Follow the saga, from the Straits of Magellan to the re-Discovery of the Philippines, the Death of Magellan and the Return to Spain of some of the surviving Crew. A riveting story of adventure, discovery, lies and deceptions...
The Explorers, Magellan Elcano & Pigafetta, Episode 2. Re-discovery of the Philippines, Magellan's Death and the Return.
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The Explorers, Magellan,The Explorers, Magellan, ElcanoElcano &&
Pigafetta. Discovery of the Philippines,Pigafetta. Discovery of the Philippines,
Death of Magellan and The SurvivorDeath of Magellan and The Survivor’’ss
Return to Spain. Episode 2Return to Spain. Episode 2
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Passage into the Pacific; The journey continues.
The Mutiny at Puerto San Juan, (see episode 1)
The help of Duarte Barbosa was crucial in facing the riot in Puerto San Julian; Magellan appointed
him as captain of the Victoria.
The Replica of the Victoria at Puerto San Julian
The Santiago was sent down the coast on a scouting expedition and was wrecked in a sudden
storm. All of its crew survived and made it safely to shore.
The Santiago was lost during this sudden storm.
Two of the crew returned overland to inform Magellan of what had happened, and to bring
rescue to their comrades. After this experience, Magellan decided to wait for a few weeks
more before resuming the voyage.
At 52°S latitude on 21 October, the fleet reached Cape Virgenes and concluded they had found
the passage, because the waters were brine and deep inland. Four ships began an arduous
trip through the 373-mile (600 km) long passage that Magellan called the Estrecho (Canal) de
Todos los Santos, ("All Saints' Channel"), because the fleet travelled through it on 1 November
or All Saint’s Day.
Magellan first assigned Concepcion and San Antonio to explore the strait. San Antonio, under
the command of Gomez, deserted and returned to Spain on 20 November.
On 28 November, the three remaining ships
entered the South Pacific. Magellan named
the waters the Mar Pacifico (Pacific Ocean)
because of its apparent stillness Magellan
and his crew were the first Europeans to
reach Tierra del Fuego just east of the Pacific
side of the strait.
Discovery of the Philippines and the Death of Magellan
Heading northwest, the crew reached the equator on 13 February 1521. On 6 March they
reached the Marianas and Guam. Pigafetta described the "lateen sail" used by the inhabitants
of Guam, hence the name "Island of Sails", but he also writes the inhabitants "entered the
ships and stole whatever they could lay their hands on", including "the small boat that was
fastened to the poop of the flagship. Those people are poor, but ingenious and very thievish,
on account of which we called those three islands the islands of Ladroni."
Several days later after the friendship was confirmed Kolambu and Magellan concluded a “Kasi
Kasi” or blood compact on March 29th, 1521, Good Friday.
In thanksgiving Magellan had a mass said by Friar Pedro de Valderama on a promontory over
looking the sea on March 31st, 1521 – Easter Sunday. This was the first mass to be said in
the Philippines. (You will recall from Episode 1 that the good Friar was also credited with
saying the first mass in Argentina at Puerto San Julian, earlier in the Voyage.
Rajah Kolambu of Limasawa, guided Magellan’s fleet to Cebu, on April 7. Rajah Kolambu was
an ally of the Datu of Cebu.
Magellan relied on Enrique, his Malay servant and interpreter, to communicate with the native
tribes. He had been indentured by Magellan in 1511 after the colonization of Malacca, and had
accompanied him through later adventures. They traded gifts with Rajah Siaiu of Mazaua who
guided them to Cebu on 7 April.
Rajah Humabon of Cebu was friendly towards Magellan and the Spaniards; both he and his
queen Hara Amihan were baptized as Christians and were given the image of the Santo
Niño which along with a cross (Magellan’s Cross) symbolizes the Christianization of the
Baptism of Datu Humabon and his wife, Queen Hara Amihan
Afterward, Rajah Humabon and his ally Datu Zula convinced Magellan to kill their enemy,
Datu Lapu-Lapu on Mactan.
Magellan wanted to convert Lapu-Lapu to
Christianity, as he had Humabon, but Lapu-
Lapu rejected that.
On the morning of 27 April 1521, Magellan
sailed to Mactan with a small attack force.
