Paul Rose reveals the story behind the first ever circumnavigation of the world, when Magellan set out 500 years ago to find the westward route to the Spice Islands.
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500 years ago, an unrecognisable ship arrived in the port of Seville.
Its crew was reduced to just 18 emaciated and starving men.
But this ship had just completed a voyage of huge importance.
It changed the course of history
and shaped the way we live, even today.
It was 1522, and the Victoria had just become the first ship to circumnavigate the globe.
This voyage opened up the last great ocean,
created new trade routes and revealed the true scale of our planet.
It was a triumph of the human spirit - an epic tale of courage
and endurance, starvation and mutiny, heroism and death.
And it turned one man, Ferdinand Magellan, into one
of the most celebrated explorers in the history of the world.
But behind the legend of this great voyage of discovery lies another story.
Uno, dos, tres!
Uno, dos, tres!
This is the Nao Victoria,
a perfect replica of one of Magellan's ships.
Lost me timing then! Concentrate!
Paul, it is one, two, three!
OK! Thank you, Jose!
That's Jose, the ship's captain. He's figured out already I can't count.
Uno, dos, tres!
Uno, dos, tres!
Nearly 500 years on, this modern replica is circling the globe itself,
to celebrate one of the most challenging voyages of maritime history
and the men who made that journey.
As an adventurer meself - you know, I've climbed on Everest,
spent 20 years in the most remote polar regions -
yet the hardships I've known... are nothing,
just absolutely nothing, compared to what those men experienced.
Magellan's epic voyage is legendary.
Yet the real story is rarely told.
He never intended to circumnavigate the world,
but a series of extraordinary events turned what was an ambitious voyage into a truly historic one.
Magellan's great voyage started on the 21st of September 1519,
when they set sail from Spain into the unknown.
And the ship's chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta,
recorded the moment.
Find the right page...
And he wrote this -
"The fleet, having been furnished...
..with all that was necessary for it, and having in the five ships
people of diverse nations to the number of 241 in all, was ready to depart.
And firing all the artillery, we set sail.
Uno, dos, tres!
Uno, dos, tres!
For Magellan, the Captain General, this voyage was the realisation
of a dream that had been five years in the making.
This tough and determined Portuguese was taking the biggest gamble of his life.
Fame, fortune and survival itself depended on the outcome of the expedition.
Among the officers of the fleet was an ambitious ship's master called Juan Sebastian Elcano.
This young Spaniard was to play a crucial role in the epic voyage.
Magellan's goal was purely commercial - to find a Spanish trade route
to the world's most precious commodity -
In the 16th century, they were worth more than gold,
but, for Spain, they were unreachable.
In 1494, the Pope had divided the world between the two greatest sea powers on Earth.
Spain had the trading rights over the Western half of the world,
while Portugal controlled the East,
and with it, the only known route to the unimaginable riches of the spice islands -
the modern-day Moluccas.
Magellan's bold idea was to find a westward route to the Spice Islands, through Spanish waters.
It was an incredible plan. Such a sea route had never been sailed before,
and no-one even knew if it existed.
If he COULD find the elusive route,
Spain would become the richest nation in the world,
and Magellan would share that wealth.
He commissioned a fleet of five robust trading ships - carracks -
specially designed to navigate the treacherous waters of the open seas.
-Paul, are you sure you're taking the correct...?
-I think I'm doing all right! It says 260, nearly!
It's close in a global context!
In an earth context?
Yeah, what do you think?
The steering mechanism was simple -
the rudder connected to a wheel that was attached to a long wooden shaft.
Holding the course was all about brute strength.
I'm actually on course at the minute, but it's not very easy.
You know, on a modern boat there's a lot of feedback between the rudder and the tiller, or the wheel.
This is called a whip-staff arrangement, and it's not easy to stay on course,
even in calm conditions like this.
I'm on course at the minute.
The course Magellan was planning would take him beyond charted waters into the unknown.
It was a journey that many believed was impossible.
Hey, I'm just talking about Magellan.
They're off on the fleet on this great journey to get all these incredibly valuable spices.
I just wanna talk to you about how easy or hard it must have been to get them.
Well, very, very difficult,
because obviously there were no charts of any description.
