Magellan Fleet Timeline

John Woram

This page makes an attempt to sort out the details of the Magellan fleet, from its arrival at San Julián to the return of the Victoria, the only one of the original five ships to make it back to Spain. A few details make it difficult to prepare an accurate account of the voyage. For example:

The chronological summary which follows describes the conflicting accounts of some voyage details. Many of these details are repeated on the Source Information page, accessible via the links within the Fleet Timeline table below.

Summary of Various Accounts

Pigafetta Manuscript Reprints

1874: Hakluyt Society edition of First Voyage Round the World:

1906: Arthur H. Clark edition of the Milan “Ambrosian” ms. of Magellan's Voyage Round the World, includes (pp. 61-62) the following inaccurate excerpt in the account of the San Julián mutiny:

1969: Yale University Press edition of Magellan's Voyage (see Notes page for details).

Other Manuscript Reprints,
Later Printed Histories

1874: Hakluyt Society edition of First Voyage Round the World (mss. other than Pigafetta's):

1803: James Burney's Chronological History of the Voyages … (vol. 1, p. 20) writes of the following incident as the fleet sailed south after leaving Tenerife:

“Juan de Cartegena, commander of the St. Antonio, remonstrated with the general for not steering more towards the West. Magalhanes made no other answer to his representations, than that it was the business of those under his command to follow his ship, and not to call him to account.”

1886: Justin Winsor's Narrative and Critical History …:

Winsor (vol. 2, p. 696) “improved” Burney's tale, and stated that it took place at Tenerife, not after sailing from there:

“Up to this point entire secrecy had been maintained by Magellan as to the route to be pursued. Juan de Carthagena claimed the right to be informed of all things regarding it. Magellan refused, probably with considerable scorn. When off Sierra Leone, a few days after, a similar quarrel broke out; Magellan arrested Carthagena with his own hand, and put him in the stocks.”

1890: F. H. H. Guillemard's Life of Ferdinand Magellan …:

1906: Arthur H. Clark edition of the Milan “Ambrosian” ms. of Magellan's Voyage Round the World:

1958: Mairin Mitchell's Elcano: the First Circumnavigator:

The author states that “Elcano” is correct; “del Cano” is not. See the Mairin Mitchell entry on the “Notes page” for more details, including a sample of the subject's own signature.

The San Julián Mutiny:

Last but not least is the problem of the conflicting first-hand accounts of what happened when the fleet wintered at San Julián. The table below shows how the incident and its leaders were treated in each account. In the other first-hand accounts, the mutiny is not mentioned at all.

 Pigafetta ManuscriptsBautistadel Cano
masters of the other four ships   
captains of the other four ships   
three of the ships rose up   
Mutiny LeadersTitle 
CartagenaCaptain & Inspector-General    
fleet overseer   
de Cocaoverseer   
del Cano §master    
captain & treasurer   
Quesada(title not given)  
Pedro Sanchez de la Reina the priest
de Coca(none?)
del Cano
killed, then quartered   
Quesadabeheaded, then quartered  
de la Reina banished 

= person not mentioned in this account.

§ See the April 1, 1520 notes for details of del Cano's involvement in the mutiny.

With the above disclaimers out of the way, the Magellan Fleet Timeline table below presents a brief chronology of significant events during the voyage. The date of each event is given, if known. If space is blank, the date is somewhere between those immediately above and below.

To view the source for an item, hover over any cell in the first column. A cyan background indicates a link to display the source information, in which “Clark” and “Stanley” refer to the following published editions:

Links within the Information page display the following:

dark grey = ship destroyed

light grey = ship leaves fleet

Magellan Fleet Timeline
ConcepciónSan AntonioSantiagoTrinidadVictoria
CaptainGaspar de QuesadaJuan de CartagenaJoão SerrãoFerdinand MagellanLuis de Mendoza
PilotJuan CarvalhoAndres de San Martin,
Juan Rodriguez de Mafra
Estevan GomezBasco Gallego
(later, Francisco Albo§)
MasterJuan Sebastian
del Cano
Juan de ElorriagaBaltasar GinovesJuan BautistaAnton Salomon
 Antonio de Coca 
§ Francisco Albo started the voyage as ContraMaestre (Boatswain) on the Trinidad, but later became pilot of the Victoria. The date at which he changed ships is unknown, pending further research.
August 10depart Seville
September 20depart San Lucar
October Cartegena imprisoned, Antonio de Coca, captain
Alvaro de Mesquita, captain
March 31arrive San Julián
April 1treason plot treason plot
April de Quesada executed de Cartagena put ashore Mendoza executed
MayJoão Serrão, captain wrecked Duarte Barbosa, captain
August 24depart San Juliándepart San Julián
October 21arrive Cape of 11,000 Virginsarrive Cape of 11,000 Virgins
returns to Spain,
Geronimo Guerra, captain
November 28enters Pacificenter Pacific
April 27(Serrão to Victoria)Magellan murdered
Duarte Barbosa, captain
Barbosa to Trinidad,
João Serrão, captain
May 1 Barbosa murdered by nativesSerrão abandoned
on shore
MayburnedJuan Carvalho, captainGonzalo Despinosa, captain
May 6arrives Seville 
FallCarvalho imprisoned,
Juan Bautista, captain
September 27Carvalho, chief pilot
Despinosa captain
Juan Sebastián del Cano, captain
November 8arrive Tidore
DecemberJuan de la Rosa joins crew 
December 21Carvalho remains at Tidore
de la Rosa, captain
remains at Tidoredeparts Tidore
begins attempt to re-cross Pacific 
Carvalho restored
as captain
February 14Carvalho dies
Despinosa, captain
April 6departs Tidore
May 6
(or 16)
doubles Cape of Good Hope
September 6 arrives San Lucar
September 8arrives Seville
late October
or early Nov.
ship seized by Portuguese 
ConcepciónSan AntonioSantiagoTrinidadVictoria