Sunday, July 26, 2009

First Around the World

OK, here's the answer to the Pop Quiz I posted earlier. The question was, "Who was the first person known to have circumnavigated the globe?"

First let's eliminate one obvious, but erroneous, answer: Ferdinand Magellan.

Magellan visited Southeast Asia on a voyage that began in 1511 took him east bound as far as the Spice Islands and westbound on the return. He then set out westbound on his famous circumnavigation voyage of 1519-1522, but died in the Philippines, short of his previous voyage's eastern most longitude, and thus failed to circumnavigate the globe. (As Maxwell Smart would say, "missed it by that much."

A modern replica of Magellan's ship Victoria, the only one of his five ships to survive the circumnavigation voyage and return to Spain in 1522

MF offered up the name of "Basque captain, Sebastian del Cano (who) is credited with assuming command of Magellan's last remaining ship, the Victoria, making it back to Spain in September 1522".

Very good answer MF - close, but no cigar.

While Sebastian del Cano (and surviving crew) did circumnavigate the globe, there was a single man who did so before them. And this person did not even intend to do so!

That person was Magellan's slave, Enrique de Malacca (aka Henry the Black).

Enrique was taken as a slave from Sumatra in the year 1511. He was a Malay and served Magellan as his interpreter. He went with Magellan back to Europe, westbound around Africa. He then came on the second voyage, which began in 1519, this time around South America. Magellan of course, as MF pointed out, was killed in the Philippines and never made it around to complete a full circumnavigation, but Enrique did. When he returned to his homeland on that ship, he in fact became the first person known to have circled the globe.

So, Sebastian del Cano and other crew that survived voyage of 1519 to 1522 around the world and returned to Europe were really a distant second to Enrique in completing a circumnavigation.

Together, Enrique, Sebastian del Cano, and surviving crew members have the distinction of being the first men to circumnavigate the globe in a single voyage.


Tillerman said...

Great quiz. I knew the story about how Magellan didn't make it all the way round, and would also have guessed that the first circumnavigators were his crew on their return to Spain. I will try and remember the story of Enrique... probably will be able to win some bets with it down the line.

Pandabonium said...

Hey Tillerman,
Thanks for the visit and comment. I'll add your blog to my links.
I too am a grandfather approaching 60.

10% of any winnings please. ;^)
(just kidding)

HappySurfer said...

Good general knowledge. Thank you, PandaB.

Don Snabulus said...

That was a great quiz question. History is always different when you dig a little deeper and go beyond the stuff taught at school.

Anonymous said...

Still Magellan is the name we all remember - he must have had quite a PR outfit behind him, like the Volvo Sailing Race of the 16th Century. Thanks for the lesson about Enrique, great story!


Pandabonium said...

Happy - Glad you liked it. I always find historical twists interesting.

Don - there was a great Firesign Theatre comedy album titled "Everything You Know Is Wrong"... when we examine what we are taught in school, it seems to be too close to the truth for comfort.

MF - Thanks for taking up the challenge.
I guess the guy that puts the cruise together gets the credit, even though that cruise was quite an ordeal. Or perhaps no one else wanted to take the blame. :o

Nicole said...

Love the photo of the replica of Victoria. Just finished "Over the Edge of the World" and I still would have answered wrong! Enrique betrayed the remaining members of the armada in Cebu after Magellan was killed and the newly appointed Captain General did not set Enrique free as Magellan's will instructed. Enrique stayed in the Philippines instead of returning to Spain.

Pandabonium said...

Nicole, thanks for your comment. I'm glad you found this of interest. My apologies for not catching your comment sooner! (I'm a month late). I hope to read "Over the Edge of the World" myself soon. Interesting history. Well, as someone once said, "if we don't study history, the world is a mystery!"


Helen C said...

Where is this Victoria? It doesn't look like the one at Rio Seco and Ibaraki, Japan seems like an odd place for a replica.

Pandabonium said...

Sorry that I've been offline so long, Helen. This replica did come to visit Japan (note the flag in the picture). It was built in 1992, is based in Seville Spain, and she visited Nagoya Japan in 2005.

As of February 23rd 2016 it was in Cartegena, Columbia. Check out the website:

Sweet sailing.