And I understand it wasn't even on the maps those days?
No, there was no maps, proper maps, really. It was...
-We got a map here which is from about same period.
As you can see, it's a bit of the Brazilian coast,
few of the islands in the Caribbean
already plotted by Columbus and his followers.
And then this block of land, which finishes here.
Oh, crikey, so the...
South of the Cape of Good Hope, but not much,
so this was an unknown area,
in those days, for the map makers, you know.
It's incredible. Completely unknown.
What a great act of faith that there might even be a way through it.
It really was an incredible leap of faith.
Because as far as anybody knew, Magellan's proposed route
was completely blocked by the vast South American continent.
According to accounts from the time, Magellan claimed he knew of a passage
below the landmass of South America, and that would take the fleet through to the Spice Islands.
Maybe he did know, or maybe the whole thing was nothing but a supreme gamble.
Whatever the truth, he kept it close to his chest.
Magellan never revealed the source of his belief in the existence of a passage.
But it probably came from rumours that abounded in the secretive world of 16th-century navigators.
The Captain General did not wholly declare the voyage which he wished to make,
lest the people, from astonishment and fear, refuse to accompany him
on so long a voyage as he had in mind to undertake,
in view of the great and violent storms of the ocean sea whither he would go.
The decision to keep the crew in the dark was extremely dangerous
and it would come close to destroying the entire mission.
So what was it about this obsessive and determined man
that drove him to take such an incredible risk?
Manuel Villas Boas is a direct descendent of Magellan
and a bit of an expert on his famous ancestor.
In trying to understand the man himself,
um, how would you describe him?
A man of contrasts, I would say.
He was physically short,
very sure of himself, not an assuming man.
He's not a man that one sees bragging about his aristocracy or anything like that.
A man of little words, few words, a man who obviously
paid attention to his family and cared about his family.
Very little more is known.
The man disappears behind the project.
One thing that is known is that he spent eight years
as a soldier with the Portuguese fleet in the Indian Ocean.
Here, he earned a reputation as a fighter, a risk taker and a glory seeker,
but returned home to less than a hero's welcome.
He arrives back in Portugal and he's slighted, slighted by the Court.
And he says, "OK, I've been slighted,
"I'm going to do something which will prove these people completely wrong."
"I'm going to finish the task that Columbus started and didn't finish
"and in the process emulate,
"what Vasco Da Gama had done around Africa, I will do around South America."
In Magellan's youth, these two great navigators risked everything
in the search for spices and earned a place in history.
And they inspired Magellan to claim for himself the last great untried sea voyage - around South America.
Achieving this extraordinary ambition became his obsession.
But he must have had some self doubts?
He must have.
Leaders of such nature and of such expeditions are lonely by definition. These are lonely jobs.
I don't think he ever let anybody understand
that he was not quite sure exactly of the existence of the passage.
When finally he led the fleet south, it was the first time he had ever captained a ship.
His first challenge was the notorious Atlantic, an ocean that had claimed many lives.
On October 3, 1519 the weather worsened.
"Many furious squalls, the wind and currents of water struck us head on
"and as we could not advance, and in order that the ships might not be wrecked, all the sails were struck
"and in this manner did we wander hither and yon on the sea,
"waiting for the tempest to cease, for it was very furious."
I've been at sea in some really foul weather, but it's always been on a modern boat.
And with that modern safety net that we have, satellite phones,
satellite communication, satellite GPS, even emergency beacons -
you press the button and you can get some help.
Old boats like this, Magellan's boats, they had none of that.
The sense of risk must have been absolutely enormous.
On a ship like this, in big seas, there's a lot of rolling going on.
They're quite rounded these hulls, like an upturned shell
and they just roll a lot.
I mean, it's not bad weather at the moment, heaven knows what it'd be like in a really big storm.
Magellan was sailing through some of the most dangerous seas in the world.
It's a great day's sailing for me, it's exciting, but for Magellan's men crossing the Atlantic,
conditions would have been much worse than this - truly frightening.
It must have felt as if the storms were never gonna end.
The ships were already showing signs of wear and tear, they were getting battered.
In one particular storm, the wind was so strong that, even with the sails rolled up,
the wind got in there and ripped the sails to shreds.
