Timeline of the Magellan expedition

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The Magellan expedition was the first voyage around the world in human history. It was a Spanish expedition that sailed from Seville in 1519 under the command of Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese-born explorer but naturalized (nationalised) Spanish, in search of a maritime path to East Asia through the Americas and across the Pacific Ocean, and was concluded by Spanish navigator Juan Sebastian Elcano in 1522. Elcano and the 18 survivors of the expedition were the first men to circumnavigate the globe in a single expedition.[1][2]

The route taken by the expedition. Victoria, one of the original five ships, circumnavigated the globe, finishing three years after setting out.

The Spanish fleet, the Armada de Molucca, that left Spain on 20 September 1519 consisted of five ships with 270 men: Trinidad under Magellan, Captain General; San Antonio under Juan de Cartagena; Concepcion under Gaspar de Quesada; Santiago under João Serrão; and Victoria under Luiz Mendoza.

After crossing the Atlantic and wintering in South America the expedition navigated the Straits of Magellan, then crossed the Pacific to the Philippines.

Following Magellan's death in Mactan (Philippines) in 1521, Juan Sebastián Elcano took command of the ship Victoria, sailing back to Spain across the Indian Ocean, round the Cape of Good Hope and north along the west coast of Africa. The circumnavigation was completed by Elcano and a crew of 18 men in Victoria, returning to Spain nearly three years after they left on 6 September 1522.



The Treaty of Tordesillas established approximate borders between the Spanish and Portuguese empires west of the Cape Verde islands. This imperial competition was to prove critical to the exploration and exploitation of the New World riches.


Magellan was intent on finding a route to the Spice Islands[3][4] accused of unlawfully trading with the Moors, the Portuguese king denied Magellen permission to embark on Portuguese adventures [5]


Magellan moves to Seville, the Spanish gateway to the Indies, and seat of The Casa de Contratación in order to sell his idea to King Charles I of Spain (later Emperor Charles V) and his consort Joanna I. The Spanish court, sitting at Aranjuez is convinced, and grants the adventurer Spanish nationality as well as allocating considerable resources for his expedition [6]


1519: Departure from Seville

September 20: Departure from Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

September 26 - October 3: Stopping in the Canary Islands to take in provisions.[7]

November 29: Fleet reaches the vicinity of Cape St. Augustine.[8]

December 13: Entering the bay of Rio de Janeiro.

December 27: Departure from Rio de Janeiro.[9]


January 10: Cape Santa María. Severe storm then forces Magellan to reverse course and head north, toward Paranaguá Bay.[10]

January 12: Rio de la Plata

February 3: the fleet resumes its southward course but San Antonio found to be leaking badly. Halted for repairs.[10]

February 5: Cape Corrientes

February 24: San Matías Gulf

February 27: Entering Bahia de los Patos.

March 31: Beginning of the overwintering stay at Puerto San Julián.

April 1 and 2: Mutiny on Victoria, Concepcion and San Antonio; death of Louis de Mendoza. Later execution of de Quesada, marooning of de Cartagena. Alvaro de Mesquita becomes captain of San Antonio, Duarte Barbosa of Victoria.

End of April: Santiago is sent on a mission to find the passage. The ship is caught in a storm and wrecked. Survivors return to Puerto San Julián. Serrano (João Serrão) becomes captain of the Concepcion.[11]

July: Encounters with the “Patagonian giants” (likely the Tehuelche people).

August 23 or 24: Fleet departs Puerto San Julián for Río Santa Cruz.[12][13]

October 18: Fleet leaves Santa Cruz.[14]

October 21: Arriving at the Cape of the Eleven Thousand Virgins, entry to what would be known as Strait of Magellan.

End of October: San Antonio, charged to explore Magdalen Sound, fails to return to the fleet, instead sails back to Spain under Estêvão Gomes who imprisoned captain de Mesquita. The ship arrives in Spain on May 21, 1521.

November 28: The fleet leaves the strait and enters the Pacific Ocean.[15]

When out in the Pacific some of the crew get scurvy.


January 24/25-28: Landfall on an uninhabited island, which Magellan names St Paul's (probably Puka-Puka). They stay for a few days before continuing on.[16][17]

March 6: Arrival at Guam and encounters with the Chamorro people.

