5 min

1505 to 1521

Voyages of Ferdinand Magellan

by nonoumasy ▲⚬▲⚬

Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth, which was completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano.

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Overview: Ferdinand Magellan

1480 Jan 1 -



Sabrosa, Portugal.


Ferdinand was born

1480 Apr 27 -

Sabrosa, Portugal

Magellan was born in the Portuguese town of Sabrosa in or around 1480. His father, Pedro de Magalhães, was a minor member of Portuguese nobility and mayor of the town. His mother was Alda de Mezquita. Magellan's siblings included Diego de Sosa and Isabel Magellan. He was brought up as a page of Queen Eleanor, consort of King John II. In 1495 he entered the service of Manuel I, John's successor

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A battle between the Portuguese Armada and Turkish soldiers on horseback in Goa, western India


Ferdinand Magellan first voyage with Francisco d'Almeida to India

1505 Mar 1 -

Goa, India

In March 1505 at the age of 25, Magellan enlisted in the fleet of 22 ships sent to host Francisco de Almeida as the first viceroy of Portuguese India. Although his name does not appear in the chronicles, it is known that he remained there eight years, in Goa, Cochin and Quilon. He participated in several battles, including the battle of Cannanore in 1506, where he was wounded. In 1509 he fought in the battle of Diu.

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Charles I, the young King of Spain


Ferdinand Magellan convinces King Charles I to support his voyage to Spice Islands

1518 Mar 22 -

Seville, Spain

After having his proposed expeditions to the Spice Islands repeatedly rejected by King Manuel of Portugal, Magellan turned to Charles I, the young King of Spain (and future Holy Roman Emperor). Under the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, Portugal controlled the eastern routes to Asia that went around Africa. Magellan instead proposed reaching the Spice Islands by a western route, a feat which had never been accomplished. Hoping that this would yield a commercially useful trade route for Spain, Charles approved the expedition, and provided most of the funding.

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Magellan leaves Spain

1519 Sep 20 -

Cadiz, Spain

The fleet left Spain on 20 September 1519, sailing west across the Atlantic toward South America. Magellan's fleet consisted of five ships, carrying supplies for two years of travel. The crew consisted of about 270 men. Most were Spanish, but around 40 were Portuguese.

Reaches South America


Rio de Janeiro

1519 Dec 6 -

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In December, they made landfall at Rio de Janeiro.

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Ferdinand Magellan and crew establish settlement called Puerto San Julian

1520 Mar 30 -

Puerto San Julian, Argentina

After three months of searching (including a false start in the estuary of Río de la Plata), weather conditions forced the fleet to stop their search to wait out the winter. They found a sheltered natural harbor at the port of Saint Julian, and remained there for five months. Shortly after landing at St. Julian, there was a mutiny attempt led by the Spanish captains Juan de Cartagena, Gaspar de Quesada and Luis de Mendoza. Magellan barely managed to quell the mutiny, despite at one point losing control of three of his five ships to the mutineers. Mendoza was killed during the conflict, and Magellan sentenced Quesada and Cartagena to being beheaded and marooned, respectively. Lower-level conspirators were made to do hard labor in chains over the winter, but later freed.

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Ferdinand Magellan discovers and explores Strait of Magellan

1520 Nov 1 -

Strait of Magellan, Chile

During the winter, one of the fleet's ships, the Santiago, was lost in a storm while surveying nearby waters, though no men were killed. Following the winter, the fleet resumed their search for a passage to the Pacific in October 1520. Three days later, they found a bay which eventually led them to a strait, now known as the Strait of Magellan, which allowed them passage through to the Pacific. While exploring the strait, one of the remaining four ships, the San Antonio, deserted the fleet, returning east to Spain. The fleet reached the Pacific by the end of November 1520. Based on the incomplete understanding of world geography at the time, Magellan expected a short journey to Asia, perhaps taking as little as three or four days. In fact, the Pacific crossing took three months and twenty days. The long journey exhausted their supply of food and water, and around 30 men died, mostly of scurvy. Magellan himself remained healthy, perhaps because of his personal supply of preserved quince.


Ferdinand Magellan reached the Mariana Islands and Guam

1521 Mar 6 -


On 6 March 1521, the exhausted fleet made landfall at the island of Guam and were met by native Chamorro people who came aboard the ships and took items such as rigging, knives, and a ship's boat. The Chamorro people may have thought they were participating in a trade exchange (as they had already given the fleet some supplies), but the crew interpreted their actions as theft. Magellan sent a raiding party ashore to retaliate, killing several Chamorro men, burning their houses, and recovering the 'stolen' goods

Magellan reaches the Limasawa, Leyte, Philippines


Ferdinand Magellan becomes first European to reach Philippines

1521 Mar 16 -

Limasawa, Philippines

On 16 March, the fleet reached the Philippines, where they would remain for a month and a half. Magellan befriended local leaders on the island of Limasawa, and on 31 March, held the first Mass in the Philippines, planting a cross on the island's highest hill. Magellan set about converting the locals to Christianity. Most accepted the new religion readily, but the island of Mactan resisted.

Magellan is slain by Lapu Lapu


Ferdinand Magellan dies at the Battle of Mactan

1521 Apr 27 -

Mactan, Philippines

On 27 April, Magellan and members of his crew attempted to subdue the Mactan natives by force, but in the ensuing battle, the Europeans were overpowered and Magellan was killed by Lapulapu, a native chieftain in Mactan.

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1521 Nov 1 -

Moluccas, Indonesia

Following his death, Magellan was initially succeeded by co-commanders Juan Serrano and Duarte Barbosa (with a series of other officers later leading). The fleet left the Philippines (following a bloody betrayal by former ally Rajah Humabon) and eventually made their way to the Moluccas in November 1521. Laden with spices, they attempted to set sail for Spain in December, but found that only one of their remaining two ships, the Victoria, was seaworthy.

Victoria, the sole ship of Magellan's fleet to complete the circumnavigation.


Ferdinand Magellan's remaining crew return to Spain

1522 Sep 6 -

Cadiz, Spain

The Victoria, captained by Juan Sebastián Elcano, finally returned to Spain by 6 September 1522, completing the circumnavigation. Of the 270 men who left with the expedition, only 18 or 19 survivors returned.


  • The First Voyage Round the World, by Magellan, full text, English translation by Lord Stanley of Alderley, London: Hakluyt, [1874] – six contemporary accounts of his voyage
  • Guillemard, Francis Henry Hill (1890), The life of Ferdinand Magellan, and the first circumnavigation of the globe, 1480–1521, G. Philip, retrieved 8 April 2009
  • Zweig, Stefan (2007), Conqueror of the Seas – The Story of Magellan, Read Books, ISBN 978-1-4067-6006-4

The End

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