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25 Partner Warehouse Biography- General

Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe (P.S.)

by

Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe (P.S.) Cover

ISBN13: 9780060936389
ISBN10: 006093638x
Condition: Student Owned
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Excerpt

Chapter One
The Quest

"He holds him with his skinny hand,
"There was a ship," quoth he.
"Hold off !unhand me, grey-beard loon!"
"Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

On June 7, 1494, Pope Alexander VI divided the world in half, bestowing the western portion on Spain, and the eastern on Portugal.

Matters might have turned out differently if the pontiff had not been a Spaniard — Rodrigo de Borja, born near Valencia — but he was. A lawyer by training, he assumed the Borgia name when his maternal uncle, Alfonso Borgia, began his brief reign as Pope Callistus III. As his lineage suggests, Alexander VI was a rather secular pope, among the wealthiest and most ambitious men in Europe, fond of his many mistresses and his illegitimate offspring, and endowed with sufficient energy and ability to indulge his worldly passions.

He brought the full weight of his authority to bear on the appeals of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the "Catholic Monarchs" of Spain who had instituted the Inquisition in 1492 to purge Spain of Jews and Moors. They exerted considerable influence over the papacy, and they had every reason to expect a sympathetic hearing in Rome. Ferdinand and Isabella wanted the pope's blessing to protect the recent discoveries made by Christopher Columbus, the Genoese navigator who claimed a new world for Spain. Portugal, Spain's chief rival for control of world trade, threatened to assert its own claim to the newly discovered lands, as did England and France.

Ferdinand and Isabella implored Pope Alexander VI to support Spain's title to the New World. He responded by issuing papal bulls — solemn edicts — establishing a line of demarcation between Spanish andPortuguese territories around the globe. The line extended from the North Pole to the South Pole. It was located one hundred leagues (about four hundred miles) west of an obscure archipelago known as the Cape Verde Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Africa. Antonio and Bartolomeo da Noli, Genoese navigators sailing for Portugal, had discovered them in 1460, and ever since, the islands had served as an outpost in the Portuguese slave trade.

The papal bulls granted Spain exclusive rights to those parts of the globe that lay to the west of the line; the Portuguese, naturally, were supposed to keep to the east. And if either kingdom happened to discover a land ruled by a Christian ruler, neither would be able to claim it. Rather than settling disputes between Portugal and Spain, this arrangement touched off a furious race between the nations to claim new lands and to control the world's trade routes even as they attempted to shift the line of demarcation to favor one side or the other. The bickering over the line's location continued as diplomats from both countries convened in the little town of Tordesillas, in northwestern Spain, to work out a compromise.


In Tordesillas, the Spanish and Portuguese representatives agreed to abide by the idea of a papal division, which seemed to protect the interests of both parties. At the same time, the Portuguese prevailed on the Spanish representatives to move the line 270 leagues west; now it lay 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, at approxi-mately 46° 30'W, according to modern calculations. This change placed the boundary in the middle of the Atlantic, roughly halfway between the Cape Verde Islandsand the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The new boundary gave the Portuguese ample access to the African continent by water and, even more important, allowed the Portuguese to claim the newly discovered land of Brazil. But the debate over the line — and the claims for empire that depended on its placement — dragged on for years. Pope Alexander VI died in 1503, and he was succeeded by Pope Julius II, who in 1506 agreed to the changes, and the Treaty of Tordesillas achieved its final form.

The result of endless compromises, the treaty created more problems than it solved. It was impossible to fix the line's location because cosmologists did not yet know how to determine longitude — nor would they for another two hundred years. To further complicate matters, the treaty failed to specify whether the line of demarcation extended all the way around the globe or bisected just the Western Hemisphere. Finally, not much was known about the location of oceans and continents. Even if the world was round, and men of science and learning agreed that it was, the maps of 1494 depicted a very different planet from the one we know today. They mixed geography with mythology, adding phantom continents while neglecting real ones, and the result was an image of a world that never was. Until Copernicus, it was generally assumed that the earth was at the absolute center of the universe, with the perfectly circular planets — including the sun — revolving around it in perfectly circular, fixed orbits; it is best to conceive of the earth as nested in the center of all these orbits.

Even the most sophisticated maps revealed the limitations of the era's cosmology. In the Age of Discovery, cosmology was aspecialized, academicfield that concerned itself with describing the image of the world, including the study of oceans and land, as well as the world's place in the cosmos. Cosmologists occupied prestigious chairs at universities, and were held in high regard by the thrones of Europe. Although many were skilled mathematicians, they often concerned themselves with astrology, believed to be a legitimate branch of astronomy, a practice that endeared them to insecure rulers in search of reassurance in an uncertain world. And it was changing faster than cosmologists realized. Throughout the sixteenth century, the calculations and theories of the ancient Greek and Egyptian mathematicians and astronomers served as the basis of cosmology, even as new discoveries undermined time-honored assumptions. Rather than acknowledge that a true scientific revolution was at hand...

