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Deconstructing Pigafetta’s Account of First Contact By Frank Quimby frankquimby42@gmail.com Abstract: Antonio Pigafetta’s narrative of Magellan’s circumnavigation has been the primary source for all subsequent accounts of this seminal event in world history. Unfortunately, his pejorative description of the expedition’s March 7-9, 1521, visit to Guam has been uncritically accepted and generally repeated in most histories of this historic first meeting of Pacific Islanders and Europeans. Other eyewitness accounts of the expedition’s visit differ substantially from Pigafetta’s Guam narrative, offering an alternative view of this meeting. Moreover, the pervasive pro-Magellan bias guiding Pigafetta’s selection and interpretation of the circumnavigation’s significant events underscores the need for a critical approach to his depiction of Chamorro interaction with the expedition. This article attempts to place Pigafetta’s account of the Guam visit in the larger context of the expedition’s politics and his Boswellian view of Magellan and to suggest why he chose to cast the encounter in such a stereotypically negative light.

Antonio Pigafetta’s telling of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation has been a primary source for virtually all subsequent accounts of this seminal event in world history. Unfortunately, the pejorative appellation – Isla de los Ladrones [Island of Thieves] – framing his account of the expedition’s March 7-9, 1521 visit to Guam has been uncritically accepted and generally repeated in most histories of this first meeting between Pacific Islanders and Europeans. Other eyewitness accounts of the expedition’s Guam visit differ substantially from Pigafetta’s narrative, offering an alternative view of this historic cross-cultural meeting. In particular, the account attributed to Gines de Mafra, an officer on Magellan’s flagship Trinidad, recalled extensive, peaceful exchange, despite the violence initiated by Magellan’s men, noting that the Chamorros repeatedly came

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4th Marianas History Conference 2019 Book III: History  

The 4th Marianas History Conference (MHC4), 2019 One Archipelago, Many Stories: Commemorating Our Histories Saturday, August 31 - Sunday, Se...

4th Marianas History Conference 2019 Book III: History  

The 4th Marianas History Conference (MHC4), 2019 One Archipelago, Many Stories: Commemorating Our Histories Saturday, August 31 - Sunday, Se...

Profile for guampedia