The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898/Volume 1/De Molvccis Insulis

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The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803, Volume 1
edited by Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson
The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803, Volume 1 (1903) - illustration - page 303.png

DE MOLVCCIS INSULIS

Most Reverend and Illustrious Lord: my only Lord, to you I most humbly commend myself. Not long ago one of those five ships returned which the emperor, while he was at Saragossa some years ago, had sent into a strange and hitherto unknown part of the world, to search for the islands in which spices grow. For although the Portuguese bring us a great quantity of them from the Golden Chersonesus, which we now call Malacca, nevertheless their own Indian possessions produce none but pepper. For it is well known that the other spices, as cinnamon, cloves, and the nutmeg, which we call muscat, and its covering [mace], which we call muscat-flower, are brought to their Indian possessions from distant islands hitherto only known by name, in ships held together not by iron fastenings, but merely by palm-leaves, and having round sails also woven out of palm-fibres. Ships of this sort they call "junks," and they are impelled by the wind only when it blows directly fore or aft.

Nor is it wonderful, that these islands have not been known to any mortal, almost up to our time. For whatever statements of ancient authors we have hitherto read with respect to the native soil of these spices, are partly entirely fabulous, and partly so far from truth, that the very regions, in which they asserted that these spices were produced, are scarcely less distant from the countries in which it is now ascertained that they grow, than we are ourselves.

For, not to mention others, Herodotus, in other respects a very good authority, states that cinnamon was found in birds' nests, into which the birds had brought it from very distant regions, among which birds he mentions especially the Phœnix—and I know not who has ever seen the nest of a Phœnix. But Pliny, who might have been thought to have had better means of knowing the facts, since long before his time many discoveries had been made by the fleets of Alexander the Great, and by other expeditions, states that cinnamon was produced in Ethiopia, on the borders of the land of the Troglodytes. Whereas we know now that cinnamon is produced at a very great distance from any part of Ethiopia, and especially from the country of the Troglodytes, i. e. dwellers in subterraneous caves.

Now it was necessary for our sailors, who have recently returned, who knew more about Ethiopia than about other countries, to sail round the whole world and that in a very wide circuit, before they discovered these islands and returned to Europe; and, since this voyage was a very remarkable one, and neither in our own time, nor in any former age, has such a voyage been accomplished, or even attempted, I have determined to send your Lordship a full and accurate account of the expedition.

I have taken much care in obtaining an account of the facts from the commanding officer of the squadron,[1] and from the individual sailors who have turned with him. They also made a statement to the emperor, and to several other persons, with such good faith and sincerity, that they appeared in their narrative, not merely to have abstained from fabulous statements, but also to contradict and refute the fabulous statements made by ancient authors.

For who ever believed that the Monosceli, or Sciapodes [one-legged men], the Scyrites, the Spithamæi [persons a span—seven and one-half inches—high], the Pigmies [height thirteen and one-half inches], and such-like were rather monsters than men? Yet, although the Castilians in their voyages westwards, and the Portuguese sailing eastwards, have sought out, discovered, and surveyed so many places even beyond the Tropic of Capricorn, and now these countrymen of ours have sailed completely round the world, none of them have found any trustworthy evidence in favor of the existence of such monsters; and therefore all such accounts ought to be regarded as fabulous, and as old wives' tales, handed down from one writer to another without any basis of truth. But, as I have to make a voyage round the world, I will not extend my prefatory remarks, but will come at once to the point.

Some thirty years ago, when the Castilians in the West, and the Portuguese in the East, had begun to search after new and unknown lands, in order to avoid any interference of one with the other, the kings of these countries divided the whole world between them, by the authority probably of Pope Alexander VI, on this plan, that a line should be drawn from the north to the south pole through a point three hundred and sixty leagues west of the Hesperides which they now call Cape Verde Islands, which would divide the earth's surface into two equal portions. All unknown lands hereafter discovered to the east of this line were assigned to the Portuguese; all on the west to the Castilians. Hence it came to pass that the Castilians always sailed southwest, and there discovered a very extensive continent, besides numerous large islands, abounding in gold, pearls, and other valuable commodities; and have quite recently discovered a large inland city named Tenoxtica [Mexico] situated in a lake like Venice. Peter Martyr,[2] an author who is more careful as to the accuracy of his statements than of the elegance of his style, has given a full but truthful description of this city. But the Portuguese sailing southward past the Hesperides [Cape Verde Islands] and the Fish-eating Ethiopians [West Coast of Africa], crossed the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn, and sailing eastward discovered several very large islands heretofore unknown, and also the sources of the Nile and the Troglodytes. Thence, by way of the Arabian and Persian Gulfs, they arrived at the shores of India within the Ganges, where now there is the very great trading station and the kingdom of Calicut. Hence they sailed to Taprobane which is now called Zamatara [Sumatra]. For where Ptolemy, Pliny, and other geographers placed Taprobane, there is now no island which can possibly be identified with it. Thence they came to the Golden Chersonesus, where now stands the well-peopled city of Malacca, the principal place of business of the East. After this they penetrated into a great gulf, as far as the nation of the Sinæ, who are now called Schinæ [Chinese], where they found a fair-complexioned and tolerably-civilized people, like our folks in Germany. They believe that the Seres and Asiatic Scythians extend as far as these parts.

