and to many Filipinos the
greatest, of Filipino heroes.  These days his memory is being
revived, his exploits retold, his adventures made the stuff of
comic strips, films and popular songs.  Each April there is a full-
scale reenactment of the Battle of Mactan on the beach, with an
improbably handsome Cebuano film star playing the part of the
seminaked hero and, when I was last there, the Philippine Air Force
officer Mercurion Fernandez playing the role of the armor-clad
Magellan.  The two sides struggle gamely in the rising surf until
that epic moment when Officer Fernandez contrives to collapse into
the shallow sea and grunts his last.  The assembled thousands then
cheer.  Such is Filipino pride in the raja of Mactan that there are
firebrands--in Manila as well as in Cebu--who believe their country
should shed its present name, a reminder that it is a colonial
conquest, and be reborn as LapuLapuLand.
     Little more needs to be said of the tiny armada now, save to
note what most popular historians choose to forget.  The Concepcion
was scuttled; the flagship Trinidad, which tried to make for home
via the Pacific once more, was blown north as far as Hakodate in
Japan, captured by a Portuguese battle group and became a total
loss in the Spice Islands, which had been its original goal.  But
one of the ships, the doughty little Victoria--at 85 tons she was
the second smallest of the original five--did make it back to
     The Victoria scudded home under the charge of Juan Sebastian
d'Elcano, previously the executive officer of the Concepcion.  She
made Java.  She made it round the top of Africa, through waters
where freak waves sometimes cause modern oil tankers to founder.
She made the Cape Verde Islands, where the crew realized that
despite meticulous log-keeping, they had lost an entire day from
their calendar: the concept of crossing the international date line
was unknown--and profoundly unimaginable--to them.
     On September 6, 1523, the Victoria made the harbor of Sanlucar
de Barrameda, from where she had set off almost exactly three years
before.  Juan Sebastian d'Elcano had brought just 17 men back with
him: 237 had started out.  Circumnavigation, it happened, was a
most costly business.
     But well rewarded.  D'Elcano was given an annual pension and
a coat of arms as handsome as it was aromatic: a castle, three
nutmegs, 12 cloves, two crossed cinnamon sticks, a pair of Malay
kings bearing spice sticks, and above all, a globe circled by a
ribbon emblazoned with the motto 'Primus Circumdedisti me.'  "Thou
first circumnavigated me."