Of course, Magellan was passionate about this voyage, he's a driven man,
but the men were at their wits end, exhausted and the sense of fear of the unknown.
It's no surprise to me that they began praying for some kind of divine intervention.
And, you know,
that's exactly what they did get.
"During these storms, the body of St Anselm approached us several times
"on a night which was very dark in the time of bad weather.
"The said Saint appeared in the form of a lighted torch at the height of the main top
"and remained there more than two hours and a half, for the comfort of us all.
"For we were in tears, expecting only the hour of death
"and when the holy light was about to leave us, it was so bright in the eyes of all
"that we were for more than a quarter of an hour as blind men calling for mercy."
This strange and dramatic phenomenon is called St Anselm's or St Elmo's fire.
I have seen this phenomena. Bringing boats back across the Atlantic,
I've seen this bright light at the mast.
Really surprising, thought it might be a little flash, but it hangs around for over a minute.
What actually happens is in a big thunderstorm, the clouds become highly negatively charged
and, in the end, the whole voltage tension adds up to about 30,000 volts per square centimetre.
And then it all discharges in a spectacular fashion
from the ends of masts and ends of pointy bits on a boat.
Now when these men saw this, they noticed that it always came near the end of a storm
and it does, it always occurs towards the end of a storm.
So, naturally, they would think, this is a great sign, this is divine intervention.
Divine intervention or not, these men were at the end of their physical limits
and as any modern-day explorer will tell you,
it's not the exhausted body that gets you in the end, it's the mind.
This perceived visitation from a saint would have a profound effect
and it would have pushed them on through their ordeal.
Almost four months after leaving Spain, the battered fleet approached the coast of South America.
They made landfall at a wild bay near a place that would one day become Rio de Janeiro.
From here, they followed the sweeping coast south
and along the way, Pigafetta recorded many strange and wonderful things.
"There are an infinite number of parrots.
"Also, some little capped monkeys, having almost the appearance of a lion.
"Also flying fish, so many of them that it seemed it was an island in the sea.
"And men and women who paint themselves with fire all over their bodies and faces
"and eat the flesh of their enemies."
Eventually, they reached the very edge of the known world.
35 degrees south, as far down the coast of South America as any westerner had ever been.
Evidence suggests this was where Magellan expected to find the passage.
The coastline turned sharp west and there seemed to be no land to the south.
"Which place was formally named Cape St Mary
"and it was thought from thence there was a passage to the Sea of Sur,
"the South Sea."
After 15 days of exploration, the dreadful truth dawned.
This was not the fabled passage, but a gigantic inlet
that stretched around 300 kilometres inland and was almost 200 wide.
It was the mouth of the River Plate.
It was a disaster.
Magellan had sailed into a dead end.
Now his certainty about the passage was shot to pieces.
But turning back was unthinkable.
He made an extraordinary decision - to step over the edge of the known world.
To sail on where no other European had gone before.
Blindly, he headed south along the desolate coast that he named Patagonia,
into some of the wildest seas in the world and into winter.
On the Nao Victoria, I asked Enrique Barrigan what it must have been like for Magellan's men.
-How are you?
What were conditions like here on deck?
Well, now we are 20 people, but at that time, there were 40 or 45.
-So there were plenty of people and, as you may know, we have beds for all of us,
but they didn't have them.
They just had to find a place on the deck to sleep.
Right out here on deck? 45 of 'em?
-And we've been rolling, we've had a fair bit of water across the deck here...
So imagine when there were storms and bad weather,
the water comes in the whole time, on the deck, always wet.
So imagine how it was, it was really, really hard for them.
And it was about to get even harder.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of possible routes through.
I mean many of them would be small inlets, some great rivers,
some huge blind bays and they would all have to be checked out.
I can't imagine how hard it would be in poor weather to get part way up
and turn these boats, which aren't very manoeuvrable, turn 'em around and head them out to sea.
They continued south for three months, with no sign of a way through.
Supplies were running low and the days were growing shorter.
On March 31, 1520 just a few days sailing from Antarctica,
they sought shelter in a bay they called St Julian.
The men were cold, hungry and exhausted
and morale had hit rock bottom.
