Antonio Pigafetta

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Antonio Pigafetta.

Antonio Pigafetta (c. 1491 – c. 1534was an Italy|Italia] navigator born in Vicenz. He paid a large sum of money to accompany and assist the Portugal|Portuguese captain Ferdinand Magellan and his Spanish crew on their trip around the world. He kept an accurate journal of the trip, which later assisted him in translating one of the Philippine languages, Cebuano. It is the first-ever document concerning this language.

Of some 260 men who set out with Magellan in 1519, Pigafetta was one of only 18 who returned to Spain in 1522, having completed the circumnavigationunder the captainship of Juan Sebastián Elcano after Magellan's death.

His journal is the source for most of what we know about 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 galleys of the Knights of Rhodes at the beginning of 16th century. Until 1519, he accompanied the papal nuncio, Monsignor Chieregati, to Spain.


In Seville he heard of the trip of Magellan, and negotiated to be admitted as a paying passenger. In spite of initial difficulties with Magellan, he managed to gain his confidence and served as his lenguaraz (translator) and cartographer.

During the trip, Pigafetta collected numerous data about geography, the climate, the flora, the fauna, and the inhabitants of the places that the expedition visited; his meticulous notes were to serve as invaluable documents to future explorers and cartographers, mainly due to his inclusion of nautical and linguistic data.


In the battle in which Magellan was killed in Mactan, Philippines, Pigafetta was wounded. Nevertheless, he managed to recover and was among the 18 on board the Victoria, who accompanied Juan Sebastián Elcano on the return voyage to Spain.

Upon reaching port in Sanlúcar de BarramedaProvince 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), composed in Italian languageItalian. It was published in Paris in 1525 and was not wholly published until the late eighteenth century. The original document, regrettably, is not preserved.

It was through the earlier account written by Maximilianus Transylvanus, published in 1523, however, that Europeans learned of the first circumnavigation of the globe. As Secretary to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Transylvanus had been instructed to interview the survivors of the voyage when Magellan’s surviving ship Victoria returned to Spain in September 1522.

Pigafetta was made a Knights Hospitaller|Knight of Malta.

He died in his native city in 1534.

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