Portuguese at the service of the Spaniards
Fernand de Magellan was born in 1480 into a family of minor Portuguese nobles. In 1505, the young man embarked as an officer for India. He took part in several expeditions and, in 1510, was made captain. The young officer takes part in military campaigns, he is even seriously wounded in the knee. Despite his bravery in battle, accused of embezzlement, he did not receive from King Manuel I of Portugal the privileges he thought he deserved. His plan to discover a new route to India was rejected by the king. Then he chose to serve the sworn enemy: Spain.
In the 16th century, cloves, nutmeg and pepper were highly valued spices. They are even used as currency, hence the expression “cash (spices)”. The largest production center is located in the Indonesian archipelago of the Moluccas, nicknamed the Spice Islands. To get to El Dorado, Fernand de Magellan is convinced that he can find a way to the West, bypassing the American continent. He managed to persuade the young King Charles I of Spain, the future Charles V, to finance his expedition. On August 10, 1519, he left Seville at the head of a fleet of five ships – the convoys Trinidad, San Antonio, Victoria, Concepción and Santiago – with 237 men on board. The navigator begins with the assumption that the Earth is spherical, a geographical fact that is still far from being a scientific fact!
Magellan sails to Brazil. He hopes to find a passage through the Rio de la Plata. The expedition reaches the southern tip of present-day Patagonia, and is forced to winter in the bitter cold. The crew, exhausted and hungry, is demoralised. Other Spanish leaders began to question the Portuguese’s credibility. Three of them are trying to rebel. Magellan manages to thwart the plot and the ringleaders are put in irons, executed, or abandoned in Patagonia. Magellan continues to search for a vertebra. On October 21, 1520, near the 52nd parallel, Magellan sent San Antonio and Concepción to reconnaissance. Ships find a hatch. In fact, it was the desired passage leading from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean! It is called the Strait of Magellan.
In March 1521, Magellan landed in the Philippines. The boatman and his men encounter the hostility of the local tribes. On April 27, 1521, Magellan was killed in battle. He was replaced at the helm by Juan Sebastian Elcano. On September 6, 1522, a single ship in poor condition entered the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Andalusia. There were 18 exhausted men on board. All that remains of the five convoys and sailors who left Spain three years ago… But the Victoria is the first ship to circumnavigate the world.
Magellan’s amazing voyage : Saturday, November 19 at 8:55 PM ART.