Ferdinand Magellan and the Circumnavigation of the World

Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan

This four-part series covers the life of Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his epic circumnavigation of the world.


Ferdinand Magellan – Part 1
When Magellan is rejected by his native Portugal, he turns to Spain to back his expedition to find the legendary Spice Islands via a westerly trade route.

Download Part 1 (mp3 file) or listen online.

Ferdinand Magellan – Part 2
Magellan sets sail from Spain. His destination is South America, where he hopes to find the strait that would take him to the Western Sea. He must, however, deal with the Portuguese, who are out to stop him, as well as his own men, many of whom do not trust him.

Download Part 2 (mp3 file) or listen online.

Ferdinand Magellan – Part 3
The intrepid Portuguese explorer strikes out across the Pacific in search of the Spice Islands – sailing blindly into the largest body of water in the world.

Download Part 3 (mp3 file) or listen online.

Ferdinand Magellan – Part 4
Ferdinand Magellan is dead in the blood-soaked surf off the Philippines, but the voyage goes on. The fleet, under Juan Sebastián Elcano, sets out to find the Spice Islands and return to Europe to complete their epic mission.

Download Part 4 (mp3 file) or listen online.


Strait of Magellan

Strait of Magellan

Select Resources

There are a lot of books and articles about Ferdinand Magellan and his amazing journey around the world.

Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen was my favorite source. Bergreen is a fabulous writer, and his book is the best written and most thorough that I read on Magellan. If I had to recommend one book on Magellan, this would be the one.

The First Voyage Round the World/Pigafetta’s Account of Magellan’s Voyage is an online version of Antonio Pigafetta’s journal that he kept. This version is translated into English. This doesn’t include all of Pigafetta’s detailed writings. It might just be an abridged version – or perhaps some of the more detailed writings I have seen quoted in various sources are from the later books that he wrote. Either way, it’s an interesting read.

Ferdinand Magellan by Frederick A. Ober is an old (published in 1907) account of Magellan’s voyage. It is free to read online (or you can download a PDF or electronic version), so it offers an interesting take on our Portuguese explorer.

Ferdinand Magellan on Wikipedia – Offers a pretty good overview of Magellan and his expedition. Plus if you want to read a little more about some of the people involved in our story – Henry the Navigator, Juan Sebastián Elcano, the Moluccas and a hundred other subjects – it’s a great visit.

Here’s a look at annual reenactment of the Battle of Mactan, where Magellan met his death.


Monument of Ferdinand Magellan in Punta Arenas in Chile. The statue looks towards the Strait of Magellan.

Lapu Lapu, who defeated Magellan at the Battle of Mactan.

All images courtesy of Wikipedia.