Ferdinand Magellan: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Ferdinand Magellan.

  • Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer, who lived from about 1480 until 1521. His exact birthplace in Northern Portugal is not known.

  • Magellan is famous for being the first person to sail from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean, and for crossing the Pacific Ocean. His voyage proved that the world was round.
  • Magellan became a pageboy to the Portuguese queen at the age of 10. He studied maps and navigation and, when in his 20s, he joined a voyage to East Africa.
  • Spain was concerned with finding a new sea route to the Spice Islands, in what is now Indonesia. Ferdinand Magellan was convinced that a sea route from Spain existed through the New World.

Ferdinand Magellan

  • Magellan’s expedition to discover the Pacific Ocean set sail in 1519. He named the newly discovered ocean the Pacific, because it seemed so calm.
  • Magellan believed it would only take a few days to cross the Pacific Ocean, instead of the 4 months it actually took. During that time, many of the crew starved because of a lack of food.
  • Ferdinand Magellan landed in the Philippines in April 1521, where he converted hundreds of natives to Christianity. However, he was killed when fighting one of the tribes.
  • Although Ferdinand Magellan had proved it was possible to sail around the world, it was so difficult that it would be almost 60 years before someone else did it – Francis Drake in 1577.
  • The Strait of Magellan, the passage of water at the tip of South America, is named after him. Magellan has also given his name to a species of penguin and two craters on the moon.
  • A type of cloud is also named after him. He was the first European to write about the ‘Magellanic clouds’, now known to be galaxies in space.

What next? Find out about Vasco da Gama and John Cabot, two other Tudor explorers.

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