Return to Enrique de Malacca (person)

Enrique de Malacca, also known as Enrique Negro, Black Henry, or Panglima Awang, was possibly the first person to circumnavigate the earth.

When he was a 13 year old boy, in Malacca on the Malaysian peninsula, he was captured and enslaved by Ferdinand Magellan, at some point around the year 1500. Enrique travelled with Magellan for years as his close personal servant.

In 1519 Magellan's expedition set out to discover a route sailing west from Spain to the Moluccas, or Spice Islands.

When the expedition reached the Visayan islands of the Philippines, Enrique was able to communicate with the islanders. Magellan was killed on the island of Mactan, betrayed by the Spanish officers in his service. Enrique then betrayed the officers to Humabon, Rajah of the neighboring island of Cebu, and jumped ship.

The question is, did Enrique know the language of the islanders, or did they know Malay, a popular trade language? The impression from Pigafetta's journal is that Enrique was communicating fluently with the islanders of Cebu.

Several explanations have been put forth that Enrique had been born in the Philippines, or in Sumatra, but had been sold into slavery, ending up in Malacca. There were Filipino immigrants living in Malacca at the time, too. If this is true, it's possible that he, not Juan Sebastian Del Cano, Antonio Pigafetta, and the other 16 survivors of the expedition, was the first to go all the way around the world. But it's only a theory. Personally I think it's more likely that the Filipinos were speaking Malay.

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