Antonio Pigafetta (Italian: [anˈtɔːnjo piɡaˈfetta]; c. 1491 – c. 1531) was an Italian scholar and explorer from the Republic of Venice. He joined the expedition to the Spice Islands led by explorer Ferdinand Magellan under the flag of King Charles I of Spain and, after Magellan's death in the Philippines, the subsequent voyage around the world. During the expedition, he served as Magellan's assistant and kept an accurate journal which later assisted him in translating the Cebuano language. It is the first recorded document concerning the language.
Pigafetta was one of the 18 men who returned to Spain in 1522, under the command of Juan Sebastián Elcano, out of the approximately 240 who set out three years earlier. These men completed the first circumnavigation of the world. Pigafetta's surviving journal is the source for much of what is known about Magellan and Elcano's voyage.
Pigafetta's exact year of birth is not known, with estimates ranging between 1480 and 1491. A birth year of 1491 would have made him around 30 years old during Magellan's expedition, which historians have considered more probable than an age close to 40. Pigafetta belonged to a rich family city of Vicenza in northeast Italy. In his youth he studied astronomy, geography and cartography. He then served on board the ships of the Knights of Rhodes at the beginning of the 16th century. Until 1519, he accompanied the papal nuncio, Monsignor Francesco Chieregati, to Spain.
Voyage around the world
In Seville, Pigafetta heard of Magellan's planned expedition and decided to join, accepting the title of supernumerary (sobresaliente), and a modest salary of 1,000 maravedís. During the voyage, which started in August 1519, Pigafetta collected extensive data concerning the geography, climate, flora, fauna and the native inhabitants of the places that the expedition visited. His meticulous notes proved invaluable to future explorers and cartographers, mainly due to his inclusion of nautical and linguistic data, and also to latter-day historians because of its vivid, detailed style. The only other sailor to maintain a journal during the voyage was Francisco Albo, Victoria's last pilot, who kept a formal logbook.
Pigafetta was wounded on Mactan in the Philippines, where Magellan was killed in the Battle of Mactan in April 1521 by the local ruler Lapu-Lapu. Nevertheless, he recovered and was among the 18 who accompanied Juan Sebastián Elcano on board the Victoria on the return voyage to Spain.
Upon reaching port in Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the modern Province of Cadiz in September 1522, three years after his departure, Pigafetta returned to the Republic of Venice. He related his experiences in the "Report on the First Voyage Around the World" (Italian: Relazione del primo viaggio intorno al mondo), which was composed in Italian and was distributed to European monarchs in handwritten form before it was eventually published by Italian historian Giovanni Battista Ramusio in 1550–59. The account centers on the events in the Mariana Islands and the Philippines, although it included several maps of other areas as well, including the first known use of the word "Pacific Ocean" (Oceano Pacifico) on a map. The original document was not preserved.
However, it was not through Pigafetta's writings that Europeans first learned of the circumnavigation of the globe. Rather, it was through an account written by a Flanders-based writer Maximilianus Transylvanus, which was published in 1523. Transylvanus had been instructed to interview some of the survivors of the voyage when Magellan's surviving ship Victoria returned to Spain in September 1522 under the command of Juan Sebastian Elcano. After Magellan and Elcano's voyage, Pigafetta utilized the connections he had made prior to the voyage with the Knights of Rhodes to achieve membership in the order.
The Relazione del primo viaggio intorno al mondo
Antonio Pigafetta also wrote a book, in which a detailed account of the voyage was given. It is quite unclear when it was first published and what language had been used in the first edition. The remaining sources of his voyage were extensively studied by Italian archivist Andrea da Mosto, who wrote a critical study of Pigafetta's book in 1898 (Il primo viaggio intorno al globo di Antonio Pigafetta e le sue regole sull'arte del navigare) and whose conclusions were later confirmed by J. Dénucé.
Today, three printed books and four manuscripts survive. One of the three books is in French, while the remaining two are in Italian language. Of the four manuscripts, three are in French (two stored in the Bibliothèque nationale de France and one in Cheltenham), and one in Italian.
From a philological point of view, the French editions seem to derive from an Italian original version, while the remaining Italian editions seem to derive from a French original version. Because of this, it's still quite unclear whether the original version of Pigafetta's manuscript was in French or Italian, even though it probably wasn't in French language.
The most complete manuscript, and the one that is supposed to be more closely related to the original manuscript, is the one found by Carlo Amoretti inside the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan and published in 1800 (Primo viaggio intorno al globo terraqueo, ossia ragguaglio della navigazione alle Indie Orientali per la via d'Occidente fatta dal cavaliere Antonio Pigafetta patrizio vicentino, sulla squadra del capitano Magaglianes negli anni 1519-1522). Unfortunately, Amoretti, in his printed edition, modified many words and sentences whose meaning was uncertain (the original manuscript contained many words in Veneto dialect and some Spanish words). The modified version published by Amoretti was then translated in other languages and therefore the edits by Amoretti spread in foreign editions too. Andrea da Mosto critically analyzed the original version stored in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana and published a faithful version of Pigafetta's book in 1894. Andrea da Mosto's edition is deemed more valuable and rigorous than Amoretti's edition.
Regarding the French versions of Pigafetta's book, J. Dénucé extensively studied them and published a critical edition.
At the end of his book, Pigafetta stated that he had given a copy of his book to Charles V. Pigafetta's close friend, Francesco Chiericati, also stated that he had received a copy of it. Also the regent of France may have received a copy of that book. It has been argued that Pigafetta hadn't finished writing his book yet, and he may have provided just a short version or a draft of his work at that time. In January 1523, the marquis of Mantua asked Pigafetta to write a detailed account of his voyage, and so he did.
Antonio Pigafetta wrote at least two books, both of which have survived:
- Relazione del primo viaggio intorno al mondo (1524-1525);
- Regole sull'arte del navigare (1524-1525) (contained in Andrea Da Mosto, ed. (1894). Il primo viaggio intorno al globo di Antonio Pigafetta e le sue regole sull'arte del navigare.).
- Nowell, Charles E. (1962). Magellan's voyage around the world : three contemporary accounts : Antonio Pigafetta, Maximilian of Transylvania, Gaspar Corrêa. Northwestern University Press. p. 79. OCLC 154183092.
- Quanchi, Max (2005). Historical Dictionary of the Discovery and Exploration of the Pacific Islands. The Scarecrow Press. p. 207. ISBN 0810853957.
- "PIGAFETTA, Antonio in "Enciclopedia Italiana"". www.treccani.it (in Italian). Retrieved 2018-12-25.
- Lord Stanley of Alderley, The first voyage round the world, by Magellan, London: The Hakluyt Society (1874) - includes Pigefetta's journal and his treatise of navigation. (also available at the Internet Archive)
- Magellan's Voyage around the World by Antonio Pigafetta – The original text of the Ambrosian ms. translated by James Alexander Robertson, Cleveland : The Arthur H. Clark Company (1906); Vol 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3
- Murphy, Patrick J.; Coye, Ray W. (2013). Mutiny and Its Bounty: Leadership Lessons from the Age of Discovery. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300170283. Archived from the original on 2015-06-27.
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