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Timeline of Magellan's circumnavigation

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Title: Timeline of Magellan's circumnavigation  
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Subject: Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Alonso de Salazar, Navigation, Ruy López de Villalobos, Brunei
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Timeline of Magellan's circumnavigation

The Magellan–Elcano voyage. Victoria, one of the original five ships, circumnavigated the globe, finishing three years after setting out.

The Magellan-Elcano circumnavigation was the first voyage around the world in human history. It was a Spanish expedition that sailed from Seville in 1519 under the command of Ferdinand Magellan in search of a maritime path from the Americas to East Asia across the Pacific Ocean. These men were the first to circumnavigate the globe in a single expedition.

Following Magellan's death in Mactan (Philippines) in 1521, Juan Sebastián Elcano took command of the ship Victoria, sailing from Borneo, the Spice Islands and back to Spain across the Indian Ocean, round the Cape of Good Hope and north along the west coast of Africa. They arrived in Spain three years after they left, in 1522.

The Spanish Armada de Molucca consisted of five ships with 270 men: Trinidad under Magellan, Captain General; San Antonio under Juan de Cartagena; Concepcion under Gaspar de Quesada; Santiago under João Serrão and Victoria under Luiz Mendoza. The circumnavigation was completed by one ship, the Victoria, under the command of Juan Sebastián Elcano and a crew of 18 men.


August 10: Departure from Seville.

September 20: Departure from Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

December 13: Entering the bay of Rio de Janeiro.

December 27: Departure from Rio de Janeiro.


January 10: Entering the Río de la Plata.

February 27: Entering Bahia de los Patos.

March 31: Begin of the overwintering stay at Puerto San Julián.

April 1 and 2: Mutiny on Victoria, Concepcion and San Antonio; death of Louis de Mendoza. Later execution of de Quesada, marooning of de Cartagena. Alvaro de Mesquita becomes captain of San Antonio, Duarte Barbosa of Victoria.

End of April: Santiago is sent on a mission to find the passage. The ship is caught in a storm and wrecked. Survivors return to Puerto San Julián. Serrano (João Serrão) becomes captain of the Concepcion.

July: Encounters with the “Patagonian giants” (likely Tehuelche people).

August 24: Departure from Puerto San Julián.

October 11: Arriving at the Cape of the Eleven Thousand Virgins, entry to what would be known as Strait of Magellan.

End of October: San Antonio, charged to explore Magdalen Sound, fails to return to the fleet, instead sails back to Spain under Estêvão Gomes who imprisoned the captain de Mesquita. The ship arrives in Spain on May 21, 1521.

November 28: The fleet leaves the strait and enters the Pacific Ocean.


March 6: Guam.

March 15: Arrival of Magellan's expedition to one of the Philippine Islands. They headed to Suluan and dropped anchor for a few hours of respite." Suluan is a small island in the province of Eastern Samar. They then next dropped anchor at Homonhon, another small island in the province of Eastern Samar. They were detected by the boats of Rajah Kolambu who was visiting Mazaua, who later guided them to Cebu, on April 7.

April 7: Cebu.

April 27: Death of Magellan participating in the Battle of Mactan. Serrano and Barbosa are voted co-commanders.

May 1: At a local banquet Barbosa is murdered and Serrano captured, later killed. The three remaining ships escape.

May 2: There are not enough men to handle three ships, thus the worm-infested Concepcion is burned down. Two ships remain: Victoria and Trinidad. Gonzalo Gomez de Espinosa becomes captain of the Victoria. Joao Lopez Carvalho is Captain General. The ships sail to Mindanao and Brunei.

September 21: Carvalho is replaced by Martin Mendez as Captain General, Espinosa becomes captain of the Trinidad and Juan Sebastián Elcano captain of the Victoria.

November 8: Arriving at Tidore in the Moluccas.

December 21: Victoria under the command of Elcano leaves the Moluccas to return home sailing west towards the Cape of Good Hope. Trinidad remains at Tidore for repairs.


January 25: Victoria reaches Timor and starts to cross the Indian Ocean.

April 6: Trinidad under the command of Espinosa leaves the Moluccas heading home sailing east. After five weeks, Espinosa decides to return to the Moluccas where he and his ship are captured by a Portuguese fleet under Antonio de Brito.

May 22: Victoria passes the Cape of Good Hope and enters the Atlantic Ocean.

July 9: Reaching Santiago, Cape Verde.

September 6: Victoria returns to Sanlucar, completing the circumnavigation.

September 8: Victoria arrives at Seville.


  • Laurence Bergreen, Over the Edge of the World. Harper Perennial, 2003. ISBN 0-06-621 173-5
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