Magellan's World


Magellan’s Geodrama

September 15th, 2013 by

“Make no small plans, for they have no power to stir the soul.”Niccolo Machiavelli 1469-1527 In 1519, the Magellan expedition left the west coast of Spain with five ships and approximately 270 souls in pursuit of a westward route to the Spice Islands. Three years later, one ship with 18 Europeans, a handful of Malays […]

Who Closed the Circle First?

August 26th, 2015 by

While many people correctly associate the first recorded circumnavigation of the Earth with Ferdinand Magellan, most do not know that Magellan only made it part of the way. On April 27th, 1521, Magellan died at the Battle of Mactan in the archipelago he named San Lazaro, known today as The Philippines. Juan Sebastian del Cano […]

Prince Henry The Navigator

August 8th, 2015 by

This is the story of how Prince Henry of Portugal became the instigator of serious sea exploration in the west. It’s a story of how one family’s tragedy turned into history’s good fortune. Portugal’s independence from Castile was won largely through the efforts of Prince Henry’s father, King João I. The King had the support […]

The Silk Road

July 18th, 2015 by

When you Google for “The Silk Road” today, you find a lot more search results for the drugs-and-guns site than for the historically significant network of travel routes between China, the middle east and ancient Rome. Yet, for centuries this “international commercial highway” was the source of valuable goods, spices, gems and China’s silks for […]

The Iberians

July 15th, 2015 by

We continue the exploration of Tim Joyner’s book Magellan with Chapter 2, The Iberians. Who are the Iberians and what do they have to do with Ferdinand Magellan and his expedition? There are Eastern Iberians and Western Iberians. The Eastern group have millennias of history in the Caucuses, the descendents of which are Georgians in […]

The Royal World of Magellan

June 30th, 2015 by

The royalty Magellan rubbed shoulders with consisted of two competing majesties; King Manual of Portugal and King Charles of Spain. The intricacies of these two sovereigns provide a fabric of intrigue and ambition outpacing the best of good fiction. The intense rivalry between Spain and Portugal at the time was not simply an international competition […]

A Pound of Cloves

June 30th, 2015 by

One aspect of the expedition that is of interest today might be the economics of the expedition’s financing. There is little doubt that Magellan was a deeply religious man. Even then as now, the project was subject to certain expectations of a return on investment and required a large commitment of financing from investors. The King […]

The End of the Beginning

June 30th, 2015 by

“At Seville on 24 August 1519 Magellan signed his last will and testament….One-tenth of all he may gain from the voyage to the Moluccas is to be set apart for legacies; one-third to build a new chapel around Santa Maria de la Victoria, where the monks may forever pray for the repose of his soul…” […]

The Age of Exploration

October 2nd, 2013 by

Just to put Magellan into historical context, here are some events and dates to consider. 1519 was the year Magellan set out on his expedition. The cosmological belief system at the time was “geocentric.” Complex celestial trigonometry was used to navigate by heavenly bodies which were assumed to be rotating around the Earth. The Spanish […]