Who was Ferdinand Magellan? Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer and Hispanic Monarchy’s subject from 1518. He is best known for having planned and led the 1519 Spanish expedition to the East Indies across the Pacific to open a maritime trade route in which he discovered the interoceanic passage bearing thereafter his name and achieving the first European navigation from the Atlantic to Asia.
This expedition, where Magellan was killed in battle against the natives of Mactan Island (present day Philippines) in 1521, resulted in the first circumnavigation of the Earth when one of the expedition’s two remaining ships eventually returned to Spain in 1522.
Born 4 February 1480 into a family of minor Portuguese nobility, Magellan became a skilled sailor and naval officer and was in service of the Portuguese Crown in Asia. Confronted to some criminal offences and after King Manuel I of Portugal refused to support his plan to reach the Maluku Islands (the “Spice Islands“) by sailing westwards around the American continent, Magellan left Portugal and proposed the expedition to King Charles I of Spain who accepted it.