CHARLOTTE, NC, November 30, 2016 – On November 28th, nearly 600 years ago (596 to be exact) Ferdinand Magellan was credited with becoming the first man to sail around the world. Our trivia today, explores that accomplishment and, in the process, discovers some other things about that expedition.
1 – Magellan: The first “world traveler” or was he?”: If nothing else, Myth Trivia has proven that what we know isn’t always so, and that could certainly be said about Ferdinand Magellan.
Though we learned in school that he was the first man to circumnavigate the earth, the truth is, Magellan could not have achieved the success for which he is credited because he died before it was completed. Which, of course, raises the obvious question, “who gets the honor?”
Some historians believe the trophy belongs to Magellan’s slave, Enrique, arising from the belief that Enrique was from the Philippines. He arrived in Europe from the west, which meant that he originally sailed in an easterly direction.
Therefore, when Magellan returned to the Philippines by traveling west, it made Enrique the first person to circumnavigate the globe.
Others dispute the claim, however, because Enrique did not do his earthly orbit in a single journey. That being the case, then the next in line would be Juan Sebastian Elcano who was the master of the 18 original crew members to make it all the way back to Spain from the original point of departure.
Either way, Magellan does have one distinction, his name sounds more credible that Enrique or Elcano as the first person to sail around the world.
2 – Why Magellan made his expedition: Just to keep things simple, a pact was signed in June of 1494 between Spain and Portugal which basically divided the known world among those two countries. Though the Treaty of Tordesillas split the world roughly in half, Spain and Portugal pretty much honored the agreement, though the rest of Europe paid little attention.
Portugal received the eastern sea-lane to the Moluccas which is a large Indonesian archipelago nestled roughly between the triangle of modern day Australia, Borneo and New Guinea.
Better known as the “Spice Islands”, the Moluccas had an abundance of nutmeg, mace and cloves which could only be found in that part of the world during the 16th century.
Not wanting to be left out of the competition for the riches of the spice trade, Spain undertook an expedition to discover the western route to the Moluccas since that was the part of the world granted to them by the treaty.
Thus, Magellan’s mission, though certainly “spicy” in purpose, was not to sail around the world, but to find a way to make homemade apple pie taste better.
3 – Can’t we all just get along: Adding a bit more fuel to the proverbial fire, Magellan was probably not the best choice for the Spanish captain in the race to the Moluccas.
Magellan was Portuguese, which made King Manuel I more than a little testy to discover that one of his native sons was leading an expedition for Spain.
Manuel went so far as to have Magellan’s properties vandalized and possibly made an attempt to assassinate him as well. Once Magellan’s expedition was underway, the king sent two ships to intercept the fleet and return him to Europe.
Meanwhile, Captain Magellan had more than his share of his problems of his own with his five ship fleet. The Spanish sailors didn’t take to having a Portuguese captain which resulted in several mutinies. Magellan managed to put down the first attempt without much effort, but the second mutiny involved crewmen from three of the five ships.
Upon discovering a plan for a third mutiny, Magellan learned the names of the mutineers, put to shore and left them marooned on an island.
Despite that, other mutinies followed. Eventually, Magellan, himself, was struck by a bamboo spear during a battle against Lapu-Lapu troops in the Philippines, which is where he died.
One final bit of trivia that goes largely unnoticed in Magellan’s exploits was the knowledge his crew had gained during their travels of the need for an International Dateline.
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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