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Ferdinand Magellan & The First Voyage Around The World

Sep 24, 2021
History
-
28
minutes
Spain
Portugal
European history
Adventure
Asia
Colonialism

In September 1519, a Portuguese explorer and a crew of 270 men set sail from Spain trying to find a sea route west, through the Americas.

Three years later, 18 of the men returned, tired and hungry, but becoming the first people to have successfully completed a full circle of the Earth.

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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about Ferdinand Magellan & The First Voyage Around The World.

[00:00:31] On September 20th, 1519, five ships and 270 men set sail from southern Spain.

[00:00:41] Their aim

[00:00:42] To sail west and find a route through the Americas to the Spice Islands, in modern day Indonesia, on the other side of the world.

[00:00:53] In all of history, no human had ever managed this before, and very few even thought it was possible.

[00:01:02] 1,381 days later, 18 of the 270 men returned to Spain, tired, hungry, full of disease, but becoming the first people to have successfully circumnavigated the globe, to have done a complete circle of the Earth.

[00:01:23] This story, of the first voyage around the world, will involve national rivalries, ambitious kings, geopolitical divisions, religion, colonialism, racism, pride, foolishness, terrible punishments, bravery, slavery, and more.

[00:01:42] It is quite the story, and as such, this episode is going to be a little longer than normal. OK then, let’s get started.

[00:01:55] The late 15th and early 16th century was the height of the Age of Exploration, as European powers sought to explore the world and seize territory and riches for themselves.

[00:02:11] Top of the list were India and south East Asia, in a large part because of their precious spices. 

[00:02:19] The world’s two most powerful maritime powers, Spain and Portugal, were engaged in a competition to see who could discover the first sea route, and claim these riches for themselves.

[00:02:34] Christopher Columbus, on the Spanish side, had sailed west and accidentally discovered the Americas in 1492, while looking for India.

[00:02:45] Meanwhile, the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama successfully managed to sail to India 6 years later, in 1498.

[00:02:56] With the backdrop of this increasing rivalry, in 1494 Spain and Portugal had signed an agreement called the Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided the world into two sections, East and West.

[00:03:13] Imagine a map of the world, and draw a line straight down the Atlantic, going through the eastern part of Brazil.

[00:03:22] Any new lands discovered to the east of the line would be the property of Portugal, and everything to the west would be the property of Spain.

[00:03:33] The treaty was more like a guideline for behaviour between the two countries, and wasn’t acknowledged by most other European powers, or of course by any of the other nations that had been included in this division.

[00:03:48] The importance of it was that it allowed Portugal to sail east to India and to the Spice Islands, which are in modern-day Indonesia, while for Spain to get there they would need to sail West. 

[00:04:03] But there was one big problem here.

[00:04:07] Nobody had ever sailed west to the Spice Islands, nobody had ever sailed west all the way around the globe. 

[00:04:15] Christopher Columbus had sailed west and got to the Caribbean, he had discovered the Americas.

[00:04:21] Another Spanish explorer named Vasco Núñez de Balboa had discovered the Pacific Ocean in 1513, after arriving in the Americas, making his way across Panama and seeing this huge stretch of water. 

[00:04:37] On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, in East Asia, the Portuguese had done some exploring of the Western Pacific, so they knew that the Pacific Ocean existed, it had been seen from both sides.

[00:04:52] But nobody knew firstly how to sail past the Americas, and secondly how far it was from the west coast of America to the Spice Islands, essentially how large the Pacific Ocean was.

[00:05:08] Back in Europe, Charles V, the man who would later become Holy Roman Emperor, had been crowned king of Spain in 1516, when he was just 16 years old.

[00:05:21] Eager to make his mark, he was open to new ideas, he was willing to listen and take risks, while an older, perhaps more established monarch, might not have been.

[00:05:34] Sometime in late 1517 or early 1518, one such idea presented itself.

[00:05:43] It came from a man known in Spanish as Fernando de Magallanes, but we will use his Anglicised name, Ferdinand Magellan. 

[00:05:53] As regular listeners will know, usually we try to use the original pronunciation, but in the case of Magellan, Magellanes isn’t even his real name. 

[00:06:04] It's Fernão de Magalhães, because he wasn’t actually Spanish.

[00:06:09] He was Portuguese.

[00:06:12] Now, given what we know about the rivalry between Spain and Portugal, why was a Spanish king listening to a Portuguese man?

[00:06:23] Well, much like the Italian, Christopher Columbus, who had discovered the Americas on behalf of Spain, Magellan was more interested in adventure and personal glory than allegiance to the country of his birth.

[00:06:39] He was born in 1480 to a minor aristocratic Portuguese family. 

[00:06:46] After being orphaned, after losing both of his parents, when he was just 10 years old, he served in the King of Portugal’s court, where he would have received a comprehensive education.

[00:06:59] At the first opportunity, he travelled east, and spent around 8 years fighting colonial battles in the far East, as well as in north Africa.

[00:07:10] He was an accomplished, a very skilled soldier and sailor, and showed a keen interest in exploration. 

[00:07:19] The term most commonly used of him by historians is a “career-minded daredevil”, someone who is ready to embrace danger if it delivers him professional success.

[00:07:33] He was on the path to a successful career, and in 1511 he was appointed captain of an expedition to the Molucca Islands, otherwise known as the Spice Islands.

[00:07:45] If you have listened to the episode on The Curious History of Spice, you will know all about these islands, and their importance.

[00:07:53] At this time spices were in high demand back in Europe.

[00:07:58] They were used for cooking, but also for medicinal purposes. 

[00:08:03] And they were incredibly expensive, with many worth more than their weight in gold

[00:08:10] So Magellan, who would at this time still have gone by his Portuguese name, Magalhães, was on the path to both career and financial success.

[00:08:22] But sometime around 1514 he was accused of trading illegally with the Moroccans, and his promising career came to a sudden end, or at least, a sudden pause.

[00:08:36] By this time he had spent almost 10 years navigating the oceans, fighting and trading, and was an incredibly experienced soldier and sailor, with a deep knowledge of East Asia.

[00:08:50] He was also very interested, and increasingly knowledgeable in navigation, and became convinced that it was possible to get to the Spice Islands from the east, that is sailing west from Europe, across the Atlantic, and finding a way through the Americas to the Pacific Ocean.

[00:09:13] Since Christopher Columbus, around 500 different ships had tried to find this navigable sea route, but none had managed.

[00:09:23] There were rumours that such a path existed, and even some maps that suggested where it was. 

[00:09:31] But nobody had ever actually found it.

[00:09:35] What’s more, there were stories of sea monsters, terrible weather, and all sorts of dangers that awaited any ship that went this far west.

[00:09:45] It was, in the literal sense of the term, uncharted territory.

[00:09:50] But Magellan was not the sort of person to be deterred by this. 

[00:09:55] He tried to get the Portuguese King to support an expedition west, but he wasn’t interested. 

[00:10:02] Firstly, Magellan was no longer in favour in his homeland, after being accused of illegally trading with the Moroccans.

[00:10:11] Secondly, why would Portugal invest money in such an expedition, when the Portuguese already had a very profitable route going east, and had already claimed the Spice Islands for themselves?

[00:10:25] And thirdly, there was the treaty that divided the world in two, and Portugal sailing west risked breaking the treaty and unnecessarily upsetting the Spanish.

