Magalhaens, Or Magellan, Fernando, a Portuguese navigator, believed to have been born in Oporto about 1470, killed at Mactan, one of the Philippine islands, April 27, 1521. Entering the Portuguese navy at an early age, he served for five years in the East Indies under Albuquerque, and participated with distinction in the siege of Malacca in 1511. He withdrew about 1517 to Spain, where he persuaded Cardinal Ximenes that the Moluccas, or Spice islands, then a much coveted possession, might be reached by sailing westward, and thus be claimed by Spain in accordance with the compact between Spain and Portugal that all countries discovered 180° west of the Azores should belong to Spain, while all that were discovered east of that line should be the property of Portugal. A fleet of five vessels of from 60 to 130 tons, manned by 236 persons, was accordingly equipped, and under the command of Magalhaens sailed from San Lucar, Sept. 20, 1519. Making the coast of Brazil, Jan. 12,1520, he steered southward and entered the Plata river; but finding that it was not a strait, he proceeded again to the southward as far as a harbor on the coast of Patagonia, lat. 49°, which he called Port San Julian. While wintering here he repressed a conspiracy among the four other commanders of his squadron, who were Spaniards, and who hated him for being a Portuguese. Two of them were hanged, another was stabbed, and the fourth, with a priest, his accomplice, was turned out of the ship and abandoned to the mercies of the Patagonians. Magalhaens quitted Port San Julian in October, 1520, having first taken possession of the country in the name of the king of Spain; and proceeding still southward, on Oct. 21, the day of St. Ursula, he entered the strait dividing the island of Tierra del Fuego from the continent of America, which he called the strait of the Eleven Thousand Virgins, but which has ever since borne his name.
On Nov. 28 the strait was cleared, and the fleet, now reduced by the desertion of one ship and the loss of another to three vessels, put forth into the sea beyond, to which, on account of the smoothness of its waters, Magalhaens gave the name of Pacific. They sailed over this untrav-ersed ocean for three months and eight days, seeing no land but two sterile islands, and suffering from disease and want of food. On March 6, 1521, the fleet reached a group of islands, which, on account of the thievish propensities of the natives, Magalhaens called the Ladrones, and on the 16th came in sight of Pamar, one of the Philippine islands, which Magalhaens named the archipelago of San Lazaro. It is said that the natives of several islands were converted to Christianity by the efforts of Magalhaens. Wishing to extend the field of conversion and subjugation, he landed with 55 armed Spaniards upon the little island of Mactan, whose chieftain refused baptism. The islanders to the number of 1,500 opposed him with vigor, and Magalhaens, having exhausted his ammunition, commenced a retreat to his boats, in the course of which he was killed.
The survivors gained the ships with difficulty, and the expedition, reduced to a single ship and 18 men, reached Spain (San Lucar) Sept. 6, 1522, under the guidance of Juan Sebastian Cano. This vessel, the Vito-ria, was the first to make the circuit of the globe. The voyage of Magalhaens from Spain to the Ladrones lasted 533 days; and although he only made half the circuit of the earth, he had previously sailed from Europe to the eastward as far as Malacca, and perhaps still further, and may be called the first circumnavigator of the globe. - See Burck's Magellan, oder die erste Reise um die Welt (Leipsic, 1844).