Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation Of The Globe

ISBN: 006093638X

This book tells the story of Magellan, the first man to attempt circumnavigation of the world in search of an alternate route to the Spice Islands. It’s a testament to one man’s incredible will above extremely long odds during a period in history where such a journey brought nearly guaranteed death to all those who attempted it.

Originally from Portugal, Magellan defected to Spain after the Portuguese refused to fund his expedition (they already had a secret route to the Spice Islands around Africa). The Spanish monarch, locked out of the spice trade, decided to fund his trip. He was treated poorly by his Spanish peers, facing sabotage and treachery every way he turned. It was a minor miracle his expedition was even allowed to begin.

Their first indigenous contact was in Brazil:

As Magellan’s ships came to rest, a throng of women— all of them naked and eager for contact with the sojourners— swam out to greet them. Deprived of the company of women for months, the sailors believed they had found an earthly paradise. Any fear they might have had of Indian cannibals melted in the flame of carnal pleasure.


Under the strain of temptation, one of Magellan’s most trusted allies, Duarte Barbosa, who had offered critical assistance when Cartagena mutinied, all but lost his head in Rio de Janeiro. Falling under the women’s spell and envisioning a life of ease as a trader on these distant shores, he decided to desert the fleet. Magellan learned of the plan and intervened at the last minute, sending sailors to arrest Barbosa onshore and drag him back to the ships. The poor man spent the rest of the layover in Rio de Janeiro confined in fetters aboard his ship, gazing on the women and the self-indulgent life that Magellan— and duty— denied him.

This may be the first documented case of poosy paradise, and the predictable effects it had on men.

João Lopes Carvalho, Magellan’s pilot, returning to Brazil after a seven-year absence, happily reunited with his former mistress, who introduced him to their son.


When the fleet finally weighed anchor and sailed away, Indian women followed them in canoes, tearfully pleading with the men from distant shores to stay with them forever.


If they were received well, the sailors were ready for orgies, and the priests for conversions; if they were attacked, they were ready for battle.

These men would have been better off staying with their Brazilian mistresses, for few would make it home alive.


The conditions for Magellan’s sailors were deplorable:

When conditions turned hot and humid, the insects infested the clothing, the sails, the food supply, and even the rigging. The sailors scratched and complained, but they had no defense against the pests. Even worse, weevils invaded the hardtack, and it was further contaminated with the urine and feces of rodents. Crew members with growling stomachs forced themselves to overcome their inhibitions and swallow this disgusting, contaminated provender.


…the heavy weather stranded a landing party already ashore, this time with no “sea wolves” to provide shelter or warmth. Enduring bone-chilling cold, their skin and hair and beards soaked constantly with freezing rain, their fingers and toes numb, the men forced themselves to forage for shellfish in the freezing water. Their hands bleeding, they smashed the shells and survived on the raw flesh until, nearly a week later, they were able to return to the fleet.

As the voyage dragged on, and the Spice Islands were yet to be found, Magellan had to deal with a mutinous crew. He was successful:

A crucial evolution of Magellan’s style of leadership, and perhaps his character, occurred over a period of nine trying months, from February to October 1520. He emerged from the ordeal a very different man from the one who had begun the voyage. The Magellan of February teetered on the brink of being murdered by the men he commanded. The Magellan of October was on the way to earning a place in history. In the intervening months, he passed a series of tests that forced him to confront his own limits as a leader and to change his ways, or die.

When the impossibly navigable Straits were found, and the Pacific Ocean was within reach, Magellan did not rush the job. He took his time through them to prevent disaster at the critical moment.

His sophisticated approach to navigating uncharted waters went far beyond technical ability in boat handling and direction finding; it revealed an ability to deploy novel tactics to overcome one of the great challenges of the Age of Discovery: namely, how to guide a fleet of ships through hundreds of miles of unmapped archipelagos in rough weather. Magellan’s skill in negotiating the entire length of the strait is acknowledged as the single greatest feat in the history of maritime exploration. It was, perhaps, an even greater accomplishment than Columbus’s discovery of the New World.


The Straits of Magellan

But such a burden was too great for one man, and he started to lose his faculties, going mad with power and coming to think of himself as a messenger of Christ who was destined to convert native populations. He was angered when one particular tribe refused to bow to his will. Feeling invincible in possession of European steel against puny wooden weapons, he began a foolhardy battle that resulted in his death.

