Today’s installment concludes Magellan’s Voyage Around the World,
our selection from First Voyage Around the World by Joan Bautista and by Antonio Pigafetta published in 1874. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of seven thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in Magellan’s Voyage Around the World.
Time: 1519 – 1522
Place: Cape Of Good Hope
In order to double the Cape of Good Hope, we went as far as 42° south latitude, and we remained off that cape for nine weeks, with the sails struck, on account of the western and northwestern gales, which beat against our bows with fierce squalls. The Cape of Good Hope is in 34° 30′ south latitude, sixteen hundred leagues distant from Cape of Molucca, and it is the largest and most dangerous cape in the world.
Some of our men, and among them the sick, would have liked to land at a place belonging to the Portuguese called Mozambique, both because the ship made much water and because of the great cold which we suffered; and much more because we had nothing but rice-water for food and drink, all the meat of which we had made provision having putrefied, for the want of salt had not permitted us to salt it. But the greater number of us, prizing honor more than life itself, decided on attempting at any risk to return to Spain.
At length, by the aid of God, on the 6th of May, we passed the terrible cape, but we were obliged to approach it within only five leagues’ distance, or else we should never have passed it. We then sailed toward the northwest for two whole months without ever taking rest; and in this short time we lost twenty-one men, between Christians and Indians. We made then a curious observation on throwing them into the sea; that was that the Christian remained with the face turned to the sky, and the Indians with the face turned to the sea. If God had not granted us favorable weather, we should all have perished of hunger.
Constrained by extreme necessity, we decided on touching at the Cape Verd island named St. James. Knowing that we were in an enemy’s country and among suspicious persons, on sending the boat ashore to get provision of victuals, we charged the seamen to say to the Portuguese that we had sprung our foremast under the equinoctial line — although this misfortune had happened at the Cape of Good Hope — and that our ship was alone, because while we tried to repair it our captain-general had gone with the other two ships to Spain. With these good words, and giving our merchandise in exchange, we obtained two boat-loads of rice.
In order to see whether we had kept an exact account of the days, we charged those who went ashore to ask what day of the week it was, and they were told by the Portuguese inhabitants of the island that it was Thursday, which was a great cause of wondering to us, since with us it was only Wednesday. We could not persuade ourselves that we were mistaken; and I was more surprised than the others, since, having always been in good health, I had every day, without intermission, written down the day that was current. But we were afterward advised that there was no error on our part, since, as we had always sailed toward the west, following the course of the sun, and had returned to the same place, we must have gained twenty-four hours, as it is clear to anyone who reflects upon it.
The boat, having returned for rice a second time to the shore, was detained with thirteen men who were in it. As we saw that, and, from the movement in certain caravels, suspected that they might wish to capture us and our ship, we at once set sail. We afterward learned, sometime after our return, that our boat and men had been arrested, because one of our men had discovered the deception and said that the captain-general was dead, and that our ship was the only one remaining of Magellan’s fleet.
At last, when it pleased heaven, on Saturday, September 6, 1522, we entered the Bay of San Lucar; and of sixty men who composed our crew when we left Molucca, we were reduced to only eighteen, and these for the most part sick. Of the others, some died of hunger, some had run away at the island of Timor, and some had been condemned to death for their crimes.
From the day when we left this Bay of San Lucar until our return thither, we reckoned that we had run more than fourteen thousand four hundred sixty leagues, and we had completed going round the earth from east to west.
Monday, September 8th, we cast anchor near the mole of Seville, and discharged all the artillery.
Tuesday we all went in shirts and barefoot, with a taper in our hands, to visit the shrine of Santa Maria de Antigua.
Then leaving Seville, I went to Valladolid, where I presented to his sacred majesty Don Carlos neither gold nor silver, but things more precious in the eyes of so great a sovereign. I presented to him, among other things, a book written by my hand of all the things that occurred day by day in our voyage. I departed thence as I was best able and went to Portugal, and related to King John the things which I had seen.
This ends our series of passages on Magellan’s Voyage Around the World by Joan Bautista and Antonio Pigafetta from their book First Voyage Around the World published in 1874. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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