Fernan Magellan is considered the first person to make a trip around the Earth. And here you need to know two things. Firstly, Magellan did not plan to make such a voyage in any way. Secondly, Magellan Earth did not go around. This was done by his companions, led by Spaniard Juan Sebastian Elcano. He led the expedition after Magellan died. And it was he who made the decision, which, as a result, led to the Victoria cruise made a round-the-world voyage. Magellan, later, was conferred laurels.
Because the expedition itself was conceived by him, and Elcano would not have been faced with a difficult choice if the already-dead squadron leader did not lead him to Asia. However, technically Magellan had nothing to do with traveling around the world. Moreover, if his original plan had been realized, no one would now know his name. This would be the most ordinary navigation from Europe to Asia and back.
Could it be otherwise?
Map of the world tour of Magellan and Elcano.
Of course. The very decision that will be discussed, Elcano made in the Moluccas. At that moment he and his surviving satellites were in an extremely difficult situation. The unsuccessful intervention in the war in the Philippines, which led to the death of Magellan and a few dozen people, in fact, drained the expedition. And it was not even the ill-fated skirmish in which the head of this whole enterprise perished, but in the events that took place later.
The ruler of Cebu (one of the Philippine islands) invited the Europeans for dinner, which turned out to be a trap. In a terrible massacre by the natives, almost all the officers of the three ships that reached the Philippines were killed: the Victoria, Trinidad and Concepson. Among the victims were Joan Serran and Duarte Barbosa - experienced mariners who led the expedition after the death of Magellan. Elcano, apparently, at that moment was generally on bird rights. A little earlier, when the expedition had just crossed the Atlantic, he took part in a riot against Magellan, but was later forgiven.
After the massacre at Cebu, he was almost the only member of the expedition who had at least some experience in command of the vessel. At the disposal of Elcano were three ships and about sixty people (according to other data, eighty). No matter how many of them are 60 or 80, and for three large ships is not enough. Not to mention the fact that they are very dilapidated, and Elcano, apparently, did not know how to pursue. "Concepcion" had to quit. The Moluccas, which were the purpose of the journey, reached only Victoria and Trinidad. Here, the expedition members did the very thing for which they endured all the suffering that fell to their lot from the moment they left Europe.
They purchased spices by stuffing the holds of their two ships with them. Now with this load it was necessary to go back. The situation was complicated by the fact that the Portuguese authorities declared Magellan a deserter and an enemy of the crown. All ships of his expedition were subject to arrest with confiscation of cargo. Meanwhile, Elcano with "Victoria" and "Trinidad" was in the Portuguese possessions. More precisely, on the territory that was ceded to this country under a treaty with Spain. To increase the chances of a successful return, Elcano decided to separate the ships.
"Trinidad" went back to Europe by way of, "Victoria" - through Africa. The decision was successful. Trinidad was intercepted by the Portuguese after all, and most of its crew members died in captivity. But "Victoria", and with it the 18 surviving people of the team, crept back to Spain. She had to go away from the chase three times. With any other outcome, the expedition would not have been completed.
If Magellan survived
Death of Magellan
Magellan conceived a commercial expedition. It was the promises of big profits that he finally convinced the Spanish crown to sponsor his enterprise. His idea was as follows: to get to the Moluccas, also called the Isles of Spices, to buy spices there and return with them to Europe. It was possible to sell cargo in Spain for fabulous money. It would be enough not only to cover all expenses, but also to have a comfortable life for all participants. First of all, of course, to those who gave money, but even simple sailors would not go hungry.
The company promised a huge profit, which was proved by Elcano on his return. The sale of cargo from the hold of Victoria alone fully covered all the expenses for the equipment of the expedition of five ships and literally got rich on the returning navigators. Nevertheless, Magellan experienced serious difficulties in finding sponsors. Travel, of course, promised benefits, but could easily turn into a failure. Firstly, Magellan, although he knew about the existence of the Moluccas, but he had never been to them. Secondly, no one could say with certainty that there was a route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The ocean itself was already known to Europeans, thanks to the conquistador Núñez Balboa, who crossed Panama and came to its shore, but no vessel had yet entered its waters.