"Ferdinand Magellan:  The greatest voyager of them all"
by:  Raymond Schuessler
in:  "Sea Frontiers" (Sep-Oct 1984)
     Ferdinand Magellan, initiator and leader of the first
expedition to circumnavigate the globe, in 1519-22, never re-
ceived the acclaim he deserved for his great feat.  Compared to
Columbus's voyage of 8,000 miles over the relatively quiet
Atlantic, Magellan's expedition of 42,000 miles--22,000 of them
over waters no white man had ever seen--was an achievement
without parallel in an era of fragile wooden ships.
     Few voyages have been so filled with intrigue, treachery,
mutiny, murder, scurvy, starvation, and death.  Only a lone,
bedraggled ship out of a fleet of five managed to complete the
     Had it not been for a clandestine diary kept by Antonio
Pigafetta, a Venetian nobleman aboard that ship, the record of
the venture would have been quite different.  Only the distorted
accounts of deserters, mutineers, and jealous officers eager to
usurp Magellan's glory would have survived, for Magellan was
murdered midtrip.  It is a miracle that the diarist, Pigafetta,
through all this mayhem, did manage to be one of the handful of
survivors.  Even then, his diary was expurgated by Spanish
authorities who were jealous of Magellan, the Portuguese inter-
loper who had executed many of the Spanish noblemen aboard the
ships.  They called him a "spawn of the devil, witness his cloven
hoof."  (Magellan had a club foot.)
     Magellan was born in Oporto, Portugal in 1480 of middle-
class nobility.  When Columbus made his famous voyage in 1492,
Magellan thrilled to the account and had visions of his own
voyages some day.  In 1505, he enlisted in the navy.
     He learned seamanship and naval warfare under the Portuguese
viceroys in India.  In 1509, he took part in the great battle of
Die, which gave Portugal supremacy over most of the Indian Ocean.
For seven years, he traded from Cochin, China to Malacca and
perhaps even the Moluccas.  During all these years, he had but
one dream:  to sail around the globe heading west from Europe.
     Magellan had studied enough charts and stories to know that
other explorers had probed the South American coast, and he was
sure there existed an opening through the land mass that
stretched from the North Pole south to the vast ocean Balboa saw
at Panama in 1513.  He did not believe, as some did, that the
land mass stretched all the way to the South Pole.
Loyal to a dream
     Help for his great adventure would not be forthcoming from
his native land, however.  He had once served as a page in court,
but he and the king, Dom Manuel, had grown to dislike each other.
Magellan once petitioned the king on his knees as a commoner for
increase in rank and pay.  The king refused.  Perhaps to command
one of the royal ships sailing to the Spice Islands?  Again he
refused.  Humiliated, Magellan asked if he might serve another
court; the king brusquely told him to serve where he pleased.
When Magellan bent forward to kiss the king's hand, Dom Manuel
put his hands behind his back.
     Spain was eager to have such a daring and experienced young
adventurer, and Magellan presented a good petition.  When, in
1493, Pope Alexander VI divided the world in half, the eastern
part went to Portugal, the western to Spain.  Since no one knew
exactly the Pope's boundaries in the East, Magellan proposed to
the Spanish monarch that he would be able to mark the boundaries
between Spain and Portugal in the Pacific and perhaps prove that
the Moluccas, the coveted Spice Islands, lay within Spanish
influence.  King Charles approved such a voyage, and Magellan
prepared to sail in September 1519 with five ships and 280 men.
     The ships, not as renowned in history as those of Columbus,
were San Antonio, Santiago, Trinidad, Victoria, and Concepcion.
Besides a huge store of supplies, they carried 10,000 fish hooks,
20,000 small bells, combs, mirrors, knives, and bracelets.
     Even before he sailed, Magellan's troubles began.  The
jealous King of Portugal hired agents to load empty water barrels
on the ship and change invoices to show twice the amount of
supplies on board as were actually there.  And Spanish officers,
suspecting that Magellan might secretly be working for the
Portuguese, made plans to overthrow and kill him at sea.
Luckily, when Magellan stopped at the Canary Islands to resupply,
a fast ship from Spain arrived to warn him of the conspiracy.  At
the first opportunity, he put the men in chains.
     Three months after leaving Spain, they sailed into the bay
where Rio de Janeiro now stands, one of the most beautiful
natural harbors in the world.  There they were greeted by the
Guarani Indians who believed the white men to be gods and
showered everything they owned upon the visitors, even their
women.  Never would the crew enjoy themselves so much in so
perfect a paradise as they did there for two weeks.  When they
finally pulled anchor, the Indians cried and followed them out to
sea in canoes, begging them to stay.
     As they sailed south, they hit Cape Santa Maria, which
curved west.  Magellan and his men were excited with hope that
this might be the passage west to the Orient.
     One of the ships, Trinidad, was ordered to sail as far west
as possible.  In a few days, the ship returned with the dis-
couraging news that the water became shallow and stayed fresh
     It was late summer now (February) and a crucial decision had
to be made:  should they return and rest in the warm bay at Rio
or continue south into frigid and storm-tossed Antarctic waters
and hope to find a passage that would take them to the warm Spice
Islands.  Against great opposition, Magellan convinced them to
sail south.  The voyage now was arduous.  They hugged the coast
where rocky reefs protruded.  The weather became colder and
colder as they fought almost constant storms for 60 days.  The
crew was disgruntled, and many talked openly of mutiny.
     Finally, they pulled into a bay (Port St. Julian).  A group
demanded to sail back.  But Magellan refused, and his own men on
Trinidad and Santiago remained loyal.
     Magellan now faced a rebellion that took control of three
out five ships and 170 out of 265 men.  The odds were over-
whelming.  But Magellan was not one to panic or to surrender.  He
sent two of his men with six others, secretly armed, to take a
message to Captain Luis de Mendoza of Victoria.  The message
ordered Mendoza to report at once for a conference.  If he
refused, the six men were to kill him.  Meanwhile, another
boatload of 15 men were to row up to Victoria's stern and board
immediately if they heard a scuffle.
     When the note was delivered, the rebel captain Mendoza,
exclaimed, "Would I be that stupid?"  He looked up to see half a
dozen daggers slashing at his throat.  The 15 men from the second
boat boarded and subdued the half-drunk and bewildered crew.
     Now Magellan had three ships, and with them he blockaded the
bay.  That night all ships were darkened.  The stalking game was
played in ghostly black silence.
     Suddenly, San Antonio drifted carelessly into Trinidad.
Immediately, grappling hooks were thrown, and torches flared as
Magellan's crew boarded and subdued the mutineers.  The remaining
ship was easily taken.
     The rebel ringleader's servant was offered pardon if he
would agree to act as executioner.  He agreed.  With prayers on
his lips he hacked the head from his master's body and then
quartered him.  The body of Captain Mendoza was also quartered,
and both remains impaled on stakes ashore as a grim reminder to
the rest of the crew.  Two other men, one of them a priest, were
stranded on the coast as punishment and left to survive a la
Robinson Crusoe.
     Santiago was sent to explore further south.  The ship sailed
for 60 miles until it reached a large river.  Since the water was
salty, the explorers thought they had reached the strait, but at
ebbtide the water became fresh, and they knew it was just another
river.  That night the ship was caught in a gale that rammed her
against the sand, breaking her open like a peach basket.  Two men
made it back to the main fleet after 11 days of hardship trekking
through swamps, frozen plains, and subsisting on berries and
roots and melted snow, and the crew of 37 men was rescued.
     They stayed at the site of the wreckage for two months.
Seals were slaughtered, salted, and stored for the great journey
Westward or perish
     By mid-October, with the stores bulging with food and water,
and the men rested, they set sail again.  But not before many
officers and crew leaders again begged Magellan to turn east to
reach the Spice Islands via India where waters were familiar.
Magellan was adamant:  "We must by Providence search for the
passageway until we find it or perish."
     On October 21, they found a beautiful horseshoe-shaped bay
which they named the Cape of the Eleven Thousand Virgins.  In the
distance were mountains, hardly a likely spot for a strait.
Should they waste time exploring this unlikely spot or keep
sailing south?  Magellan insisted to his recalcitrant crew that
no possibility should be overlooked.  He ordered San Antonio and
Concepcion to explore the bay.
     Suddenly, a quick storm drove Trinidad and Victoria to open
sea, but San Antonio and Concepcion, close to the bay, had to
head for the inlet.  Dashed about so close to the shore, they
were last seen bouncing toward some rocks and shoals and then
disappeared.  Magellan had lost two more ships.
     But the storm was threatening his own two ships.  As the
fury of the wind increased, the mast was torn from Victoria.  The
immense waves towered high over the ships, but miraculously each
time the ships rode the crest, although some men were swept
overboard.  For two days, the storm raged.  When it cleared, the
ships limped back into the bay.  Surely their sister ships and
their hundred men must lost.
     The next morning, Magellan slowly up the bay--when suddenly
the lookout gave a shout "Two Sails!"  There, running at great
speed toward them, their lines flying pendants, and the men
waving and shouting were the two lost ships.  It could mean only
one thing:  They had found the strait leading to the vast ocean
     A day or two after this, San Antonio deserted presumably
heading back to Spain--with more than a third of the expedition's
provisions.  Again disaster had struck.  The expedition appeared
to be cursed.
Through the Pacific
     After they reached the Pacific, many wanted to turn back and
not face the vast expanse of water to the west.  But Magellan
insisted and, for 96 days, they sailed with the trade winds on a
greater stretch of water without land than they had ever en-
countered in any part of the world.
     The diarist wrote:  "We ate crumbling biscuits infested with
grubs, and drank water filthy and stinking . . .  We ate ox hides
from under the yardarms, sawdust and rats.  The gums of the men
swelled so much they could not chew.  Nineteen died."
     Although the men were also crippled by scurvy, the ships
finally reached the Philippines.  They had crossed the world's
greatest ocean.  But this was to be the end of the voyage for
     Why did he linger so long in the Philippines?  Here they had
found a paradise.  Food and supplies were plentiful and the
natives friendly, the women eager to exchange favors for trin-
kets.  Then gold was discovered in abundance among the utensils
and jewelry of the natives, and Magellan's royal charter did
state that "should you discover more than six new lands you shall
keep particular rights to any two of them, your sons and heirs in
A grievous mistake
     But more than that, Magellan was caught up in the throes of
religious conversion.  Most of the Philippinos gladly and avidly
accepted Christianity.  When he was told that the chiefs on some
islands had refused to be converted, he became indignant and
vowed to convert them or send them directly to hell.
     Believing in God's protection, he took only 60 men to battle
some 3,000 rebellious natives on Mactan, a mistake he would not
live to regret.  Pigafetta, the chronicler, was one of the men
who accompanied the captain.  He wrote:
     "Magellan sent an ultimatum ashore but it was rejected.
When his small party landed three battalions of 3,000 islanders
attacked.  Muskets and crossbows were of little effect since the
natives had shields of bamboo.  A poisoned arrow struck Magellan
in the leg and he ordered retreat.  Most of the men fled leaving
only 7 or 8 around the captain . . .  Arrows, bamboo javelines
and stones bombarded the party.  They were now in water up to
their knees . . .  The natives threw the same lance four or five
times over as they picked it up on advancing.  The battle now had
raged for an hour.  One islander thrust the end of his lance
through the bars of Magellan's helmet.  Magellan ran the culprit
through with his lance but could not withdraw it.  He attempted
to draw his sword, but his right arm was crippled from a wound.
One savage cut Magellan across the legs with a sword.  As he fell
the Indians pounced upon him and, as the master looked implor-
ingly at his ships, they cut the life from his body."
     Only 115 men were left, not enough to sail three ships, so
Concepcion was scuttled.  All the papers, logs, letters, and
diaries of Magellan were put aboard by jealous captains before
the torch was set to destroy forever the evidence of their
treachery and mutiny.  But, meanwhile, Pigafetta kept on
Return home, just barely
     The men now turned pirates.  They captured ships, murdered
the crews, stole cargoes, raided ports for women (they kept a
harem of Muslin women on board which led to petty jealousies and
     At the Moluccas, they loaded their ships with spices, but
Trinidad developed a leak and was scuttled.  Only Victoria
remained now.  Sebastian del Cano, one of the men who had earlier
mutinied against Magellan, was now elected captain.  He set sail
with only a crew of 47 and a few Indian natives.  They sailed by
Timor for the Cape of Good Hope avoiding the coastline where
Portuguese ships might be lurking.
     Their journey was far from over.  From the mid-Indian Ocean,
their provisions began to spoil.  The tropic sun rotted their
meat and turned their water into yellow scum.  Scurvy again laid
the men low.  Monsoon storms broke the masts.  From the intense
heat of the Indian Ocean, they headed deep into Antarctic waters
to round the Cape.
     When Victoria finally made her way back to Spain, she was
nothing more than a floating wreck.  Her sails were in shreds,
her mast askew, her seams split, and she was kept afloat with the
constant use of pumps.  Only 18 Europeans remained out of the
original crew of 290, which had set sail three years before.
     They anchored near Seville, shot their cannon, and marched
ashore barefoot with lighted candles to the church of Santa Maria
de la Victoria.  The ghost of Magellan probably walked with them,
for without him they would not have made it even to the Canary
    As Pigafetta wrote:  "In the midst of the sea he was able to
endure hunger better than we.  Most versed in nautical charts, he
knew better than any other the true art of navigation, of which
it is certain proof that he by his genius, and his intrepidity,
without anyone having given him the example, how to attempt the
circuit of the globe which he had almost completed . . .  The
glory of Magellan will survive him."
The first circumnavigation of the globe was led by Ferdinand Magellan. He was born in the spring of 1480 to a family of lower nobility. Educated in the Portuguese court, Magellan proved himself in many battles in the name of his country. Like Columbus before him, Magellan believed he could get to the Spice Islands by sailing west. He knew he would have to sail around or through the New World to do so. Like so many explorers before him, he thought the earth was much smaller than it actually is. Snubbed by the Portuguese king, Magellan easily convinced the teenaged Spanish king, Charles I (also known as the Holy Roman emperor Charles V) that at least some of the Spice Islands lay in the Spanish half of the undiscovered world.
King Charles approved Magellan's plan and granted him generous funds on March 22, 1518. With money from the king, the explorer was able to obtain five ships (possibly naos) called the Trinidad, the San Antonio, the Concepcion, the Victoria, and the Santiago. In September [1519], he set sail with 270 men. A good deal of what we know of the voyage of Magellan came from an Italian crew member, Antonio Pigafetta. Pigafetta kept a diary of the voyage and remained a staunch supporter of the Portuguese explorer. Like Columbus, Magellan was a foreigner in charge of Spanish captains, and like Columbus, his voyage was fraught with problems. Spanish captains Juan de Cartegena of the San Antonio, Gaspar de Quesada of the Concepcion, and Luis de Mendoza of the Victoria were plotting to kill Magellan.