[00:10:38] Magellan needed to find someone else who would be willing to support the mission.

[00:10:43] He left Portugal in 1517, arriving in Spain, and presented his idea to the then 17-year-old Spanish king, Charles V.

[00:10:55] Not only did he propose to Charles that such a route existed, but he also told him that he could prove that the Spice Islands were on the Spanish side of the world, and thus they actually belonged to Spain.

[00:11:11] It was a case of right time, right person, right message.

[00:11:15] Charles agreed to pay for 5 ships and just short of 300 men. 

[00:11:22] Magellan would lead this expedition, and if it were successful he would become spectacularly wealthy. 

[00:11:31] He put together a team of mainly Spanish sailors, and got ready to set sail.

[00:11:38] The sailors, however, weren’t told about the details of the trip. 

[00:11:42] If they knew that they were going to what was then considered to be the end of the Earth, going where no human had ever gone before, many would no doubt have refused to join.

[00:11:55] It was only after the ships set sail that the true nature of the trip was revealed.

[00:12:02] Almost from the outset, from the beginning of the trip, there was trouble.

[00:12:07] The majority Spanish sailors did not appreciate being under the leadership of a Portuguese captain. 

[00:12:14] Although Magellan had been granted Spanish citizenship, and was undertaking this mission on behalf of the Spanish king, he was still Portuguese.

[00:12:25] And the Portuguese king, when he found out what Magellan had done, was furious, and sent Portuguese ships to follow Magellan as he sailed south.

[00:12:35] The Portuguese ships didn’t manage to catch up with them, so that problem was temporarily resolved, but the animosity the Spanish sailors felt towards their captain certainly wasn’t.

[00:12:48] It took the five ships just short of three months to cross the Atlantic, finally arriving at a bay Magellan called Bahia de Santa Lucía on December 13th 1519. 

[00:13:02] At that time it was a quiet, peaceful bay, but it’s now the location of the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro, about halfway down the eastern coast of South America.

[00:13:14] As they sailed south, they explored every promising inlet, every passage inland, to see whether it would lead them to the sea that they believed lay ahead.

[00:13:27] But time and time again, they would have to turn back around, as what they had hoped would be a path through would be blocked by the land.

[00:13:38] Not only must it have been dispiriting work, it was also dangerous - you never knew how deep the water would be, what direction the currents would flow, and you had to remember every turning you had taken, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to find your way back out.

[00:13:56] It took them another three and a half months to get to a place called Puerto San Julián, in Patagonia, almost at the tip of South America, but of course they weren’t to know that at the time.

[00:14:09] All they knew was that winter was soon approaching, the crew was tired, hungry and disillusioned

[00:14:17] And they hated their Portuguese leader.

[00:14:20] There was a mutiny, much of the crew rose up against Magellan and demanded to return home to Spain. 

[00:14:28] Three ships declared themselves independent of Magellan; they declared that he no longer had control over the expedition.

[00:14:38] But Magellan was a cunning sailor and soldier. 

[00:14:42] He tricked one of the mutinous captains, one of the rebellious captains, into thinking that a messenger was coming on board to give him a letter. This messenger came onboard the ship, waited until he was next to the captain, pretended to give him a letter but then stabbed him, killing him outright.

[00:15:04] Magellan managed to subdue the other mutineers, and set off to punish the rebellious sailors.

[00:15:12] Two of the leaders were beheaded, their heads were chopped off, and their bodies chopped up and put on sticks to be a warning to others.

[00:15:23] Another mutinous captain was left on an island with a mutinous priest, never to be heard from again.

[00:15:30] The message was clear - if you mess with Ferdinand Magellan, it will not end well.

[00:15:37] In October of 1520, Magellan got lucky, or rather his hard work and perseverance finally paid off.

[00:15:47] He had sent one of the ships inland to investigate a promising passage.

[00:15:53] It returned with great news - they had gone through the other side, and found this promised sea.

[00:16:01] The remaining ships set sail, and made the crossing. 

[00:16:05] As Magellan saw the sea, he named it Mar Pacifico, the “still sea”, because of how still and calm it looked. 

[00:16:15] Given what we know now about how rough the Pacific Ocean actually is, this might be surprising, but it must have been a peaceful day when Magellan’s ships first saw it.

[00:16:28] By this time only three of the original five ships remained.

[00:16:33] One had sunk while exploring a passage, and another, the San Antonio, had taken the opportunity to turn back, to escape, and return to Spain.

[00:16:45] Nevertheless, the three ships continued west, sailing across the Pacific Ocean. 

[00:16:51] Magellan had thought that the Pacific Ocean was quite small, and had anticipated it would take them a few days to cross.

[00:17:00] It took almost four months for them to reach the Pacific island of Guam, which is around 2,000 km east of the Philippines and 2,000 km north of Papua New Guinea.

[00:17:12] They were woefully unprepared for the size of the Pacific Ocean, and were reduced to eating rats and maggots, those small white, worm-like animals used to catch fish.

[00:17:27] They had no fresh fruit or vegetables, and most of the men suffered terribly from scurvy, the disease you get when you have a severe deficiency in Vitamin C.

[00:17:39] 19 of the men died on the trip across the ocean.

[00:17:45] Although there was no doubt a great sense of relief when they finally saw land, their arrival at Guam wasn’t a peaceful one. The natives approached the boats, came onboard and took equipment. 

[00:17:59] There was a struggle, and the European sailors killed one of the natives.

[00:18:04] As revenge for what Magellan considered to be an attack on his men, he returned the day later burning housing and killing seven of the natives.

[00:18:15] Having taken fresh supplies of food and water, they continued their journey westwards, and arrived at The Philippines a week later.

[00:18:24] Thankfully, they had better luck with the native people here than in Guam, and this is in a large part due to a man called Enrique.

[00:18:34] Enrique, known as Enrique of Malacca, was a Malay man who Magellan had bought as a slave 8 years beforehand. He accompanied Magellan everywhere, and although it was a relationship of master and servant, the two had grown close.

[00:18:52] Enrique was able to speak to the native people in Malay, and acted as translator for the Spanish party. They exchanged gifts, traded, and the Spaniards introduced Christianity to the native people, many of whom, including the chief of an island called Cebu, converted.

[00:19:12] But one island, the island of Mactan, was not bowing down so easily.

[00:19:18] Its leader, a man called Lapu-Lapu, not only rejected the idea of Spanish supremacy, but also refused to convert to Christianity.

[00:19:29] Mactan and Cebu were rival islands, and historians believe that the chief of Cebu, who did convert to Christianity, persuaded Magellan to attack the island of Mactan, his rival.

[00:19:44] The Spaniards at this time numbered around 150. 

[00:19:48] They were well-equipped, with guns, armour, and advanced weapons.

[00:19:54] The inhabitants of Mactan, on the other hand, were not.

[00:19:58] It should have been no contest.

[00:20:00] On the morning of 27th April 1521 Magellan attacked. 

[00:20:07] He and a group of around 50 men sailed right up to the island, then got out of the ships and advanced, walking through the water in their heavy armour.

[00:20:19] The natives had bows and arrows, but they just bounced off the Spanish armour. Magellan and his men arrived on the shore, and burned down some local houses.