When Magellan reduced rations, it was the final blow.
His captains presented him with a petition demanding to return to Spain.
This was not an option for a man who had gambled everything on finding the passage through South America.
The expedition was now in the gravest jeopardy.
Magellan had lost the hearts and minds of some of his captains and, therefore, his men.
The cold, the hunger, the lack of faith in their cagey Captain General,
all added up to just one thing - mutiny.
One of the ringleaders was Gaspar Casada, Captain of the Conception,
who promised the men they would return to Spain once Magellan was out of the way.
Magellan was isolated.
-He had to act quickly.
He dispatched his loyal master at arms to one of the mutinous captains.
Capitan Mendoza, tengo un mensaje para usted del capitan general.
With a special message.
Es un pequeno mensaje.
The captain dispatched, the leaderless crew quickly caved in.
Magellan took control of the ship and then blocked the other ships from escaping
and from this position, he was able to quell the mutiny.
But he had to reassert his authority quickly and convincingly.
Perros portugueses, soltarme!
He made a brutal example of the treacherous Captain Casada.
Vuestras familias y vuestras casas se pudren en el fondo del mar!
En el fondo del mar!
There could be no doubt, the Captain General was back in charge.
With the mutineers put in their place, it was time to try and settle in for the winter.
An incredibly dismal experience.
Food would have been extremely scarce.
I know what it's like - I've been short on food on expeditions a few times.
One occasion of note, I remember being high on a mountain in Alaska,
and food being so short after many days,
we spent four days in an ice cave living on soup made out of toothpaste.
Conditions became even worse.
One of the fleet, the Santiago was smashed to pieces on the rocks,
but nothing seemed to sway Magellan from his obsession.
After seven months waiting out the winter, it was finally time to move on and look for the elusive passage.
The four surviving ships pushed further south along the uncharted Patagonian coastline,
trying every possible inlet without success.
Finally, Magellan's men spotted a clue.
Whalebones. This was a great sign
as it indicated a possible migration route through to the open sea that everybody hoped lay ahead.
"On the 21st of October, 1520 we found by a miracle, a strait,
which we called The Cape Of The 11,000 Virgins.
After nearly a year, they'd found an inlet and it reached deep into the interior.
And something even more exciting...
..the water tasted salty, so it must mean that somehow the inlet must connect with another salt sea.
Hoping that this might, at last, be the way through to the East, the whole fleet set off.
At the western end was a long narrow passage leading to a bay
and another passage beyond that.
They headed on into the straits.
What they found was an extraordinary maze of islands and potential dead ends.
"This strait was a circular place, surrounded by mountains
"and to most of those in the ships, it seemed that
"there was no way out of it.
Uno, dos, tres.
Uno dos, tres.
As the endless search continued, Magellan's men became convinced that this was yet another hopeless quest.
Uno, dos, tres.
Uno dos, tres.
It was in these straits that Magellan lost his second ship, but this time it wasn't due to weather.
The San Antonio headed back to Spain in an act of rebellion.
It was a devastating blow. The San Antonio was carrying
most of the provisions that Magellan was relying on for the journey ahead.
He ordered the remaining three ships to proceed northwest by west.
It was a terrifying journey through a strait we now know to be 530 kilometres long.
It took 38 frustrating days of searching before Magellan finally got the news he'd been waiting for.
Ahead was the open sea.
He had found the fabled passage.
"The Captain General wept for joy and called it Cape Deseado,
"for we had been desiring it for a very long time."
In that proud moment, Magellan must have realised, without doubt,
he now stood shoulder to shoulder with his great boyhood heroes, Columbus and Vasco da Gama.
His dreams had come true.
Even in this moment of personal triumph, Magellan could hardly have
guessed at the historic significance of finding the passage.
For 400 years, his route, the Magellan Strait,
would be the major shipping route through to the Pacific.
It was only bettered when the Panama Canal was blasted out of the land in 1914.
It was an astonishing discovery, but Magellan and his men hoped it was the prelude to something even greater -
the western route to the riches of the Spice Islands.
On November 28th 1520, Magellan led the fleet north.
The weather was good and the sea so calm, he named it the Pacific, the peaceful sea.