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Philip Miller, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Philip Miller)
Unlike most other early explorers, Magellan was a peacemaker, which is perhaps the reason that he is lesser known. Bergreen presents his subject within that context and underscores Magellan's impact on cartography and subsequent passage to the Pacific via Cape Horn, the most revered of all Great Capes on the planet.
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merlin2972, January 14, 2010 (view all comments by merlin2972)
This book flows like a Greek tragedy -- it is an enthralling account of delusion and hubris, a wonderful reality check from the Age of Discovery.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060936389
Author:
Bergreen, Laurence
Publisher:
William Morrow & Company
Author:
rence
Author:
Bergreen, Laurence
Author:
by Laurence Bergreen
Author:
Bergreen, Lau
Subject:
History
Subject:
Adventurers & Explorers
Subject:
Civilization
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Maritime History
Subject:
Explorers
Subject:
World - General
Subject:
Expeditions & Discoveries
Subject:
Special Interest - Adventure
Subject:
World
Subject:
Explorers -- Portugal.
Subject:
Voyages around the world - History -
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series:
P.S.
Publication Date:
November 2004
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
8.02x5.34x.88 in. .92 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Historical
History and Social Science » Exploration » General
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Western Civilization
Sports and Outdoors » Outdoors » Lore and Survival
Transportation » Nautical » General
Travel » Travel Writing » Exploration

Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe (P.S.) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 512 pages Perennial - English 9780060936389 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A vivid account of Magellan's star-crossed voyage around the world nearly five centuries ago....Very nicely written through and through."
"Review" by , "[A] powerful tale of adventure with a strong presence and rich detail."
"Review" by , "Fascinating reading for history buffs, and a great story that rivals any seagoing adventure."
"Review" by , "A revisionist view — and also a cracking good tale."
"Review" by , "Prodigious research, sure-footed prose and vivid depictions make for a thoroughly satisfying account of the age in which Iberian seafarers groped their way around the world."
"Review" by , "In delivering this excellent, highly readable account of the first circumnavigation of the globe, Bergreen does full justice to Magellan, the visionary captain who sailed west into the great unknown."
"Review" by , "Drawing on a variety of primary sources, Bergreen has done a fine job of telling Magellan's story. He portrays the explorer as neither villain nor noble hero, but as a driven, disciplined, often cruel man with vision and seemingly limitless courage."
"Review" by , "Although he has nothing new to add and the sources on which he relies are all familiar ones, Laurence Bergreen...tells this story with great verve and not too much oversimplification."
"Review" by , "Bergreen's tome is a veritable wealth of fascinating tidbits and stories....In Over the Edge of the World, Begreen has created a captivating chronicle, sustained by copious research and an accessible, lively writing style."
"Review" by , "Bergreen's research is so filled with wondrous discoveries, his writing so filled with unforgettable scenes, that he sucked me in until I surrendered totally."
"Synopsis" by , A voyage into history, a tour of the world emerging from the Middle Ages, a chronicle of a desperate grab for commercial and political power, and more, this captivating tale rivals the most exciting thriller fiction.
"Synopsis" by , Ferdinand Magellan's daring circumnavigation of the globe in the sixteenth century was a three-year odyssey filled with sex, violence, and amazing adventure. Now in Over the Edge of the World, acclaimed author Laurence Bergreen, interweaving a variety of candid, first-person accounts, some previously unavailable in English, brings to life this groundbreaking and majestic tale of discovery that changed many long-held views about the world and the way explorers would henceforth navigate its oceans.

In 1519 Magellan and his fleet set sail from Seville, Spain, to find a water route to the Spice Islands in Indonesia, where the most sought-after commodities — cloves, pepper, and nutmeg — flourished. Most important, they were looking for a passageway, a strait, through the great landmass of the Americas that would lead them to these fabled islands. Laurence Bergreen takes readers on board with Magellan and his crew as they explore, navigate, mutiny, suffer, and die across the seas. He also recounts the many unusual sexual practices the crew experienced, from orgies in Brazil to bizarre customs in the South Pacific. With a fleet of five ships and more than two hundred men, they had set out in search of the Spice Islands. Three years later they returned with an abundance of spices from their intended destination, but with just one ship carrying eighteen emaciated men. They suffered starvation, disease, and torture, and many died, including Magellan, who was violently killed in a fierce battle.

A man of great tenacity, cunning, and courage, Magellan was full of contradictions. He was both heroic and foolish, insightful yet blind, a visionary whose instincts outran his ideals. Ambitious to a fault and not above using torture and murder to maintain control of his ships and sailors, he survived innumerable natural hazards in addition to several violent mutinies aboard his own fleet — and it took no less than the massed forces of fifteen hundred men to kill him.

This is the first time in nearly half a century that anyone has attempted to narrate the complete story of Magellan's unprecedented circumnavigation of the globe — to tell this truly gripping and profoundly important story of heroism, discovery, and disaster. A voyage into history, a tour of the world emerging from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance, an anthropological account of tribes, languages, and customs unknown to Europeans, and a chronicle of a desperate grab for commercial and political power, Over the Edge of the World is a captivating tale that rivals the most exciting thriller fiction.

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