The fleet of seven ships
In the European medieval period, navigation was considered part of the set of seven mechanical arts, none of which were used for long voyages across open ocean.
Open-seas navigation using the astrolabe and the compass started during the Age of Discovery in the 15th century. The Portuguese began systematically exploring the Atlantic coast of Africa from 1418, under the sponsorship of Prince Henry. In 1488 Bartolomeu Dias reached the Indian Ocean by this route. In 1492 the Spanish monarchs funded Christopher Columbus expedition to sail west to reach the Indies by crossing the Atlantic, which resulted in the Discovery of the Americas. In 1498, a Portuguese expedition commanded by Vasco da Gama reached India by sailing around Africa, opening up direct trade with Asia.
The first circumnavigation of the earth was completed in 1522 with the Magellan-Elcano expedition, a Spanish voyage of discovery led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and completed by Spanish navigator Juan Sebastián Elcano after the formers death in the Philippines in 1521. The fleet of seven ships sailed from Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Southern Spain in 1519, crossed the Atlantic Ocean and after several stopovers rounded the southern tip of South America. Some ships were lost, but the remaining fleet continued across the Pacific making a number of discoveries including Guam and the Philippines. By then, only two galleons were left from the original seven.
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