The sky was huge and the horizon stretched endlessly.
Even the sky at night was different.
These God-fearing sailors wondered at the Southern Cross and noticed something strange in the heavens.
"There are several small stars, clustered together in the manner of two clouds
"and in the middle of them are two stars not very bright and they move slightly."
Nearly 400 years later, these stellar clusters were identified as two of the closest galaxies to the earth.
The Magellanic clouds have helped astronomers work out
the scale of the universe and witness the death of stars.
On December 18 1520, the fleet turned northwest into the heart of the Pacific.
Unknowingly, Magellan had just made a serious error.
He thought it was within three days' sailing of the Spice Islands,
but that belief was based on maps of the then known world.
These were based on the work of the second century scholar Ptolemy,
who estimated the circumference of the earth to be 29,000 kilometres.
The Captain General was about to discover the hard way that Ptolemy was out by over 11,000 kilometres.
This missing area, 28% of the world's circumference, is the Pacific.
Magellan was leading his men into a vast, empty ocean.
On the modern Nao Victoria our captain, Jose, has some idea of what that journey must have been like.
You've crossed the Pacific many times - you've crossed it on here.
You, of anybody, would understand what Magellan's men would have gone through, to have entered
the biggest ocean in the world and not known how big it was,
and just day after day after day of uncertainty.
I can imagine how much they suffered
and what went through their minds.
Not knowing when they were going to reach any land.
If they were going to reach any land.
So it must have been very, very tough on them and
probably the weaker men must have felt that their head was going off and the lack of food...
The food diminishing, scurvy setting in.
The water now seemed foul because the wood contaminates the water.
It must have been very, very hard for them,
the command of Magellan is a very strong man and very tough with the crews.
He probably kept the whole thing going on.
Uno, dos, tres. Uno, dos, tres.
The weeks passed, the emaciated crews began to starve again.
Their accounts make disturbing reading.
"We ate the ox hides which were under the mainyard
"so that the yard should not break the rigging.
"And we ate old biscuits turned to powder,
"all full of worms and stinking of urine which the rats had made on it.
"And of the rats, which were sold for half an ecu apiece, some of us could not get enough.
"I believe that never more will any man undertake to make such a voyage."
By late January 1521, Magellan had led the fleet northwest
across thousands of kilometres of open ocean, without relief.
"We saw no land, except two small uninhabited islands
"where we found only birds and trees
"and there is no place for anchoring because no bottom can be found."
Months later, with no land in sight, even Magellan must have had doubts.
But almost five months and 20,000 kilometres after they exited the straits,
they finally made landfall, at about ten degrees north of the equator,
in a place we now call the Philippines.
In an astonishing feat of navigation, Magellan had led the fleet to safety.
The Spice Islands were now no more than a few days sail to the south.
It seemed his great gamble would pay off.
The islands of the Philippines must have looked like paradise.
There was fresh water, lush rainforests filled with fruit
and the local people seemed to welcome them.
Magellan set about securing the route to the Spice Islands by claiming the Philippines for Spain.
His most effective tool was Christianity.
He knew that to convince these people to adopt this religion,
he had to persuade them it was worth their while.
One of the arguments he used was of the invincibility which would derive from it,
and this invincibility was demonstrated by the strength of his armament.
The blast of the cannons terrified the natives and gave a measure of his power.
When attempting and succeeding in baptising, Christianising, the local inhabitants,
Magellan is at the same time ensuring that through this religious conversion
they implicitly accept their status as subordinate to the Spanish crown,
seen here as the ultimate symbol
of worldly authority and religious reach.
-Tight, structured framework with which to live by.
-Live by these rules.
Live by these rules, submit yourself to these people and you will be invincible.
So would it have been perhaps like a colonisation?
The very beginnings, the foundations of colonisation.
It would have taken many decades for the following Spanish fleets to effectively transform
the Philippines into a Spanish colony, but that was the foundation upon which they built.
Confident of his faith and his invincible weaponry, the Captain General made a fateful decision.
To show his support for a local chief,
he decided to attack the rival chief of Mactan Island,
Lapu-Lapu, who had refused to be baptised into the Christian faith.
