Here are some interesting facts about Ferdinand Magellan, who he was and his achievements that made him so famous. We all know at least by name the famous Portuguese explorer who lived between the 15th and 16th centuries, but do you know why he is so famous? A strait in the south of the American continent was even named after him. Discover more about Ferdinand Magellan’s story and why a now-famous sea passage was named after him!
Review of the explorer’s life
Before presenting Ferdinand Magellan and his accomplishments, here is a summary of his origins and background.
He was born in Portugal around the year 1480, a historical period between the 15th and 17th centuries. Countries across what is now Europe are trying to develop and are seeking to explore the globe.
Portugal is more attracted to Africa, so Portuguese explorers will sail along the African coasts during this period. On his part, Magellan has signed an agreement with Spain and is about to embark on a much more ambitious expedition: a circumnavigation of the world, something that has never been achieved before.
Ferdinand Magellan, the man behind the first circumnavigation of the world
We couldn’t consider a presentation on Ferdinand Magellan without mentioning this achievement that made history in his name. The first circumnavigation (journey around the globe by boat) was made possible thanks to the sailors’ team, of which Ferdinand Magellan was a member.
Between 1519 and 1522, several ships accomplished this feat during this expedition. It should be noted that although Magellan was remembered for this historical fact, he was not part of the team of sailors who returned home, he died during the last year of the journey.
Story of a journey around the world
Ferdinand de Magellan initially explained his project of a circumnavigation of the globe to King Charles I of Spain, not to discover but to open a new spice route that would allow the development of trade with Asia.
The expedition started with 237 sailors aboard five ships departing from Seville in southern Spain. Numerous adventures weakened the crews, among them mutinies and diseases contracted by the sailors. The difficult sailing conditions and the lack of water and food made the journey very trying.
Indeed, Magellan never saw the end of the journey because he died in April 1521, in the Philippines, during a battle against the local population.
Why was a strait named after Magellan?
A discussion on Ferdinand Magellan cannot begin without pointing out that the Strait of Magellan was named after him following this maritime expedition.
Location and discovery
This sea passage is located in the Patagonia region of southern Chile. It separates the south from the American continent and the island of Tierra del Fuego. It is the largest natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It bears Ferdinand Magellan’s name because it was during his round-the-world expedition that this passage was discovered and crossed for the first time.
How do you get through the Strait of Magellan?
Currently, it is easy to cross the Strait of Magellan by taking one of the ferries that navigate between Puntas Arenas, in Patagonia, and Tierra del Fuego.