Philippines: The Great Geographical Discoveries


Philippines: The Great Geographical Discoveries

Philippines: The Great Geographical Discoveries


Manila Philippines Map 1
Manila Philippines Map
Manila Philippines seal
Manila Philippines seal
Manila Philippines Coat of Arms
Manila Philippines Coat of Arms
Manila Philippines Flag
Manila Philippines Flag


Philippines: The Great Geographical Discoveries

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.

He began to construct ships larger and better than any in use. To us they would doubtless seem very clumsy and small, but this was the beginning of ocean ship-building. The compass and the astrolabe, or sextant, the little instrument with which, by calculating the height of the sun above the horizon, we can tell distance from the equator, were just coming into use. These, as well as every other practicable device for navigation known at that time, were supplied to these ships.

Exploration of the African Coast.—Thus equipped and ably manned, the little fleets began the exploration of the African coast, cautiously feeling their way southward and ever returning with reports of progress made. Year after year this work went on. In 1419 the Madeira Islands were rediscovered and colonized by Portuguese settlers. The growing of sugarcane was begun, and vines were brought from Burgundy and planted there. The wine of the Madeiras has been famous to this day. Then were discovered the Canaries and in 1444 the Azores. The southward exploration of the coast of the mainland steadily continued until in 1445 the Portuguese reached the mouth of the Senegal River. Up to this point the African shore had not yielded much of interest to the Portuguese explorer or trader. Below Morocco the great Sahara Desert reaches to the sea and renders barren the coast for hundreds of miles.

South of the mouth of the Senegal and comprising the whole Guinea coast, Africa is tropical, well watered, and populous. This is the home of the true African Negro. Here, for almost the first time, since the beginning of the Middle Ages, Christian Europe came in contact with a race of ruder culture and different color than its own. This coast was found to be worth exploiting; for it yielded, besides various desirable resinous gums, three articles which have distinguished the exploitation of Africa, namely, gold, ivory, and slaves.

Beginning of Negro Slavery in Europe.—At this point begins the horrible and revolting story of European Negro slavery. The ancient world had practiced this ownership of human chattels, and the Roman Empire had declined under a burden of half the population sunk in bondage. To the enormous detriment and suffering of mankind, Mohammed had tolerated the institution, and slavery is permitted by the Koran. But it is the glory of the mediæval church that it abolished human slavery from Christian Europe. However dreary and unjust feudalism may have been, it knew nothing of that institution which degrades men and women to the level of cattle and remorselessly sells the husband from his family, the mother from her child.

Slaves in Portugal.—The arrival of the Portuguese upon the coast of Guinea now revived not the bondage of one white man to another, but that of the black to the white. The first slaves carried to Portugal were regarded simply as objects of peculiar interest, captives to represent to the court the population of those shores which had been added to the Portuguese dominion. But southern Portugal, from which the Moors had been expelled, had suffered from a lack of laborers, and it was found profitable to introduce Negroes to work these fields.

Arguments to Justify Slavery.—So arose the institution of Negro slavery, which a century later upon the shores of the New World was to develop into so tremendous and terrible a thing. Curiously enough, religion was evoked to justify this enslavement of the Africans. The Church taught that these people, being heathen, were fortunate to be captured by Christians, that they might thereby be brought to baptism and conversion; for it is better for the body to perish than for the soul to be cast into hell. At a later age, when the falsity of this teaching had been realized, men still sought to justify the institution by arguing that the Almighty had created the African of a lower state especially that he might serve the superior race.

The coast of Guinea continued to be the resort of slavers down to the middle of the last century, and such scenes of cruelty, wickedness, and debauchery have occurred along its shores as can scarcely be paralleled in brutality in the history of any people.

The Portuguese can hardly be said to have colonized the coast in the sense of raising up there a Portuguese population. As he approached the equator the white man found that, in spite of his superior strength, he could not permanently people the tropics. Diseases new to his experience attacked him. His energy declined. If he brought his family with him, his children were few or feeble and shortly his race had died out.

The settlements of the Portuguese were largely for the purposes of trade. At Sierra Leone, Kamerun, or Loango, they built forts and established garrisons, mounting pieces of artillery that gave them advantage over the attacks of the natives, and erecting warehouses and the loathsome “barracoon,” where the slaves were confined to await shipment. Such decadent little settlements still linger along the African coast, although the slave-trade happily has ended.

