In search of fame and fortune, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (c. 1480-1521) set out from Spain in 1519 with a fleet of five ships to discover a western sea route to the Spice Islands. En route he discovered what is now known as the Strait of Magellan and became the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean. The voyage was long and dangerous, and only one ship returned home three years later. Although it was laden with valuable spices from the East, only 18 of the fleet’s original crew of 270 returned with the ship. Magellan himself was killed inbattle on the voyage, but his ambitious expedition proved that the globe could be circled by sea and that the world was much larger than had previously been imagined.Ferdinand Magellan’s Early YearsFerdinand Magellan (c. 1480–1521) was born in Sabrosa, Portugal, to a family of minor Portuguese nobility. At age 12 Ferdinand Magellan (Fernão de Magalhãesin Portuguese and Fernando de Magallanesin Spanish) and his brother Diogo traveled to Lisbon to serve as pages at Queen Leonora’s court. While at the court Magellan was exposed to stories of the great Portuguese and Spanish rivalry for sea exploration and dominance over the spice trade in the East Indies, especially the Spice Islands, or Moluccas, in modern Indonesia. Intrigued by the promise of fame and riches, Magellan developed an interest in maritime discovery in those early years.Did you know? Clove was the most valuable spice in Europe during Magellan's day. It was used to flavor food, but Europeans also believed that its essence could improve vision, its powder could relieve fevers, and mixed with milk it could enhance intercourse.In 1505, Magellan and his brother were assigned to a Portuguese fleet headed for India. Over the next seven years, Magellan participated in several expeditions in India and Africa and was wounded in several battles. In 1513 he joined the enormous 500-ship, 15,000-soldier force sent by King Manuel to Morocco to challenge the Moroccan governor whorefused to pay its yearly tribute to the Portuguese empire. The Portuguese easily overwhelmed the Moroccan forces, and Magellan stayed on in Morocco. While there he was seriously wounded in a skirmish, which left him with a limp for the rest of his life.