Ten Facts About...

Ten Facts About Ferdinand Magellan

Hundreds of years ago it could take months, even years, to get around the world. And many people didn't even make it. One man who nearly managed it was the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, who also first observed a previously unknown species of penguin, spotted some galaxies and named the world's largest ocean. Here are ten facts about Mr. Magellan.

Fact One

Ferdinand Magellan was born in Portugal somewhere around 1480 in either Gaia, near Porto or Sabrosa, near Vila Real. He died in 1521

Fact Two

Magellan was wounded while serving in Morocco in 1513. This incident left him with a permanent limp.

Fact Three

Magellan fell out with the King of Portugal in 1517. Magellan wanted to reach the Spice Islands of Indonesia by taking a route that took him south of what is now South America. The only other route at the time was around the south of Africa. However, King Manuel I didn't agree with Magellan and refused his demands. So, Magellan turned to Spain who were keen on the idea. Asia was an important destination to the Spaniards and Portuguese who wanted to grab a slice of valuable spice, hence the naming of the Indonesian Moluccas islands as the Spice Islands.

Fact Four

Magellan and his crew set sail on 20th September 1519. Although he was trying to get to the Spice Islands on behalf of Spain, his crew of 270 spread across 5 ships included men from other countries such as Portugal, Italy, England, Germany, Greece and France. A large number of his crew members were ex-prisoners as it was difficult to find enough people who were prepared to be led by a Portuguese captain.

Fact Five

Magellan and his men were granted permission to become governors of any lands that they found on their trip around the world.

Fact Six

The route that Magellan took through South America to get from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean is now known as The Strait of Magellan in honour of Ferdinand Magellan who became the first person to successfully navigate the challenging route. It was originally known as the Strait of All Saints as Magellan's ships first entered it on 1st November 1520 - All Saints' Day.

Fact Seven

As well The Strait of Magellan being named after him, Magellan also lends his name to Magellanic Penguins, South American penguins which were first observed by Magellan and his merry men, the Magellan spacecraft which was the first spacecraft to observe the surface of the planet Venus in the early 1990s by using radar technology. The Magellanic Clouds, two dwarf galaxies visible from the Southern Hemisphere and first observed during Magellan's voyage, are also named after Magellan.

Fact Eight

The Pacific Ocean was named by Magellan. He named it Mar Pacifico which is Portuguese for Peaceful Sea as conditions on it were calm when he reached it.

Fact Nine

Magellan discovered Guam in 1521. He originally named it The Island of Sails because he spotted a lot of sailboats there. After having a number of his smaller boats stolen, he decided to change its name to the Island of Thieves. Maybe the people of Guam had an obsession with collecting little boats. Magellan also arrived in the Philippines in 1521 and is sometimes credited with being the first European to discover it, even though he didn't. Somebody else did, but nobody really knows who.

Fact Ten

Magellan is also often credited with being the first man to travel all the way around the world. In fact, Magellan died in battle in the Philippines on 27th April 1521. His ship, the Trinidad, attempted to return to Spain via the Pacific Ocean but was captured by the Portuguese and wrecked in a storm. The only remaining ship of the original fleet of five was the Victoria. It continued to Spain in a westerly direction, finally getting home on 6th September 1522. Magellan didn't intend to circumnavigate the globe, but the Victoria achieved this, being the first ship to do so. The achievement wasn't without sacrifice as the vast majority of the crew, including the voyage's captain, lost their lives on the way.



Facts added 20th September 2011