The Mayoress of Cartagena, Noelia Arroyo, inaugurated this Tuesday the travelling exhibition of the 500th anniversary of the first round the world voyage of Magellan and Elcano, “The voyage to the Spices”, of the Department of Culture of the Ministry of Defence, organised by the Asociación Tercio Viejo de Cartagena, with the collaboration of the City Council.
The exhibition commemorates the V Centenary of the Spanish expedition that made the first voyage around the world. An adventure that lasted three years and constitutes a fundamental episode in the context of the important enterprise undertaken by Spain at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, which represented the first globalisation.
“That globalisation, a distant precedent to that of today’s technological and digital revolution, allowed Spain to begin to express its global vocation, which continues five centuries later, among other spheres, in our Armed Forces. Because the Navy’s link with science has been maintained ever since, and good proof of this today is the scientific missions that the Hespérides, our flagship scientific vessel and the pride of the Navy and of Cartagena, where it is based, has undertaken every year for the past 25 years”, said the mayoress.
The expedition was made up of four ships and a caravel. The ‘Trinidad’ was the captain ship and, with her, the ‘San Antonio’, with Juan de Cartagena at the helm, the ‘Concepción’, whose captain was Gaspar de Quesada, the ‘Victoria’, commanded by Luis de Mendoza and the ‘Santiago’, with Juan Serrano as captain. A total of 247 men were on board.
The mission commissioned by King Charles I was to find a sea route to the East, specifically to the Moluccas (the Spice Islands) that did not involve sailing around Africa so as not to breach the Treaty of Tordesillas, signed between the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal, by which both divided up the territories in the Atlantic.
It was the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan who presented the project to the Spanish Crown, and who headed it, but it is also true that the expedition was financed entirely by the Kingdom of Spain and that most of the members of the crew (147) were Spaniards.
The graphic exhibition aims to provide the viewer with a complete chronological overview of the voyage, with texts and images alluding to each of its most important stages and its protagonists.
The purpose of the expedition, as specified in the Capitulations signed in Valladolid, was to search for a strait on the southern coast of the American continent in order to reach the Spice Islands (now the Moluccas).
The expedition was plagued by setbacks and difficulties. After Magellan’s death in the Philippines, Elcano was elected leader of the expedition and managed to complete the first circumnavigation of the globe. He arrived at the port of departure, Seville, on 8 September 1522 in the ship Victoria, along with 17 other survivors, which was an impressive feat for the time.