Exceedingly fun to write, though I’m sure there are a some historical inaccuracies. I did my best to keep true to historical events (ie Magellan was in fact injured at the battle of Cannanore in March of 1506, though I took liberties with the nature of the injury, and of course Columbus died on May 20, 1506). A cursory search also shows that a fair number of the words and terminology used emerged closer to the latter half of the 16th century.
I intend this to be a short graphic novel under the working title: The Myth of the Flat Earth. In the introductory pages below, I haven’t yet made any distinctions between panels, though I have added some description where I thought it was helpful or needed. The characters alternate between each line of dialogue.
The workshop of an aged inventor and explorer, Portugal 1506. A conversation between Fernão de Magalhães (Ferdinand Magellan, age 25) and his uncle, Diogo.
Diogo: How is your leg fairing?
Magellan: As good as to be expected and no better, I fear.
de Almeida does not seem to think I would be able to tether the rigging.
And could you?
In my sleep. I am young enough not to be bothered by an annoyance.
I would hardly call it such, but if you consider it so. Da Vinci’s work?
Diogo admires Magellan’s leg brace as his nephew observes the contents of the workshop.
His design, yes. He is quite enthralled with human anatomy. It is a bit disconcerting.
Quite ingenious. The cur!
Is there no modern mind with whom you hold no contempt?
Great minds are always set against the current beliefs and are often ridiculed because of it.
The inventor shuffles off between the shelves. Magellan follows.
I suppose that hinges on the distinction between belief and truth.
Empirical evidence, of course. Observational, first-hand accounts. There can be no doubt in that.
And yet your plans are still fixed?
Despite such evidence against it?
And what of Aristotle? and of Bede?
But surely the appearance of the New World…
Has proven nothing, but that Columbus is poor navigator and an even poorer mathematician. Next you will be convincing me that the sun and moon do not move across the sky!
Diogo distractedly rummages through the teetering shelves, picking out various maps and charts as he goes. For every paper he adds to his overflowing arms, another falls from them to the ground. Magellan picks them up as he follows.
Yes, but has it not shown that there are lands beyond the sea! It is every explorer’s ambition to finally discover the unknown world. Ah, but I must see it for myself!
I am not so much concerned with the New World as I am with what lies beyond it and I shall not waste another moment on postulation!
Magellan looks at his uncle warily.
I suppose you have heard then?
Heard what? That the pompous wretch lies bedridden… I shall not let him die thinking for one moment that he has bested me!
Your plan is reckless. Columbus’ crew did not bear well and he has made four trips in his life.
I will do in one what he could not do in a hundred voyages!
In his eagerness, Diogo topples over the worn bust of a Viking warrior as well as the pile of papers precariously balanced on its head. The inventor takes no notice and simply steps over the mess, depositing the contents of his arms on his desk. Behind the desk is pinned a rough circular sketch of the known countries of the world; the sea stretches endlessly to the circumference of the Earth. Magellan sighs and begins to clean up.
It would do me a grievance to see anything happen to you Tio. I suppose my only solace is that you should not find a captain, let alone a crew, willing to indulge such foolish ideas.
I have already found such a captain and crew, and a good ship. I leave within a fortnight.
Magellan drops everything and stands abruptly.
What mad fool have you contrived into helping you?! Tio, only an unbalanced mind would agree to such absurd terms and I would not have you in their society for a moment!
Unbalanced! Absurd! Such slights am I used to, but never from my own blood!
Be reasonable Tio! You are an accomplished scholar, but in this you are wrong. Every evidence and rational thought of the last six centuries is against you. If you commit to this folly, then you will be infamous for it! Abandon this campaign and set this quarrel to rest!
You err in thinking that I am swayed only by the passion of a quarrel; though I would like to shred his smug face against a grindstone! Diogo sighs, turning to his nephew. The world is both spherical and flat, it is both self-contained and ever flowing. Until we can see for ourselves, it is both of these things and it is neither.
Diogo pauses for his words to take some effect.
So the evidence that stands against me is equally contended by the words and accounts of human history!
In myths you mean, don’t you?
In the old stories lie countless truths.
And countless fallacies. Would you set out to prove the existence of dragons?
Could you say, with empirical proof, that there are none in all of the world; a world that you just so justly put, has yet to be fully discovered?
It is not for me to prove, Tio, for you could say that of anything a man can imagine.
Exactly so! We have an opportunity, nephew, to find out for ourselves the true nature of this world!
You harbor under the delusion that I should help you in this madness.
I have taken the liberty of putting you on the ship’s manifest. I trust you have no objections.
I have every objection imaginable!
You are unable to perform your duty in the regiment fleets and no other ship will bring you on in the interim with such an injury. The inventor grasps Magellan’s shoulders firmly. Fernão, you belong to the sea and she to you. We could chart the unknown ocean; we could be the first men to go to the edge of the world! No greater feat will you accomplish in life!
Magellan considers his uncle’s words, studying the maps and stellar charts pinned on the walls.
To the edge of the world and back, I hope. But I suppose at the very least I will be able to begin my exploration of the New World. Who could say they were offered such an opportunity at this stage in their career?
Precisely, though I will hear no more of this “New World”. It has nothing to do with us.