FERDINAND MAGELLAN by Hawthorne Daniel


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So few facts are known of the personal life of Ferdinand Magellan, the first man to circumnavigate the globe, that the author of this biography, a prolific writer on many subjects, has of necessity based his book largely on surmise bound together with carefully documented accounts of other sailors. Born in Portugal about 1480, as a boy Magellan knew of the voyages of Columbus and Vasco de Gama, who in 1497 ailed around Africa to India. After making several voyages to India himself, Magellan returned to Portugal, where he tried vainly to interest the King, who ated him, in a project to reach the Spice Islands in the East Indies by way of a rumored strait around the tip of South America. Refused aid in Portugal, Magellan, like Columbus before him, went to Spain, where he received a contract for his proposed voyage. In September, 1519, as Captain General of a fleet of five small ships, he ailed for South America; early in 1520, after enduring storms, bitter privations, mutiny and the loss of two ships, he found the strait that now bears his name and reached the Pacific. In November of this same year he discovered and named the Philippines, and not long afterwards was murdered by natives on the island of Mactan. This cautious biography of a magnificent seaman holds little of excitement or danger. The reader never feels storm waves dashing against the frail ships, nor shivers in the biting winds of the Strait, while Magellan himself is little more than a shadowy figure of mist.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1963
Publisher: Doubleday