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Ferdinand Magellan’s death 500 years ago

Michael McLaren

Dr Kristie Flannery, Research Fellow, Institute for Humanities & Social Sciences, Australian Catholic University, shares some history with Michael on the 500th anniversary of the death of Portuguese explorer Fernão de Magalhães (more commonly known as Ferdinand Magellan).

 

Born 4 February 1480 into a family of minor Portuguese nobility, Magellan became a skilled sailor and naval officer and was in service of the Portuguese crown in Asia.

 

After King Manuel I of Portugal refused to support his plan to reach India by a new route, by sailing around the southern end of the South American continent, he was eventually selected by King Charles I of Spain to search for a westward route to the Maluku Islands (the “Spice Islands”).

 

Commanding a fleet of five vessels, he headed south through the Atlantic Ocean to Patagonia. Despite a series of storms and mutinies, they made it through the Strait of Magellan into a body of water he named the “peaceful sea” (the modern Pacific Ocean).

 

The expedition reached the Philippine islands, where Magellan was killed during the Battle of Mactan. The expedition later reached the Spice Islands in 1521 and one of the surviving ships eventually returned home via the Indian Ocean, completing the first circuit of the globe.

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Michael McLaren
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