A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Wolfgang Köberer
Date: 2019 Oct 13, 10:44 -0700
To Doug MacPherson’s questions I can contribute the following:
It is not likely that a state institution like the „Casa de contratacion“ supplied Magellan with nautical tables, but it is generally assumed that Ruy Faleiro, Magellan’s friend who was to accompany him initially and who was the foremost astronomer in Portugal at the time, devised the declination tables in the „Tractado da spera“ published in about 1517. These would naturally be used by Magellan as there was only one prior publication, the „Reportorio dos Tempos“ by Valentim Fernandes (1518) that contained simple solar declination tables but for only one year – like the „Regimento do estrolabio“ of ca. 1509.
A kind of a log book was kept by Francisco Albo, still extant in 3 manuscripts in the British Library (Add.Ms 17, 621, published by Lord Stanley of Alderley, The First Voyage Round the World by Magellan, London 1874), in Sevilla (Árchivo de Indias en Sevilla, papeles del Maluco, leg. i. de 1519 á 1547; transcribed in: Navarrete, Colleccion de los Viages y Descubrimientos, Tomo IV, Madrid 1837) and in Lisboa. It does not relate anything about the tables nor about the instruments used.
The Albo document is dealt with in
A Log-Book of Magellan's Voyage, 1519–1522.
in: Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Vol. 17 (1964), 83 - 87.
Eva Taylor, by the way, was the first woman holding a chair of geography in England and best remembered for her „Haven Finding Art“ (London 1956 and reprinted several times).
Laguarda Trias, Rolando A.
Las tablas náuticas de la expedición Magallanes - Elcano.
in: Boletin de la Real Academia de la Historia, Vol. 144 (1959), 57 - 73.
The early history of nautical tables has lately been studied (apart from the article that Rob van Gent pointed out) by
Van der Werf, Siebren Y.
History and Critical Analysis of Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century Nautical Tables.
in: Journal for the History of Astronomy, Vol. 48 (2017), 2, 207 - 232.
Regarding the instruments of navigation of the Magellan voyage, the
„Relacion del coste que tuvo la Armada de Magallanes“ (Árchivo de Indias en Sevilla, papeles del Maluco, leg. i. de 1519 á 1547, transcribed in: Navarrete, Colleccion de los Viages y Descubrimientos, Tomo IV, Madrid 1837, 161ff., 180-181),
relates the cost of instruments for the voyage and mentions sandclocks, compasses, wooden quadrants and astrolabes made of wood and metal.
The cross staff was mentioned for the first time on board a Portuguese ship in 1529 which fits in with the fact that no cross staff is mentioned in this inventory; neither is a „Kamal“ or „Tavoleta de Indias“ which should lay to rest the supposition that Iberian navigators had taken over this instrument from the Arab seafarers.