Essay, Research Paper: Magellan

Geography

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In the early 1500ís, almost four and a half centuries before men first orbited
the earth; an expedition completed and led by Ferdinand Magellan performed a
task of comparable significance for that time period. Magellan, a Portuguese
navigator for Spain, sailed westward with a fleet of five ships from the port of
Sanlucar de Barrameda in September, 1519. Nearly three years later one ship
returned, having circumnavigated the globe and crossed its largest ocean. A
Philippine battle is where Magellan died and only left his crew to tell about
the voyage. Maximilian of Transylvania, a native of Brussels, was present when
the only one of Magellanís ships reached Sanlucar }. Maximilian assisted with
the interrogations of the expedition survivors. Besides taking part in the
official interviews, he questioned the returned mariners, quickly digested their
accounts, and then rushed to get his letter off to Cardinal-Archbishop Lang of
Salzburg who was also his father. Initially, Maximilian wrote the letter to
practice his Latin and enhance his own fame. The document is important not only
for the valuable information it contains, but also because it was the first
account released to the European public of the great voyage. Maximilian was the
secretary to Charles V and made a lifelong study of overseas affairs. He is
credited with having made a terrestrial globe, surpassing all others of the
time, and which the precision of the map was proved by Magellan. His letter is
undeniably one of the most valuable sources of information about the Magellan
voyage. In fact, it was the only printed account of the expedition for some
time. Magellanís voyage set sail on the 10th of August, 1519, with five ships
from Seville, Spain. Three moths later, Maximilian tells how Magellanís crew
was forced to seek shelter for the winter at Port San Julian which is on the
eastern coast of South America. In September 1520, he again sets sail after
loosing one vessel to a storm. One month later, Magellan sights the straight
that was later named after him and proceeds to cross into the ocean that he
named ďPacificĒ because of its calmness. He reached the Ladrone, Islands on
March 6, 1521, and ten days later discovered the Philippines, landing on the
island of Cebu on April 7. There he made an alliance with the ruler of the
island and agreed to aid him in an attack on the natives of the neighboring
island of Mactan. Magellan was killed on April 27,1521 during the Mactan
expedition. Following Magellan's death, one of the vessels in his fleet was
burned, but the other two escaped and reached the Moluccas on November 6, 1521.
One of the vessels, the Victoria, commanded by the Spanish navigator Juan
SebastiŠn del Cano, completed the circumnavigation of the globe, arriving in
Seville on September 6, 1522. Although Magellan did not live to complete the
voyage, he did circumnavigate the globe by passing the easternmost point he had
reached on an earlier voyage. The cargo of spices carried back to Spain by the
Victoria alone paid for the expenses of the expedition. The passage through the
Strait of Magellan was too long and difficult to be a practical route from
Europe to the Moluccas. Nevertheless, the voyage laid the foundation for trade
in the Pacific between the New World and the East. Although Spain did not
immediately recognize the importance of the Philippines, they had become the
greatest Spanish trading center in the East. Magellanís voyage would have
never received the recognition that it deserved if citizens such as Maximilian
didnít properly document it. Magellanís accomplishments in his three-year
voyage were countless and forever will be remembered. It is because of explorers
and historians like these, that we have the geological perfection of our globe
today.

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