[00:20:32] The idea was no doubt to scare the natives and get them to surrender, but it had the opposite effect.

[00:20:40] A group of 1,500 natives rushed at them. They had noticed that the Spaniards had plenty of armour, plenty of protection, on their upper bodies, but their legs were uncovered.

[00:20:55] They soon identified Magellan, and a poisoned arrow was shot into his upper leg. He fell to the ground, and within minutes a crowd of natives had jumped on him and killed him with bamboo spears.

[00:21:11] His men retreated to their boats, leaving Magellan’s body to the Mactan people.

[00:21:17] It was a completely pointless, and utterly inglorious, death for Magellan. 

[00:21:24] There was no need for him to attack Mactan, no need to get caught up in a dispute between two island chiefs, and no need for him to risk everything because he felt slightly offended, or because he wanted to do an ally a favour.

[00:21:41] But he did, and he paid for it with his life.

[00:21:45] By this time there were only 115 out of the 270 men who had left Spain a couple of years beforehand.

[00:21:55] This wasn’t enough men to manage three ships, so one was burnt and the other two pushed on to the Spice Islands. They had gone almost all the way, and they knew that if they could get there huge riches would await them, and they could turn the entire voyage into a profitable one.

[00:22:16] When they finally arrived there, they did manage to trade with the chief of one of the islands.

[00:22:22] They exchanged metals, cloths and glass for huge amounts of spices, particularly cloves, and set off back to Spain.

[00:22:32] Only one ship, The Victoria, would make it back. 

[00:22:36] The other was badly damaged, and then captured by the Portuguese when it was being repaired.

[00:22:42] On 21st December 1521, two years and three months after it had set off from Spain, the one surviving ship, The Victoria, finally set off from the Spice Islands back to Spain, this time sailing westwards, around the tip of South Africa. 

[00:23:02] And on September 5th 1522, eight and a half months after it had left the Spice Islands, it finally arrived back in Spain.

[00:23:13] The return trip had cost the lives of twenty-two of the crew members, who had died of starvation. 

[00:23:20] And of the initial 270 men who had left on the adventure, only 18 were on the Victoria when it finally pulled into port.

[00:23:31] Quite the trip.

[00:23:33] In terms of the legacy of this expedition, it has of course gone down in history, and has been called "the greatest sea voyage in the Age of Discovery" and "the most important maritime voyage ever undertaken".

[00:23:47] In many respects, it was a great success. A sea route from east to west was discovered, it enabled a greater understanding of other peoples and cultures, an understanding of maritime navigation and an interest in exploration.

[00:24:02] It also more than paid for its cost, as it came back filled with precious spices.

[00:24:08] And on a linguistic note, from it came the first known phrasebook of native languages, languages the sailors discovered on their voyage. This was written by the Italian scholar Antonio Pigafetta, who was one of the 18 men to return on The Victoria, and documented the entire trip.

[00:24:29] But in other respects, it was a failure. 

[00:24:32] The intention was to find another commercial route to the Spice Islands, but the route across the Pacific proved to not be profitable - it was too long and too dangerous to make commercial sense.

[00:24:47] And in terms of the legacy of Magellan, yes he was clearly a brilliant and brave adventurer, sailor and navigator, but he was deeply unpopular with his men, got needlessly caught up in a tribal dispute, and ultimately never made it all the way around the world in one trip.

[00:25:06] So, while some people might know Magellan as the first person to sail around the world, technically he never actually got the whole way around.

[00:25:17] If that’s right, who was the first person to sail around the world?

[00:25:22] Well, this is where things get tricky, and there isn’t complete agreement between historians.

[00:25:29] It wasn’t Magellan. 

[00:25:30] Yes, he was the person who was responsible for the expedition, and it wouldn’t have happened without him, but he died before the mission was over.

[00:25:40] It might have been one of the original men who set sail from Spain and returned, almost three years later, such as the captain of the Victoria after Magellan’s death, Juan Sebastian Elcano.

[00:25:53] It could, however have been Enrique, the Malay slave, who was left behind by the Spaniards as they left the Philippines. 

[00:26:02] As a young boy he had been bought by Magellan and taken back west to Spain, so if he ever managed to get back to his homeland in Malacca, which was only a few hundred kilometres from where he was last seen, he would be the first person to have gone around the world, albeit in multiple trips. 

[00:26:22] But nobody, at least in the European world, heard of him ever after.

[00:26:27] So, while we know the amazing story of the first trip around the world, and we know that the first person to do it was on the ship that left Spain 502 years ago this month, we will never know for sure the identity of the first person to go all the way around the world.

[00:26:48] Ok then, there you have it, the story of the first voyage around the world, and of its daredevil captain, Ferdinand Magellan.

[00:26:58] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode, and of the story of Ferdinand Magellan.

[00:27:04] We have lots of listeners from the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds, both old and new, so I would particularly like to get your take on it.

[00:27:14] Was Magellan a hero? How would history remember him differently if he hadn’t died? How is he remembered in Spain, and in Portugal, and in your country, wherever that might be? I would love to know.

[00:27:27] The place you can go to for that is our community forum, which is over at community.leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:27:34] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:27:39] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode

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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about Ferdinand Magellan & The First Voyage Around The World.

[00:00:31] On September 20th, 1519, five ships and 270 men set sail from southern Spain.

[00:00:41] Their aim

[00:00:42] To sail west and find a route through the Americas to the Spice Islands, in modern day Indonesia, on the other side of the world.

[00:00:53] In all of history, no human had ever managed this before, and very few even thought it was possible.

[00:01:02] 1,381 days later, 18 of the 270 men returned to Spain, tired, hungry, full of disease, but becoming the first people to have successfully circumnavigated the globe, to have done a complete circle of the Earth.

[00:01:23] This story, of the first voyage around the world, will involve national rivalries, ambitious kings, geopolitical divisions, religion, colonialism, racism, pride, foolishness, terrible punishments, bravery, slavery, and more.

[00:01:42] It is quite the story, and as such, this episode is going to be a little longer than normal. OK then, let’s get started.

[00:01:55] The late 15th and early 16th century was the height of the Age of Exploration, as European powers sought to explore the world and seize territory and riches for themselves.

[00:02:11] Top of the list were India and south East Asia, in a large part because of their precious spices. 

[00:02:19] The world’s two most powerful maritime powers, Spain and Portugal, were engaged in a competition to see who could discover the first sea route, and claim these riches for themselves.

[00:02:34] Christopher Columbus, on the Spanish side, had sailed west and accidentally discovered the Americas in 1492, while looking for India.

[00:02:45] Meanwhile, the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama successfully managed to sail to India 6 years later, in 1498.

[00:02:56] With the backdrop of this increasing rivalry, in 1494 Spain and Portugal had signed an agreement called the Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided the world into two sections, East and West.

[00:03:13] Imagine a map of the world, and draw a line straight down the Atlantic, going through the eastern part of Brazil.

[00:03:22] Any new lands discovered to the east of the line would be the property of Portugal, and everything to the west would be the property of Spain.

[00:03:33] The treaty was more like a guideline for behaviour between the two countries, and wasn’t acknowledged by most other European powers, or of course by any of the other nations that had been included in this division.

