Stefan Zweig: Magellan

d. Fabbripagg. 260 It is 1400, the century of preparation for the great enterprise, the century of Henry the Navigator, of Christopher Columbus, of Fernão de Magalhães born Portuguese, who became Spanish under the name of Fernando de Magallanes, passed down in history simply as Magellan.

From him and his trip to the Indies, passing through the West, we know thanks to a Vicentine, Antonio Pigafetta, a knight of Rhodes, who accompanied the great navigator on his journey around the Earth. Pigafetta wrote a diary, delivered to the king of Spain, Charles V, a lost diary; then, driven by the will of justice for his companion of suffering, he rewrote a shortened report entitled: "First trip around the terrestrial globe" thanks to which History knows the truth.

They were long ago, times when we still were not sure of anything, we did not even know if it was possible to circumnavigate Africa. In those years, a small country, Portugal, is responsible for many discoveries.

It is a Florentine, Poliziano, who remembers it: "He not only left the Pillars of Hercules behind him and tamed an enraged Ocean, but he recognized the unity that has been interrupted until now interrupted by the habitable world. we can still expect economic benefits, as an elevation of knowledge, as confirmations of ancient science that have been rejected as unbelievable! New lands, new seas, new worlds have arisen from the secular darkness ... Portugal is today the guardian of another world ".

Yet it is precisely Portugal (in the person of its king, Manuel) who does not understand or does not want to give credit to the proposal of one who will one day be recognized as the first to believe in the possibility of circumnavigating the world, Magellan. Instead, King Charles V of Spain will offer an opportunity to our navigator. Five ships, a crew of just over 250 men, almost all destined for death. Almost everyone, and Magellan himself among these!

Magellano, a few years after Columbus and several centuries later the Vikings, is about to present to the world the greatness of an idea. But a great enterprise needs great ideas, great experts, great sacrifices. Magellano puts the idea and the experience, Ruy Faleiro puts his science, the full crew (and his admiral in the first place) puts the sacrifices and the blood!

"There is a passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, I know, I know the place and the point, give me a fleet and I will show the passage and I will go around the whole earth from east to west", Magellan confidently affirms in front of the king.

How did he know? And how much was the news? Part of the information came from the secret archives of the king of Portugal, right or wrong, Magellano is guided by this information. 22 March 1518 King Charles V signs the contract with Magellano and Professor Ruy Faleiro. It is the beginning of an adventure.

I would be easy to continue telling, inspired by the biography of Magellan by the writer Stefan Zweig, of men, explorations, giants of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, of savages of the islands of the Ladroni, of "immortals" and cannon shots , of the most stupid death and undeserved life, but in doing so, I probably could not further stimulate the curiosity of those who have reached this point.

So I leave you with an invitation, read also the biography of Magellan, by Stefan Zweig, travel with your thoughts on his journey, live with his men their pains and breathe the greatness of their immortal enterprise.

Alessandro Rugolo