Magellan, normally possessed of superhuman determination and indifference to hardship, became depressed and unstable as the transpacific crossing wore on. In a rage, he flung his useless maps overboard, crying, “With the pardon of the cartographers, the [Spice Islands] are not to be found in their appointed place!”


…he could not fail to notice that his weapons conferred absolute power over the islanders, should he ever feel the need to exert it.


Magellan gave an even more astonishing demonstration as he brought out one of his men, who was dressed in armor from his knees to his neck; then three other Europeans, “armed with swords and daggers… struck him on all parts of the body.” As the blows fell and glanced off the armor, the clank of metal on metal echoing across the water, “the [indigenous] king was rendered speechless.” The king seemed to think that these visitors possessed superhuman powers. No man could have withstood the shower of blows, yet the armored soldier had done just that.


In the course of the voyage, Magellan had managed to outwit death many times. He overcame natural hazards ranging from storms to scurvy, and human hazards in the form of mutinies. In the end, the only peril he could not survive was the greatest of all: himself.

As shown in previous reviews of long sea journeys, it is clear that strict discipline is paramount. The reason it’s so common to hear of cruel captains is because a mistake can cause the entire ship to be lost. There is very little room for error.

Less than 10% of the original crew made it back to Spain, in only one ship instead of the original fleet of five. It took 58 years for the circumnavigation to be duplicated by Francis Drake after several disastrous failures.

The [crew], for the most part, were ordinary men, many still in their twenties or even younger, the overlooked servants of more powerful officers and specialists. No matter what their status, they had surveyed more of the world than anyone else before them; by accident or design, their names belong among history’s great explorers.

I couldn’t help but feel jealous as I read this book. These men were first to sail around the world and first step on new lands. Today, the only thing men race to be first in is to get in line when a new iPhone is released. Overall this book is a page turner that I thoroughly enjoyed. May we all have the opportunity for our own great discovery.

Read More: “Over The Edge Of The World” on Amazon

25 thoughts on “Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation Of The Globe”

  1. This is why I mourn the loss of our space program. Astronauts used to be front page news and role models.

    1. Not enough people with “the right stuff” to draw from with Equal Opportunity vultures flying about. Besides, how do you convince those useless assholes that without our space program many of the most beneficial technologies from freeze drying food to solar panels would not be available without the resources thrown at our best and brightest turning over every theoretical stone to find solutions to amazing, unheard of, and unpredictable problems to solve.

    1. Yes, but the time-honored convention in the English-speaking world has been to Anglicize the name to “Magellan”. To insist on the original spelling would be pedantic.

      1. You are right, it just seems weird for me, being a spaniard, to read his name translated into english. Same thing with Christopher Columbus, as opposed to Cristobal Colon. I understand to a certain point translating first names (Queen Elisabeth is referred to in spanish as Reina Isabel), but last names should not be translated.

    2. “Magallanes” is also an adaptation, like the English “Magellan”. The original Portuguese name was “Magalhães”.

  2. What a shame that this voyage was damned near doomed by politics. The sheer and utter balls of these guys is sobering, even today. Makes me wonder, though, if they would have fared better or worse had they not made landfall with the attitude of conquistadores rather than visitors. I suspect that although it cost Magellan his life, had they not established benign but utter dominance over the locals where they made landfall, they’d never have made it so far. Joshua Slocum’s first solo circumnavigation certainly came close to disaster a few times because he was slow to go on the offensive.

    1. The greatest of leaders were often anything but benevolent in most circumstances. They were often giving off the appearance of malevolence, at the very least.
      Could you imagine what Magellan would do if we gave him charge over an Equal Opportunity office? I bet it would make Machiavelli return from the grave his heart would be singing praise to the Lord.

  3. To your closing statement: Red Pill men of Gen Y are those who utilize best the amazing resources at their disposal to create their own opportunity for great discovery.

  4. The explorers and conquerors who built the modern world are now reviled as villains because they actually believed their own civilization and faith were better than those of the savages and primitives they subjugated. Modern progressives know better (when they aren’t sniggering with each other about those “Tea Party types” and their crazy Jesus religion).

