THE DEATH OF MAGELLAN

BUT AS A GOOD CAPTAIN and a knight he still stood fast with some others, fighting thus for more than an hour. And as he refused to retire further, an Indian threw a bamboo lance in his face, and the captain immediately killed him with his lance, leaving it in his body. Then, trying to lay hand on his sword, he could draw it out but halfway, because of a wound from a bam­boo lance that he had in his arm. Which see­ing, all those people threw themselves on him, and one of them with a large javelin . . . thrust it into his left leg, whereby he fell face down­ward. On this all at once rushed upon him with lances of iron and of bamboo and . .. they slew our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide.

“While those people were striking him, he several times turned back to see whether we were all at the ships. Then, seeing him dead, as best we could we rescued the wounded men and put them into the boats which were already leaving.”Magellan

Magellan’s body was not found or ever seen again by Europeans. Pigafetta writes:

“After dinner the Christian king .. . sent to tell those of Mattan that if they would give us the bodies of the captain and the other dead men, we would give them as much merchan­dise as they desired. And they answered that they would not give up such a man, as we supposed, and that they would not give him up for the greatest riches in the world, but that they intended to keep him as a perpetual memorial.”

Perhaps as an idol? But how? There is no present evidence that such a thing was ever done. A tall column overlooking the bay com­memorates the death of Magellan, but in the bright little township a mile or two away, a new bronze statue of Lapulapu, leader of the warriors who killed Magellan, shone in the sun. It seemed that he was now the local hero, which is understandable in the 20th century. THE DEATH OF MAGELLAN did not end the voyage, for the surviving ships had still to reach the Spice Is­lands to buy their homeward cargo of cloves and sail from there another 11,000 miles to complete their circumnavigation of the globe. Of the three surviving ships now in the Phil­ippines, the Concepcion was old and worm-riddled.

As there was also a shortage of manpower from disease and fighting casual­ties (the company had declined from more than 250 in South America to scarcely 100 in the Philippines), Concepcion was burned. Her people and stores were divided among Trinidad, commanded by Capt. Joao Lopes Carvalho, and Victoria, later commanded by the Basque, Capt. Juan Sebastian del Cano. From Cebu, the Spice Islands of Ternate and Tidore lay to the southward only 600 miles away. A week or less of sunlit sailing should have brought Trinidad and Victoria there.