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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Pessoa fought his ship for three days

With regard to the desire of Ieyasu to exploit the mining resources of his country, the fact is demonstrated by an incident which occurred at the time. The governor--general of the Philippines (Rodrigo Yivero y Velasco), whose ship had been cast away on the coast of Japan while en route for Acapulco, had an interview with Ieyasu, and in response to the latter's application for fifty mining experts, the Spaniards made a proposal, to the terms of which, onerous as they were, Ieyasu agreed; namely that one half of the produce, of the mines should go to the miners; that the other half should be divided equally between Ieyasu and the King of Spain; that the latter might send officials to Japan to protect his mining interests, and that these officials might be accompanied by priests, who would have the right to erect public churches, and to hold religious services there.* These things happened in 1609. Previous to that time, the Tokugawa chief had repeatedly imposed a strict veto on Christian propagandism; yet we now find him removing that veto partially, for the sake of obtaining foreign expert assistance. Like Hideyoshi, Ieyasu had full confidence in himself and in his countrymen. He did not doubt his ability to deal with emergencies if they arose, and he made no sacrifice to timidity. But his courageous policy died with him, and the miners never came. Moreover, the Spaniards seemed incapable of any successful effort to establish trade with Japan. Fitful visits were paid by their vessels at Uraga, but the Portuguese continued to monopolize the commerce.

*It is to be understood, of course, that these ministrations were intended to be limited to Spaniards resident in Japan.


That commerce, however, was not without rude interruptions. One, especially memorable, occurred at the very time when Rodrigo's vessel was cast away. "In a quarrel at Macao some Japanese sailors lost their lives, and their comrades were compelled by the commandant, Pessoa, to sign a declaration exonerating the Portuguese. The signatories, however, told a different tale when they returned to Japan, and their feudal chief, the daimyo of Arima, was much incensed, as also was Ieyasu In the following year (1609), this same Pessoa arrived at Nagasaki in command of the Madre de Dios, carrying twelve Jesuits and a cargo worth a million crowns. Ieyasu ordered the Arima feudatory to seize her. Surrounded by an attacking force of twelve hundred men in boats, Pessoa fought his ship for three days, and then, exploding her magazine, sent her to the bottom with her crew, her passenger-priests, and her cargo."

Fifty-eight years before the date of this occurrence, Xavier had conveyed to Charles V a warning that if ships from New Spain "attempted to conquer the Japanese by force of arms, they would have to do with a people no less covetous than warlike, who seem likely to capture any hostile fleet, however strong." It was a just appreciation. The Portuguese naturally sought to obtain satisfaction for the fate of Pessoa, but Ieyasu would not even reply to their demands, though he made no attempt to prevent the resumption of trade with Macao.


In the year 1609, Ieyasu had reason to expect that the Spaniards and the Dutch would both open trade with Japan. His expectation was disappointed in the case of the Spaniards, but, two years later, the Dutch flag was seen in Japanese waters. It was flown by the Brack, a merchantman which, sailing from Patani, reached Hirado with a cargo of pepper, cloth, ivory, silk, and lead. Two envoys were on board the vessel, and her arrival in Japan nearly synchronized with the coming of the Spanish embassy from Manila, which had been despatched expressly for the purpose of "settling the matter regarding the Hollanders." Nevertheless, the Dutch obtained a liberal patent from Ieyasu.

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