Ferdinand Magellan 1480 – 1521 Aim of Voyage

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Ferdinand Magellan 1480 – 1521
Aim of Voyage:

  • To prove that the Spice Islands were in the Spanish half of the world. 1494 the Pope had divided the world between Spain and Portugal.

  • He wanted to find a way around South America to the Spice Islands.

Magellan’s Early Life

  • Magellan was born in Portugal in 1480.

  • At an early age he fell in love with sailing.

  • While sailing for Portugal he had been captain of the first ship to reach the Spice Islands.

  • He fell out with the Portuguese government and looked to Spain for support.

  • He believed that it was possible to sail around the bottom of South America and reach the Spice Islands.

  • King Charles V of Spain agreed to sponsor his voyage. Magellan would get 5% of the profits of the voyage. Spain would get the rest.

The Voyage begins

  • He was given 5 old ships – the Santiago, the Victoria, the Concepcion, the Trinidad and the San Antonio. To remember ships: (Sailing Very Close To South America)

  • He had a crew of 270 men who were mostly Spanish and didn’t like having a Portuguese captain.

  • Aug 1519 he sets sail from Seville in Spain.

  • He stopped in the Canaries for fresh water and food.

  • They sailed down along the coast of South America looking for a passage to the Pacific. They sailed up every inlet hoping it would be a passage through South America. They tasted the water as they went to see if it was fresh or salty.


  • They wintered at Port St Julian.

  • The 3 Spanish captains mutinied (revolted) against Magellan. Magellan crushed the mutiny ruthlessly. 2 captains were killed and a 3rd was left stranded on the mainland.

  • One of the ships the Santiago was shipwrecked looking for a route to the Pacific.

  • Finally they found an opening. Today it is called after him. The Straits of Magellan. After he had made it through the narrow channel he discovered that the San Antonio had deserted with most of the supplies and headed to Spain

The Straits of Magellan

Crossing the Pacific (the Peaceful Ocean)

  • Magellan entered the Pacific Ocean and headed North West towards the Spice islands.

  • Magellan expected to reach land in a few weeks.

  • The fleet saw no land for 96 days.

  • The sailors suffered greatly. Many men died of starvation and disease, particularly scurvy. They ate whatever they could including rats and sawdust.

  • More than 100 men died.

  • They had given up hope when they reached the island of Guam near the Philipines.


The Death of Magellan

  • After reaching the Philippines, Magellan was killed trying to convert a native tribe to Christianity.

  • The remaining crew headed for the Spice Islands, with two ships the Trinidad and the Victoria remaining.

  • Sebastian del Cano took over as and headed for Spain with a ship full of spices.

  • The journey home was difficult as they were sailing through Portuguese waters.

  • On 6 September, 1522, the Victoria arrived back in Seville. Of the 5 ships and 270 men that left 4 years earlier, only one ship and 18 men survived.

The importance of Magellan’s voyage

  • Magellan and his crew were the first sailors to circumnavigate (sail around) the world.

  • They proved beyond doubt that the world was round.

  • They proved that it was possible to reach Asia by sailing West. But Spice Islands were in Portuguese half of world.

  • As word of Spanish and Portuguese success spread other countries wanted to become involved in exploration. The English, the Dutch and the French all began to explore and conquer new lands.

Mr D Vaughan - St Flannan’s College Ennis

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