The protagonists of the first voyage around the world

Learn about the main protagonists of the expedition that completed the first circumnavigation of the world.

Ayuntamiento de Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Ayuntamiento de Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Carlos I of Spain by Mariqui RomeroAyuntamiento de Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Carlos I of Spain (1500–58)

Due to issues of sovereignty, this member of the Austrian House of Hapsburg, born in Ghent, acceded to the Spanish throne in 1516 with the title of Carlos I. In 1520, he was elected as German-Roman Emperor, adopting the name of Carlos V. He was one of the most powerful rulers in all of history.

In the hope of expanding his territories, he was quick to support expeditions such as that proposed by Magellan, to discover a route from Castile to the Maluku (Spice) Islands.

An enterprise that concluded with the first circumnavigation of the world by the Victoria, and considered one of the greatest achievements of his reign.

Ferdinand Magellan by Mariqui RomeroAyuntamiento de Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Ferdinand Magellan (1480–1521)

Born into a noble Portuguese family, in the area of Porto, Figueiro, or Sabrosa, he spent his childhood in the court, educating himself on subjects such as the military, sailing, and cosmography.

From 1505, he gained real experience by embarking on a voyage to India and Malacca, where he acquired firsthand knowledge of the East Indies. The

He stayed a while in Morocco, but felt aggrieved by his treatment at the hands of the King of Portugal. He left for Seville in 1517 to offer his service to Castile, with the intention of opening up a new route to the Spice Islands by sailing westward.

Following arduous negotiations, in 1519 he set sail from Seville and Sanlúcar at the head of the armada, which he led to the discovery of the strait that bears his name, via the immense Pacific and the Philippines. He died in 1521 on one of these islands, Mactan, in battle with the natives.

Juan Sebastian Elcano by Mariqui RomeroAyuntamiento de Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Juan Sebastián Elcano (1486/87–1526)

Elcano was born in the coastal town of Getaria (Gipuzkoa) to a Navy Grand Master. Connected to the trades of the sea, like so many from the Basque Country, he himself was the Grand Master of his own ship which he sailed across the Mediterranean.

In Seville, he signed up to Magellan's armada, as Grand Master of the Concepción. Following bleak setbacks on the expedition, such as the death of Magellan, he became one of the
principal captains.

At the helm of the Victoria, he filled its stores with clove in the Maluku Islands (formerly the Moluccas) and sailed back to Sanlúcar.

Elcano has gone down in history for completing the first circumnavigation of the world, arriving in Sanlúcar de Barrameda on September 6, 1522.

Showered with gifts by the king, in 1525 he set sail once again for the Spice Islands in the wretched armada of Loaísa, and died the following year while crossing the Pacific.

Antonio Pigafetta by Mariqui RomeroAyuntamiento de Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Antonio Pigafetta (c. 1480/90–c. 1534)

Also known as Antonio Lombardo, due to his birthplace, this Italian gentleman was born in Vicenza. He was the author of First Voyage Around the World (La Relación del Primer Viaje Alrededor del Globo), the primary chronicle of the voyage.

He arrived in Spain in 1518, with the entourage of the papal nuncio, and enlisted in the armada for the Maluku (Spice) Islands as a member of Magellan's circle, to whom he offered effusive compliments on account of his knowledge, nautical expertise, bravery, and tenacity.

Following his return in the Victoria, his famous journal was circulated far and wide. It is a first-person account by an eye witness which is worth reading for its detailed account of events, as well as details about the inhabitants and nature of the lands they visited.

Credits: Story

Illustrations: Mariqui Romero
Text: Miguel Angelit

This exhibition is part of the First Voyage Around the World project.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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