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Magellan: daring explorer or doomed failure?

Felipe Fernández-Armesto reexamines the story of famed explorer Ferdinand Magellan, uncovering more failure than success

Published: May 9, 2022 at 4:03 pm

In September 1519, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan set off on a fateful voyage to find a route to the Spice Islands. In the centuries since, Magellan has gone down in history as a chivalric adventurer, his name forever linked to the first circumnavigation of the globe. But, as Professor Felipe Fernández-Armesto tells Ellie Cawthorne, Magellan’s career was in fact shaped more by failure than success.


Felipe Fernández-Armesto is the author of Straits: Beyond the Myth of Magellan (Bloomsbury, 2022)


Ellie CawthornePodcast editor, HistoryExtra

Ellie Cawthorne is HistoryExtra’s podcast editor. She also contributes to BBC History Magazine, runs the podcast newsletter and hosts several live and virtual BBC History Magazine events.


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