Rui Faleiro

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Rui Faleiro was a Portuguese cosmographer, astrologer, and astronomer who was the principal scientific organizer behind Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the world. He was supposed to accompany Magellan in the expedition, but he remained behind following his prediction that the voyage would lead to his death.

Applying Scientific Method

Born in Covilhã at the end of the 15th century, Faleiro served the Spanish king Charles I in Seville. He was one of the first to apply the most rigorously scientific method of determining latitude and longitude. He had earlier served John II of Portugal and his successor, Manuel I of Portugal. He and Magellan repeatedly proposed an expedition to Spice Islands using a western route to Manuel I, but they were always rejected. They then turned to the Spanish king for assistance.

Plan for Expedition with Magellan

Faleiro believed that south of the “Terras de Vera Cruz” (Brazil) at 40 degrees latitude, there was an Atlantic passage that would lead to the South Seas. By his calculations, the Spice Islands would fall on the Spanish side of the line of Tordesillas.

Merchant Christopher de Haro helped Faleiro and Magellan present their proposal before the Spanish royal counselors. Faleiro planned to accompany Magellan on his voyage around the world. However, it is said that on the evening prior to embarkation, Faleiro worked out his own horoscope for the voyage. The stars predicted a violent death. Consequently, he remained behind. Other sources claim he went mad before the voyage, and thus did not join the expedition.

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