The Successful Voyage of Vasco da Gama.—Throughout the century Prince Henry’s policy of exploration was continued. Slowly the middle coast of Africa became known. At last in 1486, Bartholomew Diaz rounded the extremity of the continent. He named it the Cape of Storms; but the Portuguese king, with more prophetic sight, renamed it the Cape of Good Hope. It was ten years, however, before the Portuguese could send another expedition. Then Vasco da Gama rounded the cape again, followed up the eastern coast until the Arab trading-stations were reached. Then he struck across the sea, landed at the Malabar coast of India, and in 1498 arrived at Calcutta. The end dreamed of by all of Europe had been achieved. A sea-route to the Far East had been discovered.

Results of Da Gama’s Voyage.—The importance of this performance was instantly recognized in Europe. Venice was ruined. “It was a terrible day,” said a contemporary writer, “when the word reached Venice. Bells were rung, men wept in the streets, and even the bravest were silent.” The Arabs and the native rulers made a desperate effort to expel the Portuguese from the Indian Ocean, but their opponents were too powerful. In the course of twenty years Portugal had founded an empire that had its forts and trading-marts from the coast of Arabia to Malaysia. Zanzibar, Aden, Oman, Goa, Calicut, and Madras were all Portuguese stations, fortified and secured. In the Malay peninsula was founded the colony of Malacca. It retained its importance and power until in the last century, when it dwindled before the competition of Singapore.

The work of building up this great domain was largely that of one man, the intrepid Albuquerque. Think what his task was! He was thousands of miles from home and supplies, he had only such forces and munitions as he could bring with him in his little ships, and opposed to him were millions of inhabitants and a multitude of Mohammedan princes. Yet this great captain built up an Indian empire. Portugal at one bound became the greatest trading and colonizing power in the world. Her sources of wealth appeared fabulous, and, like Venice, she made every effort to secure her monopoly. The fleets of other nations were warned that they could not make use of the Cape of Good Hope route, on penalty of being captured or destroyed.

Reaching India by Sailing West.—The Earth as a Sphere.—Meanwhile, just as Portugal was carrying to completion her project of reaching India by sailing east, Europe was electrified by the supposed successful attempt of reaching India by sailing directly west, across the Atlantic. This was the plan daringly attempted in 1492 by Christopher Columbus. Columbus was an Italian sailor and cosmographer of Genoa. The idea of sailing west to India did not originate with him, but his is the immortal glory of having persistently sought the means and put the idea into execution.

The Portuguese discoveries along the African coast gradually revealed the extension of this continent and the presence of people beyond the equator, and the possibility of passing safely through the tropics. This knowledge was a great stimulus to the peoples of Europe. The geographical theory of the Greeks, that the world is round, was revived. The geographers, however, in making their calculations of the earth’s circumference, had fallen into an error of some thousands of miles; that is, instead of finding that it is fully twelve thousand miles from Europe around to the East Indies, they had supposed it about four thousand, or even less. Marco Polo too had exaggerated the distance he had traveled and from his accounts men had been led to believe that China, Japan, and the Spice Islands lie much further to the east than they actually do.

By sailing west across one wide ocean, with no intervening lands, it was thought that one could arrive at the island-world off the continent of Asia. This was the theory that was revived in Italy and which clung in men’s minds for years and years, even after America was discovered.

An Italian, named Toscanelli, drew a map showing how this voyage could be made, and sent Columbus a copy. By sailing first to the Azores, a considerable portion of the journey would be passed, with a convenient resting-stage. Then about thirty-five days’ favorable sailing would bring one to the islands of “Cipango,” or Japan, which Marco Polo had said lay off the continent of Asia. From here the passage could readily be pursued to Cathay and India.

The Voyage of Christopher Columbus.—The romantic and inspiring story of Columbus is told in many books,—his poverty, his genius, his long and discouraging pursuit of the means to carry out his plan. He first applied to Portugal; but, as we have seen, this country had been pursuing another plan steadily for a century, and, now that success appeared almost at hand, naturally the Portuguese king would not turn aside to favor Columbus’s plan.

For years Columbus labored to interest the Spanish court. A great event had happened in Spanish history. Ferdinand, king of Aragon, had wedded Isabella of Castile, and this marriage united these two kingdoms into the modern country of Spain. Soon the smaller states except Portugal were added, and the war for the expulsion of the Moors was prosecuted with new vigor. In 1492, Grenada, the last splendid stronghold of the Mohammedans in the peninsula, surrendered, and in the same year Isabella furnished Columbus with the ships for his voyage of discovery.


Restoration of Toscanelli’s Map

Illustrating the most advanced geographical ideas of Europe previous to the voyages of Columbus and Magellan.