After a brief stop at the Canary Islands, Magellan's fleet set sail for Brazil on a southwest course. Cartegena, the ringleader of a mutiny attempt, was relieved of his command of the San Antonio and held prisoner aboard the Victoria. After crossing the equator on November 20, 1519, the crew sighted Brazil on December 6. Magellan thought it unwise to go near the Portuguese territory since he was sailing under the Spanish flag. His fleet eventually anchored off the coast of present-day Rio de Janiero, out of the way of the Portuguese, on December 13th. After stocking up on fresh food and water, the fleet made its way down the east coast of South America looking for a passage to the Pacific Ocean. The farther south they sailed, the colder the weather. The weather was so bad, the fleet decided to spend the winter in Patagonia. The area where they settled on March 31, 1520, was called San Julian.

When Magellan reached Patagonia (present-day Argentina), another mutiny was attempted. Cartegena, released by captain Mendoza, attempted once again to take over the fleet and have Magellan killed. The Portuguese explorer was able to put down the rebellion by marooning Cartegena in the barren Patagonia, imprisoning some, and having Quesada and other rebels executed.

 During the cold summer months, Magellan sent the Santiago on a reconnaissance mission down the coast to look for a passage to the other side of the continent. Unfortunately in May, the Santiago wrecked in rough seas. In the latter half of August, Magellan decided it was time to move the remaining four ships south to look for a passage. Finally in October, the fleet sighted a strait and started through it. Magellan named it the strait of All Saints, but it later was named after him. The strait was a tricky passage that took the fleet 38 days to pass through. While sailing at night, the crew saw countless fires from distant Indian camps. They called the land Tierra del Fuego (land of fire). During the passage, the captain of the San Antonio sailed his ship back toward Spain, taking with him most of the fleet's provisions. The loss of the San Antonio was a severe blow to the men on the remaining ships. They had to double their efforts to hunt game and fish to keep from starving.

During the last week of November the three ships emerged from the strait to the open sea of the Pacific. Magellan mistakenly thought the Spice Islands were a short voyage away. He had no idea of the immense size of the ocean and thought he could cross it in two to three days. The voyage took approximately four months.

