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Ferdinand Magellan (1480 - 1521) was a Portuguese explorer hired in the service of Charles I of Spain. He discovered a westward route to the Spice Islands of Indonesia and led the first European expedition to the Philippines. Before him only the Arabs maintained regular trade with the archipelago. Magellan was killed in the Battle of Mactan against the forces of Lapu-Lapu, King of Mactan.

The remnants of his crew continued the journey and under the leadership of Juan Sebastian Elcano managed to cross the coasts of Asia and Africa, reaching Europe and completing the first circumnavigation of the world. Of the 237 men originally setting sail with Magellan and several others recruited during the journey, 232 died during the circumnavigation. Elcano led a crew of 18 when he reached a European port. Other 12 had been captured by the Portuguese and released later. Five had survived a shipwreck and reached Europe through other means. Meaning that only 35 members of the crew made it back home.

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