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Midterm Project Mckent O.


Critical Essay/Analysis

Chosen Topic/Primary Source

A Brief Summary of the First Voyage Around the World by Magellan by Antonio Pigafetta

Pigafetta’s account is the most important text about the circumnavigation of the world, his writings
were accurate and is widely accepted by historians and famous literary men as reference. The fact
that he was part of the crew and he is the only source of information for many details about the
voyage makes everything authentic and legitimate. His own narration was one of the greatest
achievements in the history of navy exploration and discovery. In this narration, descriptions of
peoples, countries, goods and even the languages that were spoken.

Antonio Pigafetta (c. 1491 – c. 1531) was an Italian scholar and explorer from the Republic of
Venice. Pigafetta belonged to a rich family of Vicenza. In his youth he studied astronomy,
geography and cartography. He served on board the ships of the Knights of Rhodes at the
beginning of the 16th century. Until 1519, he accompanied the papal nuncio, Monsignor
Chieregati, to Spain. (Source: Lord Stanley of Alderley,, London: The Hakluyt Society (1874) –
includes Pigefetta’s journal and his treatise of navigation)

Context of the document:

Pigafetta tells how, being in Barcelona in 1519, he heard about Magellan’s expedition, and being
wishful to learn about the world, he asked for and obtained the permission to join in the voyage.
They arrived in the Philippines, where they became acquainted with the natives who proved
hospitable and welcomed them as guests in the king’s palace. The indigenous people, affected by
the celebration of Mass and the crucifix planted in the island, promised to convert to Christianity.

Quickly they developed commerce and trade, and the king, the queen and other notables of Cebu
were converted, until the entire population rapidly followed them in the new religion.

Shortly after, happened the disastrous episode that changed the course of the expedition. Magellan
took part in a conflict between some local tribes and was killed. The rest of the expedition managed
to escape and retired, preparing to leave, but a trap set by Magellan’s interpreter and the king of
Cebu, led to another massacre of the Europeans.

Importance of Pigafetta’s account in Philippine history:

The chronicle of Pigafetta was one of the most cited documents by historians who wished to study
the precolonial Philippines. As one of the earliest written accounts, Pigafetta was seen as a credible
source for a period, which was prior unchronicled and undocumented. Moreover, being the earliest
detailed documentation, it was believed that Pigafetta’s writings account for the “purest”
precolonial society. Indeed, Pigafetta’s work is of great importance in the study and writing of
Philippines history.