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Magellan Comprehension.

Ferdinand Magellan – Discovering the Pacific Ocean

Worksheet on extracts from “First Voyage Around the World”

Section One: Language Development:  While reading, record any words you don’t already know.  When you have finished reading, choose seven of those words, define them, and record the sentence from which they came.

Word Definition Sentence from the Text
Skirmish A fight between two armed groups “Only to be killed in a skirmish with the natives on the island of CEBU”
Debouched To move into a less confined area “Wednesday, 28 November 1520, we debouched from the strait engulfing ourselves in the Pacific Sea.”
Islets Small island We saw no land except two desert islets.
Hither On near side “When our muskets were discharged, the natives jumped hither and thither covering themselves with their shields.”
Thither In that direction “When our muskets were discharged, the natives jumped hither and thither covering themselves with their shields.”
Balanghai A type of wooden boat. “The Christian king would have aided us, but the captain charged him before we landed, not to leave his balanghai, but to saty and see how we fought.”
Illustrious Distinguished/memorable I hope through the efforts of your most illustrious Lordship that the fame of so noble a captain will not be effaced in our times.


Section Two: Comprehension Check:  Complete the following questions – you do not have to use complete sentences.  You may complete this in bullet format.



1 Why and where was Magellan exploring?
Answer Magellan “was sent by the king of spain in 1519 to explore a new route westward to the East Indies” but he died “in a skirmish with the natives” and one of his ships the victoria circumnavigated the globe.
2 What were the sailors eating during their time in the Pacific Ocean?
Answer The sailors were eating worm incrusted biscuits, yellow putrid water and ox hydes and saw dust.

“we ate biscuit which was no longer biscuit  but powder of biscuit swarming with worms for they had eaten the good. It stank strongly of the urine of rats. We drank yellow water which had been putrid for many days. We also ate some ox hides… and often we ate saw dust from the boards.”

3 Why did nineteen men die during the voyage?
Answer Nineteen men died during the voyage because they caught a disease, which causes your gums to swell and you cannot eat under any circumstances so they died of starvation. “The gums of both the lower and upper teeth of some of our men swelled, so that they could not eat under any circumstances and therefore they died. Nineteen men died from that sickness,…”
4 Why didn’t the crew die of hunger according to the writer?
Answer The crew didn’t die of hunger according to the writer because “Had not God and His blessed mother given us so good weather we would all have died in that exceeding vast sea.”
5 How many men were on each side of the battle described in the extract?
Answer There were over 1500 men on the Indies side and 49 men on the Spanish side. “ when morning came, forty none of us leaped into water up to our thighs… when we reached land those men hadormed into three divisions to the number of more than 1500 persons …”
6 What weapons were the sailors using?
Answer The weapons that the sailors were using were; muskets, crossbows and staked hardened with fire, mud or stones. “The musketeers and crossbowmen shot from a distance for about half an hour…  besides pointed stakes hardened with fire, stones, and mud, that we could hardly defend ourselves.”
7 What weapons were the natives using?
Answer The natives were using; poisoned arrows, arrows, bamboo spears (some tipped with iron). “They shot so many arrows at us and hurled so many bamboo spears (some of them tipped with iron) at the captain- general, besides pointed stakes hardened with fire, stones, and mud that we could scarcely defend ourselves.”
8 How exactly was Magellan killed?
Answer Magellan was killed by “ So many of them charged down upon us that they shot the captain through the left leg with a poisoned arrow.” “An Indian hurled a spear into the captains face, but the latter immediately killed him, with his lance which he left in the Indians body. Then trying to lay hand on sword, he could draw it out but halfway, because he had been wounded in the arm with a bamboo spear. When the natives saw that, they all hurled themselves upon him. One of them wounded him in the left leg with a large cutlass, which resembles a scimitar only being larger. That caused the captain to fall face downward, when immediately, they rushed upon him with iron and bamboo spears and with their cutlasses until they killed our mirror our light our comfort and our true guide.”
9 What was Magellan checking after he was wounded?
Answer Magellan was checking he could still use his arm after he had bee wounded in It. “Then trying to lay hand on sword, he could draw it out but halfway, because he had been wounded in the arm with a bamboo spear.”
10 What were the most important ‘virtues’ that Magellan showed?
Answer The most important virtues that Magellan showed were: “he endured hunger better that all others, and more accurately than any man in the world did he understand sea charts and navigation.”


Section Three:  Source Analysis: Critical Thinking Exercises:  From this source, we can learn many things about the voyage of Magellan; however, we must read the source ‘critically’.  In other words, do not just believe everything that you are reading, but think about it and decide how reliable the information is, and what exactly we can learn from the source.

Fill in the following table by putting an X in the most relevant box related to the source. 

Topic The reason for and purpose of voyage The conditions in which the sailors lived and worked The attitude of the explorers toward the natives The attitude of the natives toward the explorers The character of Magellan
There is plenty of information about this in the source


There is some information about this, but we must be careful


This is no really mentioned in the source, but we can make some inferences from the information provided



We can’t learn anything about this from the source.



Section Four: Extension Work: Clearly, this source is a biased account of Magellan’s adventures; written by the navigator of the ship (nobody makes themselves sound bad, right?).  Select one quote from the text that you think is a) definitely valid, b) useful information but questionable, and c) clearly exaggerated.  Give a brief explanation so to why you chose each quotation.




Definitely a valid as a source for History “We saw no land except two desert islets, where we found nothing but birds and trees, for which we called them the Ysolle Infortunate (The Unfortunate Isles). This is a valid quote because we can tell what they called the place.
Useful information, but of questionable validity “When they saw there houses burning this raised greater fury.” In this quote from the primary source, we are told that there are houses. But we are not told exactly how many, what they look like or what they are made from.
Clearly exaggerated “When we reached land, those men had formed into three divisions to the number of over more than 1500 persons.” This is clearly exaggerated because on an island at that time especially there would definitely not be over 1500 men fighting let alone on the island.




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