The ancient Greek scientist and philosopher, Aristotle, declared that the Earth was round in 350 B.C., but for centuries many people did not believe him. The idea that the Earth was flat continued for hundreds of years. Ferdinand Magellan was the first person to prove that the Earth is round, not flat. How did he do it? By sailing around the Earth.
Ferdinand Magellan was born to noble parents in Portugal in 1480. His parents died when he was a child, and he was sent to be a page to the queen. During this time, he attended school and studied geography, navigation, astronomy and cartography.
As a young man, he became a sailor and later convinced the Spanish king, Charles V, to finance a voyage. Magellan wanted to travel westward to reach Asia and the Spice Islands.
Fun Facts About Ferdinand Magellan for Kids
- During the Middle Ages, spices, such as nutmeg, cloves and pepper were in high demand. The wealthy wanted them as flavorings for food. They also used them in perfumes and medicines.
- The trade routes to India and the Spice Islands were dangerous. Pirates lay waiting to attack at sea and people frequently fought over the land routes.
- Magellan set sail on the 20th of September in 1519, with five boats headed to Brazil. He sailed down the east coast of South America to Patagonia. There, one of the ships was destroyed by mutinous crew members.
- The remaining four ships sailed on. Over a year into their journey, they traveled through a channel that connects the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. This channel lies in Chile and is known as the Strait of Magellan. It took over a month to travel through the Strait of Magellan. One of the captains deserted, taking his ship back to Spain.
- Magellan thought it would be an easy trip to the Spice Islands. He was wrong about the distance. It took the men almost six months to sail to the Spice Islands.
- Just a few weeks after reaching Indonesia, Magellan was killed by a poisoned arrow in a battle with local tribes. His crew sailed back to Spain without him, reaching land in 1522.
Ferdinand Magellan Vocabulary
- Noble: people with money and power
- Astronomy: the study of the position and movement of the stars and planets
- Cartography: the study of map making
- Perfume: pleasantly scented oils or sprays
- Mutinous: wanting mutiny or rebellion; rising up and fighting against a leader
All About Ferdinand Magellan Video for Kids
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Ferdinand Magellan Q&A
Question: Why is Magellan considered an important explorer?
Answer: Besides finally proving that the Earth is round, he discovered and named the Pacific Ocean, which means calm and peaceful. He also discovered the Strait of Magellan, which was an important channel for voyagers.
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