Don Ferdinand Magellan had served with much credit in India, under the famous Albuquerque, and thought that he merited some recompence for his services; but all his applications were treated with coldness and contempt by the great, which was intolerable to a person of his spirit. He associated, therefore, with men of like fortunes, whose merits had been similarly neglected, and particularly with one Ray Falero, a great astronomer, whom the Portuguese represented as a conjuror, retiring along with him to the Spanish court, where be made propositions for new discoveries to Cardinal Ximenes, who was then prime minister of Spain. The Portuguese ambassador used all imaginable pains to counteract these designs, and solicited the court to deliver up Magellan and his companion as deserters, even representing Magellan as a bold talkative person, ready to undertake any thing, yet wanting capacity and courage for the performance of his projects. He even made secret proposals to Magellan, offering him pardon and great rewards to desist from his present purpose, and to return to the service of his own sovereign. All these arts were unavailing, as the Spanish ministry, now competent judges of these matters, were satisfied of the probability of the discoveries proposed by Magellan and his coadjutor Falero, who were both received into favour, made knights of the order of St Jago, and had their own terms granted to them.
The grounds on which this expedition was founded were as follow. The opinion advanced by Columbus, of the possibility of reaching the East Indies by sailing to the west, was assumed as certainly well founded, though he had not been able to accomplish it; and it was asserted, that it could not be attended with any insuperable difficulty to sail from the South Sea, then recently discovered, to the Molucca Islands. The grand desideratum was to find a passage westwards, from the Atlantic Ocean into the new-found South Sea, which they expected might be met with through the Rio de la Plata, or by some other opening on that eastern coast of South America. Should this succeed, Spain might then reap the benefit of both the Indies; since, if this discovery were made by way of the west, it would then fall expressly within the grant of the papal bull to Spain.
In consequence of these proposals, it was agreed that Magellan and the other adventurers were to be furnished by the crown of Spain with five ships, manned by 234 men, with provisions for two years; and that the adventurers should reap a twentieth part of the clear profit, the government of any islands they might discover to be vested in them and their heirs for ever, with the title of Adelantado. The agreed, fleet of five ships was accordingly fitted out for the expedition at Seville, consisting of the Trinidada, in which Magellan sailed as admiral, and having a Portuguese pilot named Stephen Gomez; the Santa Vittoria, commanded by Don Luis de Mendoza; the St Antonio, Don Juan de