Conditions aboard the ships were abominable. The crew began to starve as food stores were depleted. The water turned putrid and yellow in color. The crew survived on sawdust, leather strips from the sails, and rats. Without the benefit of vitamin C in fresh fruits and vegetables, the men also came down with scurvy.

Finally in January, 1521, the crew stopped off at an island to feast on fish, crabs, and seabird eggs, but without fresh fruit and vegetables, scurvy still plagued the crew. In March, the crew stopped in Guam and were able to supply the ships with food including fresh fruit, vegetables, and water. They sailed on to the Philippines, arriving on March 28. After befriending an island king, Magellan foolishly got involved in the natives' tribal warfare and was killed in battle on [April 27, 1521].

 Sebastian del Cano took over the remaining three ships and 115 survivors. Because there were not enough men to crew three ships, del Cano had the Concepcion burned. The two remaining ships sailed from the Philippines on May 1 and made it to the Moluccas (Spice Islands) in November. Both ships loaded with valuable spices.

In an attempt to guarantee that at least one ship would make it back to Spain, the Trinidad went east across the Pacific, while the Victoria continued west. The Trinidad did not make it back. The ship was seized by the Portuguese and most of her crew were killed. The Victoria managed to elude the Portuguese as it crossed enemy trade routes in the Indian Ocean and rounded the Cape of Good Hope. On [September 6, 1522], almost three years from the day it began its historic journey, the Victoria and 18 crew members, (Pigafetta among them) arrived in Spain. It was the first vessel to circumnavigate the globe. Click to view Magellan's voyage

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Modern History Sourcebook:
Ferdinand Magellan's Voyage Round the World, 1519-1522 CE


Ferdinand de Magellan was born about 1470 of noble parents, and probably spent his boyhood as a page of the Queen of Portugal. As a young man he was in the East India service, then in Morocco. After a slight from King Manuel, he enlisted under the Spanish king, and set forth his project for a trip round the world. The expedition set sail August 10, 1519. Magellan was killed in April 1521 at Zebu [in the Phillippines], but they had already reached the eastern edge of the known world, and his men completed the voyage to Spain. The voyage proved that the earth is round (although most educated people knew this already!).

This source of this  account is a transcription from the paper-book of a Genoese pilot," who came in the said ship, who wrote all the voyage as it is here. He went to Portugal in the year 1524 with Dom Amriqui de Menezes."

HE [Magellan] sailed from Seville on the 10th day of August of the said year [1519], and remained at the bar until the 21st day of September, and as soon as he got outside, he steered to the southwest to make the island of Tenerife, and they reached the said island on the day of St. Michael, which was the 29th of September. Thence he made his course to fetch the Cape Verde islands, and they passed between the islands and the Cape without sighting either the one or the other. Having got as far as this neighborhood, he shaped his course so as to make for Brazil, and as soon as they sighted the other coast of Brazil, he steered to the southeast along the coast as far as Cabo-frio, which is in twenty-three degrees south latitude; and from this cape he steered to the west, a matter of thirty leagues, to make the Rio de Janeiro, which is in the same latitude as Cabo-frio, and they entered the said Rio on the day of St. Lucy, which was the 13th December, in which place they took in wood, and they remained there until the first octave of Christmas, which was the 26th of December of the same year.

They sailed from this Rio de Janeiro on the 26th December, and navigated along the coast to make the Cape of St. Mary, which is in thirty-four degrees and two-thirds; as soon as they sighted it, they made their course west-northwest, thinking they would find a passage for their voyage, and they found that they had got into a great river of fresh water, to which they gave the name of river of St. Christopher, and it is in thirty-four degrees, and they remained in it till the 2nd of February, 1520.

He sailed from this river of St. Christopher on the 2nd of the said month of February; they navigated along the said coast, and further on to the south they discovered a point which is in the same river more to the south, to which they gave the name of Point St. Antony; it is in thirty-six degrees, hence they ran to the south-west, a matter of twenty-five leagues, and made another cape which they named Cape St. Apelonia, which is in thirty-six degrees; thence they navigated to the west-south-west to some shoals, which they named Shoals of the Currents, which are in thirty-nine degrees; and thence they navigated out to sea, and lost sight of land for a matter of two or three days, when they again made for the land, and they came to a bay, which they entered, and ran within it the whole day, thinking that there was an outlet for Maluco, and when night came they found that it was quite closed up, and in the same night they again stood out by the way which they had come in. This bay is in forty-four degrees; they named it the island of St. Matthew. They navigated from this island of St. Matthew along the coast until they reached another bay, where they caught many sea-wolves and birds; to this they gave the name of "Bay of Labors;" it is in thirty-seven degrees; here they were near losing the flag-ship in a storm. Thence they navigated along the said coast, and arrived on the last day of March of the year 1520 at the Port of St. Julian, which is in forty-nine and one-third degrees, and here they wintered, and found the day a little more or less than seven hours.

In this port three of the ships rose up against the Captain-major, their captains saying that they intended to take him to Castile in arrest, as he was taking them all to destruction. Here, through the exertions of the said Captain-major, and the assistance and favor of the foreigners whom he carried with him, the Captain-major went to the said three ships which were already mentioned, and there the captain of one of them was killed, who was treasurer of the whole fleet, and named Luis de Mendo‡a; he was killed in his own ship by stabs with a dagger by the chief constable of the fleet, who was sent to do this by Fernando de Magelhaes [i.e., Magellan] in a boat with certain men. The said three ships having thus been recovered, five days later Fernando de Magelhaes ordered Gaspar de Queixada to be decapitated and quartered; he was captain of one of the ships, and was one of those who had mutinied.

In this port they refitted the ship. Here the captain-major made Alvaro re Mesquita, a Portuguese, captain of one of the ships the captain of which had been killed. There sailed from this port on the 24th of August four ships, for the smallest of the ships had been already lost; he had sent it to reconnoiter, and the weather had been heavy, and had cast it ashore, where all the crew had been recovered along with the merchandise, artillery and fittings of the ship. They remained in this port, in which they wintered, five months and twenty-four days, and they were seventy degrees less ten minutes to the southward.

