Spain has begun to celebrate the 500th anniversary of
the first circumnavigation of
the Earth, accomplished by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan
and Spanish discoverer Juan Sebastián Elcano. The celebrations will go on until 2022,
in an effort to promote an exploit that can be deemed the first act of
globalisation in history.
The inaugural event -- held on board the
training ship Juan Sebastián de Elcano -- was attended by
King Felipe VI and his father Juan Carlos, who visited the Spanish Royal
Navy’s training ship Juan Sebastián de Elcano. It was the first timetwo
kings had got aboard this barquentine together.
The event was the farewell to the 180-strong crew before they
embarked on their training cruise, which will take them to Brazil,
Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Panama and USA aboard the Juan Sebastián de Elcano, a
floating embassy of our country.
Celebrations for three years
The 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the
Earth will be celebrated in the context of Seville 2019-2022, a three-year
programme of activities mirroring the three years the Magella-Elcano
voyage took to complete (from 1519 to 1522). The programme is meant to tell the
story of the expedition in Spain and the world, drawing attention to its
importance and to the explorers behind the big deed.
One of the main activities has already been held: the largest
history conference ever, gathering 250 scholars from all over the world
(Valladolid, 20 to 22 March).
In addition, on 22 March, an event was held commemorating the signing
of the Capitulaciones,
that is, the contract signed by the Spanish Crown and Magellan before his ships
set sail. The ceremony was chaired by King Felipe VI.
The voyage that changed the world
In 1519, 500 years ago, King Charles I of Spain appointed the naval officer Ferdinand Magellan to search for a westward route to the Maluku Islands, known at the time as the ‘Spice Islands’, explore the adjacent territory, and see the possibility of the islands being Spanish according to the demarcation of the Treaty of Tordesillas.
In order to evade the Portuguese fleet, Magellan departed from Seville and sailed south and west. On 6 September 1522, Elcano and the remaining crew of Magellan’s expedition arrived in Spain aboard the Victoria, completing the first known voyage around the entire Earth, almost exactly three years after the fleet of five ships had departed.
The Magellan-Elcano expedition literally changed the world and our knowledge of it, proving that the Earth was actually a sphere, finding a passage that connected the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans (today known as Strait of Magellan) and discovering new territories like the Philippines.
is also the strange case of Enrique de Malacca, a Malay slave Magellan acquired
in Malacca in 1511 whom he christened “Enrique” and brought back to Spain.
Enrique also joined the Magellan Expedition to the Philippines and some
historians aver that it was he who actually carried out the first