  5. This was a great book. I enjoyed every page. I liked the description of his landing in Patagonia and the weird descriptions of the huge size of the Indians there. Other things that stuck with me were the fact that Magellan avoided scurvy by being lucky enough to have preserved quinces with him, which have plenty of vitamin C. His men were not so lucky.
    Untimately undone by his egomania and religious fanaticism, he was unlucky enough to be set up and maligned at every turn by jealous nobles and other competitors. Never was a man so set up to fail, and yet succeeded regardless.
    I can see Roosh was salivating at the descriptions of copulation with the native Indians of Brazil, as was I.
    “First documented case of poosy paradise”…kkkkk! I read somewhere other explorers’ encounters with Polynesian natives in the South Seas were similar. Some guys jumped right off the ships and had sex right there on the beach…to Polynesians in those days, sex was considered no big deal.
    All in all, a great review here.

  6. well i think the trials and tribulations of Steve Jobs compare pretty well with this story… as do some of the tales of other business leaders of our times…. if you want to be on the frontier… simply find where that frontier is…. chasing pussy is hardly the frontier….

  7. I couldn’t help but feel jealous as I read this book. These men were
    first to sail around the world and first step on new lands. Today, the
    only thing men race to be first in is to get in line when a new iPhone
    is released.-Roosh
    Lord knows I feel ya bro. When I talk to people of the things I have done, often they don’t believe me. With all the tech and information people still choose to isolate themselves from adventure that is not digitized and predictable; think World of Warcraft.
    Yet, they pride themselves on all the new photos they have taken of themselves and others with their new gadgets as some sort of triumphant victory?
    Sad really, that this sort of thing will not be redone until men can go to mars. When they do, it will be but a handful of our best and brightest. The days of your average Joe having a shot at greatness and glory are dwindling as every noble endeavor of the past is digitized and turned into some damnable digital simulator. The military is being so “sensitized” beyond recognition, and it’s more technical and non-technical jobs being replaced, a valuable door to self-improvement and adventure is being further and further closed to the lower classes of society.
    Even learning to approach women the likes of Casanova’s jealousy has been turned into a mystery-less exercise of routine. Rather a noble , and perilous, journey of self-discovery and mastery.
    To quote a line from Pirates of the Carribean: “the world is still the same, there’s just…less in it.”-Jack Sparrow after returning from death.

  8. You do know that a Filipino chieftain by the name of Lapu-lapu brought Magellan to an early grave. Magellan’s superior firepower was rendered useless by the natives bravery and the land’s natural challenges.

  9. Thats why the feminists and entitled bar princesses are so terrified of woman like that and is why every man who goes to Thailand or Brazil will face endless shaming tactices and being labeled tthe biggest creep and pedophile ever.
    Imagine if they became easily available in huge numbers. The “Beckys” and “Lindas” with their useless HR job and Iphone would lose all leverage, their power would vanish like mist before the sun.

  10. roosh likes to write about europeans.I am sure he considers himself white and european too hahah.
    yet his armenian ancestors were fucking with sheep till 20th century and were not able to build simple things like canalization till they were conquered by Russian
    Roosh,write about your people,don’t touch with your black hairy hands our history.

    1. Absurd, completly childish comment. And ignorant too: check the history of Armenia on the net and learn some respect, kiddo.

  11. There is an interestig theory (Rainer Daehnhardt) that defends that the “defection” of Magellan to “Spain” was due to the need for longitude data to settle the Eastern Tordesillas meridian, something with huge implications on the “jurisdiction” of the rich Mollucas Spice Islands. The death of Magellan prevented the collected navigation data from reaching the Portuguese Crown. In the end, the dispute ended with the treaty of Zaragoza, that recognized the Mollucas – and the Phillipines to be on the Portuguese Hemisfere. Recognized and princely bought!
    The funny thing is that Magellan “defection” finds interesting similarities to another “defection” to Spain: that of Salvador Fernandes Zarco, portuguese nobleman and probably the son of a Polish king (now how about that?). He is better known as Columbus.

  12. The hate for western women is apparently no new thing. Even back then, a man would give up all he ever worked for just to get away from them.

  13. Transatlantic voyages were more common than originally thought. Long before the European Age of Discovery, the Egyptians and Phoenicians have already sailed the oceans and circumnavigated Africa. The Chinese discovered America. It’s no longer a question of which civilization visited, explored and colonized the Americas, but which didn’t. As a matter of fact, it is believed that the maps left by these early explorers came into the possession of the European explorers, since many of them already knew those new lands were there.

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