They sailed on the 24th day of the month of August of the said year from this port of St. Julian, and navigated a matter of twenty leagues along the coast, and so they entered a river which was called Santa Cruz, which is in fifty degrees, where they took in goods and as much as they could obtain: the crew of the lost ship were already distributed among the other ships, for they had returned by land to where Fernando de Magalhaes was, and they continued collecting the goods which had remained there during August and up to the 18th September, and there they took in water and much fish which they caught in this river; and in the other, where they wintered, there were people like savages, and the men are from nine to ten spans in height, very well made; they have not got houses, they only go about from one place to another with their flocks, and eat meat nearly raw: they are all of them archers and kill many animals with arrows, and with the skins they make clothes, that is to say, they make the skins very supple, and fashion them after the shape of the body, as well as they can, then they cover themselves with them, and fasten them by a belt round the waist. When they do not wish to be clothed from the waist upwards, they let that half fall which is above the waist, and the garment remains hanging down from the belt which they have girt round them. They wear shoes which cover them four inches above the ankle, full of straw inside to keep their feet warm. They do not possess any iron, nor any other ingenuity of weapons, only they make the points of their arrows of flints, and so also the knives with which they cut, and the adze and awls with which they cut and stitch their shoes and clothes. They are very agile people, and do no harm, and thus they follow their flocks: wherever night finds them there they sleep; they carry their wives along with them with all the chattels which they possess. The women are very small and carry heavy burdens on their backs; they wear shoes and clothes just like the men. Of these men they obtained three or four and brought them in the ships, and they all died except one, who went to Castile in a ship which went thither.

They sailed from this river of Santa Cruz on the 18th of October: they continued navigating along the coast until the 21st day of the same month, October, when they discovered a cape, to which they gave the name of Cape of the Virgins, because they sighted it on the day of the eleven thousand virgins; it is in fifty-two degrees, a little more or less, and from this cape a matter of two or three leagues distance, we found ourselves at the mouth of a strait. We sailed along the said coast within that strait which they had reached the mouth of: they entered in it a little and anchored. Fernando de Magelhaes sent to discover what there was further in, and they found three channels, that is to say, two more in a southerly direction, and one traversing the country in the direction of Maluco [i.e., the Straits of Magellan], but at that time this was not yet known, only the three mouths were seen. The boats went thither, and brought back word, and they set sail and anchored at these mouths of the channels, and Fernando de Magelhaes sent two ships to learn what there was within, and these ships went: one returned to the Captain-major, and the other, of which Alvaro de Mesquita was captain, entered into one of the bays which was to the south, and did not return any more. Fernan de Magelhaes seeing that it did not come back, set sail, and the next day he did not choose to make for the bays, and went to the south, and took another which runs north-west and southeast, and a quarter west and east. He left letters in the place from which he sailed, so that if the other ship returned, it might make the course which he left prescribed.

After this they entered into the channel, which at some places has a width of three leagues, and two, and one, and in some places half a league, and he went through it as long as it was daylight, and anchored when it was night: and he sent the boats, and the ships went after the boats, and they brought news that there was an outlet, for they already saw the great sea on the other side; on which account Fernando de Magalhaes ordered much artillery to be fired for rejoicing; and before they went forth from this strait they found two islands, the first one larger, and the other nearer towards the outlet is the smaller one: and they went out between these islands and the coast on the southern side, as it was deeper than on the other side. This strait is a hundred leagues in length to the outlet; that outlet and the entrance are in fifty-two degrees latitude. They made a stay in this strait from the 21st October to the 26th of November, which makes thirty-six days of the said year of 1520, and as soon as they went out from the strait to sea, they made their course, for the most part, to west-north-west, when they found that their needles varied to the north-west almost two-fourths, and after they had navigated thus for many days, they found an island in a little more or less than eighteen degrees, or nineteen degrees: and also there was another, which was in from thirteen to fourteen degrees, and this in south altitude; they are uninhabited. They ran on until they reached the line, when Fernan de Magalhaes said that now they were in the neighborhood of Maluco, as he had information that there were no provisions at Maluco, he said that he would go in a northerly direction as far as ten or twelve degrees, and they reached to as far as thirteen degrees north, and in this latitude they navigated to the west, and a quarter south-west, a matter of a hundred leagues, where on the 6th of March, 1521, they fetched two islands inhabited by many people, and they anchored at one of them, which is in twelve degrees north; and the inhabitants are people of little truth, and they did not take precautions against them until they saw that they were taking away the skiff of the flagship, and they cut the rope with which it was made fast, and took it ashore without their being able to prevent it. They gave this island the name of Thieves' Island (dos ladroes).

Fernando de Magalhaes seeing that the skiff was lost, set sail, as it was already night, tacking about until the next day; as soon as it was morning they anchored at the place where they had seen the skiff carried off to, and he ordered two boats to be got ready with a matter of fifty or sixty men, and he went ashore in person, and burned the whole village, and they killed seven or eight persons, between men and women, and recovered the skiff, and returned to the ships; and while they were there they saw forty or fifty paraos come, which came from the same land, and brought much refreshments.

Fernan de Magalhaes would not make any further stay, and at once set sail, and ordered the course to be steered west, and a quarter south-west; and so they made land [i.e., in the Phillippines], which is in barely eleven degrees. This land is an island, but he would not touch at this one, and they went to touch at another further on which appeared first. Fernando de Magelhaes sent a boat ashore to observe the nature of the island; when the boat reached land, they saw from the ships two paraos come out from behind the point; then they called back their boat. The people of the paraos seeing that the boat was returning to the ships, turned back the paraos, and the boat reached the ships, which at once set sail for another island very near to this island, which is in ten degrees, and they gave it the name of the island of Good Signs, because they found some gold in it. Whilst they were thus anchored at this island, there came to them two paraos, and brought them fowls and cocoa nuts, and told them that they had already seen there other men like them, from which they presumed that these might be Lequios or Magores; a nation of people who have this name, or Chiis; and thence they set sail, and navigated further on amongst many islands, to which they gave the name of the Valley Without Peril, and also St. Lazarus, and they ran on to another island twenty leagues from that from which they sailed, which is in ten degrees, and came to anchor at another island, which is named Macangor, which is in nine degrees; and in this island they were very well received, and they placed a cross in it.

This king conducted them thence a matter of thirty leagues to another island named Cabo, which is in ten degrees, and in this island Fernando de Magalhaes did what he pleased with the consent of the country, and in one day eight hundred people became Christian, on which account Fernan de Magalhaes desired that the other kings, neighbors to this one, should become subject to this who had become Christian: and these did not choose to yield such obedience. Fernan de Magalhaes seeing that, got ready one night with his boats, and burned the villages of those who would not yield the said obedience; and a matter of ten or twelve days after this was done he sent to a village about half a league from that which he had burned, which is named Matam, and which is also an island, and ordered them to send him at once three goats, three pigs, three loads of rice, and three loads of millet for provisions for the ships; they replied that of each article which he sent to ask them three of, they would send to him by twos, and if he was satisfied with this they would at once comply, if not, it might be as he pleased, but that they would not give it. Because they did not choose to grant what he demanded of them, Fernan de Magalhaes ordered three boats to be equipped with a matter of fifty or sixty men, and went against the said place, which was on the 28th day of April, in the morning; there they found many people, who might well be as many as three thousand or four thousand men, who fought with such a good will that the said Fernan de Magalhaes was killed there, with six of his men, in the year 1521.

