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A History of the Philippines by David P. Barrows

Still searching for the Moluccas


here, still searching for the Moluccas, they were guided to Borneo, the present city of Brunei. Here was the powerful Mohammedan colony, whose adventurers were already in communication with Luzon and had established a colony on the site of Manila. The city was divided into two sections, that of the Mohammedan Malays, the conquerors, and that of the Dyaks, the primitive population of the island. Pigafetta exclaims over the riches and power of this Mohammedan city. It contained twenty-five thousand families, the houses built for most part on piles over the water. The king's house was of stone, and beside it was a great brick fort, with over sixty brass and iron cannon. Here the Spaniards saw elephants and camels, and there was a rich trade in ginger, camphor, gums, and in pearls from Sulu.

Hostilities cut short their stay here and they sailed eastward along the north coast of Borneo through the Sulu Archipelago, where their cupidity was excited by the pearl fisheries, and on to Maguindanao. Here they took some prisoners, who piloted them south to the Moluccas, and finally, on November 8, they anchored at Tidor. These Molucca islands, at this time, were at the height of the Malayan power. The ruler, or raja of Tidor was Almanzar, of Ternate Corala; the "king" of Gilolo was Yusef. With all these rulers the Spaniards exchanged presents, and the rajas are said by the Spaniards to have sworn perpetual amnesty to the Spaniards and acknowledged themselves

vassals of the king. In exchange for cloths, the Spaniards laid in a rich cargo of cloves, sandalwood, ginger, cinnamon, and gold. They established here a trading-post and hoped to hold these islands against the Portuguese.

The Return to Spain.--It was decided to send one ship, the "Victoria," to Spain by way of the Portuguese route and the Cape of Good Hope, while the other would return to America. Accordingly the "Victoria," with a little crew of sixty men, thirteen of them natives, under the command of Juan Sebastian del Cano, set sail. The passage was unknown to the Spaniards and full of perils. They sailed to Timor and thence out into the Indian Ocean. They rounded Africa, sailing as far south as 42 degrees. Then they went northward, in constant peril of capture by some Portuguese fleet, encountering storms and with scarcity of food. Their distress must have been extreme, for on this final passage twenty-one of their small number died.

At Cape Verdi they entered the Portuguese port for supplies, trusting that at so northern a point their real voyage would not be suspected. But some one of the party, who went ashore for food, in an hour of intoxication boasted of the wonderful journey they had performed and showed some of the products of the Spice Islands. Immediately the Portuguese governor gave orders for the seizure of the Spanish vessel and El Cano, learning of his danger, left his men, who had gone on shore, raised sail, and put out for Spain.

On the 6th of September, 1522, they arrived at San Lucar, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, on which is situated Seville, one ship out of the five, and eighteen men out of the company of 234, who had set sail almost three full years before. Spain welcomed her worn and tired seamen with splendid acclaim. To El Cano was given a title of nobility and the famous coat-of-arms, showing the sprays of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and the effigy of the globe with the motto, the proudest and worthiest ever displayed on any adventurer's shield, "Hic primus circumdedisti me."

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