And although there was a somewhat doubtful rumour afloat, that the Portuguese had advanced so far to the east, that they had come to the end of their own limits, and had passed over into the territory appointed for the Castilians, and that Malacca and the Great Gulf were within our limits, all this was more said than believed, until, four years ago, Ferdinand Magellan, a distinguished Portuguese, who had for many years sailed about the Eastern Seas as admiral of the Portuguese fleet, having quarreled with his king, who he considered had acted ungratefully towards him, and Christopher Haro, brother of my father-in-law, of Lisbon, who had, through his agents for many years carried on trade with those eastern countries, and more recently with the Chinese, so that he was well acquainted with these matters (he also, having been ill-used by the King of Portugal, had returned to his native country, Castille), pointed out to the emperor, that it was not yet clearly ascertained, whether Malacca was within the boundaries of the Portuguese or of the Castillians, because hitherto its longitude had not been definitely known; but that it was an undoubted fact that the Great Gulf and the Chinese nations were within the Castilian limits. They asserted also that it was absolutely certain, that the islands called the Moluccas, in which all sorts of spices grow, and from which they were brought to Malacca, were contained in the western, or Castilian division, and that it would be possible to sail to them, and to bring the spices at less trouble and expense from their native soil to Castille. The plan of the voyage was to sail west, and then coasting the Southern Hemisphere round the south of America to the east. Yet it appeared to be a difficult undertaking, and one of which the practicability was doubtful. Not that it was impossible, prima facie, to sail from the west round the Southern Hemisphere to the east; but that it was uncertain, whether ingenious Nature, all whose works are wisely conceived, had so arranged the sea and the land that it might be possible to arrive by this course at the Eastern Seas. For it had not been ascertained whether that extensive region, which is called Terra Firma, separated the Western Ocean [the Atlantic] from the Eastern [the Pacific]; but it was plain that that continent extended in a southerly direction, and afterwards inclined to the west. Moreover two regions had been discovered in the north, one called Baccalearum from a new kind of fish,[3] the other called Florida; and if these were connected with Terra Firma, it would not be possible to pass from the Western Ocean to the Eastern; since although much trouble had been taken to discover any strait which might exist connecting the two oceans, none had yet been found. At the same time it was considered that to attempt to sail through the Portuguese concessions and the Eastern Seas would be a hazardous enterprise, and dangerous in the highest degree.

The emperor and his council considered that the plan proposed by Magellan and Haro, though holding out considerable advantages, was one of very considerable difficulty as to execution. After some delay, Magellan offered to go out himself, but Haro undertook to fit out a squadron at the expense of himself and his friends, provided that they were allowed to sail under the authority and patronage of his majesty. As each resolutely upheld his own scheme, the emperor himself fitted out a squadron of five ships, and appointed Magellan to the command. It was ordered that they should sail southwards by the coast of Terra Firma, until they found either the end of that country or some strait, by which they might arrive at the spice-bearing Moluccas.

Accordingly on the tenth of August, 1519, Ferdinand Magellan with his five ships sailed from Seville. In a few days they arrived at the Fortunate Islands, now called the Canaries. Thence they sailed to the islands of the Hesperides [Cape Verde]; and thence sailed in a southwesterly direction towards that continent which I have already mentioned [Terra Firma or South America], and after a favorable voyage of a few days discovered a promontory, which they called St. Mary's. Here admiral John Ruy Dias Solis, while exploring the shores of this continent by command of King Ferdinand the Catholic, was, with some of his companions, eaten by the Anthropophagi, whom the Indians call Cannibals. Hence they coasted along this continent, which extends far on southwards, and which I now think should be called the Southern Polar land, then gradually slopes off in a westerly direction, and so sailed several degrees south of the Tropic of Capricorn. But it was not so easy for them to do it, as for me to relate it. For not till the end of March in the following year, [1520] did they arrive at a bay, which they called St. Julian's Bay. Here the Antarctic polestar was forty-nine and one-third degrees above the horizon, this result being deduced from the sun's declination and altitude, and this star is principally used by our navigators for observations. They stated that the longitude was fifty-six degrees west of the Canaries.[4] For since the ancient geographers, and especially Ptolemy reckoned the distance easterly from the Fortunate Islands [Canaries] as far as Cattigara to be one hundred and eighty degrees, and our sailors have sailed as far as possible in a westerly direction, they reckoned the distance from the Canaries westward to Cattigara to be also one hundred and eighty degrees. Yet even though our sailors in so long a voyage and in one so distant from the land lay down and mark certain signs and limits of the longitude; they appear to me rather to have made some error in their method of reckoning of the longitude than to have attained any trustworthy result.

Meanwhile, however this may be, until more certain results are arrived at, I do not think that their statements should be absolutely rejected, but merely accepted provisionally. This bay appeared to be of great extent, and had rather the appearance of a strait. Therefore admiral Magellan directed two ships to survey the bay; and himself remained with the rest at anchor. After two days, they returned, and reported that the bay was shallow, and did not extend far inland. Our men on their return saw some Indians gathering shell-fish on the sea-shore, for the natives of all unknown countries are commonly called Indians. These Indians were very tall, ten spans high [seven feet six inches], clad in skins of wild beasts, darker-complexioned than would have been expected in that part of the world; and when some of our men went on shore and showed them bells and pictures, they began to dance round our men with a hoarse noise and unintelligible chant, and to excite our admiration they took arrows a cubit and a half long, and put them down their own throats to the bottom of their stomachs without seeming any the worse for it. Then they drew them up again, and seemed much pleased at having shown their bravery. At length three men came up as a deputation, and by means of signs requested our men to come with them further inland, as though they would receive them hospitably. Magellan sent with them seven men well equipped, to find out as much as possible about the country and its inhabitants. These seven went with the Indians some seven miles up the country, and came to a desolate and pathless wood. Here was a very low-built cottage roofed with skins of beasts. In it were two rooms, in one of which dwelt the women and children, and in the other the men. The women and children were thirteen in number, and the men five. These received their guests with a barbarous entertainment, but which they considered to be quite a royal one. For they slaughtered an animal much resembling a wild ass, and set before our men half-roasted steaks of it, but no other food or drink. Our men had to cover themselves at night with skins, on account of the severity of the wind and snow.