When Fernan de Magelhaes was dead the Christians got back to the ships, where they thought fit to make two captains and governors whom they should obey; and having done this, they took counsel and decided that the two captains should go ashore where the people had turned Christians to ask for pilots to take them to Borneo, and this was on the first day of May of the said year; when the two captains went, being agreed upon what had been said, the same people of the country who had become Christians, armed themselves against them, and whilst they reached the shore let them land in security as they had done before. Then they attacked them, and killed the two captains and twenty-six gentlemen, and the other people who remained got back to the boats, and returned to the ships, and finding themselves again without captains they agreed, inasmuch as the principal persons were killed, that one John Lopez, who was the chief treasurer, should be captain-major of the fleet, and the chief constable of the fleet should be captain of one of the ships; he was named Gonzalo Vaz Despinosa. Having done this they set sail, and ran about twenty-five leagues with three ships, which they still possessed; they then mustered, and found that they were altogether one hundred and eight men in all these three ships, and many of them were wounded and sick, on which account they did not venture to navigate the three ships, and thought it would be well to burn one of them---the one that should be most suitable for that purpose---and to take into the two ships those that remained: this they did out at sea, out of sight of any land. While they did this many paraos came to speak to them; and navigating amongst the islands, for in that neighborhood there are a great many, they did not understand one another, for they had no interpreter, for he had been killed with Fernan de Magalhaes. Sailing further on amongst islets they came to anchor at an island which is named Carpyam, where there is gold enough, and this island is in fully eight degrees.

Whilst at anchor in this port of Carpyam, they had speech with the inhabitants of the island, and made peace with them, and Carvalho, who was captain-major, gave them the boat of the ship which had been burnt: this island has three islets in the offing; here they took in some refreshments, and sailed further on to south-west, and fell in with another island, which is named Caram, and is in eleven degrees; from this they went on further to west south-west, and fell in with a large island, and ran along the coast of this island to the north-east, and reached as far as nine degrees and a half, where they went ashore one day, with the boats equipped to seek for provisions, for in the ships there was now not more than for eight days. On reaching shore the inhabitants would not suffer them to land, and shot at them with arrows of cane hardened in the fire, so that they returned to the ships.

Seeing this, they agreed to go to another island, where they had had some dealings, to see if they could get some provisions. Then they met with a contrary wind, and going about a league in the direction in which they wished to go, they anchored, and whilst at anchor they saw that people on shore were hailing them to go thither; they went there with the boats, and as they were speaking to those people by signs, for they did not understand each other otherwise, a man at arms, named Joam de Campos, told them to let him go on shore, since there were no provisions in the ships, and it might be that they would obtain some means of getting provisions; and that if the people killed him, they would not lose much with him, for God would take thought of his soul; and also if he found provisions, and if they did not kill him, he would find means for bringing them to the ships: and they thought well of this. So he went on shore, and as soon as he reached it, the inhabitants received him, and took him into the interior the distance of a league, and when he was in the village all the people came to see him, and they gave him food, and entertained him well, especially when they saw that he ate pig's flesh; because in this island they had dealings with the Moors of Borneo, and because the country and people were greedy, they made them neither eat pigs nor bring them up in the country. This country is called Dygua‡am, and is in nine degrees.

The said Christian seeing that he was favored and well treated by the inhabitants, gave them to understand by his signs that they should carry provisions to the ships, which would be well paid for. In the country there was nothing except rice not pounded. Then the people set to pounding rice all the night, and when it was morning they took the rice and the said Christian, and came to the ships, where they did them great honor, and took in the rice and paid them, and they returned on shore. This man being already set on shore, inhabitants of another village, a little further on, came to the ships and told them to go to their village, and that they would give them much provisions for their money; and as soon as the said man whom they had sent arrived, they set sail and went to anchor at the village of those who had come to call them, which was named Vay Palay Cucara Canbam, where Carvalho made peace with the king of the country, and they settled the price of the rice, and they gave them two measures of rice which weighed one hundred and fourteen pounds for three fathoms of linen stuff of Brittany; they took there as much rice as they wanted, and goats and pigs, and whilst they were at this place there came a Moor, who had been in the village of Dygua‡am, which belongs to the Moors of Borneo, as has been said above, and after that he went to his country.

While they were at anchor near this village of Dygua‡am, there came to them a parao in which there was a negro named Bastiam, who asked for a flag and a passport for the governor of Dygua‡am, and they gave him all this and other things as a present. They asked the said Bastiam, who spoke Portuguese sufficiently well, since he had been in Maluco, where he became a Christian, if he would go with them and show them Borneo; he said he would very willingly, and when the departure arrived he hid himself, and seeing that he did not come, they set sail from this port of Dygua‡am on the 21st day of July to seek for Borneo. As they set sail there came to them a parao, which was coming to the port of Dygua‡am, and they took it, and in it they took three Moors, who said they were pilots, and that they would take them to Borneo.

Having got these Moors, they steered along this island to the south-west, and fell in with two islands at its extremity, and passed between them; that on the north side is named Bolyna, and that on the south Bamdym. Sailing to the west south-west a matter of fourteen leagues, they fell in with a white bottom, which was a shoal below the water, and the black men they carried with them told them to draw near to the coast of the island, as it was deeper there, and that was more in the direction of Borneo, for from that neighborhood the island of Borneo could already be sighted. This same day they reached and anchored at some islands, to which they gave the name of islets of St. Paul, which was a matter of two and a half or three leagues from the great island of Borneo, and they were in about seven degrees at the south side of these islands. In the island of Borneo there is an exceedingly great mountain, to which they gave the name of Mount St. Paul; and from thence they navigated along the coast of Borneo itself; and they went forward on the same course and reached the neighborhood of Borneo, and the Moors whom they had with them told them that there was Borneo, and the wind did not suffer them to arrive thither, as it was contrary. They anchored at an island which is there, and which may be eight leagues from Borneo.