The position of North America and South America is shown by the dotted lines.

Columbus sailed from Palos, August 3, 1492, reached the Canaries August 24, and sailed westward on September 6. Day after day, pushed by the strong winds, called the “trades,” they went forward. Many doubts and fears beset the crews, but Columbus was stout-hearted. At the end of thirty-four days from the Canaries, on October 12, they sighted land. It was one of the groups of beautiful islands lying between the two continents of America. But Columbus thought that he had reached the East Indies that really lay many thousands of miles farther west. Columbus sailed among the islands of the archipelago, discovered Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti), and then returned to convulse Europe with excitement over the new-found way to the East. He had not found the rich Spice Islands, the peninsula of India, Cathay or Japan, but every one believed that these must be close to the islands on which Columbus had landed.

The tall, straight-haired, copper-colored natives, whom Columbus met on the islands, he naturally called “Indians”; and this name they still bear. Afterwards the islands were called the “West Indies.” Columbus made three more voyages for Spain. On the fourth, in 1498, he touched on the coast of South America. Here he discovered the great Orinoco River. Because of its large size, he must have realized that a large body of land opposed the passage to the Orient. He died in 1506, disappointed at his failure to find India, but never knowing what he had found, nor that the history of a new hemisphere had begun with him.

The Voyage of the Cabots.—In the same year that Columbus discovered the Orinoco, Sebastian Cabot, of Italian parentage, like Columbus, secured ships from the king of England, hoping to reach China and Japan by sailing west on a northern route. What he did discover was a rugged and uninviting coast, with stormy headlands, cold climate, and gloomy forests of pine reaching down to the sandy shores. For nine hundred miles he sailed southward, but everywhere this unprofitable coast closed the passage to China. It was the coast of Labrador and the United States. Yet for years and years it was not known that a continent three thousand miles wide and the greatest of all oceans lay between Cathay and the shore visited by Cabot’s ships. This land was thought to be a long peninsula, an island, or series of islands, belonging to Asia. No one supposed or could suppose that there was a continent here.

Naming the New World.—But in a few years Europe did realize that a new continent had been discovered in South America. If you will look at your maps, you will see that South America lies far to the eastward of North America and in Brazil approaches very close to Africa. This Brazilian coast was visited by a Portuguese fleet on the African route in 1499, and two years later an Italian fleet traversed the coast from the Orinoco to the harbor of Rio Janeiro. Their voyage was a veritable revelation. They entered the mighty current of the Amazon, the greatest river of the earth. They saw the wondrous tropical forests, full of monkeys, great snakes, and stranger animals. They dealt and fought with the wild and ferocious inhabitants, whose ways startled and appalled the European. All that they saw filled them with greatest wonder. This evidently was not Asia, nor was it the Indies. Here, in fact, was a new continent, a veritable “Mundus Novus.”

The pilot of this expedition was an Italian, named Amerigo Vespucci. On the return this man wrote a very interesting letter or little pamphlet, describing this new world, which was widely read, and brought the writer fame. A few years later a German cosmographer, in preparing a new edition of Ptolemy’s geography, proposed to give to this new continent the name of the man who had made known its wonders in Europe, So it was called “America.” Long after, when the northern shores were also proved to be those of a continent, this great land was named “North America.” No injustice was intended to Columbus when America was so named. It was not then supposed that Columbus had discovered a continent. The people then believed that Columbus had found a new route to India and had discovered some new islands that lay off the coast of Asia.

Spain Takes Possession of the New Lands.—Of these newly found islands and whatever wealth they might be found to contain, Spain claimed the possession by right of discovery. And of the European nations, it was Spain which first began the exploration and colonization of America. Spain was now free from her long Mohammedan wars, and the nation was being united under Ferdinand and Isabella. The Spaniards were brave, adventurous, and too proud to engage in commerce or agriculture, but ready enough to risk life and treasure in quest of riches abroad. The Spaniards were devotedly religious, and the Church encouraged conquest, that missionary work might be extended. So Spain began her career that was soon to make her the foremost power of Europe and one of the greatest colonial empires the world has seen. It is amazing what the Spaniards accomplished in the fifty years following Columbus’s first voyage.

Hispaniola was made the center from which the Spaniards extended their explorations to the continents of both North and South America. On these islands of the West Indies they found a great tribe of Indians,—the Caribs. They were fierce and cruel. The Spaniards waged a warfare of extermination against them, killing many, and enslaving others for work in the mines. The Indian proved unable to exist as a slave. And his sufferings drew the attention of a Spanish priest, Las Casas, who by vigorous efforts at the court succeeded in having Indian slavery abolished and African slavery introduced to take its place. This remedy was in the end worse than the disease, for it gave an immense impetus to the African slave-trade and peopled America with a race of Africans in bondage.

