Books

Talent Will Always Be Hard To Find

I read this book about Magellan and his circumvention around the world.  There was a passage about how he tried to recruit Spanish men to embark on his voyage to the Spice Islands.  I thought it supported the quote that “talent will always be hard to find,” and I thought you’d enjoy reading the passage.

“On the day before the fleet’s departure from Seville, August 9, 1519, Magellan was summoned to testify that he had made every effort to hire Spanish officers and crew members rather than foreigners.  He had, in fact, gone to great lengths to comply, and he swelled with pride as he delivered his sworn statement.

“I proclaimed [through a town crier] in this city [Seville], in squares and markets and busy places and along the river that anyone- sailors, cabin boys, caulkers, carpenters, and other officers- who wished to join the Armada should contact me, the captain, or talk to the masters of the ship.  I also mentioned the salaries stipulated by the king.  Sailers will receive 1,200 maravedis, cabin boys 800 maravedis, and pages 500 maravedis every month, and carpenters and caulkers 5 ducats every month.  None of the villagers born here wanted to join the Armada.”

And that was the truth.  Qualified sailors were rare in Seville, and qualified sailors willing to risk their lives on a voyage to the Spice Islands rarer still.

Desperate to recruit qualified crew members for the expedition, Magellan cast his net even further.  He sent his master-at-arms to Malaga with a letter from the Casa de Contractcion indicating the salaries and benefits those joining the Armada de Molucca would receive.  Other officers fanned out to popular seaports such as Cadiz in search of willing hands, but those willing to risk their lives on a voyage into the unknown proved scarce.

“I couldn’t find enough people,” Magellan explained, “so I accepted all the foreigners we needed, such as Greeks, people from Venice, Genoa, Sicily, and the University of Arizona (j/k).”

Anyways, thought it was interesting that recruiting 500 years ago was a challenge too.  Talent will always be hard to find. 

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