[00:03:48] The importance of it was that it allowed Portugal to sail east to India and to the Spice Islands, which are in modern-day Indonesia, while for Spain to get there they would need to sail West. 

[00:04:03] But there was one big problem here.

[00:04:07] Nobody had ever sailed west to the Spice Islands, nobody had ever sailed west all the way around the globe. 

[00:04:15] Christopher Columbus had sailed west and got to the Caribbean, he had discovered the Americas.

[00:04:21] Another Spanish explorer named Vasco Núñez de Balboa had discovered the Pacific Ocean in 1513, after arriving in the Americas, making his way across Panama and seeing this huge stretch of water. 

[00:04:37] On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, in East Asia, the Portuguese had done some exploring of the Western Pacific, so they knew that the Pacific Ocean existed, it had been seen from both sides.

[00:04:52] But nobody knew firstly how to sail past the Americas, and secondly how far it was from the west coast of America to the Spice Islands, essentially how large the Pacific Ocean was.

[00:05:08] Back in Europe, Charles V, the man who would later become Holy Roman Emperor, had been crowned king of Spain in 1516, when he was just 16 years old.

[00:05:21] Eager to make his mark, he was open to new ideas, he was willing to listen and take risks, while an older, perhaps more established monarch, might not have been.

[00:05:34] Sometime in late 1517 or early 1518, one such idea presented itself.

[00:05:43] It came from a man known in Spanish as Fernando de Magallanes, but we will use his Anglicised name, Ferdinand Magellan. 

[00:05:53] As regular listeners will know, usually we try to use the original pronunciation, but in the case of Magellan, Magellanes isn’t even his real name. 

[00:06:04] It's Fernão de Magalhães, because he wasn’t actually Spanish.

[00:06:09] He was Portuguese.

[00:06:12] Now, given what we know about the rivalry between Spain and Portugal, why was a Spanish king listening to a Portuguese man?

[00:06:23] Well, much like the Italian, Christopher Columbus, who had discovered the Americas on behalf of Spain, Magellan was more interested in adventure and personal glory than allegiance to the country of his birth.

[00:06:39] He was born in 1480 to a minor aristocratic Portuguese family. 

[00:06:46] After being orphaned, after losing both of his parents, when he was just 10 years old, he served in the King of Portugal’s court, where he would have received a comprehensive education.

[00:06:59] At the first opportunity, he travelled east, and spent around 8 years fighting colonial battles in the far East, as well as in north Africa.

[00:07:10] He was an accomplished, a very skilled soldier and sailor, and showed a keen interest in exploration. 

[00:07:19] The term most commonly used of him by historians is a “career-minded daredevil”, someone who is ready to embrace danger if it delivers him professional success.

[00:07:33] He was on the path to a successful career, and in 1511 he was appointed captain of an expedition to the Molucca Islands, otherwise known as the Spice Islands.

[00:07:45] If you have listened to the episode on The Curious History of Spice, you will know all about these islands, and their importance.

[00:07:53] At this time spices were in high demand back in Europe.

[00:07:58] They were used for cooking, but also for medicinal purposes. 

[00:08:03] And they were incredibly expensive, with many worth more than their weight in gold

[00:08:10] So Magellan, who would at this time still have gone by his Portuguese name, Magalhães, was on the path to both career and financial success.

[00:08:22] But sometime around 1514 he was accused of trading illegally with the Moroccans, and his promising career came to a sudden end, or at least, a sudden pause.

[00:08:36] By this time he had spent almost 10 years navigating the oceans, fighting and trading, and was an incredibly experienced soldier and sailor, with a deep knowledge of East Asia.

[00:08:50] He was also very interested, and increasingly knowledgeable in navigation, and became convinced that it was possible to get to the Spice Islands from the east, that is sailing west from Europe, across the Atlantic, and finding a way through the Americas to the Pacific Ocean.

[00:09:13] Since Christopher Columbus, around 500 different ships had tried to find this navigable sea route, but none had managed.

[00:09:23] There were rumours that such a path existed, and even some maps that suggested where it was. 

[00:09:31] But nobody had ever actually found it.

[00:09:35] What’s more, there were stories of sea monsters, terrible weather, and all sorts of dangers that awaited any ship that went this far west.

[00:09:45] It was, in the literal sense of the term, uncharted territory.

[00:09:50] But Magellan was not the sort of person to be deterred by this. 

[00:09:55] He tried to get the Portuguese King to support an expedition west, but he wasn’t interested. 

[00:10:02] Firstly, Magellan was no longer in favour in his homeland, after being accused of illegally trading with the Moroccans.

[00:10:11] Secondly, why would Portugal invest money in such an expedition, when the Portuguese already had a very profitable route going east, and had already claimed the Spice Islands for themselves?

[00:10:25] And thirdly, there was the treaty that divided the world in two, and Portugal sailing west risked breaking the treaty and unnecessarily upsetting the Spanish.

[00:10:38] Magellan needed to find someone else who would be willing to support the mission.

[00:10:43] He left Portugal in 1517, arriving in Spain, and presented his idea to the then 17-year-old Spanish king, Charles V.

[00:10:55] Not only did he propose to Charles that such a route existed, but he also told him that he could prove that the Spice Islands were on the Spanish side of the world, and thus they actually belonged to Spain.

[00:11:11] It was a case of right time, right person, right message.

[00:11:15] Charles agreed to pay for 5 ships and just short of 300 men. 

[00:11:22] Magellan would lead this expedition, and if it were successful he would become spectacularly wealthy. 

[00:11:31] He put together a team of mainly Spanish sailors, and got ready to set sail.

[00:11:38] The sailors, however, weren’t told about the details of the trip. 

[00:11:42] If they knew that they were going to what was then considered to be the end of the Earth, going where no human had ever gone before, many would no doubt have refused to join.

[00:11:55] It was only after the ships set sail that the true nature of the trip was revealed.

[00:12:02] Almost from the outset, from the beginning of the trip, there was trouble.

[00:12:07] The majority Spanish sailors did not appreciate being under the leadership of a Portuguese captain. 

[00:12:14] Although Magellan had been granted Spanish citizenship, and was undertaking this mission on behalf of the Spanish king, he was still Portuguese.

[00:12:25] And the Portuguese king, when he found out what Magellan had done, was furious, and sent Portuguese ships to follow Magellan as he sailed south.

[00:12:35] The Portuguese ships didn’t manage to catch up with them, so that problem was temporarily resolved, but the animosity the Spanish sailors felt towards their captain certainly wasn’t.

[00:12:48] It took the five ships just short of three months to cross the Atlantic, finally arriving at a bay Magellan called Bahia de Santa Lucía on December 13th 1519. 

[00:13:02] At that time it was a quiet, peaceful bay, but it’s now the location of the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro, about halfway down the eastern coast of South America.

[00:13:14] As they sailed south, they explored every promising inlet, every passage inland, to see whether it would lead them to the sea that they believed lay ahead.

[00:13:27] But time and time again, they would have to turn back around, as what they had hoped would be a path through would be blocked by the land.

[00:13:38] Not only must it have been dispiriting work, it was also dangerous - you never knew how deep the water would be, what direction the currents would flow, and you had to remember every turning you had taken, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to find your way back out.

[00:13:56] It took them another three and a half months to get to a place called Puerto San Julián, in Patagonia, almost at the tip of South America, but of course they weren’t to know that at the time.

