Antonio Pigafetta

Antonio Pigafetta

Antonio Pigafetta (c. 1491), was an Italian scholar born in Vicenza. He was engaged to accompany and assist the Portuguese captain Ferdinand Magellan and his Spanish crew on their trip to the Maluku Islands. During the voyage, he kept an accurate journal which later assisted him in translating one of the Philippine languages, Cebuano. It is the first recorded document concerning this language.

Out of approximately 240 men who set out with Magellan in 1519, Pigafetta was one of only 18 who returned to Spain in 1522, having completed the first circumnavigation of the World, under the captainship of Juan Sebastián Elcano after Magellan's death. His journal is the source for much of what we know about Magellan and Elcano's voyage.


Pigafetta belonged to a rich family of Vicenza. In his youth he studied astronomy, geography and cartography. He served on board the ships of the Knights of Rhodes at the beginning of the 16th century. Until 1519, he accompanied the papal nuncio, Monsignor Chieregati, to Spain.


In Seville, Antonio Pigafetta heard of Magellan's planned expedition and elected to embark, accepting the title of "sobrasaliente" (supernumerary) and a modest salary of 1,000 maravedís. During the trip, Pigafetta collected extensive data concerning the geography, climate, flora, fauna and the inhabitants of the places that the expedition visited. His meticulous notes were invaluable to future explorers and cartographers, mainly due to his inclusion of nautical and linguistic data, and to latter-day historians because of its vivid, detailed style. The only other sailor to maintain a journal during the voyage was Francisco Albo, last "Victoria"'s pilot, who kept a formal logbook.


Pigafetta was wounded on Mactan in the Philippines, where Magellan was killed. Nevertheless, he recovered and was among the 18 who accompanied Juan Sebastián Elcano on board the "Victoria", on the return voyage to Spain.

Upon reaching port in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Province of Cadiz) in September of 1522, three years after his departure, Pigafetta returned to Italy. He related his experiences in "Relazione del Primo Viaggio Intorno Al Mondo" (Report on the First Voyage Around the World), which was composed in Italian. Although parts were published in Paris in 1525, the manuscript was not published in its entirety until the late eighteenth century. The original document was not preserved.

It was not through Antonio Pigafetta's writings that Europeans first learned of the circumnavigation of the globe. Rather, it was through an account written by Maximilianus Transylvanus, which was published in 1523. Transylvanus had been instructed to interview some of the survivors of the voyage when Magellan’s surviving ship "Victoria" returned to Spain in September 1522.

After Magellan's voyage, Pigafetta utilized the connections he had made prior to the voyage with the Knights of Rhodes to himself achieve membership in the order.


*Magellan (Francis Guillemard, Antonio Pigafetta, Francisco Albo, Gaspar Correa) [2008] - includes Pigafetta’s complete journal of the voyage, and Pigafetta’s treatise of navigation.
*Lord Stanley of Alderley, " [ The first voyage round the world, by Magellan] ", London : Hakluyt [1874] - includes Pigefetta's journal and his treatise of navigation


*Lapu Lapu [2002] depicts Antonio Pigafetta as a member of Magellan's expedition in Cebu.

ee also

*Enrique of Malacca

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