Magallanes and / or Elcano? The experts have no doubts: the first round the world was unintentional, by a cluster of coincidences and misfortunes. "Magellan did not want or could not. Elcano did not know. " The Portuguese historian José Manuel García comes down from the pedestal to the two protagonists of the first circumnavigation to the Earth, which will celebrate 500 years between polemics for commemorative celebrations and their nationalist meritocracies; Portugal's initiative to include the Magellan Route in its list of Unesco World Heritage nominations, sent in January 2017, magnified the Portuguese explorer and forgot who organized and paid for the trip (Spain) and who completed the trip. return (Elcano).
This has aroused criticism in Spain -because the two governments have clarified that there will be a joint candidacy in Unesco and that they will invite Argentina, Brazil or the Philippines to participate-, enlivened by the fact that the acts of the V centenary of the expedition in the Portuguese country they focus only on Magellan. "Portugal, like Spain, is free to commemorate as you wish its historical deeds," they say from the Spanish Ministry of Culture.
What will not change neither the controversies nor the celebrations is what the story says about that expedition, a feat that started a Portuguese that was already famous, Fernando de Magallanes (1480-1521), and finished a secondary, Juan Sebastián Elcano (1476-1526), who had the success of being in the right place at the right time in history.
"There is no possible controversy. There are not two versions of the story, but one: the one that emerges from the documents ", ditch Carlos Martínez Shaw, who led the congress in Valladolid Primus circumdedisti me, whose talks are now published in a book and also coordinator of the last issue of the magazine Andalusia in History of the Andalusian Studies Center titled The first travel around the world. "You were the first one you gave me back", reads the coat of arms that King Charles V granted to Elcano. Although for historians like Queirós Veloso or Samuel Eliot Morison, the first was Magellan. Everything as you look.
Friends and colleagues, Manuel García and Martínez Shaw mark differences here. For Garcia, Magallanes went around the world before, but in a different way. "His goal was to reach the Moluccas [en la actual Indonesia] by the West. As in 1512 he had done it in the East, he had already circumnavigated the Earth in reality when he arrived in the Philippines, albeit in two stages. "
Juan a. harmony
The Spanish commission for the commemoration of the V Centenary of the expedition of Magallanes and Elcano, constituted in June 2017, has 126 projects planned, with a budget of 174 million euros contributed by the central government, autonomous communities, councils, municipalities and entities private, explain in Culture. Although "there is no joint Spanish-Portuguese committee that proposes joint programming," there will be "some audiovisual, scenic or nautical projects that circulate or rotate in both countries and initiatives will be carried out jointly, such as the voyage of vessels -school Sagres Y Juan Sebastián Elcano" In the Portuguese case, the commission was created last year and was headed by José Marques, former mayor of Sabrosa, a municipality that is declared the birthplace of Magellan and from which the controversy (and already overcome) of presenting the route in Unesco. The Portuguese Foreign Minister, Augusto Santos Silva, recently replaced Marques as head of the commission.
Martinez Shaw describes as ridiculous the historical versions that distance themselves from the facts "for political purposes or absurd nationalisms". "The trip is paid by 29% Burgalese merchants settled in Seville and the rest, the Spanish crown. At the time of sailing, the Court believes that there is an excessive Portuguese power and the king leaves on the ground part of the crew of that nationality and the courtier Juan de Cartagena names him 'seedor' of the Crown in the trip to counteract the weight of Magallanes ".
This, in turn, got in Spain the help he did not have in Portugal. "To Don Manuel, the Portuguese King, Magellan proposes to go to the Moluccas [fundamental en el comercio de las especias] navigating to the East and to Spanish it is proposed traveling through the West to, in each case, respect the Treaty of Tordesillas", Insists García, author of the book The journey of Ferdinand Magellan and the Portuguese. "The Portuguese king despised the plan because they had already gone to the Moluccas", recalls the historian. The Spanish king warns Magellan in the capitulations of Valladolid (1518): "Do not discover or do anything in the demarcation and limits of the most sacred king of Portugal, my very expensive and much loved uncle and brother, or to his detriment." Once at sea, respect among kings did not infect the 239 sailors, from nine nations. "Magellan had the command over the Navy and he never recognized Cartagena's authority," Garcia points out. "He was the only one who knew the route; The Spaniards had nothing to say because they had never sailed to Brazil and I was not going to listen to their opinions. "
The malaise of Cartagena and the other Spanish captains ends in the San Julián mutiny, on March 30, 1520. Although the Portuguese were only 32, Magallanes put out the rebellion, mainly Spanish. "The majority was on his side, because he was the one who knew navigation," according to Garcia. For Martinez Shaw it was a matter of courage. "Magellan gave the ringleader a sword and the others shrunk."
44 rebels were sentenced to death. Magellan decapitated, literally, the line of command: Luis de Mendoza (in front of the ship Victory) and Gaspar de Quesada (Conception) were decapitated; To Cartagena (San Antonio), out of respect for the king, and priest Pedro Sánchez, out of respect for the church, he left them on an island and until today. When he was going to continue with the executions, Magallanes calculated that he was left without a crew and he spared the rest of his life, among them, one Juan Sebastián Elcano.
"He embarked as one more," says Martinez Shaw. "Until the arrival in the Philippines, its protagonism was null. It occupied the fourth tier in the chain of command of the Victory, after the captain, the pilot and the master, "says Garcia.
The good star of Elcano had just begun. They say he fell ill when Magellan left to fight against the Indians in Mactan, where he met his death. With the escabechinas the line of command continued running, but even so it was not Elcano's turn. "It was the fifth command option for the fleet after Magallanes, Barbosa, Carvalho and Espinosa," García explains. "It is true that there were pilots and other controls so it can be deduced that in those six months lost by the Philippines, he stood out as a leader."
He was in command of the Victory, from August 1521 to September 6, 1522, when he arrived in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. "Elcano went around the world illegally, because he crossed Portuguese waters, and out of desperation, because the encalmadas prevented him from going by the Panama route," says García. "The first round the world," sums up Martinez Shaw, "was completed by chance. The objective was to buy cloves in the Moluccas and claim the islands as Spanish, nothing more. "
We must distribute the merits, summarizes the Portuguese historian: "It was a Spanish expedition with the collaboration of sailors from nine countries under the scientific command of the Portuguese Magallanes, completed by the courage of Elcano".