Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who led the first expedition to circumnavigate the globe. Like many of his contemporaries, Magellan set out to discover a Western sea route to the Spice Islands in Indonesia. Magellan ended up proving, instead, that the world was indeed round and bigger than anyone had previously imagined. But before we go to his timeline of travel, let me tell you first some 10 facts about him.1. Magellan’s expedition had a multinational crew.Although it was a Spanish expedition, Magellan’s fleet featured a culturally diverse crew. Spaniards and Portuguese made up the vast majority of the sailors, but the voyage also included mariners from Greece, Sicily, England, France, Germany and even North Africa.2. Magellan’s voyage was sparked by a treaty between Spain and Portugal.Magellan originally launched his expedition as a means of finding a western route to the Moluccas, a small archipelago in Indonesia known for its stores of precious spices like cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. The Spanish were desperate to discover this alternate path because of 1494’s Treaty of Tordesillas, a decree from Pope Alexander VI that had essentially divided the world in half between the Spanish and the Portuguese. This agreement placed the more practical eastern route to the Spice Islands under Portuguese control, forcing the Spanish to find a new passage by sailing west around South America.3. Magellan was considered a traitor to his home country of Portugal.While Ferdinand Magellan was originally from Portugal, King Charles I of Spain ultimately sponsored his voyage. Once the expedition sailed, two groups of Portuguese pursued Magellan’s fleet in the hopes of capturing the navigator and returning him to his homeland in chains.4. Many of Magellan’s crew mutinied or deserted the expedition.
The first of revolts was easily unraveled, but the second proved more elaborate. Worried that Magellan’s obsession with finding passage to the Pacific was going to doom the expedition, in April 1520 three of his five ships turned against him. Magellan and his supporters ultimately thwarted the revolt, and he even marooned two men on an island when he found they were planning a third mutiny. The rebellions continued later that year when the vessel San Antonio deserted the fleet and prematurely returned to Spain.5. Magellan’s expedition claimed to have encountered giants in South America.While anchored near modern-day Argentina, Magellan’s men reported encountering 8-foot-tall men on the beaches of Patagonia. After befriending these “giants,” Magellan supposedly tricked them into boarding his ship and took one of the men captive. The giant was later baptized and named Paul, but died during the fleet’s long crossing of the Pacific Ocean. 6. Magellan gave the Pacific Ocean its nameAfter weathering horrific storms near southern South America and losing one of his ships to rough seas, Magellan finally entered what is now known as the Strait of Magellan in November 1520. Crossing into a calm and gentle ocean, he named it “Mar Pacifico,” which means