Aboard the Victoria, on the evening before the attack, his men were relaxed and confident.
But, on Mactan Island, Lapu-Lapu was taking Magellan's threats seriously.
He summoned his most ferocious warriors and invoked the gods of war.
The events that followed are replayed every year
in the place where Magellan and Lapu-Lapu confronted each other.
It was a clash of cultures and religion.
For Filipinos, it symbolises the struggle for independence.
Before the battle, Magellan sent emissaries across these peaceful waters
to try to get Lapu-Lapu to submit to Christianity and to Spanish rule.
Once more he refused.
And so at dawn on the 27th April 1521, Magellan and 50 of his men
arrived on the beach at Mactan to do battle against Lapu-Lapu and 1,000 of his men.
Although he was heavily outnumbered, Magellan felt certain of victory
because of his superior Spanish weapons and his armour.
In fact, he was so confident of victory that he'd given
a direct order to his other captains to not get involved in the fighting.
But he'd made a fatal mistake.
He'd arrived at low tide, which meant his ships were right out there in the deep water
and Magellan and his men had had an exhausting half-mile wade through the shallows.
His cannon were out of range.
As the battle ensued,
Magellan's men soon started running out of ammunition
and Lapu-Lapu's men surged forward.
They spotted Magellan.
"One of them with a large javelin thrust it into his left leg, whereby he fell downward.
"On this, they all at once rushed on him with lances of iron and of bamboo."
Magellan fought a brave fight, he hung on for a long time.
Eventually, completely outnumbered, he was just slaughtered.
"They slew our mirror, our light, our comfort and our great guide."
Magellan never circumnavigated the globe, he didn't even reach the Spice Islands.
His dreams ended here in the Philippines.
This was a complete tragedy
which terminates everything, his entire dream, his planning, his voyage,
all the dramas of the navigation through the various oceans, end here, and end here totally.
So what do you think? If Magellan had won this battle,
how would the expedition have turned out in the end?
Had he not died and had he found the Spice Islands, which were very near,
my guess is that he would have come back the same way he went,
through the Pacific, which had been, never been done before,
and it is most likely, knowing the ocean,
that he might have lost the entire fleet and himself,
and, with that, nothing would have remained of this epic voyage.
Magellan's dreams may have died in the Philippines, but his legacy lives on.
In this dusty little shrine, you can still see the cross he raised,
so hopefully when he first arrived on these islands.
It's one of the holiest relics in one of the most Catholic countries in the world.
It might have been the only relic of Magellan's voyage
if another man hadn't seized the chance of fame and fortune.
Magellan's death could have spelled the end for the expedition, but the remaining men
knew the Spice Islands were so close, they could almost smell the spices.
Reduced to two ships, the survivors set off to find the islands.
Taking command of the Victoria was a popular new leader, Juan Sebastian Elcano.
Senores, a las Mollucas!
History was to deny him his rightful role in this epic story.
Elcano brought good fortune, for, at last, they sighted the Spice Islands.
The 28,000-kilometre journey had cost the lives of over 100 men, including the Captain General,
but the surviving crew finally reached the Spice Islands and realised Magellan's dream.
This is what it's all about, spices.
-These are cloves?
-They are the flowers of the clove plant.
-They don't look very familiar.
They are, we see them more like this, the dried ones.
Smells just like my mum's apple pie.
-Yes, they're aromatic.
-But, do you know, I can't help but think,
Augusto, is that holding these in my hand, seems hard to believe
that the men went to such risk and pain and suffering
for something that seems, to be honest, completely ordinary.
And how much would they have been worth. I mean, pound for pound?
Well, a pound for a pound, it could command a high price.
Imagine a clove tree could produce only seven pounds per tree and that they still have to dry them
and therefore the dried ones would be very expensive.
And in relation to gold?
-How about that?
-Well, they'll be worth weight more than gold itself.
-So pound for pound...
-Pound for pound, yes.
-Worth more than gold.
And a bag like that, excuse me, that'd set a man up for life, right?
Well, put like that, I guess they don't seem quite so ordinary.
Elcano and his men understood the value of the tonne of spices loaded onto each ship
and they knew that to make their fortunes, they had to get them back to Spain.