[00:14:09] All they knew was that winter was soon approaching, the crew was tired, hungry and disillusioned

[00:14:17] And they hated their Portuguese leader.

[00:14:20] There was a mutiny, much of the crew rose up against Magellan and demanded to return home to Spain. 

[00:14:28] Three ships declared themselves independent of Magellan; they declared that he no longer had control over the expedition.

[00:14:38] But Magellan was a cunning sailor and soldier. 

[00:14:42] He tricked one of the mutinous captains, one of the rebellious captains, into thinking that a messenger was coming on board to give him a letter. This messenger came onboard the ship, waited until he was next to the captain, pretended to give him a letter but then stabbed him, killing him outright.

[00:15:04] Magellan managed to subdue the other mutineers, and set off to punish the rebellious sailors.

[00:15:12] Two of the leaders were beheaded, their heads were chopped off, and their bodies chopped up and put on sticks to be a warning to others.

[00:15:23] Another mutinous captain was left on an island with a mutinous priest, never to be heard from again.

[00:15:30] The message was clear - if you mess with Ferdinand Magellan, it will not end well.

[00:15:37] In October of 1520, Magellan got lucky, or rather his hard work and perseverance finally paid off.

[00:15:47] He had sent one of the ships inland to investigate a promising passage.

[00:15:53] It returned with great news - they had gone through the other side, and found this promised sea.

[00:16:01] The remaining ships set sail, and made the crossing. 

[00:16:05] As Magellan saw the sea, he named it Mar Pacifico, the “still sea”, because of how still and calm it looked. 

[00:16:15] Given what we know now about how rough the Pacific Ocean actually is, this might be surprising, but it must have been a peaceful day when Magellan’s ships first saw it.

[00:16:28] By this time only three of the original five ships remained.

[00:16:33] One had sunk while exploring a passage, and another, the San Antonio, had taken the opportunity to turn back, to escape, and return to Spain.

[00:16:45] Nevertheless, the three ships continued west, sailing across the Pacific Ocean. 

[00:16:51] Magellan had thought that the Pacific Ocean was quite small, and had anticipated it would take them a few days to cross.

[00:17:00] It took almost four months for them to reach the Pacific island of Guam, which is around 2,000 km east of the Philippines and 2,000 km north of Papua New Guinea.

[00:17:12] They were woefully unprepared for the size of the Pacific Ocean, and were reduced to eating rats and maggots, those small white, worm-like animals used to catch fish.

[00:17:27] They had no fresh fruit or vegetables, and most of the men suffered terribly from scurvy, the disease you get when you have a severe deficiency in Vitamin C.

[00:17:39] 19 of the men died on the trip across the ocean.

[00:17:45] Although there was no doubt a great sense of relief when they finally saw land, their arrival at Guam wasn’t a peaceful one. The natives approached the boats, came onboard and took equipment. 

[00:17:59] There was a struggle, and the European sailors killed one of the natives.

[00:18:04] As revenge for what Magellan considered to be an attack on his men, he returned the day later burning housing and killing seven of the natives.

[00:18:15] Having taken fresh supplies of food and water, they continued their journey westwards, and arrived at The Philippines a week later.

[00:18:24] Thankfully, they had better luck with the native people here than in Guam, and this is in a large part due to a man called Enrique.

[00:18:34] Enrique, known as Enrique of Malacca, was a Malay man who Magellan had bought as a slave 8 years beforehand. He accompanied Magellan everywhere, and although it was a relationship of master and servant, the two had grown close.

[00:18:52] Enrique was able to speak to the native people in Malay, and acted as translator for the Spanish party. They exchanged gifts, traded, and the Spaniards introduced Christianity to the native people, many of whom, including the chief of an island called Cebu, converted.

[00:19:12] But one island, the island of Mactan, was not bowing down so easily.

[00:19:18] Its leader, a man called Lapu-Lapu, not only rejected the idea of Spanish supremacy, but also refused to convert to Christianity.

[00:19:29] Mactan and Cebu were rival islands, and historians believe that the chief of Cebu, who did convert to Christianity, persuaded Magellan to attack the island of Mactan, his rival.

[00:19:44] The Spaniards at this time numbered around 150. 

[00:19:48] They were well-equipped, with guns, armour, and advanced weapons.

[00:19:54] The inhabitants of Mactan, on the other hand, were not.

[00:19:58] It should have been no contest.

[00:20:00] On the morning of 27th April 1521 Magellan attacked. 

[00:20:07] He and a group of around 50 men sailed right up to the island, then got out of the ships and advanced, walking through the water in their heavy armour.

[00:20:19] The natives had bows and arrows, but they just bounced off the Spanish armour. Magellan and his men arrived on the shore, and burned down some local houses.

[00:20:32] The idea was no doubt to scare the natives and get them to surrender, but it had the opposite effect.

[00:20:40] A group of 1,500 natives rushed at them. They had noticed that the Spaniards had plenty of armour, plenty of protection, on their upper bodies, but their legs were uncovered.

[00:20:55] They soon identified Magellan, and a poisoned arrow was shot into his upper leg. He fell to the ground, and within minutes a crowd of natives had jumped on him and killed him with bamboo spears.

[00:21:11] His men retreated to their boats, leaving Magellan’s body to the Mactan people.

[00:21:17] It was a completely pointless, and utterly inglorious, death for Magellan. 

[00:21:24] There was no need for him to attack Mactan, no need to get caught up in a dispute between two island chiefs, and no need for him to risk everything because he felt slightly offended, or because he wanted to do an ally a favour.

[00:21:41] But he did, and he paid for it with his life.

[00:21:45] By this time there were only 115 out of the 270 men who had left Spain a couple of years beforehand.

[00:21:55] This wasn’t enough men to manage three ships, so one was burnt and the other two pushed on to the Spice Islands. They had gone almost all the way, and they knew that if they could get there huge riches would await them, and they could turn the entire voyage into a profitable one.

[00:22:16] When they finally arrived there, they did manage to trade with the chief of one of the islands.

[00:22:22] They exchanged metals, cloths and glass for huge amounts of spices, particularly cloves, and set off back to Spain.

[00:22:32] Only one ship, The Victoria, would make it back. 

[00:22:36] The other was badly damaged, and then captured by the Portuguese when it was being repaired.

[00:22:42] On 21st December 1521, two years and three months after it had set off from Spain, the one surviving ship, The Victoria, finally set off from the Spice Islands back to Spain, this time sailing westwards, around the tip of South Africa. 

[00:23:02] And on September 5th 1522, eight and a half months after it had left the Spice Islands, it finally arrived back in Spain.

[00:23:13] The return trip had cost the lives of twenty-two of the crew members, who had died of starvation. 

[00:23:20] And of the initial 270 men who had left on the adventure, only 18 were on the Victoria when it finally pulled into port.

[00:23:31] Quite the trip.

[00:23:33] In terms of the legacy of this expedition, it has of course gone down in history, and has been called "the greatest sea voyage in the Age of Discovery" and "the most important maritime voyage ever undertaken".

[00:23:47] In many respects, it was a great success. A sea route from east to west was discovered, it enabled a greater understanding of other peoples and cultures, an understanding of maritime navigation and an interest in exploration.

[00:24:02] It also more than paid for its cost, as it came back filled with precious spices.

