The objective, killing Magellan?

Five ships left Brazil, heading for Río de la Plata, which marked the boundary of the unknown. Passing the vast river, they sailed into uncharted lands and reached what we know today as Patagonia. Due to the climatic conditions, but against the advice of his Spanish officials, Magellan decided to drop anchor at a port they christened San Julián, and pass the winter there. The tension in the air can be appreciated in document number 19.

The mutiny

The situation came to a head. The three ships rose up against their Captain General, although it appears that the object of the mutiny was no to kill Magellan but to make him change his mind. But Magellan was headstrong and, by dint of surprise, he gained the upper hand, as a small group of loyal men took over the Victoria and thwarted the mutiny.

The punishment

The time had come to settle scores. Captain Quevedo was executed and his corpse, and that of Captain Mendoza, were quartered. Their remains were left to rot on a scaffold, set up for all to see. Juan de Cartagena was a member of the king's household and Magellan did not dare execute him, so the Captain General decided to abandon him on land.

Document 21 gives us a first-hand account from an eye-witness, sailor Ginés de Mafra.

Winners and losers

Some members of the expedition, including Diego Martín, stirred up trouble before the mutiny by spreading lies in their own self interest. In the case of the sailor Diego Martín, he was rewarded with the post of master.

Juan Sebastian and the giants

In the port of San Julián the sailors discovered some natives whom they called Patagonians. Juan Sebastián described the meeting in great detail on his return, and the Emperor's secretary put it down in writing, as we can see in Document 23.

The photos and film clip you can see next, were taken in Tierra del Fuego about a century ago, when there we still various thousands of inhabitants in the inhospitable southernmost settlements of America.

The discovery of the strait

The Santiago went off on a recce and discovered a river which they named the Santa Cruz. As they sailed out of the river the ship sank, but fortunately almost all hands were saved. The remaining four ships continued their voyage.

According to Juan Sebastián's testimony, the Straits were discovered on the 27th day of November, in the year 1520.

The San Antonio got separated from the others and turned back for Spain, whilst the three remaining ships completed the crossing.