On September 6, 1522, one of Ferdinand Magellan’s five ships finally reaches SanlÚcar de Barrameda, Spain after a three-year journey across the globe. Magellan wasn’t on it. He died – in the Philippines.
Magellan set sail from Spain in 1519 to search for a westward route to Indonesia. Spices were a big deal back then. There was no Sam’s Club. If you wanted spicy food you had to pay for it – or sail to Indonesia. His expedition was five-ships-deep and 270-men-strong. These were obviously some serious spice lovers.
After Magellan failed to find a route through South America, he decided to shack up at Port St. Julian, Argentina for the winter. The crew decided that Magellan had no idea where he was going. They planned and poorly executed a mutiny. This resulted in an executed captain, and another left in Argentina. “Good luck getting back to Spain!” Magellan remained in charge.
In October of 1520, Magellan finally found a path through the tip of South America. He named it after himself, naturally. C’mon he had been through a lot… let the man feel special.
It took the three ships 38 days to complete the journey through the straight. (Yes, three. One of the five was abandoned, and another was wrecked.) Finally, Magellan reached the Pacific – it made him cry. They named the ocean “Pacific,” from the Latin derivative pacificus, or “peaceful.”
Homeboy took the long way…
Shortly after their new challenge began, the Pacific Ocean took its toll on Magellan’s crew. They ran out of supplies and began eating the leather bindings from the ships to keep alive. Finally, the crew arrived in the Philippines – only 400 miles from spice heaven. (Yep, here comes the death part.)
Magellan’s crew made the mistake of befriending a local chief during their stay. The chief convinced the Europeans to help him conquer a rival tribe on a neighboring island. “Sure, it’s not like we have an important feat awaiting us.”
Magellan was struck by a poisoned arrow during a fight between tribes. His crew left him to die while running for their lives… nice.
The survivors continued the voyage after Magellan’s death. One ship headed back for the Pacific. (They were never heard from again.) The other ship finished the 400-mile stretch to arrive in Spain on September 6, 1522. Can you imagine those sea-beards?!
All in all, the trip was a success. The world was circled – and spicy foods were to be had by all! However, only 22 men survived. Oops.
The Animaniacs explain all this best…