Before they went to sleep they arranged for a watch to be kept; the Indians did the same and lay near our men by the fire, snoring horribly. When day dawned, our men requested them to return with them, accompanied by their families to our ships. When the Indians persisted in refusing to do so, and our men had also persisted somewhat imperiously in their demands, the men went into the women's chamber. The Spaniards supposed that they had gone to consult their wives about this expedition. But they came out again as if to battle, wrapped up from head to foot in hideous skins, with their faces painted in various colours, and with bows and arrows, all ready for fighting, and appearing taller than ever. The Spaniards, thinking a skirmish was likely to take place, fired a gun. Although nobody was hit, yet these enormous giants, who just before seemed as though they were ready to fight and conquer Jove himself, were so alarmed at the sound, that they began to sue for peace. It was arranged that three men, leaving the rest behind, should return with our men to the ships, and so they started. But as our men not only could not run as fast as the giants, but could not even run as fast as the giants could walk, two of the three, seeing a wild ass grazing on a mountain at some distance, as they were going along, ran off after it and so escaped. The third was brought to the ships, but in a few days he died, having starved himself after the Indian fashion through homesickness. And although the admiral returned to that cottage, in order to make another of the giants prisoner, and bring him to the emperor, as a novelty, no one was found there, as all of them had removed elsewhere, and the cottage had disappeared. Hence it is plain that this nation is a nomad race, and although our men remained some time in that bay, as we shall presently mention, they never again saw an Indian on that coast; nor did they think that there was anything in that country that would make it worth while to explore the inland districts any further. And though Magellan was convinced that a longer stay there would be of no use, yet since for some days the sea was very rough and the weather tempestuous, and the land extended still further southward, so that the farther they advanced, the colder they would find the country, their departure was unavoidably put off from day to day, till the month of May arrived, at which time the winter sets in with great severity in those parts, so much so, that, though it was our summer-time, they had to make preparations for wintering there. Magellan, perceiving that the voyage would be a long one, in order that the provisions might last longer, ordered the rations to be diminished. The Spaniards endured this with patience for some days, but alarmed at the length of the winter and the barrenness of the land, at last petitioned their admiral Magellan, saying that it was evident that this continent extended an indefinite distance southwards, and that there was no hope of discovering the end of it, or of discovering a strait; that a hard winter was setting in, and that several men had already died through scanty food and the hardships of the voyage; that they would not long be able to endure that restriction of provisions which he had enacted; that the emperor never intended that they should obstinately persevere in attempting to do what the natural circumstances of the case rendered it impossible to accomplish; that the toils they had already endured would be acknowledged and approved, since they had already advanced further than the boldest and most adventurous navigators had dared to do; that, if a south wind should spring up in a few days, they might easily sail to the north, and arrive at a milder climate. In reply, Magellan, who had already made up his mind either to carry out his design, or to die in the attempt, said that the emperor had ordered him to sail according to a certain plan, from which he could not and would not depart on any consideration whatever, and that therefore he should continue this voyage till he found either the end of this continent, or a strait. That though he could not do this at present, as the winter prevented him, yet it would be easy enough in the summer of this region; that if they would only sail along the coast to the south, the summer would be all one perpetual day; that they had means of providing against want of food and the inclemency of the weather, inasmuch as there was a great quantity of wood, that the sea produced shell-fish, and numerous sorts of excellent fish; that there were springs of good water, and they could also help their stores by hunting and by shooting wild fowl; that bread and wine had not yet run short, and would not run short in future, provided that they used them for necessity and for the preservation of health, and not for pleasure and luxury: that nothing had yet been done worthy of much admiration, nor such as could give them a reasonable ground for returning; that the Portuguese not only yearly, but almost daily, in their voyages to the east, made no difficulty about sailing twelve degrees south of the tropic of Capricorn: what had they then to boast of, when they had only advanced some four degrees south of it; that he, for his part, had made up his mind to suffer anything that might happen, rather than to return to Spain with disgrace; that he believed that his companions, or at any rate, those in whom the generous spirit of Spaniards was not totally extinct, were of the same way of thinking: that he had only to exhort them fearlessly to face the remainder of winter; that the greater their hardships and dangers were, the richer their reward would be for having opened up for the emperor a new world rich in spices and gold.