Close to this island is another which has many myrobolans, and the next day they set sail for the other island, which is nearer to the port of Borneo; and going along thus they saw so many shoals that they anchored, and sent the boats ashore in Borneo, and they took the aforesaid Moorish pilots on shore, and there went a Christian with them; and the boats went to set them on land, from whence they had to go to the city of Borneo, which was three leagues off, and there they were taken before the Shahbendr of Borneo, and he asked what people they were, and for what they came in the ships; and they were presented to the King of Borneo with the Christian. As soon as the boats had set the said men on shore, they sounded in order to see if the ships could come in closer: and during this they saw three junks which were coming from the port of Borneo from the said city out to sea, and as soon as they saw the ships they returned inshore: continuing to sound, they found the channel by which the port is entered; they then set sail, and entered this channel, and being within the channel they anchored, and would not go further in until they received a message from the shore, which arrived next day with two paraos: these carried certain swivel guns of metal, and a hundred men in each parao, and they brought goats and fowls, and two cows, and figs, and other fruit, and told them to enter further in opposite the islands which were near there, which was the true berth; and from this position to the city there might be three or four leagues. Whilst thus at anchor they established peace, and settled that they should trade in what there was in the country, especially wax, to which they answered that they would willingly sell all that there was in the country for their money. This port of Borneo is in eight degrees.

For the answer thus received from the King they sent him a present by Gonzalo Mendes Despinosa, captain of the ship Victoria, and the King accepted the present, and gave to all of them China stuffs: and when there had passed twenty or twenty-three days that they were there trading with the people of the island, and had got five men on shore in the city itself, there came to anchor at the bar, close to them, five junks, at the hour of vespers, and they remained there that evening and the night until next day in the morning, when they saw coming from the city two hundred paraos, some under sail, others rowing. Seeing in this manner the five junks and the paraos, it seemed to them that there might be treachery, and they set sail for the junks, and as soon as the crews of the junks saw them under sail, they also set sail and made off where the wind best served them; and they overhauled one of the junks with the boats, and took it with twenty-seven men; and the ships went and anchored abreast of the island of the Myrolobans, with the junk made fast to the poop of the flagship, and the paraos returned to shore, and when night came there came on a squall from the west in which the said junk went to the bottom alongside the flagship, without being able to receive any assistance from it.

Next day in the morning they saw a sail, and went to it and took it; this was a great junk in which the son of the King of Lucam came as captain, and had with him ninety men, and as soon as they took them they sent some of them to the King of Borneo; and they sent him word by these men to send the Christians whom they had got there, who were seven men, and they would give him all the people whom they had taken in the junk; on which account the King sent two men of the seven whom he had got there in a parao, and they again sent him word to send the five men who still remained, and they would send all the people whom they had got from the junk. They waited two days for the answer, and there came no message; then they took thirty men from the junk, and put them into a parao belonging to the junk, and sent them to the King of Borneo, and set sail with fourteen men of those they had taken and three women; and they steered along the coast of the said island to the north-east, returning backwards; and they again passed between the islands and the great island of Borneo, where the flagship grounded on a point of the island, and so remained more than four hours, and the tide turned and it got off, by which it was seen clearly that the tide was of twenty-four hours.

Whilst making the aforesaid course the wind shifted to northeast, and they stood out to sea, and they saw a sail coming, and the ships anchored, and the boats went to it and took it; it was a small junk and carried nothing but cocoa-nuts; and they took in water and wood, and set sail along the coast of the island to the north-east, until they reached the extremity of the said island, and met with another small island, where they overhauled the ships. They arrived at this island on the day of our Lady of August, and in it they found a very good point for beaching the ships, and they gave it the name of Port St. Mary of August, and it is in fully seven degrees.

As soon as they had taken these precautions they set sail and steered to the south-west until they sighted the island which is named Fagajam, and this is a course of thirty-eight to forty leagues: and as soon as they sighted this island they steered to the south-west, and again made an island which is called Seloque, and they had information that there were many pearls there: and when they had already sighted that island the wind shifted to a head-wind, and they could not fetch it by the course they were sailing, and it seemed to them that it might be in six degrees. This same night they arrived at the island of Quipe, and ran along it to the south-east, and passed between it and another island called Tamgym, and always running along the coast of the island, going thus, they fell in with a parao laden with bread in loaves, which is bread made of a tree which is named cajare, which the people of that country eat as bread. This parao carried twenty-one men, and the chief of them had been in Maluco in the house of Francisco Serram, and having gone further along this island they arrived in sight of some islands which are named Semrryn; they are in five degrees, a little more or less. The inhabitants of this land came to see the ships, and so they had speech of one another, and an old man of these people told them that he would conduct them to Maluco.

In this manner, having fixed a time with the old man, an agreement was made with him, and they gave him a certain price for this; and when the next day came, and they were to depart, the old man intended to escape, and they understood it, and took him and others who were with him, and who also said that they knew pilot's work, and they set sail; and as soon as the inhabitants saw them go they fitted out to go after them: and of these paraos there did not reach the ships more than two, and these reached so near that they shot arrows into the ships, and the wind was fresh and they could not come up with them. At midnight of that day they sighted some islands, and they steered more towards them; and next day they saw land, which was an island; and at night following that day they found themselves very close to it, and when night fell the wind calmed and the currents drew them very much inshore; there the old pilot cast himself into the sea, and betook himself to land.

Sailing thus forward, after one of the pilots had fled, they sighted another island and arrived close to it, and another Moorish pilot said that Maluco was still further on, and navigating thus, the next day in the morning they sighted three high mountains, which belonged to a nation of people whom they called the Salabos; and then they saw a small island where they anchored to take in some water, and because they feared that in Maluco they would not be allowed to take it in; and they omitted doing so, because the Moorish pilot told them that there were some four hundred men in that island, and that they were all very bad, and might do them some injury, as they were men of little faith; and that he would give them no such advice as to go to that island; and also because Maluco, which they were seeking, was now near, and that its kings were good men, who gave a good reception to all sorts of men in their country; and while still in this neighborhood they saw the islands themselves of Maluco, and for rejoicing they fired all the artillery, and they arrived at the island on the 8th of November of 1521, so that they spent from Seville to Maluco two years, two months and twenty-eight days, for they sailed on the 10th of August of 1519.

