Boundles sea

Coming through the Straits, the ships sailed into the South Sea, which was bigger than they could possibly imagine. The lack of storms led them to name this sea the Pacific, and when the Emperor's secretary reflected on the immensity of the ocean, basing his records on Juan Sebastián's words, he wrote:

Having navigated the infinite expanses of that southern sea for three months and twenty days...

Isle of thieves

On the far side of the ocean, and after nine men had died from scurvy, they reached the island of Guam. There they got in new supplies of fresh food, but the skill of the natives at appropriating the property of the fleet ended in the expeditionary force having to impose a series of severe punishments. When they eventually left the islands, they mapped them as "Island of Thieves".

If you'd like to know more about the tattoos seen in the indigenous tribes met by the expedition during the circumnavigation, take a look at the section dedicated to them.

The death of Magellan

Magellan was welcomed on arrival at the island of Cebu, and, wanting to secure these isles, decided to attack the neighbouring island of Mactan. As we can see in document number 27, Juan Sebastián was against the plan.

Eight men died on Mactan and a few days later the king of Cebu set a trap for the expeditionary foces and, according to Juan Sebastián, 27 men were killed.


A missionary's testimony

“They do not paint all their body at once, but bit by bit. This way, they spend many days painting themselves, and in ancient times, for each part to be painted, new feats and acts of bravery had to be undertaken”.

“They do them with a ruler and a set of compasses, some like one or two finger-width strips of wood, one straight and the other snaking or in zig-zags. First they make the drawing carefully and then take a small comb-like object, as wide as the stripes and made of pin-heads, to prick the skin and remove it to transfer the paint”.

“Then they sprinkle on some black powder made of the soot of a smelly tar they call balong, and once this sacrifice is made they are retained for some nine or ten days because they are often overcome and apt to be taken by the devil".

“The women only paint their hands. They painted the backs of their hands, from their fingers to their wrist, but not the underside. The usual designs were flowers and bows and they were very well done, but thanks be to God, this practice has now ceased."

Spy´s death

Many years later it transpired that at least eight of the twenty-seven had survived and had been sold into slavery to a junk returning to China. Amongst the disappeared was the spy, Joan da Silva, who was in the pay of the King of Portugal.

Document number 28 is Joan da Silva's payslip, drawn up afterwards by the Contracting House, where we can see that he very nearly managed to do what he had set out to accomplish. That is to say, Magellan had chosen him to remain in charge of Spanish interests on Cebu once the fleet had sailed.


There were now not enough men to sail the three ships, so the Concepción was burnt and everything useable was distributed among the two remaining ships, the Trinidad and the Victoria, and Carvalho was chosen as Captain General. Juan Sebastián took on the role of master once more, as we can see in document number 29. A sailor named Mafra referred to Juan Sebastián as "discrete".

The definition of "discrete" in those days meant a wise man with a sound mind who knows how to deliberate and give each man his due.

Juan Sebastian, a curious seafarer

Espinosa and Juan Sebastián, along with some other companions, went to the main city of Borneo to make peace with the king. Two enormous elephants came to meet them on the shore, carrying great wooden howdahs on their rumps to take them to the palace. Thanks to Juan Sebastián's curiosity we can see, in document number 30, what the religion of the people of Borneo was like.

Juan Sebastián and a handful of men stayed in the city, Carvalho and the two remaining ships saw themselves embroiled in various battles. They were finally able to escape, but left some companions imprisoned on the island. Among these was Domingo de Barruti, from Lekeitio, Biscay, who we know was still alive two years later.

Captain and governor

Carvalho behaved irresponsibly and was dismissed from his post. The men elected Espinosa as captain of the Trinidad and Juan Sebastián took responsibility for the Victoria. Together with the master of the Trinidad, Juan Bautista Ponceroni, they were now in charge of the destiny of the fleet. They were close, very close indeed, to their goal.