Magellan thought that by this address he had soothed and encouraged the minds of his men, but within a few days he was troubled by a wicked and disgraceful mutiny. For the sailors began to talk to one another of the long-standing ill-feeling existing between the Portuguese and the Castilians, and of Magellan's being a Portuguese; that there was nothing that he could do more to the credit of his own country than to lose this fleet with so many men on board: that it was not to be believed that he wished to find the Moluccas, even if he could, but that he would think it enough if he could delude the emperor for some years by holding out vain hopes, and that in the meanwhile something new would turn up, whereby the Castilians might be completely put out of the way of looking for spices: nor indeed was the direction of the voyage really towards the fertile Molucca islands, but towards snow and ice and everlasting bad weather. Magellan was exceedingly irritated by these conversations, and punished some of the men, but with somewhat more severity than was becoming to a foreigner, especially to one holding command in a distant part of the world. So they mutinied and took possession of one of the ships, and began to make preparations to return to Spain, but Magellan, with the rest of his men who had remained faithful to him, boarded that ship, and executed the ringleader and other leading mutineers, even some who could not legally be so treated: for they were royal officials, who were only liable to capital punishment by the emperor and his council. However under the circumstances no one ventured to resist. Yet there were some, who whispered to one another, that Magellan would go on exercising the same severity amongst the Castilians, as long as one was left, until having got rid of everyone of them, he could sail home to his own country again with the few Portuguese he had with him. The Castilians therefore remained still more hostile to the admiral. As soon as Magellan observed that the weather was less stormy and that winter began to break up, he sailed out of St. Julian's Bay on the twenty-fourth of August, 1520, as before. For some days he coasted along to the southward and at last sighted a cape, which they called Cape Santa Cruz. Here a storm from the east caught them, and one of the five ships was driven on shore and wrecked, but the crew and all goods on board were saved, cept an African slave, who was drowned. After this the coast seemed to stretch a little south eastwards, and as they continued to explore it, on the twenty-sixth of November [1520] an opening was observed having the appearance of a strait; Magellan at once sailed in with his whole fleet, and seeing several bays in various directions, directed three of the ships to cruise about to ascertain whether there was any way through, undertaking to wait for them five days at the entrance of the strait, so that they might report what success they had. One of these ships was commanded by Alvaro de Mezquita, son of Magellan's brother, and this by the windings of the channel came out again into the ocean whence it had set out. When the Spaniards[5] saw that they were at a considerable distance from the other ships, they plotted among themselves to return home, and having put Alvaro their captain in irons, they sailed northwards, and at last reached the coast of Africa, and there took in provisions, and eight months after leaving the other ships they arrived in Spain, where they brought Alvaro to trial on the charge that it had chiefly been through his advice and persuasion that his uncle Magellan had adopted such severe measures against the Castilians. Magellan waited some days over the appointed time for this ship, and meanwhile one ship had returned, and reported that they had found nothing but a shallow bay, and the shores stony and with high cliffs; but the other reported that the greatest bay had the appearance of a strait, as they had sailed on for three days and had found no way out, but that the further they went the narrower the passage became, and it was so deep, that in many places they sounded without finding the bottom; they also noticed from the tide of the sea, that the flow was somewhat stronger than the ebb, and thence they conjectured that there was a passage that way into some other sea. On hearing this Magellan determined to sail along this channel. This strait, though not then known to be such, was of the breadth in some places of three, in others of two, in others of five or ten Italian miles,[6] and inclined slightly to the west. The latitude south was found to be fifty-two degrees, the longitude they estimated as the same as that of St. Julian's Bay. It being now hard upon the month of November, the length of the night was not much more than five hours; they saw no one on the shore. One night however a great number of fires was seen, especially on the left side, whence they conjectured that they had been seen by the inhabitants of those regions. But Magellan, seeing that the land was craggy, and bleak with perpetual winter, did not think it worth while to spend his time in exploring it, and so with his three ships continued his voyage along the channel, until on the twenty-second day after he had set sail, he came out into another vast and open sea: the length of the strait they reckoned at about one hundred Spanish miles. The land which they had to the right was no doubt the continent we have before mentioned [South America]. On the left hand they thought that there was no continent, but only islands, as they occasionally heard on that side the reverberation and roar of the sea at a more distant part of the coast. Magellan saw that the main land extended due north, and therefore gave orders to turn away from that great continent, leaving it on the right hand, and to sail over that vast and extensive ocean, which had probably never been traversed by our ships or by those of any other nation, in a northwesterly direction, so that they might arrive at last at the Eastern Ocean, coming at it from the west, and again enter the torrid zone, for he was satisfied that the Moluccas were in the extreme east, and could not be far off the equator. They continued in this course, never deviating from it, except when compelled to do so now and then by the force of the wind; and when they had sailed on this course for forty days across the ocean with a strong wind, mostly favourable, and had seen nothing all around them but sea, and had now almost reached again the Tropic of Capricorn, they came in sight of two islands,[7] small and barren, and on directing their course to them found that they were uninhabited; but they stayed there two days for repose and refreshment, as plenty of fish was to be caught there. However they unanimously agreed to call these islands the Unfortunate Islands. Then they set sail again, and continued on the same course as before. After sailing for three months and twenty days with good fortune over this ocean, and having traversed a distance almost too long to estimate, having had a strong wind aft almost the whole of the time, and having again crossed the equator, they saw an island, which they afterwards learnt from the boring people was called Inuagana.