[00:24:08] And on a linguistic note, from it came the first known phrasebook of native languages, languages the sailors discovered on their voyage. This was written by the Italian scholar Antonio Pigafetta, who was one of the 18 men to return on The Victoria, and documented the entire trip.

[00:24:29] But in other respects, it was a failure. 

[00:24:32] The intention was to find another commercial route to the Spice Islands, but the route across the Pacific proved to not be profitable - it was too long and too dangerous to make commercial sense.

[00:24:47] And in terms of the legacy of Magellan, yes he was clearly a brilliant and brave adventurer, sailor and navigator, but he was deeply unpopular with his men, got needlessly caught up in a tribal dispute, and ultimately never made it all the way around the world in one trip.

[00:25:06] So, while some people might know Magellan as the first person to sail around the world, technically he never actually got the whole way around.

[00:25:17] If that’s right, who was the first person to sail around the world?

[00:25:22] Well, this is where things get tricky, and there isn’t complete agreement between historians.

[00:25:29] It wasn’t Magellan. 

[00:25:30] Yes, he was the person who was responsible for the expedition, and it wouldn’t have happened without him, but he died before the mission was over.

[00:25:40] It might have been one of the original men who set sail from Spain and returned, almost three years later, such as the captain of the Victoria after Magellan’s death, Juan Sebastian Elcano.

[00:25:53] It could, however have been Enrique, the Malay slave, who was left behind by the Spaniards as they left the Philippines. 

[00:26:02] As a young boy he had been bought by Magellan and taken back west to Spain, so if he ever managed to get back to his homeland in Malacca, which was only a few hundred kilometres from where he was last seen, he would be the first person to have gone around the world, albeit in multiple trips. 

[00:26:22] But nobody, at least in the European world, heard of him ever after.

[00:26:27] So, while we know the amazing story of the first trip around the world, and we know that the first person to do it was on the ship that left Spain 502 years ago this month, we will never know for sure the identity of the first person to go all the way around the world.

[00:26:48] Ok then, there you have it, the story of the first voyage around the world, and of its daredevil captain, Ferdinand Magellan.

[00:26:58] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode, and of the story of Ferdinand Magellan.

[00:27:04] We have lots of listeners from the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds, both old and new, so I would particularly like to get your take on it.

[00:27:14] Was Magellan a hero? How would history remember him differently if he hadn’t died? How is he remembered in Spain, and in Portugal, and in your country, wherever that might be? I would love to know.

[00:27:27] The place you can go to for that is our community forum, which is over at community.leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:27:34] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:27:39] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about Ferdinand Magellan & The First Voyage Around The World.

[00:00:31] On September 20th, 1519, five ships and 270 men set sail from southern Spain.

[00:00:41] Their aim

[00:00:42] To sail west and find a route through the Americas to the Spice Islands, in modern day Indonesia, on the other side of the world.

[00:00:53] In all of history, no human had ever managed this before, and very few even thought it was possible.

[00:01:02] 1,381 days later, 18 of the 270 men returned to Spain, tired, hungry, full of disease, but becoming the first people to have successfully circumnavigated the globe, to have done a complete circle of the Earth.

[00:01:23] This story, of the first voyage around the world, will involve national rivalries, ambitious kings, geopolitical divisions, religion, colonialism, racism, pride, foolishness, terrible punishments, bravery, slavery, and more.

[00:01:42] It is quite the story, and as such, this episode is going to be a little longer than normal. OK then, let’s get started.

[00:01:55] The late 15th and early 16th century was the height of the Age of Exploration, as European powers sought to explore the world and seize territory and riches for themselves.

[00:02:11] Top of the list were India and south East Asia, in a large part because of their precious spices. 

[00:02:19] The world’s two most powerful maritime powers, Spain and Portugal, were engaged in a competition to see who could discover the first sea route, and claim these riches for themselves.

[00:02:34] Christopher Columbus, on the Spanish side, had sailed west and accidentally discovered the Americas in 1492, while looking for India.

[00:02:45] Meanwhile, the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama successfully managed to sail to India 6 years later, in 1498.

[00:02:56] With the backdrop of this increasing rivalry, in 1494 Spain and Portugal had signed an agreement called the Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided the world into two sections, East and West.

[00:03:13] Imagine a map of the world, and draw a line straight down the Atlantic, going through the eastern part of Brazil.

[00:03:22] Any new lands discovered to the east of the line would be the property of Portugal, and everything to the west would be the property of Spain.

[00:03:33] The treaty was more like a guideline for behaviour between the two countries, and wasn’t acknowledged by most other European powers, or of course by any of the other nations that had been included in this division.

[00:03:48] The importance of it was that it allowed Portugal to sail east to India and to the Spice Islands, which are in modern-day Indonesia, while for Spain to get there they would need to sail West. 

[00:04:03] But there was one big problem here.

[00:04:07] Nobody had ever sailed west to the Spice Islands, nobody had ever sailed west all the way around the globe. 

[00:04:15] Christopher Columbus had sailed west and got to the Caribbean, he had discovered the Americas.

[00:04:21] Another Spanish explorer named Vasco Núñez de Balboa had discovered the Pacific Ocean in 1513, after arriving in the Americas, making his way across Panama and seeing this huge stretch of water. 

[00:04:37] On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, in East Asia, the Portuguese had done some exploring of the Western Pacific, so they knew that the Pacific Ocean existed, it had been seen from both sides.

[00:04:52] But nobody knew firstly how to sail past the Americas, and secondly how far it was from the west coast of America to the Spice Islands, essentially how large the Pacific Ocean was.

[00:05:08] Back in Europe, Charles V, the man who would later become Holy Roman Emperor, had been crowned king of Spain in 1516, when he was just 16 years old.

[00:05:21] Eager to make his mark, he was open to new ideas, he was willing to listen and take risks, while an older, perhaps more established monarch, might not have been.

[00:05:34] Sometime in late 1517 or early 1518, one such idea presented itself.

[00:05:43] It came from a man known in Spanish as Fernando de Magallanes, but we will use his Anglicised name, Ferdinand Magellan. 

[00:05:53] As regular listeners will know, usually we try to use the original pronunciation, but in the case of Magellan, Magellanes isn’t even his real name. 

[00:06:04] It's Fernão de Magalhães, because he wasn’t actually Spanish.

[00:06:09] He was Portuguese.

[00:06:12] Now, given what we know about the rivalry between Spain and Portugal, why was a Spanish king listening to a Portuguese man?

[00:06:23] Well, much like the Italian, Christopher Columbus, who had discovered the Americas on behalf of Spain, Magellan was more interested in adventure and personal glory than allegiance to the country of his birth.

[00:06:39] He was born in 1480 to a minor aristocratic Portuguese family. 

[00:06:46] After being orphaned, after losing both of his parents, when he was just 10 years old, he served in the King of Portugal’s court, where he would have received a comprehensive education.

[00:06:59] At the first opportunity, he travelled east, and spent around 8 years fighting colonial battles in the far East, as well as in north Africa.

[00:07:10] He was an accomplished, a very skilled soldier and sailor, and showed a keen interest in exploration. 

[00:07:19] The term most commonly used of him by historians is a “career-minded daredevil”, someone who is ready to embrace danger if it delivers him professional success.

