This is the essay for the 20th week of the 7th Grade Ron Paul Curriculum. It’s about Ferdinand Magellan, a famous renaissance era explorer.

Ferdinand Magellan


Ferdinand Magellan was born on February 3, 1480, in Portugal. He was orphaned at the age of 10. Due to this, he became a page to the queen of Portugal. So, Magellan grew up in the royal court of the Portuguese. He later joined the royal Portuguese navy.

In 1505 he was sent to Portuguese India to install Francisco de Almeida as a viceroy of Portugal. Magellan fought many battles in India and one of them even caused him a permanent limp. He stayed in India for 8 years. During his stay in India, he saved the life of his captain, who was also his friend Serrao. For this Magellan earned a promotion. Due to Serrao Magellan, became interested in exploring. Serrao left India to find the spice islands which he found and kept sending Magellan letters about. So Magellan decided to do the same. He left India and returned to Portugal to ask if the king of Portugal if he could lead an exploration crew to the spice islands. However, because he left India without permission and because he had been accused of illegal trading, which turned out to be false. Due to these things the Portuguese king denied Magellan’s request.

But Magellan didn’t give up, instead, he asked the Spanish king if he would allow him to lead an expedition. After the treaty of Tordesillas where the colonies that Spain and Portugal could have were split by a North-South line. Spain got the Americas and Portugal got Africa and parts of Asia. Due to this, the Spanish needed a new route to the Spice Islands. Their solution to the problem was Magellan so they agreed.

Magellan thought a route through the America’s might work and so he tried it out. He left Spain in 1519, with 270 men and 5 ships. Magellan started sailing towards what is now Brazil and then headed south. He found a passageway that was deep enough for his ships to go through so he tied it. The strait was successful and brought Magellan to the Pacific ocean. He named the strait Mar Pacifico, because of its peacefulness. But today it’s known as the strait of Magellan named after the explorer Ferdinand Magellan who discovered it.

Continuing his journey Magellan reached the Philippines and he was warmly welcomed. He even converted the king and queen of the Philippines to Christianity. The king asked if Magellan and his crew would help in a battle against a rival king. Magellan agreed to help the king, but he died in the battle and his crew had to continue without him. Because the crew of Magellan had suffered losses during the journey and in the battle so they had to leave 3 ships behind and find the spice islands with only 2 ships. They reached the spice islands with 115 men in total left. For the return journey, one ship would go around the horn of Africa and the other ship would use the strait of Magellan.  The ship going east using the strait of Magellan was captured by Portuguese. And then it was wrecked under Portuguese control. Magellan’s crew reached Spain nearly 3 years after they left with only 18 crew members remaining.

Magellan is known for being the first European explorer who sailed through the strait of Magellan and the Pacific Ocean.