Europeans were actively looking for a sea route to the new ocean from the Atlantic, but by 1519 (the beginning of the Magellan expedition), these searches did not produce results. Third, no one, including Magellan himself, even approximately imagined the size of the Pacific Ocean. He was much more than all the ideas about him, as the diaries of Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of the expedition of Magellan, convincingly prove. From his records it follows that with the calculation of the time laid down on the transition from America to the Moluccas, the navigator made a mistake two or three times.
All these circumstances questioned the possible success of the enterprise. Magellan eventually convinced the Spanish government with a geopolitical argument. All the undeveloped colonial lands were divided between Spain and Portugal by the Treaty of Tordesillas as early as the beginning of the 16th century. Meridian 49'32'56 west longitude (also known as papal meridian) became the border. All that lay to the west of it, departed Spain, to the east - Portugal. Magellan promised to bring evidence that the Moluccas lie on the Spanish side, roughly speaking - they are closer to America, and not to India.
Anyway, the whole point of the journey was to reach the Moluccas, buy valuable cargo and return to Europe as soon as possible. There was no reason to go back across the Indian Ocean, Africa and the Atlantic. Magellan planned to return the same way that he came - through the Pacific Ocean and America.
So if he had not died in the Philippines and had completed his work himself, no round-the-world trip would have taken place. For those times it was and is not needed. Where the most important was the return itself. But after a few centuries - the fact of the circumnavigation of the world has become very important. Because one thing is the first case of travel around the Earth, and the other is an ordinary commercial expedition to the Moluccas and back.
If “Trinidad” returned, but “Victoria” is not
Victoria - the only surviving ship from the expedition of Magellan
The case is similar to the previous one. Trinidad was returning through America as planned by Magellan. Elcano on the "Victoria" went through the Indian Ocean, teeming with Portuguese ships. Amazingly, Victoria is back, and Trinidad has been captured. Had it been the other way around, and the world tour would not take place. For only Victoria could make it.
Glory to Francis Drake
Even if the surviving Magellan would return to Europe along the path already covered, and the circumnavigation would not take place, his expedition would still have a great influence on the fate of humanity. Big at that time.
Because, surprisingly, Elcano and Magellan managed to prove that the Moluccas are in Spanish possessions. The Portuguese crown had to come to terms with it. A little later, she bought the Moluccas from Spain for 350 thousand gold ducats. The main result of the journey of Magellan and Elcano was the conclusion of a new treaty between Spain and Portugal. The parties understood that they needed another dividing meridian. In 1529, the Zaragoss Agreement was signed, which resulted in its own demarcation line in the Eastern Hemisphere.
She lay in 300 leagues east of the Moluccas. All this was of great importance in the XVI-th century, but not in our days. In other words, Magellan would become a very important figure for his time, but not for history as a whole. Now his name would be known only to specialists in the Epoch of Geographical Discoveries and would stand in the same row with William Dampier, Peter Steyvesant or Martin Frobisher.
But the laurels of the commander of the first expedition in history, whose members had circled the globe, would have been given to Francis Drake. However, even the Basque Andres Urdaneta could have intervened, opening the safe route of Mexico to the Philippines, but his journey was solid and took place with long breaks. Around the world formed on the principle of shuttle running. Urdaneta first traveled from Europe to America, because, having lived there for some time, he made an expedition to the Philippines, from there he returned to New Spain across the Indian Ocean, and at the end of his life arrived in Madrid.
He thus became a man who went around the earth, but his travels were not a single expedition. But Francis Drake fully departed from England to America with his return through India and Africa. He did this at the end of the 16th century exclusively for military purposes. However, if Magellan had survived, the first real world actor would have been not him, but Drake.