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Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan

(c. 1480–1521)
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While in the service of Spain, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan led the first European voyage of discovery to circumnavigate the globe.

Who Was Ferdinand Magellan?

As a boy, Ferdinand Magellan studied mapmaking and navigation. By his mid-20s, he was sailing in large fleets and was engaged in combat. In 1519, with the support of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Magellan set out to find a better route to the Spice Islands. He assembled a fleet of ships which, despite huge setbacks and Magellan’s death, circumnavigated the world in a single voyage.

Early Life

Magellan was born in Portugal, either in the city of Porto or in Sabrosa, circa 1480. His parents were members of the Portuguese nobility and after their deaths, Magellan became a page for the queen, at age 10. He studied at Queen Leonora's School of Pages in Lisbon and spent his days poring over texts on cartography, astronomy, and celestial navigation — subjects that would serve him well in his later pursuits.

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