March 16: Sighting of Zamal (Samar), one of the Philippine Islands. They landed on the uninhabited island of Humunu (Homonhon) where they encountered fishermen from the nearby island of Zuluan (Suluan). They traded supplies with the locals and learned the local culture and the names of nearby islands while their sick crew members recuperated.

March 28: They anchored off the island of Mazaua (Limasawa) where they met two rulers on a hunting expedition on the island, Rajah Kulambo and Rajah Siawi, of the Rajahnate of Butuan and Calagan (Surigao), respectively. Magellan and his crew spent a few days as the guests of the rulers.

March 31: First Mass in the Philippines held in Limasawa.

April 3: The fleet sets off for Cebu, guided by the balangay warships of Rajah Kulambo.

April 7: Arrival at Zubu (Rajahnate of Cebu). Magellan starts converting natives to Christianity, including Rajah Humabon, the ruler of Cebu.

April 27: Death of Magellan in the Battle of Mactan. Serrano and Barbosa are voted co-commanders.

May 1: At a local banquet Barbosa and 27 sailors (including Afonso de Góis, the new captain of Victoria after the election of Barbosa and Serrano) are murdered and Serrano captured, later killed. The three remaining ships escape to the island of Bohol.

May 2: There are not enough men to handle three ships, thus the worm-infested Concepcion is burned down. Two ships remain: Victoria and Trinidad. Gonzalo Gomez de Espinosa becomes captain of Victoria. Joao Lopez Carvalho is made as the Captain General. The ships sail to Mindanao, Mapun, Palawan, and Brunei.

September 21: Carvalho is replaced by Espinosa as Captain-General. Juan Sebastian Elcano becomes captain of Victoria.

November 8: Arriving at Tidore in the Moluccas.

December 21: Victoria under the command of Elcano leaves the Moluccas to return home, sailing west towards the Cape of Good Hope. Trinidad remains at Tidore for repairs.


January 25: Victoria reaches Timor and starts to cross the Indian Ocean.

April 6: Trinidad under the command of Espinosa leaves the Moluccas heading home sailing east. After five weeks, Espinosa decides to return to the Moluccas where he and his ship are captured by a Portuguese fleet under Antonio de Brito. However, the ship was wrecked during a storm.

May 22: Victoria passes the Cape of Good Hope and enters the Atlantic Ocean.

July 9: Victoria reaches Santiago, Cape Verde.

September 6: Victoria returns to Sanlúcar de Barrameda under the command of Elcano, two weeks shy of three years after setting sail.

September 8: Victoria arrives at Seville, technically completing the circumnavigation.


Settlement of King Carlos I of Spain and Juana I with Ferdinand Magellan and Rui Faleiro signed at Valladolid, Spain[18]


  1. ^ Coren, Michael (2005-03-07). "Fossett makes history". CNN. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  2. ^ Evans Andrews (2014-08-27). "Was Magellan the first person to circumnavigate the globe?". HISTORY.com. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  3. ^ Ferdinand Magellan Research Task:Motives
  4. ^ What motivated Magellan to explore?
  5. ^ Ferdinand Magellan, section:Navigator & Explorer
  6. ^ Thought Co: The Spanish and the Spice Islands
  7. ^ Pigafetta, Antonio. The First Voyage Round the World. Translated by Stanley, Henry.
  8. ^ Pigafetta, Antonio. "Log-Book of Francisco Alvo or Alvaro". The First Voyage Round the World. Translated by Stanley, Henry.
  9. ^ Bergreen 2003, p. 104.
  10. ^ a b Bergreen, Laurence (2009). Over the edge of the world : Magellan's terrifying circumnavigation of the globe. HarperCollins. pp. 117–123. ISBN 978-0-06-289048-1. OCLC 1108827371.
  11. ^ Bergreen 2003, pp. 155–160.
  12. ^ Cameron 1974, p. 122.
  13. ^ Bergreen 2003, p. 170.
  14. ^ Bergreen 2003, p. 174.
  15. ^ Bergreen 2003, p. 200.
  16. ^ Cameron 1974, p. 159.
  17. ^ Bergreen 2003, p. 218.
  18. ^ Settlement of King Charles I with Ferdinand Magellan and Rui Faleiro / Page 01


  • Laurence Bergreen, Over the Edge of the World. Harper Perennial, 2003. ISBN 0-06-621 173-5
  • Cameron, Ian (1974). Magellan and the first circumnavigation of the world. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 029776568X. OCLC 842695.