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A History of the Philippines by David P. Barrows

Whom El Cano had left at Tidor


The

First Circumnavigation of the Earth.--Thus with enormous suffering and loss of life was accomplished the first circumnavigation of the earth. It proved that Asia could be reached, although by a long and circuitous route, by sailing westward from Europe. It made known to Europe that the greatest of all oceans lies between the New World and Asia, and it showed that the earth is incomparably larger than had been believed and supposed. It was the greatest voyage of discovery that has ever been accomplished, and greater than can ever be performed again.

New Lands Divided between Spain and Portugal.--By this discovery of the Philippines and a new way to the Spice Islands, Spain became engaged in a long dispute with Portugal. At the beginning of the modern age, there was in Europe no system of rules by which to regulate conduct between states. That system of regulations and customs which we call International Law, and by which states at the present time are guided in their dealings, had not arisen. During the middle age, disputes between sovereigns were frequently settled by reference to the emperor or to the pope, and the latter had frequently asserted his right to determine all such questions as might arise. The pope had also claimed to have the right of disposing of all heathen and newly discovered lands and peoples.

So, after the discovery of the East Indies by Portugal and of the West Indies by Spain, Pope Alexander

VI., divided the new lands between them. He declared that all newly discovered countries halfway around the earth to the east of a meridian 100 leagues west of the Azores should be Portuguese, and all to the west Spanish. Subsequently he shifted this line to 270 leagues west of the Azores. This division, it was supposed, would give India and the Malay islands to Portugal, and to Spain the Indies that Columbus had discovered, and the New World, except Brazil.

As a matter of fact, 180 degrees west of the meridian last set by the pope extended to the western part of New Guinea, and not quite to the Moluccas; but in the absence of exact geographical knowledge both parties claimed the Spice Islands. Portugal denied to Spain all right to the Philippines as well, and, as we shall see, a conflict in the Far East began, which lasted nearly through the century. Portugal captured the traders, whom El Cano had left at Tidor, and broke up the Spanish station in the Spice Islands. The "Trinidad," the other ship, which was intended to return to America, was unable to sail against the strong winds, and had to put back to Tidor, after cruising through the waters about New Guinea.

Effect of the Century of Discoveries.--This circumnavigation of the globe completed a period of discovery which had begun a hundred years before with the timid, slow attempts of the Portuguese along the coast of Africa. In these years a new era had opened. At its beginning the European knew little of any peoples outside of his own countries, and he held not one mile of land outside the continent of Europe. At the end of a hundred years the earth had become fairly well known, the African race, the Malay peoples, the American Indians, and the Pacific islanders had all been seen and described, and from now on the history of the white race was to be connected with that of these other races. The age of colonization, of world-wide trade and intercourse, had begun. The white man, who had heretofore been narrowly pressed in upon Europe, threatened again and again with conquest by the Mohammedan, was now to cover the seas with his fleets and all lands with his power.


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