Victoria Circumnavigates the Globe, 1522

Depiction of the Victoria by Abraham Ortelius

Virtually all his life, Ferdinand Magellan of Portugal had a fascination with cartography, astronomy, and navigation.  In other words, Magellan was born to explore.


Before setting off on his own endeavors, however, Magellan navigated to/explored Malacca (modern day Malaysia), the Spice Islands (now called Indonesia), and Morocco among other places.

Inspired by the accomplishments of explorers such as Christopher Columbus* and  Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Magellan decided to find an all-water passage around the globe, thus connecting Europe to very distant, very exotic nations. With the support of King Charles V of Spain, Magellan’s fleet of five ships set sail on September 20, 1519.

The ships were insufficient for the long journey; therefore only one ship, Victoria, made it through the perilous journey. However, not even Magellan made it through the circumnavigation. On his journey, he became involved in a local war in the Philippines and died in battle. The remaining crew members had to finish the circumnavigation, completing it on this day in 1522. Crazy, right?

Map by Heinrich Scherer illustrating Victoria’s circumnavigation.


So is it worse to die before your dream is realized or never have it realized at all? 

*I personally find Christopher Columbus overrated. His “discovery” of North America was a mistake and he enslaved the native people. But in this age, he was kind of a rockstar.


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