Discourse upon the Voyage
Made by the Spaniards Round the World

M. Giovanni Battista Ramusio

In Lord Stanley's The First Voyage Round the World, the letter of Maximilanus is preceeded by the following Discourse. For reasons unknown, Ramusio's work is not listed in Stanley's Table of Contents. Comprising a single very long paragraph, it is here divided into several smaller sections for reading ease.

The voyage made by the Spaniards round the world in tbe space of three years is one of tbe greatest and most marvellous things which have been heard of in our times; and, although in many things we surpass the ancients, yet this expedition far excels every other that has been made up till now. The voyage was described very minutely by Peter Martyr, who belonged to the Council of the Indies of His Majesty the Emperor, and to whom was entrusted tbe duty of writing this history; and by him were examined all those who remained alive of that expedition, and who reached Seville in the year 1522. But, as it was sent to be printed in Rome, it was lost in the miserable sacking of that city; and nothing is known even now as to where it is.

And he who saw it, and read it, bears testimony to the same; and, amongst other things worthy of recollection that the aforesaid Peter noted concerning the voyage, was this, that the Spaniards, having sailed about three years and one month, and the greater part of them, as is usual amongst seafaring men, having noted down the days of the months one by one, found, when they arrived in Spain, that they had lost a day, for the day on which they arrived at Seville, which was the 7th of September, was, by their reckoning, the 6th. And the aforesaid Peter having mentioned this peculiarity to a certain excellent and extraordinary man, who was at that time ambassador for his republic to His Majesty; and, having asked him how it could be, he, who was a great philosopher and learned in Greek and Latin literature, so that for his singular learning and rare excellence, he was afterwards promoted to much higher rank, gave this explanation: That it could not have fallen out otherwise, aa they had travelled for three years continuosly and always accompanied the sun, which was going westward. And he told him besides, that those who sailed due westwards towards the sun, lengthen their day very much, as the ancients also had noticed.

Now, the book of the aforesaid Peter having disappeared, Fortune has not allowed the memory of so marvellous an enterprise to be entirely lost, inasmuch as a certain noble gentleman of Vicenza called Messer Antonio Pigafetta (who, having gone on the voyage and returned in the ship Vittoria, was made a Knight of Rhodes), wrote a very exact and full account of it in a book, one copy of which he presented to His Majesty the Emperor, and another he sent to the most Serene Mother of the most Christian King, the Lady Regent. She entrusted to an excellent Parisian philosopher called Jacomo Fabre, who had studied in Italy, the work of translating it into French.* This worthy person, I suppose to save himself trouble, made only a summary of it, leaving out what seemed fit to him; and this was printed, very incorrectly, in Franco, and has now come into our hands.

* It was written in French.

And along with it a letter from one called Maximilianus of Transylvania, a secretary of His Majesty the Emperor, to the most Reverend Cardinal of Salzburg. And this we have wished to add to this volume of travels, as one of the greatest and most remarkable that there has ever been, and one at which those great philosophers of old, hearing of it, would have been stupified and beside themselves. And the city of Vicenza may well boast, among the other cities of Italy, that in addition to its nobility and high qualities; in addition to its many rare and excellent geniuses, both in letters and arms, there has been a gentleman of such courage as tho aforesaid Messer Antonio Pigafetta, who has circumnavigated the whole globe, and has described it so exactly. There is no doubt that the ancients would have erected a statue of marble to him, and would have placed it in an honourable position, as a memorial and example to posterity of his great worth, and in acknowledgment of so stupendous an enterprise. But if, in this letter or in the summary, there be seen any discrepancy of names or things, let no one be astonished; for the bent of men's minds is various, and one notices one thing and one another, just as the things appear most deserving of attention. Let it suffice if, in the principal things they agree, and many parts which are left out in one can be read at length in the other. Fabulous stories, too, are noted for what they are. This may be safely affirmed by anyone, that the ancients never had such a knowledge of the world, which the sun goes round and examines every twenty-four hours, as we have at present, through the industry of the men of these our times.