Circumnavigation of the Earth is Hard!

You know about how Columbus sailed to the “West Indies” and the people he found he called Indians? But he really found the underside of the Americas like the Bahamas and Cuba?

Did you know about the man who started the expedition of circumnavigating the earth?


This man’s name was Ferdinand Magellan, and he was a Portuguese explorer but he sailed for the Spanish Crown to find a way to India because the Treaty of Tordesillas prevented Spain from sailing to India, also the Portuguese Crown had refused to let Ferdinand go with their funding (probably in fear that it would not prove fruitful).

Portugal had all of the land and ocean around Africa and Europe, while Spain had all the land west of Europe (Americas, South America, Central America).

The solid purple line is the Treaty of Tordesillas.

When Ferdinand set sail in 1519, he had five ships and around 270 men.  He hoped he would be able to find a route to India by traveling west. And just by looking at the map above, do you think it would have been difficult to try and find a way? He did not want to have to travel all the way down to the very tippy end of South America and up again.  But he did come close.


As you can see he passed through the very tippy end of South America at a place now  called The Strait(s) of Magellan, and when he got to the other side he called the ocean Mar Pacifico which means Pacific Ocean. Fortunately, he did not have to travel much farther before he got to the Philippine Islands and the Spice Islands and India which he had found a new route to! Ferdinand died in battle helping the Filipinos get rid of a native tribe. So the remaining crew of about 100 + or – 20 people set sail for Spain.  So Ferdinand was never able to see his journey finished but it was finished! But with only 18 crewmen left!! Only one ship from the five made it back to Spain, because one ship split up with the one that made it back to Spain because it was taking on water.

Ferdinand was an explorer that took his time to study his maps and research the ocean and, at the same time, didn’t violate the Treaty of Tordesillas! I bet the Portuguese Crown wished they had let Ferdinand go on the expedition for them!

Quinn Palmer

RPC student

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