[8] When they came nearer to it, they found the latitude to be eleven degrees north; the longitude they reckoned to be one hundred and fifty-eight degrees west of Cadiz. From this point they saw more and more islands, so that they found themselves in an extensive archipelago, but on arriving at Inuagana, they found it was uninhabited. Then they sailed towards another small island, where they saw two Indian canoes, for such is the Indian name of these strange boats; these canoes are scooped out of the single trunk of a tree, and hold one or at most two persons; and they are used to talk with each other by signs, like dumb people. They asked the Indians what the names of the islands were, and whence provisions could be procured, of which they were very deficient; they were given to understand that the first island they had seen was called Inuagana, that near which they then were, Acacan,[9] but that both were uninhabited; but that there was another island almost in sight, in the direction of which they pointed, called Selani,[10] and that abundance of provisions of all sorts was to be had there. Our men took in water at Acacan, and then sailed towards Selani, but a storm caught them so that they could not land there, but they were driven to another island called Massana,[11] where the king of three islands resides. From this island they sailed to Subuth [Zebu], a very large island, and well supplied, where having come to a friendly arrangement with the chief they immediately landed to celebrate divine worship according to Christian usage—for the festival of the resurrection of Him who has saved us was at hand. Accordingly with some of the sails of the ships and branches of trees they erected a chapel, and in it constructed an altar in the Christian fashion, and divine service was duly performed. The chief and a large crowd of Indians came up, and seemed much pleased with these religious rites. They brought the admiral and some of the officers into the chief's cabin, and set before them what food they had. The bread was made of sago, which is obtained from the trunk of a tree not much unlike the palm. This is chopped up small, and fried in oil, and used as bread, a specimen of which I send to your lordship; their drink was a liquor which flows from the branches of palm-trees when cut, some birds also were served up at this meal; and also some of the fruit of the country. Magellan having noticed in the chief's house a sick person in a very wasted condition, asked who he was and from what disease he was suffering. He was told that it was the chief's grandson, and that he had been suffering for two years from a violent fever. Magellan exhorted him to be of good courage, that if he would devote himself to Christ, he would immediately recover his former health and strength. The Indian consented and adored the cross, and received baptism, and the next day declared that he was well again, rose from his bed, and walked about, and took his meals like the others. What visions he may have told to his friends I cannot say; but the chief and over twenty-two hundred Indians were baptized and professed the name and faith of Christ. Magellan seeing that this island was rich in gold and ginger, and that it was so conveniently situated with respect to the neighboring islands, that it would be easy, making this his headquarters, to explore their resources and natural productions, he therefore went to the chief of Subuth and suggested to him, that since he had turned away from the foolish and impious worship of false gods to the Christian religion, it would be proper that the chiefs of the neighboring islands should obey his rule; that he had determined to send envoys for this purpose, and if any of the chiefs should refuse to obey this summons, to compel them to do so by force of arms. The proposal pleased the savage, and the envoys were sent: the chiefs came in one by one and did homage to the chief of Subuth in the manner adopted in those countries. But the nearest island to Subuth is called Mauthan [Matan], and its king was superior in military force to the other chiefs; and he declined to do homage to one whom he had been accustomed to command for so long. Magellan, anxious to carry out his plan, ordered forty of his men, whom he could rely on for valor and military skill, to arm themselves, and passed over to the island Mauthan in boats, for it was very near. The chief of Subuth furnished him with some of his own people, to guide him as to the topography of the island and the character of the country, and, if it should be necessary, to help him in the battle. The king of Mauthan, seeing the arrival of our men, led into the field some three thousand of his people. Magellan drew up his own men and what artillery he had, though his force was somewhat small, on the shore, and although he saw that his own force was much inferior in numbers, and that his opponents were a warlike race, and were equipped with lances and other weapons, nevertheless thought it more advisable to face the enemy with them, than to retreat, or to avail himself of the aid of the Subuth islanders. Accordingly he exhorted his men to take courage, and not to be alarmed at the superior force of the enemy; since it had often been the case, as had recently happened in the island [peninsula] of Yucatan, that two hundred Spaniards had routed two or even three hundred thousand Indians. He said to the Subuth islanders, that he had not brought them with him to fight, but to see the valour and military prowess of his men. Then he attacked the Mauthan islanders, and both sides fought boldly; but as the enemy surpassed our men in number, and used longer lances, to the great damage of our men, at last Magellan himself was thrust through and slain.[12] Although the survivors did not consider themselves fairly beaten, yet, as they had lost their leader, they retreated; but, as they retreated in good order, the enemy did not venture to pursue them. The Spaniards then, having lost their admiral, Magellan, and seven of their comrades, returned to Subuth, where they chose as their new admiral John Serrano, a man of no contemptible ability. He renewed the alliance with the chief of Subuth, by making him additional presents, and undertook to conquer the king of Mauthan. Magellan had been the owner of a slave, a native of the Moluccas, whom he had formerly bought in Malacca; and by means of this slave, who was able to speak Spanish fluently, and of an interpreter of Subuth, who could speak the Moluccan language, our men carried on their negotiations. This slave had taken part in the fight with the Mauthan islanders, and had been slightly wounded, for which reason he lay by all day intending to nurse himself. Serrano, who could do no business without his help, rated him soundly, and told him that though his master Magellan was dead, he was still a slave, and that he would find that such was the case, and would get a good flogging into the bargain, if he did not exert himself and do what was required of him more zealously. This speech much incensed the slave against our people: but he concealed his anger and in a few days he went to the chief of Subuth, and told him that the avarice of the Spaniards was insatiable: that they had determined, as soon as they should have defeated the king of Mauthan, to turn round upon him, and take him away as a prisoner; and that the only course for him [the chief of Subuth] to adopt was to anticipate treachery by treachery. The savage believed this, and secretly came to an understanding with the king of Mauthan, and made arrangements with him for common action against our people. Admiral Serrano, and twenty-seven of the principal officers and men, were invited to a solemn banquet. These, quite unsuspectingly, for the natives had carefully dissembled their intentions, went on shore without any precautions, to take their dinner with the chief. While they were at table, some armed men, who had been concealed close by, ran in and slew them. A great outcry was made: it was reported in our ships that our men were killed, and that the whole island was hostile to us; our men saw, from on board the ships, that the handsome cross, which they had set up in a tree, was torn down by the natives and cut up into fragments. When the Spaniards, who had remained on board, heard of the slaughter of our men, they feared further treachery: so they weighed anchor and began to set sail without delay. Soon afterwards Serrano was brought to the coast a prisoner; he entreated them to deliver him from so miserable a captivity, saying that he had got leave to be ransomed, if his men would agree to it. Although our men thought it was disgraceful to leave their commander behind in this way, their fear of the treachery of the islanders was so great, that they put out to sea, leaving Serrano on the shore in vain lamenting and beseeching his comrades to rescue him. The Spaniards, having lost their commander and several of their comrades, sailed on sad and anxious, not merely on account of the loss they had suffered, but also because their numbers had been so diminished, that it was no longer possible to work the three remaining ships.