[00:07:33] He was on the path to a successful career, and in 1511 he was appointed captain of an expedition to the Molucca Islands, otherwise known as the Spice Islands.

[00:07:45] If you have listened to the episode on The Curious History of Spice, you will know all about these islands, and their importance.

[00:07:53] At this time spices were in high demand back in Europe.

[00:07:58] They were used for cooking, but also for medicinal purposes. 

[00:08:03] And they were incredibly expensive, with many worth more than their weight in gold

[00:08:10] So Magellan, who would at this time still have gone by his Portuguese name, Magalhães, was on the path to both career and financial success.

[00:08:22] But sometime around 1514 he was accused of trading illegally with the Moroccans, and his promising career came to a sudden end, or at least, a sudden pause.

[00:08:36] By this time he had spent almost 10 years navigating the oceans, fighting and trading, and was an incredibly experienced soldier and sailor, with a deep knowledge of East Asia.

[00:08:50] He was also very interested, and increasingly knowledgeable in navigation, and became convinced that it was possible to get to the Spice Islands from the east, that is sailing west from Europe, across the Atlantic, and finding a way through the Americas to the Pacific Ocean.

[00:09:13] Since Christopher Columbus, around 500 different ships had tried to find this navigable sea route, but none had managed.

[00:09:23] There were rumours that such a path existed, and even some maps that suggested where it was. 

[00:09:31] But nobody had ever actually found it.

[00:09:35] What’s more, there were stories of sea monsters, terrible weather, and all sorts of dangers that awaited any ship that went this far west.

[00:09:45] It was, in the literal sense of the term, uncharted territory.

[00:09:50] But Magellan was not the sort of person to be deterred by this. 

[00:09:55] He tried to get the Portuguese King to support an expedition west, but he wasn’t interested. 

[00:10:02] Firstly, Magellan was no longer in favour in his homeland, after being accused of illegally trading with the Moroccans.

[00:10:11] Secondly, why would Portugal invest money in such an expedition, when the Portuguese already had a very profitable route going east, and had already claimed the Spice Islands for themselves?

[00:10:25] And thirdly, there was the treaty that divided the world in two, and Portugal sailing west risked breaking the treaty and unnecessarily upsetting the Spanish.

[00:10:38] Magellan needed to find someone else who would be willing to support the mission.

[00:10:43] He left Portugal in 1517, arriving in Spain, and presented his idea to the then 17-year-old Spanish king, Charles V.

[00:10:55] Not only did he propose to Charles that such a route existed, but he also told him that he could prove that the Spice Islands were on the Spanish side of the world, and thus they actually belonged to Spain.

[00:11:11] It was a case of right time, right person, right message.

[00:11:15] Charles agreed to pay for 5 ships and just short of 300 men. 

[00:11:22] Magellan would lead this expedition, and if it were successful he would become spectacularly wealthy. 

[00:11:31] He put together a team of mainly Spanish sailors, and got ready to set sail.

[00:11:38] The sailors, however, weren’t told about the details of the trip. 

[00:11:42] If they knew that they were going to what was then considered to be the end of the Earth, going where no human had ever gone before, many would no doubt have refused to join.

[00:11:55] It was only after the ships set sail that the true nature of the trip was revealed.

[00:12:02] Almost from the outset, from the beginning of the trip, there was trouble.

[00:12:07] The majority Spanish sailors did not appreciate being under the leadership of a Portuguese captain. 

[00:12:14] Although Magellan had been granted Spanish citizenship, and was undertaking this mission on behalf of the Spanish king, he was still Portuguese.

[00:12:25] And the Portuguese king, when he found out what Magellan had done, was furious, and sent Portuguese ships to follow Magellan as he sailed south.

[00:12:35] The Portuguese ships didn’t manage to catch up with them, so that problem was temporarily resolved, but the animosity the Spanish sailors felt towards their captain certainly wasn’t.

[00:12:48] It took the five ships just short of three months to cross the Atlantic, finally arriving at a bay Magellan called Bahia de Santa Lucía on December 13th 1519. 

[00:13:02] At that time it was a quiet, peaceful bay, but it’s now the location of the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro, about halfway down the eastern coast of South America.

[00:13:14] As they sailed south, they explored every promising inlet, every passage inland, to see whether it would lead them to the sea that they believed lay ahead.

[00:13:27] But time and time again, they would have to turn back around, as what they had hoped would be a path through would be blocked by the land.

[00:13:38] Not only must it have been dispiriting work, it was also dangerous - you never knew how deep the water would be, what direction the currents would flow, and you had to remember every turning you had taken, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to find your way back out.

[00:13:56] It took them another three and a half months to get to a place called Puerto San Julián, in Patagonia, almost at the tip of South America, but of course they weren’t to know that at the time.

[00:14:09] All they knew was that winter was soon approaching, the crew was tired, hungry and disillusioned

[00:14:17] And they hated their Portuguese leader.

[00:14:20] There was a mutiny, much of the crew rose up against Magellan and demanded to return home to Spain. 

[00:14:28] Three ships declared themselves independent of Magellan; they declared that he no longer had control over the expedition.

[00:14:38] But Magellan was a cunning sailor and soldier. 

[00:14:42] He tricked one of the mutinous captains, one of the rebellious captains, into thinking that a messenger was coming on board to give him a letter. This messenger came onboard the ship, waited until he was next to the captain, pretended to give him a letter but then stabbed him, killing him outright.

[00:15:04] Magellan managed to subdue the other mutineers, and set off to punish the rebellious sailors.

[00:15:12] Two of the leaders were beheaded, their heads were chopped off, and their bodies chopped up and put on sticks to be a warning to others.

[00:15:23] Another mutinous captain was left on an island with a mutinous priest, never to be heard from again.

[00:15:30] The message was clear - if you mess with Ferdinand Magellan, it will not end well.

[00:15:37] In October of 1520, Magellan got lucky, or rather his hard work and perseverance finally paid off.

[00:15:47] He had sent one of the ships inland to investigate a promising passage.

[00:15:53] It returned with great news - they had gone through the other side, and found this promised sea.

[00:16:01] The remaining ships set sail, and made the crossing. 

[00:16:05] As Magellan saw the sea, he named it Mar Pacifico, the “still sea”, because of how still and calm it looked. 

[00:16:15] Given what we know now about how rough the Pacific Ocean actually is, this might be surprising, but it must have been a peaceful day when Magellan’s ships first saw it.

[00:16:28] By this time only three of the original five ships remained.

[00:16:33] One had sunk while exploring a passage, and another, the San Antonio, had taken the opportunity to turn back, to escape, and return to Spain.

[00:16:45] Nevertheless, the three ships continued west, sailing across the Pacific Ocean. 

[00:16:51] Magellan had thought that the Pacific Ocean was quite small, and had anticipated it would take them a few days to cross.

[00:17:00] It took almost four months for them to reach the Pacific island of Guam, which is around 2,000 km east of the Philippines and 2,000 km north of Papua New Guinea.

[00:17:12] They were woefully unprepared for the size of the Pacific Ocean, and were reduced to eating rats and maggots, those small white, worm-like animals used to catch fish.

[00:17:27] They had no fresh fruit or vegetables, and most of the men suffered terribly from scurvy, the disease you get when you have a severe deficiency in Vitamin C.

