Ferdinand Magellan - Frederick Ober

Ferdinand Magellan started his career at sea in company with Almeida on his expedition to the Malabar coast. There he distinguished himself, but made enemies so powerful that he found himself exiled from Portugal and in the service of King Charles of Spain. It was the Spanish Monarch, rather than the Portuguese King who procured the ships for his famous voyage around the world. Although Magellan himself died in the Philippines, he survived a mutiny, led his fleet around Cape Horn and crossed the Pacific before being killed in a battle with East Indian natives.

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Ferdinand Magellan


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Authorities on Ferdinand Magellan

The authoritative sources of information on Magellan may be divided into primary and secondary, the first class including the journals of those who knew him and took part in his great expedition, as the "Unknown Portuguese," of Ramusio; Francisco Albo, whose "log-book" (trustworthy, though fragmentary) is contained in Navarrete's famous Coleccion; the "Genoese Pilot"—who wrote excellent Portuguese, by-the-way; and Antonio Pigafetta, whose account of the voyage, the best and most complete, was first written in Italian.

The second class comprises: Maximilian Transylvanus, and Peter Martyr, both contemporaries, who conversed with the Magellan survivors in Seville; Oviedo, who was then in Darien; Correa, author of Lendas da India; Herrera, Spanish historiographer, and others.

Though Pigafetta obtained permission to print as early as 1524, it is not known that he availed himself of the privilege before 1536, the date of the "first Italian edition." The first English translation of his work is contained in Richard Eden's Decades of the Newe World, London, 1555, and follows Martyr, Ramusio, and Transylvanus.

An excellent translation was published by the Hakluyt Society (Lord Stanley of Alderley's) in 1894; but by far the best, as well as most recent, is that by J. A. Robertson, from, and with, the original text—a limited edition, the A. H. Clark Company, Cleveland, Ohio, 1906. A compact and comprehensive volume is the Life of Magellan (with all authorities cited), by F. H. H. Guillemard, London and New York, 1890.