On this question they consulted together, and unanimously came to the conclusion, that the best plan would be to burn one of the ships, and to sail home in the two remaining. They therefore sailed to a neighboring island, called Cohol [Bohol], and having put the rigging and stores of one of the ships on board the two others, set it on fire. Hence they proceeded to the island of Gibeth.[13] Although they found that this island was well supplied with gold and ginger and many other things, they did not think it desirable to stay there any length of time, as they could not establish friendly relations with the natives; and they were too few in number to venture to use force. From Gibeth they proceeded to the island of Porne [Borneo]. In this archipelago there are two large islands: one of which is called Siloli [Gilolo], whose king had six hundred children. Siloli is larger than Porne, for Siloli can hardly be circumnavigated in six months, but Porne in three months. Although Siloli is larger than Porne, yet the latter is more fertile, and distinguished as containing a large city of the same name as the island. And since Porne must be considered to be more important than the other islands, which they had hitherto visited, and it was from it that the other islanders had learnt the arts of civilized life, I have determined to describe briefly the manners and customs of these nations. All these islanders are Caphrae or Kafirs, i. e., heathens, they worship the sun and moon as gods; they assign the government of the day to the sun, and that of the night to the moon; the sun they consider to be male, and the moon female, and that they are the parents of the other stars, all of which they consider to be gods, though little ones. They salute, rather than adore, the rising sun with certain hymns. Also they salute the bright moon at night, from whom they ask for children, for the increase of their flocks and herds, for an abundant supply of the fruits of the earth, and for other things of that sort. But they practice piety and justice: and especially love peace and quiet, and have great aversion to war. As long as their king maintains peace, they show him divine honours: but if he is anxious for war, they never rest till he is slain by the enemy in battle. When the king has determined on war, which very seldom happens, his men set him in the front rank, where he has to stand the whole brunt of the combat; and they do not exert themselves vigorously against the enemy, till they know that the king has fallen: then they begin to fight for liberty and for their new king: nor has any king of theirs entered on a war without being slain in battle. For this reason they seldom engage in war, and they think it unjust to extend their frontiers. Their chief care is to avoid giving offence to the neighboring nations or to strangers. But if at any time they are attacked, they retaliate; and yet, lest further ill should arise, they at once endeavor to come to terms. They think that party acts most creditably, which is the first to propose terms of peace; that it is disgraceful to be anticipated in so doing; and that it is scandalous and detestable to refuse peace to those who ask for it, even though the latter should have been the aggressors: all the neighboring people unite in destroying such refusers of peace as impious and abominable. Hence they mostly pass their lives in peace and leisure. Robberies and murders are quite unknown among them. No one may speak to the king but his wives and children, except at a distance by hollow canes, which they apply to his ear, and through which they whisper what they have to say. They think that at death men have no perception as they had none before they were born. Their houses are small, built of wood and earth, covered partly with rubble and partly with palm-leaves. It is ascertained that there are twenty thousand houses in the city of Porne. They marry as many wives as they can afford to keep; they eat birds and fish; make bread of rice; and drink a liquor drawn from the palm tree—of which we have spoken before. Some carry on trade with the neighbouring islands, to which they sail in junks, some are employed in hunting and shooting, some in fishing, some in agriculture: their clothes are made of cotton. Their animals are nearly the same as ours, excepting sheep, oxen, and asses: their horses are very slight and small. They have a great supply of camphor, ginger, and cinnamon. On leaving this island our men, having paid their respects to the king, and propitiated him by presents, sailed to the Moluccas, their way to which had been pointed out to them by the king. Then they came to the coast of the island of Solo,[14] where they heard that pearls were to be found as large as doves' eggs, or even hens' eggs, but that they were only to be had in very deep water. Our men did not bring home any single large pearl, as they were not there at the season of the year for pearl-fishing. They said however that they found an oyster there the flesh of which weighed forty-seven pounds. Hence I should be disposed to believe that pearls of the size mentioned would be found there; for it is certain that large pearls are found in oysters. And, not to forget it, I will add that our men reported that the islanders of Porne asserted that the king wore two pearls in his crown as large as goose eggs. After this they came to the island of Gilona, where they saw some men with such long ears, that they reached down to their shoulders; and when they expressed their astonishment, the natives told them, that in an island not far off, there were men, who had such long and wide ears, that one ear could, when they liked, cover the whole of their heads. But as our men were not in search of monsters but of spices, they did not trouble themselves about such rubbish, but sailed direct for the Moluccas, where they arrived in the eighth month after their admiral Magellan had been slain in the island of Mauthan. The islands are five in number, and are called, Tarante, Muthil, Thedori, Mare, and Matthien,[15] situated partly to the north, partly to the south, and partly on the equator; the productions are cloves, nutmegs, and cinnamon: they are all close together, but of small extent. A few years ago the kings [of] Marmin began to believe that the soul is immortal. They were induced to believe this solely from the following reason, that they observed that a certain very beautiful small bird never settled on the earth, or on anything that was on the earth; but that these birds sometimes fell dead from the sky to the earth. And when the Mohammedans, who visited them for trading purposes, declared that these birds came from Paradise, the place of abode of departed souls, these princes adopted the Mohammedan faith, which makes wonderful promises respecting this same paradise. They call this bird Mamuco Diata; and they venerate it so highly, that the kings think themselves safe in battle under their protection, even when, according to their custom, they are placed in the front line of the army in battle. The common people are Kafirs, and have much the same manners and customs as the islanders of Porne, already spoken of; they are much in need of supplies from abroad, insasmuch as their country only produces spices, which they willingly exchange for the poisonous articles arsenic and sublimated mercury, and for the linen which they generally wear; but what use they make of these poisons has not yet been ascertained. They live on sago-bread, fish, and sometimes parrots; they live in very low-built cabins: in short, all they esteem and value is peace, leisure, and spices. The former, the greatest of blessings, the wickedness of mankind seems to have banished from our part of the world to theirs: but our avarice and insatiable desire of the luxuries of the table has urged us to seek for spices even in those distant lands. To such a degree has the perversity of human nature persisted in driving away as far as possible that which is conducive to happiness, and in seeking for articles of