[00:17:39] 19 of the men died on the trip across the ocean.

[00:17:45] Although there was no doubt a great sense of relief when they finally saw land, their arrival at Guam wasn’t a peaceful one. The natives approached the boats, came onboard and took equipment. 

[00:17:59] There was a struggle, and the European sailors killed one of the natives.

[00:18:04] As revenge for what Magellan considered to be an attack on his men, he returned the day later burning housing and killing seven of the natives.

[00:18:15] Having taken fresh supplies of food and water, they continued their journey westwards, and arrived at The Philippines a week later.

[00:18:24] Thankfully, they had better luck with the native people here than in Guam, and this is in a large part due to a man called Enrique.

[00:18:34] Enrique, known as Enrique of Malacca, was a Malay man who Magellan had bought as a slave 8 years beforehand. He accompanied Magellan everywhere, and although it was a relationship of master and servant, the two had grown close.

[00:18:52] Enrique was able to speak to the native people in Malay, and acted as translator for the Spanish party. They exchanged gifts, traded, and the Spaniards introduced Christianity to the native people, many of whom, including the chief of an island called Cebu, converted.

[00:19:12] But one island, the island of Mactan, was not bowing down so easily.

[00:19:18] Its leader, a man called Lapu-Lapu, not only rejected the idea of Spanish supremacy, but also refused to convert to Christianity.

[00:19:29] Mactan and Cebu were rival islands, and historians believe that the chief of Cebu, who did convert to Christianity, persuaded Magellan to attack the island of Mactan, his rival.

[00:19:44] The Spaniards at this time numbered around 150. 

[00:19:48] They were well-equipped, with guns, armour, and advanced weapons.

[00:19:54] The inhabitants of Mactan, on the other hand, were not.

[00:19:58] It should have been no contest.

[00:20:00] On the morning of 27th April 1521 Magellan attacked. 

[00:20:07] He and a group of around 50 men sailed right up to the island, then got out of the ships and advanced, walking through the water in their heavy armour.

[00:20:19] The natives had bows and arrows, but they just bounced off the Spanish armour. Magellan and his men arrived on the shore, and burned down some local houses.

[00:20:32] The idea was no doubt to scare the natives and get them to surrender, but it had the opposite effect.

[00:20:40] A group of 1,500 natives rushed at them. They had noticed that the Spaniards had plenty of armour, plenty of protection, on their upper bodies, but their legs were uncovered.

[00:20:55] They soon identified Magellan, and a poisoned arrow was shot into his upper leg. He fell to the ground, and within minutes a crowd of natives had jumped on him and killed him with bamboo spears.

[00:21:11] His men retreated to their boats, leaving Magellan’s body to the Mactan people.

[00:21:17] It was a completely pointless, and utterly inglorious, death for Magellan. 

[00:21:24] There was no need for him to attack Mactan, no need to get caught up in a dispute between two island chiefs, and no need for him to risk everything because he felt slightly offended, or because he wanted to do an ally a favour.

[00:21:41] But he did, and he paid for it with his life.

[00:21:45] By this time there were only 115 out of the 270 men who had left Spain a couple of years beforehand.

[00:21:55] This wasn’t enough men to manage three ships, so one was burnt and the other two pushed on to the Spice Islands. They had gone almost all the way, and they knew that if they could get there huge riches would await them, and they could turn the entire voyage into a profitable one.

[00:22:16] When they finally arrived there, they did manage to trade with the chief of one of the islands.

[00:22:22] They exchanged metals, cloths and glass for huge amounts of spices, particularly cloves, and set off back to Spain.

[00:22:32] Only one ship, The Victoria, would make it back. 

[00:22:36] The other was badly damaged, and then captured by the Portuguese when it was being repaired.

[00:22:42] On 21st December 1521, two years and three months after it had set off from Spain, the one surviving ship, The Victoria, finally set off from the Spice Islands back to Spain, this time sailing westwards, around the tip of South Africa. 

[00:23:02] And on September 5th 1522, eight and a half months after it had left the Spice Islands, it finally arrived back in Spain.

[00:23:13] The return trip had cost the lives of twenty-two of the crew members, who had died of starvation. 

[00:23:20] And of the initial 270 men who had left on the adventure, only 18 were on the Victoria when it finally pulled into port.

[00:23:31] Quite the trip.

[00:23:33] In terms of the legacy of this expedition, it has of course gone down in history, and has been called "the greatest sea voyage in the Age of Discovery" and "the most important maritime voyage ever undertaken".

[00:23:47] In many respects, it was a great success. A sea route from east to west was discovered, it enabled a greater understanding of other peoples and cultures, an understanding of maritime navigation and an interest in exploration.

[00:24:02] It also more than paid for its cost, as it came back filled with precious spices.

[00:24:08] And on a linguistic note, from it came the first known phrasebook of native languages, languages the sailors discovered on their voyage. This was written by the Italian scholar Antonio Pigafetta, who was one of the 18 men to return on The Victoria, and documented the entire trip.

[00:24:29] But in other respects, it was a failure. 

[00:24:32] The intention was to find another commercial route to the Spice Islands, but the route across the Pacific proved to not be profitable - it was too long and too dangerous to make commercial sense.

[00:24:47] And in terms of the legacy of Magellan, yes he was clearly a brilliant and brave adventurer, sailor and navigator, but he was deeply unpopular with his men, got needlessly caught up in a tribal dispute, and ultimately never made it all the way around the world in one trip.

[00:25:06] So, while some people might know Magellan as the first person to sail around the world, technically he never actually got the whole way around.

[00:25:17] If that’s right, who was the first person to sail around the world?

[00:25:22] Well, this is where things get tricky, and there isn’t complete agreement between historians.

[00:25:29] It wasn’t Magellan. 

[00:25:30] Yes, he was the person who was responsible for the expedition, and it wouldn’t have happened without him, but he died before the mission was over.

[00:25:40] It might have been one of the original men who set sail from Spain and returned, almost three years later, such as the captain of the Victoria after Magellan’s death, Juan Sebastian Elcano.

[00:25:53] It could, however have been Enrique, the Malay slave, who was left behind by the Spaniards as they left the Philippines. 

[00:26:02] As a young boy he had been bought by Magellan and taken back west to Spain, so if he ever managed to get back to his homeland in Malacca, which was only a few hundred kilometres from where he was last seen, he would be the first person to have gone around the world, albeit in multiple trips. 

[00:26:22] But nobody, at least in the European world, heard of him ever after.

[00:26:27] So, while we know the amazing story of the first trip around the world, and we know that the first person to do it was on the ship that left Spain 502 years ago this month, we will never know for sure the identity of the first person to go all the way around the world.

[00:26:48] Ok then, there you have it, the story of the first voyage around the world, and of its daredevil captain, Ferdinand Magellan.

[00:26:58] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode, and of the story of Ferdinand Magellan.

[00:27:04] We have lots of listeners from the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds, both old and new, so I would particularly like to get your take on it.

[00:27:14] Was Magellan a hero? How would history remember him differently if he hadn’t died? How is he remembered in Spain, and in Portugal, and in your country, wherever that might be? I would love to know.

[00:27:27] The place you can go to for that is our community forum, which is over at community.leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:27:34] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:27:39] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode