Why Was Magellan’s Voyage Important?
Magellan is credited with the first circumnavigation of the globe, although he died before the voyage was completed. En route, Magellan discovered what is now called the Strait of Magellan. He became the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean and named South America’s Tierra del Fuego. Magellan originally set sail from Spain in 1519, in an attempt to find a western sea route to the Spice Islands of Indonesia.
Magellan departed from Spain in command of five ships and 270 men. He sailed to West Africa and then toward Brazil, where he sought to find the South American coast. He was looking for a strait that would take him to the Pacific Ocean. He found a strait separating mainland South America from the islands of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. This is what is now known as the Strait of Magellan. It took 38 days to navigate the dangerous strait before another ocean was sighted at the other end. He was the first European explorer to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic.
During the voyage, his crew suffered immensely. They began to starve as the food supplies were depleted, the water turned putrid and many of them developed scurvy. Magellan and his crew landed in the Philippines and allied themselves with a tribal king. Magellan took part in the Battle of Mactan and was killed. Only one ship made it home to Spain, the Victoria. Juan Sebastian de Elcano took charge of the vessel after the murder of Magellan and, with 18 remaining crew members, managed to survive the voyage.