luxury in the remotest parts of the world. Our men having carefully examined the position of the Moluccas, and of each separate island, and also into the characters of the chiefs, sailed to Thedori, because they understood that this island produced a greater abundance of cloves than the others, and also that the king excelled the other kings in prudence and humanity. Providing themselves with presents they went on shore, and paid their respect to the king, and handed him the presents as the gift of the emperor. He accepted the presents graciously, and looking up to heaven said, "It is now two years since I learnt from observation of the stars that you were sent by the great King of kings to seek for these lands. Wherefore your arrival is the more agreeable to me, inasmuch as it has already been foreseen from the signification of the stars. And since I know that nothing happens to man, which has not long since been ordained by the decree of Fate and of the stars, I will not be the man to resist the determinations of Fate and the stars, but will spontaneously abdicate my royal power, and consider myself for the future, as carrying on the government of this island as your king's viceroy. So bring your ships into the harbour, and order the rest of your companions to land in safety, so that now after so much tossing about on the sea, and so many dangers, you may securely enjoy the comforts of life on shore, and recruit your strength; and consider yourselves to be coming into your own king's dominions." Having thus spoken, the king laid aside his diadem, and embraced each of our men, and directed such refreshments as the country produced to be set on table. Our men, delighted at this, returned to their companions, and told them what had taken place. They were much delighted by the graciousness and benevolence of the king, and took up their quarters in the island. When they had been entertained for some days by the king's munificence, they sent envoys thence to the other kings, to investigate the resources of the islands, and to secure the good will of the chiefs. Tarante was the nearest; it is a very small island, its circumference being a little over six Italian miles. The next is Matthien, and that also is small. These three produce a great quantity of cloves, but every fourth year the crop is far larger than at other times. These trees only grow on precipitous rocks, and they grow so close together as to form groves. The tree resembles the laurel as regards its leaves, its closeness of growth, and its height; the clove, so called from its resemblance to a nail [Latin, clavus] grows at the very tip of each twig; first a bud appears, and then a blossom much like that of the orange; the point of the clove first shows itself at the end of the twig, until it attains its full growth; at first it is reddish, but the heat of the sun soon turns it black. The natives share groves of this tree among themselves, just as we do vineyards: they keep the cloves in pits, till the merchants fetch them away. The fourth island, Muthil, is no larger than the rest. This island produces cinnamon; the tree is full of shoots, and in other respects fruitless, it thrives best in a dry soil, and is very much like the pomegranate tree. When the bark cracks through the heat of the sun, it is pulled oft the tree, and being dried in the sun a short time becomes cinnamon. Near Muthil is another island, called Bada [Badjan or Batchian], more extensive than the Moluccas; in it the nutmeg grows. The tree is tall and wide-spreading, a good deal like a walnut tree; the fruit too is produced just in the same way as a walnut, being protected by a double covering, first a soft envelope, and under this a thin reticulated membrane which encloses the nut. This membrane we call Muskatblüthe, the Spaniards call it mace, it is an excellent and wholesome spice. Within this is a hard shell, like that of a filbert, inside which is the nutmeg properly so called. Ginger also is produced in all the islands of this archipelago: some is sown, some grows spontaneously; but the sown ginger is the best. The plant is like the saffron-plant, and its root, which resembles the root of saffron, is what we call ginger. Our men were kindly received by the various chiefs, who all, after the example of the King of Thedori, spontaneously submitted themselves to the imperial government. But the Spaniards, having now only two ships, determined to bring with them specimens of all sorts of spices, etc., but to load the ships mainly with cloves, because there had been a very abundant crop of it this season, and the ships could contain a great quantity of this kind of spice. Having laden their ships with cloves, and received letters and presents from the chiefs to the emperor, they prepared to sail away. The letters were filled with assurances of fidelity and respect: the gifts were Indian swords, etc. The most remarkable curiosities were some of the birds, called Mamuco Diata, that is the Bird of God, with which they think themselves safe and invincible in battle. Five of these were sent, one of which I procured from the captain of the ship, and now send it to your lordship—not that you will think it a defence against treachery and violence, but because you will be pleased with its rarity and beauty. I also send some cinnamon, nutmegs, and cloves, that you may see that our spices are not only not inferior to those imported by the Venetians and Portuguese, but of superior quality, because they are fresher. Soon after our men had sailed from Thedori, the larger of the two ships [the Trinidad] sprang a leak, which let in so much water, that they were obliged to return to Thedori. The Spaniards seeing that this defect could not be put right except with much labor and loss of time, agreed that the other ship [the Victoria] should sail to the Cape of Cattigara, thence across the ocean as far as possible from the Indian coast, lest they should be seen by the Portuguese, until they came in sight of the southern point of Africa, beyond the tropic of Capricorn, which the Portuguese call the Cape of Good Hope, for thence the voyage to Spain would be easy. It was also arranged that, when the repairs of the other ship were completed, it should sail back through the archipelago and the Vast [Pacific] Ocean to the coast of the continent which we have already mentioned [South America], until they came to the Isthmus of Darien, where only a narrow neck of land divides the South Sea from the Western Sea, in which are the islands belonging to Spain. The smaller ship accordingly set sail again from Thedori, and though they went as far as twelve degrees south, they did not find Cattigara,[16] which Ptolemy considered to lie considerably south of the equator; however after a long voyage, they arrived in sight of the Cape of Good Hope, and thence sailed to the Cape Verde Islands. Here this ship also, after having been so long at sea, began to be leaky, and the men, who had lost several of their companions through hardships in the course of their adventures, were unable to keep the water pumped out. They therefore landed at one of the islands called Santiago, to buy slaves. As our men, sailor-like, had no money, they offered cloves in exchange for slaves. When the Portuguese officials heard of this, they committed thirteen of our men to prison. The rest, eighteen in number, being alarmed at the position in which they found themselves, left their companions behind, and sailed direct to Spain. Sixteen months after they had sailed from Thedori, on the sixth of September 1522 they arrived safe and sound at a port [San Lucar] near Seville. These sailors are certainly more worthy of perpetual fame, than the Argonauts who sailed with Jason to Colchis; and the ship itself deserves to be placed among the constellations more than the ship Argo. For the Argo only sailed from Greece through the Black Sea; but our ship setting out from Seville sailed first southwards, then through the whole of the West, into the Eastern Seas, then back again into the Western.