During the resulting battle against Lapu-
Lapu's troops, Magellan was struck by a
bamboo spear, and later surrounded and
finished off with other weapons.
Lapu-Lapu & Magellan
Pigafetta and Ginés de Mafra provided written documents of the events culminating in
“When morning came, forty-nine of us leaped into the water up to our thighs, and walked through
water for more than two cross-bow flights before we could reach the shore. The boats could not
approach nearer because of certain rocks in the water. The other eleven men remained behind to
guard the boats. When we reached land, [the natives] had formed in three divisions to the number of
more than one thousand five hundred people. When they saw us, they charged down upon us with
exceeding loud cries... The musketeers and crossbow-men shot from a distance for about a half-hour,
but uselessly... Recognizing the captain, so many turned upon him that they knocked his helmet off his
head twice... A native hurled a bamboo spear into the captain's face, but the latter immediately killed
him with his lance, which he left in the native's body. Then, trying to lay hand on sword, he could draw
it out but halfway, because he had been wounded in the arm with a bamboo spear. When the natives
saw that, they all hurled themselves upon him. One of them wounded him on the left leg with a large
cutlass, which resembles a scimitar, only being larger. That caused the captain to fall face downward,
when immediately they rushed upon him with iron and bamboo spears and with their cutlasses, until
they killed our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide. When they wounded him, he turned
back many times to see whether we were all in the boats. Thereupon, beholding him dead, we,
wounded, retreated, as best we could, to the boats, which were already pulling off.”
Magellan provided in his will that Enrique, his interpreter, was to be freed upon his death.
But after the battle, the remaining ships' masters refused to free the Malay. Enrique
escaped his indenture on 1 May with the aid of Rajah Humabon, amid the deaths of
almost 30 crewmen.
Pigafetta had been jotting down words in both Butuanon and Cebuano Languages, which
he started at Mazaua on 29 March and his list grew to a total of 145 words. He continued
communications with indigenous peoples during the rest of the voyage.
"Nothing of Magellan's body survived, that afternoon the grieving rajah-king, hoping to
recover his remains, offered Mactan's victorious chief a handsome ransom of copper and
iron for them but Datu Lapulapu refused. He intended to keep the body as a war trophy.
Since his wife and child died in Seville before any member of the expedition could return
to Spain, it seemed that every evidence of Ferdinand Magellan's existence had vanished
from the earth.
So what happened next?
The casualties suffered in the Philippines left the expedition with too few men to sail all
three of the remaining ships. Consequently, on 2 May they abandoned and
burned Concepción. Reduced to Trinidad and Victoria, the expedition fled westward
They left that island on 21 June and were guided to Brunei, Borneo by Moro pilots, who
could navigate the shallow seas. They anchored off the Brunei breakwater for 35 days,
where Pigafetta, an Italian from Venice, recorded the splendour of Rajah Siripada's court
(gold, two pearls the size of hens' eggs, porcelain from China, eyeglasses from Europe
In addition, Brunei boasted tame elephants and an armament of 62 cannons, more than
five times the armament of Magellan's ships. Brunei people were not interested in the
Spanish cargo of cloves, but these proved more valuable than gold upon the return to
The Trinidad The Victoria
When reaching the Spice Islands on 6 November, the total crew numbered 115. They
traded with the Sultan of Tidore a rival of the Sultan of Ternate, who was the ally of the
The two remaining ships, laden with valuable spices, tried to return to Spain by sailing
westwards. However, as they left the Spice Islands, the Trinidad began to take on water.
The crew tried to discover and repair the leak, but failed.
They concluded that Trinidad would need to spend considerable time being overhauled,
but the small Victoria was not large enough to accommodate all the surviving crew.
As a result, Victoria with some of the crew sailed west for Spain. Several weeks
later, Trinidad departed and tried to return to Spain via the Pacific route. This attempt
failed. Trinidad was captured by the Portuguese and was eventually wrecked in a storm
while at anchor under Portuguese control.
Victoria set sail via the Indian Ocean route home on 21 December, commanded by Juan
Sebastian Elcano. By 6 May the Victoria rounded the Cape of Good Hope, with only rice
for rations. Twenty crewmen died of starvation before Elcano put into Cape Verde, a
Portuguese holding, where he abandoned 13 more crew on 9 July in fear of losing his
cargo of 26 tons of spices (cloves and cinnamon).