Other Spanish Explorations and Discoveries.—Meanwhile, the Spanish soldier, with incredible energy, courage, and daring, pushed his conquests. In 1513, Florida was discovered, and in the same year, Balboa crossed the narrow isthmus of Panama and saw the Pacific Ocean. Contrary to what is often supposed, he did not dream of its vast extent, but supposed it to be a narrow body of water lying between Panama, and the Asian islands. He named it the “South Sea,” a name that survived after its true character was revealed by Magellan. Then followed the two most romantic and surprising conquests of colonial history,—that of Mexico by Cortes in 1521, and of Peru by Pizarro in 1533–34. These great countries were inhabited by Indians, the most advanced and cultured on the American continents. And here the Spaniards found enormous treasures of gold and silver. Then, the discovery of the mines of Bogota opened the greatest source of the precious metal that Europe had ever known. Spaniards flocked to the New World, and in New Spain, as Mexico was called, was established a great vice-royalty. Year after year enormous wealth was poured into Spain from these American possessions.

Emperor Charles V.—Meanwhile great political power had been added to Spain in Europe. In 1520 the throne of Spain fell to a young man, Charles, the grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella. His mother was Juana, the Spanish princess, and his father was Philip the Handsome, of Burgundy. Philip the Handsome was the son of Maximilian, the Archduke of Austria. Now it curiously happened that the thrones of each of these three countries was left without other heirs than Charles, and in 1520 he was King of Spain, Archduke of Austria, and Duke of Burgundy and the Low Countries, including the rich commercial cities of Holland and Belgium. In addition to all this, the German princes elected him German emperor, and although he was King Charles the First of Spain, he is better known in history as Emperor Charles the Fifth.

He was then an untried boy of twenty years, and no one expected to find in him a man of resolute energy, cold persistence, and great executive ability. But so it proved, and this was the man that made of Spain the greatest power of the time. He was in constant warfare. He fought four wars with King Francis I. of France, five wars with the Turks, both in the Danube valley and in Africa, and an unending succession of contests with the Protestant princes of Germany. For Charles, besides many other important changes, saw the rise of Protestantism, and the revolt of Germany, Switzerland, and England from Catholicism. The first event in his emperorship was the assembling of the famous German Diet at Worms, where was tried and condemned the real founder of the Protestant religion, Martin Luther.

The Voyage of Hernando Magellan.—In the mean time a way had at last been found to reach the Orient from Europe by sailing west. This discovery, the greatest voyage ever made by man, was accomplished, in 1521, by the fleet of Hernando Magellan. Magellan was a Portuguese, who had been in the East with Albuquerque. He had fought with the Malays in Malacca, and had helped to establish the Portuguese power in India.

On his return to Portugal, the injustice of the court drove him from his native country, and he entered the service of Spain. Charles the Fifth commissioned him to attempt a voyage of discovery down the coast of South America, with the hope of finding a passage to the East. This was Magellan’s great hope and faith,—that south of the new continent of America must lie a passage westward, by which ships could sail to China. As long as Portugal was able to keep closed the African route to all other ships than her own, the discovery of some other way was imperative.

On the 20th of September, 1519, Magellan’s fleet of five ships set sail from Seville, which was the great Spanish shipping-port for the dispatch of the colonial fleets. On December 13 they reached the coast of Brazil and then coasted southward. They traded with the natives, and at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata stayed some days to fish.

The weather grew rapidly colder and more stormy as they went farther south, and Magellan decided to stop and winter in the Bay of San Julian. Here the cold of the winter, the storms, and the lack of food caused a conspiracy among his captains to mutiny and return to Spain. Magellan acted with swift and terrible energy. He went himself on board one of the mutinous vessels, killed the chief conspirator with his own hand, executed another, and then “marooned,” or left to their fate on the shore, a friar and one other, who were leaders in the plot.

The Straits of Magellan.—The fleet sailed southward again in August but it was not until November 1, 1520, that Magellan entered the long and stormy straits that bear his name and which connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. South of them were great bleak islands, cold and desolate. They were inhabited by Indians, who are probably the lowest and most wretched savages on the earth. They live on fish and mussels. As they go at all times naked, they carry with them in their boats brands and coals of fire. Seeing the numerous lights on the shore, Magellan named these islands Tierra del Fuego (the Land of Fire). For twenty days the ships struggled with the contrary and shifting winds that prevail in this channel, during which time one ship deserted and returned to Spain. Then the remaining four ships passed out onto the boundless waters of the Pacific.