I humbly commend myself to your Most Reverend Lordship.

Written at Valladolid twenty-fourth of October 1522.

Your Most Reverend and Most Illustrious Lordship's

Most humble and perpetual servant,
Maximilianus Transylvanus.

Cologne—[printed] at the house of Eucharius Cervicornus. A. D. 1523—in the month of January.

  1. Juan Sebastian del Cano.—Stevens.
  2. Pietro Martire d'Anghiera (commonly known as Peter Martyr) was an Italian priest and historian, who was born in 1455. At the age of thirty-two years he went to the Castilian court; at various times, he served in the army (during two campaigns), maintained a school for boys, was sent as an ambassador to other courts, and in many ways occupied a prominent place in the affairs of the Spanish Kingdom. He died in 1526. His most noted work was De orbe nouo Decades (Alcala, 1516); it had numerous editions, and was translated into several other languages. An English translation of the first three Decades was made by Richard Eden (London, 1555); this was reprinted in Arber's First Three English Books on America (Birmingham, 1885).
  3. The name Bacallaos (according to early French writers a Basque appellation of the codfish) was also applied, by a natural extension, to the region afterward known as Canada. According to Peter Martyr, the name Bacallaos was given to those lands by Sebastian Cabot, "because of the great multitudes of fishes found in the seas thereabout." See Jesuit Relations (Cleveland reissue), i, p. 308, and ii, p. 295.
  4. Fifty-six degrees west of the Canaries would be about seventy-four degrees west of Greenwich—Magellan was some ten or twelve degrees out.—Stevens.
  5. Among whom was Esteven Gomez; this ship was the "San Antonio."—Stevens.
  6. The measure of length known as a mile varies greatly in different countries. The geographical or nautical mile (one-sixtieth of a degree of the equator, and equal to 1.153 English statute miles) is used by mariners of all nations. The milha of Portugal is equivalent to 1.2786 English miles; the Italian miglio varies from 0.6214 to 1.3835 English miles; the legua (league) of Spain amounts to 4.2151 English miles.
  7. San Pablo and Tiburones. Cf. Droysen and Andree's Historischer Hand Atlas, 1884, Karte 83; also Admiralty Chart, Sec. xv, 767.—Stevens.
  8. Inarajan, now confined to the port on the southeast coast of Guajan, the southermost of the Ladrones.—Stevens.
  9. Açaçan, i. e. Sosan-jaya, the watering place at the west end of Rota Island, north of Guajan.—Stevens.
  10. The Caylon of Magellan, now confined to the port on the southwest side of the island of Leyte, Philippines.—Stevens.
  11. The Maasin of Coello, or Masin of Admiralty Chart, Sec. xiii, 943; at south end of island of Leyte, the Selani of text.—Stevens.
  12. In the museum of the Colegio de Agustinos Filipinos at Valladolid, Spain, is a tablet bearing the following inscription (in English translation): "On the twenty-sixth of April, 1521, died on this spot, while fighting valiantly, Don Hernando Magallánes, general of the Spanish fleet, whose name alone is his greatest eulogy. Desiring that the memory of the place where so famous and fatal an event took place should not perish, and circumstances not permitting us at this time to erect a monument worthy of the heroic discoverer, this present inscription is religiously and humbly consecrated, as a memorial, by the parochial priest of the island, the reverend father Fray Benito Perez, on the twenty-ninth of February, 1843." This tablet is about three feet by one and one-half feet in size, and is made of molave wood; the letters (capitals) are neatly carved in the wood—the work being done, in all probability, by some native under the priest's supervision. Attached to the tablet is a card, bearing the following inscription:

    "This inscription, cut in molave wood, was accidentally found by the very reverend father Fray Jorge Romanillos, the present parish priest of Opong, in the island of Mactang, where it stood beside a cross, before the erection of the monument. He sends it as a memento to the royal college of the Augustinian Fathers of the Filipinas, at Valladolid, in the year 1887."

  13. Or Quipit, the port of this name on the northwest part of Mindanao, applied in error to the whole island.—Stevens.
  14. Probably Yolo, certainly one of the Sulu islands.—Stevens.
  15. I. e. Ternate, Moter, Tidore, Maru, Mutjan.—Stevens.
  16. "They did not find Cattigara" is as true today as when Maximilian wrote in 1522. For various conflicting authorities upon its site north of the equator, cf. ante p. 312, and McCrindle's Ancient India, 1885, p. 10. Ptolemy however places it (Asia Tab. xi) nine degrees south of the equator. For a curious chapter upon this point see Manoel Godinho de Eredia's Malacca, edited by Janssen, Brussels, 1883. 4to, part 3. Why not Kota-Radja at the north end of Sumatra?—Stevens.