About Antonio Pigafetta

About the author: Antonio Pigafetta (1491 — 1534). From The Diary Junction,

Pigafetta was born into a wealthy Vicenza family, and studied navigation among other things. He served on board the galleys of the Knights of Rhodes, and accompanied the papal nuncio, Monsignor Chieregati, to Spain. Later, he joined the Portuguese captain Ferdinand Magellan and his Spanish crew on their trip to the Maluku Islands. While in the Philippines Magellan was killed, and Pigafetta was injured. Nevertheless, he recovered and was among only 18 of Magellan’s original crew who, having completed the first circumnavigation of the world, returned to Spain on board another vessel, the Victoria. Most importantly, Magellan kept a journal of his voyage, and this is a key source for information about Magellan’s famous journey.

About the diary: The version used here is The First Voyage Round the World by Antonio Pigafetta, translated by Lord Stanley of Alderley as reproduced in Wikisource.

The Journal of Pigafetta begins with this introduction:

Anthony Pigapheta, Patrician of Vicenza, and Knight of

Rhodes, to the very illustrious and very excellent

Lord Philip de Villiers Lisleaden, the famous

Grand Master of Rhodes, his most

respected Lord.[1]


Since there are several curious persons (very illustrious and very reverend lord) who not only are pleased to listen to and learn the great and wonderful things which God has permitted me to see and suffer in the long and perilous navigation, which I have performed (and which is written hereafter), but also they desire to learn the methods and fashions of the road which I have taken in order to go thither, [and who do] not grant firm belief to the end unless they are first well advised and assured of the commencement. Therefore, my lord, it will please you to hear that finding myself in Spain in the year of the Nativity of our Lord, one thousand five hundred and nineteen, at the court of the most serene king[2] of the Romans, with the reverend lord, Mons. Francis Cheregato,[3] then apostolic proto-notary, and ambassador of the Pope Leon the Tenth, who, through his virtue, afterwards arrived at the bishoprick of Aprutino and the principality of Theramo, and knowing both by the reading of many books and by the report of many lettered and well-informed persons who conversed with the said proto-notary, the very great and awful things of the ocean, I deliberated, with the favour of the Emperor and the above-named lord, to experiment and go and see with my eyes a part of those things. By which means I could satisfy the desire of the said lords, and mine own also. So that it might be said that I had performed the said voyage, and seen well with my eyes the things hereafter written.

For the entries, reference has also been made to Magellan Fleet Timeline, by John Woran. Reference was also made to A Chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Sea Or Pacific Ocean by James Burney. For the purpose of providing contemporary equivalents to some of Pigafetta’s place-names, this list by Carlos Quirino was consultedl, as was Early Mapping of Southeast Asia: The Epic Story of Seafarers, Adventurers by Thomas Suarez. Other accessible online publications of other translations of Pigafetta can be found in Magellan’s Voyage, American Heritage, Vol. 20, Issue 6, October, 1969, and in The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898, Volume XXXIII, 1519-1522.

From Blair & Robertson, the following chronology may be useful to readers:

Magellan arrives at Seville October 20 1518
Magellan’s fleet sails from Seville Monday,[25] August 10, 1519
Magellan sails from San Lucar de Barrameda, Tuesday, September 20,
arrives at Tenerife September 26,
sails from Tenerife Monday, October 3,
arrives at Rio de Janeiro December 13,
sails from Rio December 26,
sails from Rio de la Plata February 2, 1520
arrives at Port St. Julian March 31,
Eclipse of Sun April 17,
Loss of Santiago
Magellan sails from Port St Julian August 24,
sails from river of Santa Cruz October 18,
makes Cape of the Virgins, entrance of Straits October 21,
Desertion of San Antonio November
Magellan issues from Straits into the Pacific, Wednesday, November 28,
fetches San Pablo Island January 24, 1521
fetches Tiburones Island February 4,
reaches the Ladrone Islands, Wednesday, March 6,
reaches Samar Island of the Philippines Saturday, March 16,
reaches Mazzava Island, Thursday, March 28,
arrives at Sebu Island April 7,
Death of Magellan at Matan Saturday, April 27,
Burning of Conception May,
Arrival of San Antonio at Seville May 6,
Arrival of Victoria and Trinity at Tidore, Friday, November 8,
Victoria sails from Tidore December 21,
discovers Amsterdam Island, Tuesday, March 18, 1522
doubles the Cape of Good Hope May 18,[26]
arrives at Cape Verde Islands, Wednesday,[27] July 9,
arrives at San Lucar Saturday,[27] September 6,
casts anchor at Seville Monday,[27] September 8,
Thanksgiving at Church of Our Lady of Victory Tuesday,[27] September 9,

A very lively discussion on place-names, dates, and other matters can be found in the blog Historical Conundrums.