On 6 September 1522, Elcano and the remaining crew of Magellan's voyage arrived in
Spain aboard the Victoria, almost exactly three years after the fleet of five ships had
departed. Magellan had not intended to circumnavigate the world, but rather had
intended only to find a secure route through which the Spanish ships could navigate to
the Spice Islands. After Magellan's death, Elcano decided to push westward, thereby
completing the first known voyage around the entire Earth.
Maximilianus Transylvanus interviewed some of the surviving members of the expedition
when they presented themselves to the Spanish court at Villadolid in the autumn of 1522.
He wrote the first account of the voyage, which was published in 1523.
Pigafetta's account was not published until 1525, and was not published in its entirety
until 1800. This was the Italian transcription by Carlo Amoretti of what is now called the
"Ambrosiana codex." The expedition eked out a small profit, but the crew was not paid
full wages. Four crewmen of the original 55 on Trinidad finally returned to Spain in 1522;
51 had died in war or from disease. In total, approximately 232 sailors of assorted
nationalities died on the expedition around the world with Magellan.
When Victoria, the one surviving ship, returned to the harbour of departure after
completing the first circumnavigation of the Earth, only 18 men out of the original 237
men were on board. Among the survivors were two Italians, Antonio Pigafetta and
Martino de Judicibus. Martino de Judicibus was a Genoese or Savonese Chief
Steward. His history is preserved in the nominative registers at the Archivo General de
Indias in Seville, Spain. The family name is referred to with the exact Latin patronymic,
"de Judicibus". Martino de Judicibus, initially assigned to the caravel Concepción, one
of five ships of the Spanish fleet of Magellan, had embarked on the expedition with the
rank of captain.
A Caravel similar to The Concepcion
Antonio Pigafetta’s journal is the main source for much of what is known about Magellan
and Elcano's voyage. The other direct report of the voyage was that of Francisco Albo,
the last Victoria's pilot, who kept a formal logbook.
In 1525, soon after the return of Magellan's expedition, Charles V sent an expedition led
by Garcia Joffre de Loaisa to occupy the Moluccas, claiming that they were in his zone of
the Treaty of Tordesillas.
This expedition included the most notable Spanish navigators: Juan Sebastián Elcano
and the young Andres de Urdaneta. They had difficulty reaching the Moluccas, docking at
Tidore. The Portuguese were already established in nearby Ternate and the two nations
had nearly a decade of skirmishing over the "possession." (occupied by indigenous
Since there was not a set limit to the east, in 1524 both kingdoms had tried to find the
exact location of the antimeridian of Tordesillas, which would divide the world into two
equal hemispheres and to resolve the "Moluccas issue". A board met several times
without reaching an agreement: the knowledge at that time was insufficient for an
accurate calculation of longitude, and each gave the islands to their sovereign.
An agreement was reached only with the Treaty of Zaragoza, signed on 1529 between
Spain and Portugal. It assigned the Moluccas to Portugal and the Philippines to Spain.
The course that Magellan charted was followed by other navigators, such as Sir Francis
Drake. In 1565, Andres de Urdaneta discovered the Manila-Acapulco route.
Magellan's expedition was the first to circumnavigate the globe and the first to navigate
the strait in South America connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Magellan's
name for the Pacific was adopted by other Europeans.
Magellan's crew observed several animals that were entirely new to European science,
including a “camell without humps", which was probably a guanaco, whose range
extends to Tierra del Fuego. The lama, vicuna and alpaca natural ranges were in the
Andes mountains. A black “goose" that had to be skinned instead of plucked was a
The full extent of the Earth was realized, since their voyage was 14,460 Spanish
leagues (60,440 km or 37,560 mi).
The expedition showed the need for an International Date Line to be established. Upon
returning the expedition found its date was a day behind, although they had faithfully
maintained the ship's log. They lost one day because they traveled west during their
circumnavigation of the globe, opposite to Earth's daily rotation. This caused great
excitement at the time, and a special delegation was sent to the Pope to explain the
oddity to him.
A replica of the Victoria, the only ship of Magellan's to survive the entire voyage, can be
visited in Puerto San Juan.
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