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Magellan's Voyage Around the World


More of this Feature

• Part 2: The Voyage Itself
• 
Part 3: The End of the Voyage

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Part 1: The Story Before the Voyage

The story of Ferdinand Magellan is, in the end, a sad one. He had a great idea, a great wish. He wished to lead a voyage that sailed around the world. He started off on that voyage, but he didn't live to see the end of it.

It began slowly. He served as a junior sailor onboard ships sailing to India. He made a name for himself as an able sailor and especially on one voyage in which he saved the lives of many of his fellow sailors.

The story continued with his becoming famous at the Portuguese court. But Portugal's King Manuel was jealous of Magellan's fame and told Magellan to sail for someone else. Magellan went to Spain and won over that country's king, Charles, with his idea of a "secret strait" through South America.

Magellan's idea was to sail west to get to the East. Now, Columbus had had this in mind, but he never did it. Other sailors, like Vasco da Gama and Vasco Balboa, didn't really want to do such a thing. But Magellan burned with the fire of doing such a great thing.

So he worked for many years and finally got the money and ships he needed. He had a recent map and globe--both of which showed that the "South Sea," as Balboa called it, was only a few days' sail wide. He also knew that one sailor who had recently sailed down the eastern coast of South America had reached a wide waterway that seemed to stretch on for miles. Magellan presented all this information to Spain's King Charles. The king was happy to give him money and ships enough (five in all) for a voyage that would sail through South America all the way to the Spice Islands.

The Spice Islands were the Moluccas, islands rich in spices that were in great demand in Europe. Magellan hoped to sail west, reach the Moluccas, then return home, all the time still sailing west.

His spirits were high as the voyage began.

Next page > The Voyage Itself > Page 1, 2, 3

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday


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