Biography of Antonio Pigafetta (ca. 1490-ca. 1534)

Famous Italian traveller born in Vicenza around 1490 and died in the same city in 1534, who is also known by the name of Antonio Lombardo or Francisco Antonio Pigafetta. Initially linked to the order of Rhodes, which was Knight, went to Spain in 1519, accompanied by Monsignor Francisco Chiericato, and was made available from Carlos V to promote the company initiated by the Catholic Monarchs in the Atlantic. Soon he/she became a great friendship with Magallanes, who accompanied, together with Juan Sebastián Elcano, in the famous expedition to the Moluccas begun in August of 1519 and finished in September 1522. He/She was wounded at the battle of the island of Cebu (Philippines) in which Magellan found death. The output of Seville made it aboard of the Trinity; the return, along with a handful of survivors (17 of the 239 who left this adventure), in victory, ship that entered in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz) on September 6, the designated year. In the last years of his life, he/she traveled by land from France to finally return to Italy in 1523. He/She wrote the relation of that trip, which was the first around the world, Italian and with the title of Relazioni in lathe to the primo viaggio di circumnavigazione. Notizia del Mondo Nuovo with figure you dei paesi scoperti, which was published posthumously, in 1536.

The account of Pigafetta is the single most important source about the voyage of circumnavigation, despite its tendency to include fabulous details. He/She took notes daily, as he/she mentioned when he/she realizes his surprise at Spain and see that he/she had lost a day (due to its driving direction). Includes descriptions of numerous animals, including sharks, the Storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), the pink spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja) and the Phyllium orthoptera, an insect similar to a sheet. Pigafetta captured a copy of the latter near Borneo and kept it in a box, believing a moving blade who lived in the air. His report is rich in ethnographic details. He/She practiced as an interpreter and came to develop, at least in two Indonesian dialects.

The geographical impact of the circumnavigation was enormous, since the Magallanes-Elcano expedition overturned many of the conventions of traditional geography. It provided a demonstration of the sphericity of the Earth and revolutionized the solid belief, so influential in the first voyage of Christopher Columbus, that the Earth's surface was covered for the most part by the continents.Pigafetta also wrote a treatise of navigation mainly Ptolemaic inspiration, but that contains the description of three methods to determine the length, probably derived from the Francisco Faleiro. These methods were: 1) by calculating the distance from a point of known length by observation of the distance of the Moon from the ecliptic; 2) by observation of the conjunction of the moon with a star or planet, and 3) through the use of the compass. Pigafetta also describes how to take the altitude of the pole star to determine latitude, know the wind direction and other minor navigation problems. Mistakenly believed that the direction of the compass coincided with the meridian of iron island. His description of the trip also includes details of the own navigation, as the description of the Sun at the Zenith, and forwards to readers interested in his own treatise on navigation and Aristotle.



Le voyage et navigation faict par les Espaingnols es Isles de Mollucques. Paris, 1525 (?). The Voyage of Magellan.The Journal of Antonio Pigafetta. Navigation et Inde Supérieure descouvrement et isles of Mollucques, printed in facsimile with English translation as Magellan completo de Voyage: A Narrative Account of the First Circumnavigation, ed. dir. by R. A. Skelton, 2 vols. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969. Primo viaggio intorno globe... ora publicato per prima volta da a codice ms. della Biblioteca Ambrosiana di Milano e prefabbricated di note da Carlo Amoretti... Milan: Galeazzi, 1800. First trip around the world... Madrid: Fortanet, 1899.


TORODASH, Martín: "Magellan Historiography", Hispanic American Historical Review, 51 (1971), 313-335.MORISON, Samuel Elliot: The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.