Ferdinand Magellan

Navigator Extrordinare

Early Life

Ferdinand Magellan was believed to be born in either the city of Porto or Sabrosa in northern Portugal around 1480. He was born into the family of Rodrigo Magellan. After the death of his parents at age 10, he became a page to Queen Leanor of Portugal, because of his royal family relations. Magellan studied at Queen Leonora's School of Pages in Lisbon and spent his days poring over texts on cartography, astronomy, and celestial navigation—subjects that would serve him well in his later travels.

Middle Life

In his mid-20s, Magellan joined a Portuguese fleet that was sailing to East Africa. He soon found himself at The Battle of Diu, in which the Portuguese destroyed Egyptian ships in the Arabian Sea. He also explored Malacca, located in present-day Malaysia, and participated in the conquest of Malacca's port. It is possible that he sailed as far as the Moluccas, islands in Indonesia, then called the Spice Islands. While serving in Morocco, Magellan became wounded and walked the remainder of his life with a limp. After his injury, he was falsely accused of trading illegally with the Moors, and despite all of his service to Portugal, and even after his many pleas to the king, he was not allowed any further employment. In 1517, Magellan moved to Seville, Spain, to offer his skills to the Spanish court. Christopher Columbus's "discovery" of North America and Balboa's march across the Panamanian isthmus to the Pacific Ocean were just two of the many events that inspired Magellan's bold quest for an all-water passage to further-flung, spice-rich lands. September 20, 1519, King Charles V of Spain gave Magellan his blessings and supported his trip. He set out with a fleet of five ships and around 250 men.

The Journey

The fleet sailed first to Brazil and then down the coast of South America to Patagonia. There, an attempted mutiny took place, and one of the ships was wrecked. Magellan excuted the leader of the revolt and ended the problem. Despite the setback, the crew continued on with the four remaining vessels. By October of 1520, Magellan and his men entered what is now called the Strait of Magellan. It took them over a month to pass through the strait, during which time the master of one of the ships deserted and sailed back home. Other troubles the men faced were violent storms and doldrums (periods of low and calm winds). In March of 1521, the fleet anchored in Guam. Magellan became involved in a local war in the Philippines with the natives and was killed in The Battle Of Mactan there on April 27, 1521. Juan Sebastián Cano actually completed the circumnavigation of the globe. The following year, on September 6, 1522, despite having almost lost their lives in their efforts, the remainder of Magellan's fleet returned to Spain. One ship remained of the original 5 and only 18 men survived.


Ferdinand Magellan's trip around the world proved that world was round, and dimolished any thoughts that the world was flat. It also showed that the world was a lot bigger than people thought. It was the first expedition around the world, and to cross the Pacfic Ocean. Magellan had many things named after him such as the Magellanic Penguin (he was the first European to record seeing this South American bird), Magellanic clouds (nearby dwarf galaxies), the twin lunar craters of Magelhaens and Magelhaens A, and the Martian crater of Magelhaens.


  • "Ferdinand Magellan Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2012.
  • "Ferdinand Magellan." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Dec. 2012. Web. 19 Dec. 2012.
  • Knowledge Unlimited Inc.,"Ferdinand Magellan.", Copyright 1997 Tues. 18. 2012