Five hundred years ago today, Ferdinand Magellan sailed from Seville Spain planning to reach the Spice Islands (in
He had sailed previously with others to the region via the Cape of Good Hope and sold his western course to Spain (after being rejected by Portugal) as being closer than the older route. By treaty, Portugal “owned” the eastern route. Given the treaty, he probably had no intention of sailing around the world.
After his death fighting for a friendly force of Spice Islanders, his crew continued on
As a whole, the survivors painted a poor picture of Magellan, some of whom had mutinied against along the way. Perhaps for that reason, none of them received credit for their achievement. One, however, remained loyal to Magellan and delivered his notes from the journey to Spain’s King Phillip. He wrote:
“The best proof of his genius is that he circumnavigated the world, none having preceded him.”
and perhaps because of those not so accurate words history now recognizes Magellan as something more than he deserved. If he were recognized in Cooperstown, his record would probably be marked with an asterisk.
Perhaps Martin Luther King, Jr. described history best:
“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”