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A History of the Philippines by David P. Barrows

The Malay peninsula was divided


Malay Archipelago.--If now we look at the Malay Islands, we find, as we have already seen, that changes had been effected there. Hinduism had first elevated and civilized at least a portion of the race, and Mohammedanism and the daring seamanship of the Malay had united these islands under a common language and religion. There was, however, no political union. The Malay peninsula was divided. Java formed a central Malay power. Eastward among the beautiful Celebes and Moluccas, the true Spice Islands, were a multitude of small native rulers, rajas or datos, who surrounded themselves with retainers, kept rude courts, and gathered wealthy tributes of cinnamon, pepper, and cloves. The sultans of Ternate, Tidor, and Amboina were especially powerful, and the islands they ruled the most rich and productive.

Between all these islands there was a busy commerce. The Malay is an intrepid sailor, and an eager trader. Fleets of praos, laden with goods, passed with the changing monsoons from part to part, risking the perils of piracy, which have always troubled this archipelago. Borneo, while the largest of all these islands, was the least developed, and down to the present day has been hardly explored. The Philippines were also outside of most of this busy intercourse and had at that date few products to offer for trade. Their only connection with the rest of the Malay race was through the Mohammedan Malays of Jolo and Borneo. The fame of the Spice Islands

had long filled Europe, but the existence of the Philippines was unknown.

Summary.--We have now reviewed the condition of Europe and of farther Asia as they were before the period of modern discovery and colonization opened. The East had reached a condition of quiet stability. Mohammedanism, though still spreading, did not promise to effect great social changes. The institutions of the East had become fixed in custom and her peoples neither made changes nor desired them. On the other hand western Europe had become aroused to an excess of ambition. New ideas, new discoveries and inventions were moving the nations to activity and change. That era of modern discovery and progress, of which we cannot yet perceive the end, had begun.



An Eastern Passage to India.--The Portuguese.--We have seen in the last chapter how Venice held a monopoly of the only trading-route with the Far East. Some new way of reaching India must be sought, that would permit the traders of other Christian powers to reach the marts of the Orient without passing through Mohammedan lands. This surpassing achievement was accomplished by the Portuguese. So low at the present day has the power of Portugal fallen that few realize the daring and courage once displayed by her seamen and soldiers and the enormous colonial empire that she established.

Portugal freed her territory of the Mohammedan Moors nearly a century earlier than Spain; and the vigor and intelligence of a great king, John I., brought Portugal, about the year 1400, to an important place among the states of Europe. This king captured from the Moors the city of Ceuta, in Morocco; and this was the beginning of modern European colonial possessions, and the first bit of land outside of Europe to be held by a European power since the times of the Crusades. King John's youngest son was Prince Henry, famous in history under the title of "the Navigator." This young prince, with something of the same adventurous spirit that filled the Crusaders, was ardent to extend the power of his father's kingdom and to widen the sway of the religion which he devotedly professed. The power of the Mohammedans in the Mediterranean was too great for him hopefully to oppose and so he planned the conquest of the west coast of Africa, and its conversion to Christianity. With these ends in view, he established at Point Sagres, on the southwestern coast of Portugal, a naval academy and observatory. Here he brought together skilled navigators, charts, and geographies, and all scientific knowledge that would assist in his undertaking. [3]

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