As soon as they arrived at the island of Tydor, which is in half a degree, the King thereof did them great honor, which could not be exceeded: there they treated with the King for their cargo, and the King engaged to give them a cargo and whatever there was in the country for their money, and they settled to give for the bahar of cloves fourteen ells of yellow cloth of twenty-seven tem, which are worth in Castile a ducat the ell; of red cloth of the same kind ten ells; they also gave thirty ells of Brittany linen cloth, and for each of these quantities they received a bahar of cloves, likewise for thirty knives eight bahars: having thus settled all the above mentioned prices, the inhabitants of the country gave them information that further on, in another island near, there was a Portuguese man. This island might be two leagues distant, and it was named Targatell; this man was the chief person of Maluco; there we now have got a fortress. They then wrote letters to the said Portuguese, to come and speak with them, to which he answered that he did not dare, because the King of the country forbade it; that if they obtained permission from the King he would come at once; this permission they soon got, and the Portuguese came to speak with him. They gave him an account of the prices which they had settled, at which he was amazed, and said that on that account the King had ordered him not to come, as they did not know the truth about the prices of the country; and whilst they were thus taking in cargo there arrived the King of Baraham, which is near there, and said that he wished to be a vassal of the King of Castile, and also that he had got four hundred bahars of cloves, and that he had sold it to the King of Portugal, and that they had bought it, but that he had not yet delivered it, and if they wished for it, he would give it all to them; to which the captains answered that if he brought it to them, and came with it, they would buy it, but otherwise not. The King, seeing that they did not wish to take the cloves, asked them for a flag and a letter of safe conduct, which they gave him, signed by the captains of the ships.

While they were thus waiting for the cargo, it seemed to them, from the delay in the delivery, that the King was preparing some treachery against them, and the greater part of the ships' crews made an uproar and told the captains to go, as the delays which the King made were nothing else than treachery: as it seemed to them all that it might be so, they were abandoning everything, and were intending to depart; and being about to unfurl the sails, the King, who had made the agreement with them, came to the flagship and asked the captain why he wanted to go, because that which he had agreed upon with him he intended to fulfill it as had been settled. The captain replied that the ships' crews said they should go and not remain any longer, as it was only treachery that was being prepared against them. To this the King answered that it was not so, and on that account he at once sent for his Koran, upon which he wished to make oath that nothing such should be done to them. They at once brought him this Koran, and upon it he made oath, and told them to rest at ease with that. At this the crews were set at rest, and promised them that he would give them their cargo by the 1st December 1521, which he fulfilled within the said time without being wanting in anything.

When the two ships were already laden and about to unfurl their sails, the flagship sprung a large leak, and the King of the country learning this, he sent them twenty-five divers to stop the leak, which they were unable to do. They settled that the other ship should depart, and that this one should again discharge all its cargo, and unload it; and as they could not stop the leak, that they [the people of the country] should give them all that they might be in need of. This was done, and they discharged the cargo of the flagship; and when the said ship was repaired, they took in her cargo, and decided on making for the country of the Antilles, and the course from Maluco to it was 2,000 leagues a little more or less. The other ship, which set sail first, left on the 21st of December of the said year, and went out to sea for Timor, and made its course behind Java, 2,055 leagues to the Cape of Good Hope.

They refitted the ship, and took in the cargo in four months and sixteen days: they sailed on the 6th of April of the year 1522, and took their course for the mainland of the Antilles by the strait through which they had come; and at first they navigated to the North, until they came out from the islands of Ternate and Timor; afterwards they navigated along the island of Betachina, ten or eleven leagues to the North-east: after that they steered about twenty leagues to the North-east, and so arrived at an island, which is named Doyz, and is in three and a half degrees South latitude at its south-eastern side: from this place they navigated three or four leagues eastwards, and sighted two islands, one large and the other small; the large one was named Porquenampello, and passed between it and Batechina, which lay on their starboard side. They reached a cape, to which they gave the name Cape of Palms, because they sighted it on the vigil of Palms. This cape is in two and a half degrees: thence they steered to the South to make Quimar, which is land belonging to the King of Tydor, and the said King had ordered that they should receive whatever there was in the country for their money, and there they took pigs and goats, and fowls and coconuts and hava: they remained in this port eight or nine days. This port of Camarfya is in one and a quarter degree.

They sailed from this port on the 20th of April and steered for about seventeen leagues, and came out of the channel of the island of Batechina and the island Charam; and as soon as they were outside, they saw that the said island of Charam ran to the South-east a good eighteen or twenty leagues, and it was not their course, for their direction was to the East and a quarter North-east; and they navigated in the said course some days, and always found the winds very contrary for their course. On the 3rd of May they made two small islands, which might be in five degrees more or less, to which they gave the name of islands of St. Antony. Thence they navigated further on to the North-east, and arrived at an island which is named Cyco, which is in fully nineteen degrees, and they made this island on the 11th of July. From this island they took a man, whom they carried away with them, and they navigated further on, tacking about with contrary winds, until they reached forty-two degrees North latitude.

When they were in this neighborhood, they were short of bread, wine, meat, and oil; they had nothing to eat only water and rice, without other provisions; and the cold was great, and they had not sufficient covering, the crews began to die, and seeing themselves in this state, they decided on putting back in the direction of Maluco, which they at once carried into effect. When at a distance of five hundred leagues from it, they desired to make the island which is named Quamgragam, and as they sighted it at night, they did not choose to make it; they waited thus till it dawned next day, and they were unable to fetch the said island; and the man whom they carried with them, and whom before they had taken from that island, told them to go further on, and they would make three islands, where there was a good port, and this which the black man said, was in order to run away at them, as indeed he did run away. On arriving at these three islands, they fetched them with some danger, and anchored in the middle of them in fifteen fathoms. Of these islands, the largest was inhabited by twenty persons between men and women: this island is named Pamo; it is in twenty degrees more or less: here they took in rain-water, as there was no other in the country. In this island the black man ran away. Thence they sailed to make the land of Camafo, and as soon as they sighted it they had calms, and the currents carried them away from the land; and afterwards they had a little wind, and they made for the land, but could not fetch it; they then went to anchor between the islands of Domi and Batechina, and while at anchor, a parao passed by them with some men who belonged to the King of an island named Geilolo, and they gave them news that the Portuguese were in Maluco making a fortress. Learning this, they at once sent the clerk of the ship with certain men to the captain-major of those Portuguese, who was named Antonio de Bryto, to ask him to come and bring the ship to the place where they were; because the crew of the ship had mostly died, and the rest were sick, and could not navigate the ship. As soon as Antonio de Bryto saw the letter and message, he sent down Dom Gonzalo Amriquiz, captain of the fortress, and whilst they were discharging its cargo, there came a squall from the north, which cast it on shore. Where this ship turned to put back to Maluco was a little more or less than 1050 or 1100 leagues from the island.

This was transcribed from the paper-book of a Genoese pilot, who came in the said ship, who wrote all the voyage as it is here. He went to Portugal in the year 1524 with Dom Amriqui de Menezes. Thanks be to God.