Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Ferdinand Magellan (1480 – 1521) wasn't a Viking. He was a Portuguese explorer who later obtained Spanish nationality in order to serve king Charles I of Spain in search of a westward route to the “Spice Islands.” Magellan's expedition of 1519–1522 became the first expedition to sail from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean (then named "peaceful sea" by Magellan; the passage being made via the Straight of Magellan), and the first to cross the Pacific. It also completed the first circumnavigation of the Earth. Magellan himself did not complete the entire voyage, being killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines. Of the 237 men who set out on five ships, only 18 completed the circumnavigation and managed to return to Spain in 1522, led by the Basque navigator Juan Sebastian Elcano, who took over command of the expedition after Magellan's death. Magellan also gives his name to the Magellanic Penguin, which he was the first European to note, and the Magellanic clouds, now known to be nearby dwarf galaxies.

"The sea is dangerous and its storms terrible, but these obstacles have never been sufficient reason to remain ashore. Unlike the mediocre, intrepid spirits seek victory over these things that seem impossible. It is with an iron will that they embark on the most daring of all endeavors -- to meet the shadowy future without fear and conquer the unknown."

--Ferdinand Magellan

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