The remaining two ships had to make a choice,
between returning the way they'd come, or continuing west, taking their chances in enemy waters.
One chose to go east and the other west.
The Trinidad headed eastwards across the Pacific,
but it didn't get far before it fell into Portuguese hands.
The precious cargo was seized, the ship burned and the crew thrown into jail.
Elcano sailed west on the Victoria.
Spain was about 20,000 kilometres away and the entire route lay in the Portuguese sphere of influence.
To avoid capture, he navigated vast tracts of uncharted waters.
Two months, and almost 5,000 kilometres later, they encountered terrible storms.
The storms those men went through
were so powerful that it actually broke this mast
and, like everything that broke on the ship,
it had to be repaired with what they had at sea.
But not only that,
Elcano and his men began to run dangerously low on rations again.
I can't imagine what it would be like
to work a ship like this, which needs a lot of manual labour, and be that low on energy.
The starving men began to develop scurvy.
"Above all our other misfortunes,
"the worst was that the gums of the upper and lower teeth of our men
"swelled so much that they could not eat.
"25 or 30 men fell sick, of whom 19 died."
Scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C and here was the terrible irony.
The crew were sitting on a cargo of cloves and what they didn't know
was that it contained vitamin C and this would have saved them.
As the ship headed back to Spain, more than half of them would die of scurvy or starvation.
Elcano escaped the scurvy because he ate spoonfuls of quince jelly.
Unknown to him, this contained enough vitamin C to protect him from the disease.
It's probably what enabled Pigafetta to keep writing his diary.
Without this, we would never have known of Elcano's great feat of navigation.
He led the Victoria across vast oceans,
past the Cape of Good Hope and the Cape Verde Islands back to Spain.
Of the 241 men who began the journey, only a handful returned with him.
They lived to tell the remarkable tale of the Spanish sailor
who finished the journey Magellan had started three years before.
"On Monday 8 September 1522, we cast anchor near the Mole of Seville
"and we were only 18 men, for the most part sick, of the 60 who had left Molluca."
The Victoria became the first ship to circumnavigate the globe.
It had turned what until then was just pure theory -
that the earth was round - into an indisputable fact.
Elcano was honoured with a special coat of arms, declaring him to be the first man to sail round the world.
Five centuries later, sailing round the globe is still a remarkable achievement.
As the modern Victoria returns to Seville at the end of its 40,000-kilometre journey,
its crew are greeted as heroes after more than 500 days at sea on a journey they will never forget.
I still can't believe that we circumnavigate the whole world.
I cannot imagine right now, but I'm sure it has changed completely my life.
A realisation of my dreams to the utmost.
The voyage of the original Victoria may have made history, but it didn't fulfil the hopes of the crew.
They never made their fortunes.
The cargo of spices was sold and the proceeds seized
by the King of Spain to cover the loss of the rest of the fleet.
The chronicler, Pigafetta, was snubbed by the Spanish court and returned to his native Italy.
His diaries remain the definitive record of the great voyage.
Elcano attempted a second circumnavigation
to claim the Spice Islands for Spain four years later, but he didn't make it.
Crossing the Pacific, he died of scurvy.
As for Ferdinand Magellan himself, although he never completed
the voyage, the popular perception is that he was the first person to circumnavigate the world.
Unless, that is, you go to Spain and they'll tell you the first person
who sailed round the world was Juan Sebastian Elcano.
But does it really matter?
After all, they're both great men.
Magellan had what it took to dream up such a daring voyage and make it happen.
And Elcano had the strength and tenacity to finish it.
They and the men who sailed with them shared one of the greatest voyages of discovery.
The voyage that would define the shape and size of our earth,
and its oceans and change the geographical, spiritual and political landscape forever.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd, 2006
E-mail [email protected]
Explorer Paul Rose reveals the real story behind the first ever circumnavigation of the world.
Ferdinand Magellan set out 500 years ago to find the westward route to the riches of the Spice Islands. But, contrary to popular perception, he never reached them. Rose explains the dramatic sequence of events that led his scurvy-riddled crew to continue around the world without him. The incredible expedition was laced with bloody mutiny and murder, but its achievement was to fundamentally change the lives of the generations that followed, influencing life even today.