It was on this date in 1519 that the explorer Ferdinand Magellan set off to sail around the world. Although he was Portuguese, Magellan had sworn allegiance to Spain, and he began the journey with a fleet of five ships and 270 men to see if he could accomplish what Columbus had failed to: find a navigable route to Asia that didn’t involve going around Africa. They set sail from Seville, heading west. After crossing the Atlantic, surviving a mutiny, and losing one ship, Magellan reached Brazil and turned south, following the coast until he came to a deep-water strait that separated the rest of South America from Tierra del Fuego. Magellan entered the strait on November 1, 1520; that is All Saints’ Day, so he christened it the Strait of All Saints. Later, the Spanish king changed its name to the Strait of Magellan. After 373 miles in the strait, Magellan became the first European to enter the Pacific Ocean from the east, and he’s the one who named it “Pacific,” because it was much calmer than the Atlantic.
Unfortunately for Magellan, he never completed the voyage. The fleet stopped off in what are now the Philippine Islands, where Magellan befriended a local chief and offered to help him in his war with the natives on a neighboring island. He was killed in battle in April 1521, and the remaining fleet continued on without him. They arrived back in Seville — down to one ship and 18 men — on September 8, 1522.