Ferdinand Magellan Facts For Kids: Lessons From His Life

Christian Mba
Nov 02, 2023 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Jan 05, 2022
Ferdinand Magellan is best known for the Spanish expedition

Ferdinand Magellan was a famous navigator and explorer of his time.

Magellan's voyage is one of those fascinating and exciting stories kids love to hear. One of the main reasons for such excitement is that Magellan sailed to many new places and discovered places that were named after him.

Ferdinand Magellan is best known for the Spanish expedition, which took place in 1591. The expedition started from Spain to the East Indies across the Pacific.

He started this expedition because he wanted to start a new sea trade route. He was the first person who had crossed the Pacific Ocean and had traveled the entire world. Magellan's voyage had led to the discovery of many new things; for instance, his voyage had proven that the earth is round.

Thus this discovery had broken the age-old concept of a flat earth. He is also well known for the Hispanic Monarchy from 1518. During his Spanish Expedition of 1519, he wanted to open a maritime sea route.

Magellan had led the very first voyage across the world. He had discovered a passage that connected the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.

If you like this article of Ferdinand Magellan facts for kids, make sure to check the articles of Bob Ross Facts and Bob fosse facts!

When was Ferdinand Magellan born?

Ferdinand Magellan was a very famous Portuguese sailor, explorer, and navigator. On February 4, 1480, he was born to Pedro de Magalhães, a minor member of Portuguese nobility in Sabrosa, Kingdom of Portugal.

His mother was Alda de Mesquita. He had more siblings, including Diego de Sosa and Isabel Magellan. Later he learned the art of sailing and joined the Portuguese Navy. Later in his life, he moved to Spain, joined the Spanish Navy, and went on the famous expeditions, which brought him popularity.

Ferdinand Magellan: Early Life

After the death of his parents, he became Queen Leonor's page, wife of John II, Portuguese ruler at a very early age.

While residing with the royal family, Magellan learned many skills like map-making and navigation. These arts or skills turned out to be helpful later in his life. This acquired skill contributed significantly to his success as a sailor or navigator.

This Portuguese explorer took a job in the Portuguese fleet under Francisco de Almeida in 1505 when he was just 25. He visited different places while he was in the fleet, like India, Morocco, and Spice Islands. Then Magellan wounded his leg, and then he left the Portuguese Navy and joined the Spanish army.

During his tenure with the Portuguese Navy, he was sent to Portuguese India. Although his name is not in the chronicles, he stayed for eight years in Goa, Cochin (present-day Kochi) and Quilon, (present-day Kollam). In India, Magellan had participated in many battles, including the battle of Cannanore (now Kannur) in 1506 and the battle of Diu in 1509.

After joining the Spanish Army, Ferdinand Magellan advised the Spanish King Charles to capture the Spice Islands or the Indies. The Spanish wanted to capture the Spice Islands to establish a good trade connection with the Asian countries as well.

Ferdinand Magellan married Beatriz Barbosa. They had two children together Carlos de Magallanes and Rodrigo de Magallanes.

Beatriz Barbosa's father was the person who introduced Ferdinand to the Spanish Royals and who was associated with maritime posts. As he was new in Spain and had no connections there, and could hardly speak a little Spanish, he proved immensely beneficial.

He met his wife and child for the last time on September 20, 1519, when he left for the circumnavigating expedition with other sailors with a fleet of five ships.

Ferdinand Magellan: Death

On April 27, 1521, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan died. He died because of a poison arrow that hit him on the island of Mactan, which is a part of the Philippines.

When Magellan and his crew reached Mactan, they were already voyaging in the sea for more than a year or so.

First, they sailed from Spain to African Canary Islands. From there, they crossed the Atlantic Ocean to sail south and reached South America, specifically Brazil and Argentina, where Magellan discovered the Magellan strait. Then they sailed across the Pacific and reached the Philippines islands. And there, Magellan died.

During his period in the Philippines, he decided to convert the natives into Christian. He wanted to spread Christianity worldwide and converted more than two thousand Philippine natives to Christians.

He converted many famous leaders of the Philippines into Christianity, including Raja Humabon of Cebu. However, the leader of Mactan resisted his mass conversion and revolted against him. Ferdinand and his small troops went to Mactan on April 27, 1521.

This resulted in the battle against Mactan troops. And in between this war, Ferdinand was struck by a poisonous bamboo arrow, resulting in his death.

Till eighteenth-century Pacific ocean was called Sea of Magellan in honor of Ferdinand Magellan.

Ferdinand Magellan: Ships

Magellan's ships are very famous for the expedition on which they used to go. With his main five ships, Magellan set sail with these five only. Trinidad, San Antonio, Conception, Victoria, and Santiago ships.

Among these ships, Trinidad is believed to be the flagship of Magellan. Santiago was lost in the seas near the Pacific Ocean among his five ships.

Magellan personally commanded the ship Trinidad during the expedition for the Spice Islands. The ship San Antonio deserted the expedition near South America.

After that, it was sent back to Spain. The next ship, the Conception, was damaged, and the crew numbers set it on fire.

The Trinidad was also damaged, but the crew members repaired it. Ships were getting wrecked because the sailors had no idea about the oceanic conditions of the Pacific. Many storms and sea waves were unpredictable; hence, many ships were severely damaged during the expedition.

Magellan's ship Victoria whose captain was Juan Sebastian Del Cano, made its way to Moloccus and then sailed back to Spain on September 6, 1522. This was the only ship that survived the expedition that reached its homeland in 1522.

Ferdinand Magellan: Legacy

 Magellan was the first navigator who circumnavigated the world, but obviously, he could not complete it. In the Pacific oceans, they took the direction of the southern tip and reached the Pacific island of Guam. Later they decided to go to the Philippines Islands, where Magellan was killed and could not reach the Spice Islands. 

After his death, Juan Sebastian Del Cano led Magellan's expedition. And he reached Spain with the other crew members, of which only 20 were Europeans, and the others were Moluccan slaves.

The Strait of Magellan was named after Ferdinand Magellan. Even the US military had an operation that was named after him.

NASA named their mission to Venus 'Magellan' in honor of the navigator which was launched in 1989. It was the first deep-space probe launched by a space shuttle and the first spacecraft to capture images of the entire Venus' surface.

Ferdinand Magellan Facts For Kids

  • When he reached Brazil, he landed near the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
  • When Magellan reached Argentina, he stopped at the port of Puerto San Julian.
  • Magellan would never reach the Spice Islands.
  • He was left to limp for the rest of his life and even during wars due to a knee injury procured in a battle.
  • His ship Victoria had sailed more than 4200 mi (6759.24 km).
  • The ship that Magellan personally commanded was the Trinidad.
  • Being Portuguese, he was distrusted by many Spanish sailors.
  • King of Portugal, King Manuel, wanted to stop Magellan's voyage. So he had sent ships to stop him but was not successful.
  • During the long voyages, the sailors had to eat rat-eaten biscuits and sawdust to survive.

There were many sailors and navigators in history, but everyone could not gain popularity or name like Ferdinand Magellan. He gained so much popularity because of his world-changing discoveries and contribution to world geography.


Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created many interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Ferdinand Magellan facts for kids, then why not take a look at Bob Ross or Bob Fosse facts?

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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