While Magellan deserves quite a lot of credit for the first circumnavigation of the globe he was most certainly not the first person to do it. The main reason we know this? He died about half way around.
His death cam when he led his sailors in the battle of Mactan, which he had agreed to take part in to curry favour with the local chieftain. With their superior weapons and belief in their superiority they assumed that the battle would be easy. This was one of the many mistakes made it this expedition.
So who was first?
Juan Sebastian Elcano a Basque sailor that took control after Magellan's death was the person remembered for a lot of history as the first, but this also is wrong.
The real first person to circumnavigate the world is oft overlooked due to his status, he was a slave.
Europeans had traveled to south east asia multiple times by this time, and on a previous journey there Magellan acquired a Malay slave known only as Enrique. Enrique traveled back to Europe with Magellan several years before the famous round the world trip started.
He was still with Magellan when they searched for a route back to southeast asia via a western route across both the atlantic and pacific oceans. So in 1521 when the fleet reached his homeland in modern day Malaysia he became the first person to circumnavigate the globe.
History lost track of him just after Magellan's death, being so close to his home and with his master dead he saw his chance to escape to freedom. He abandoned the expedition a short distance from his point of origin in Malacca. I hope he made it and I can only imagine the stories he could tell his friends and family that he left a decade ago.
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