Westward on the Pacific Ocean.—But we must not make the mistake of supposing that Magellan and his followers imagined that a great ocean confronted them. They expected that simply sailing northward to the latitude of the Spice Islands would bring them to these desired places. This they did, and then turned westward, expecting each day to find the Indies; but no land appeared. The days lengthened into weeks, the weeks into months, and still they went forward, carried by the trade winds over a sea so smooth and free from tempests that Magellan named it the “Pacific.”

But they suffered horribly from lack of food, even eating in their starvation the leather slings on the masts. It was a terrible trial of their courage. Twenty of their number died. The South Pacific is studded with islands, but curiously their route lay just too far north to behold them. From November 28, when they emerged from the Straits of Magellan, until March 7, when they reached the Ladrones, they encountered only two islands, and these were small uninhabited rocks, without water or food, which in their bitter disappointment they named las Desventuradas (the Unfortunate Islands).


Early Spanish Discoveries in the Philippines

The Ladrone Islands.—Their relief must have been inexpressible when, on coming up to land on March the 7th, they found inhabitants and food, yams, cocoanuts, and rice. At these islands the Spaniards first saw the prao, with its light outrigger, and pointed sail. So numerous were these craft that they named the group las Islas de las Velas (the Islands of Sails); but the loss of a ship’s boat and other annoying thefts led the sailors to designate the islands Los Ladrones (the Thieves), a name which they still retain.

The Philippine Islands.—Samar.—Leaving the Ladrones Magellan sailed on westward looking for the Moluccas, and the first land that he sighted was the eastern coast of Samar. Pigafetta says: “Saturday, the 16th of March, we sighted an island which has very lofty mountains. Soon after we learned that it was Zamal, distant three hundred leagues from the islands of the Ladrones.”

Homonhón.—On the following day the sea-worn expedition, landed on a little uninhabited island south of Samar which Pigafetta called Humunu, and which is still known as Homonhón or Jomonjól.

It was while staying at this little island that the Spaniards first saw the people of the Philippines. A prao which contained nine men approached their ship. They saw other boats fishing near and learned that all of these people came from the island of Suluan, which lies off to the eastward from Jomonjól about twenty kilometres. In their life and appearance these fishing people were much like the present Samal laut of southern Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.

Limasaua.—Pigafetta says that they stayed on the island of Jomonjól eight days but had great difficulty in securing food. The natives brought them a few cocoanuts and oranges, palm wine, and a chicken or two, but this was all that could be spared, so, on the 25th, the Spaniards sailed again, and near the south end of Leyte landed on the little island of Limasaua. Here there was a village, where they met two chieftains, whom Pigafetta calls “kings,” and whose names were Raja Calambú and Raja Ciagu. These two chieftains were visiting Limasaua and had their residences one at Butúan and one at Cagayan on the island of Mindanao. Some histories have stated that the Spaniards accompanied one of these chieftains to Butúan, but this does not appear to have been the case.

On the island of Limasaua the natives had dogs, cats, hogs, goats, and fowls. They were cultivating rice, maize, breadfruit, and had also cocoanuts, oranges, bananas, citron, and ginger. Pigafetta tells how he visited one of the chieftains at his home on the shore. The house was built as Filipino houses are today, raised on posts and thatched. Pigafetta thought it looked “like a haystack.”

It had been the day of San Lazarus when the Spaniards first reached these islands, so that Magellan gave to the group the name of the Archipelago of Saint Lazarus, the name under which the Philippines were frequently described in the early writings, although another title, Islas del Poniente or Islands of the West, was more common up to the time when the title Filipinas became fixed.

Cebu.—Magellan’s people were now getting desperately in need of food, and the population on Limasaua had very inadequate supplies; consequently the natives directed him to the island of Cebu, and provided him with guides.

Leaving Limasaua the fleet sailed for Cebu, passing several large islands, among them Bohol, and reaching Cebu harbor on Sunday, the 7th of April. A junk from Siam was anchored at Cebu when Magellan’s ships arrived there; and this, together with the knowledge that the Filipinos showed of the surrounding countries, including China on the one side and the Moluccas on the other, is additional evidence of the extensive trade relations at the time of the discovery.

Cebu seems to have been a large town and it is reported that more than two thousand warriors with their lances appeared to resist the landing of the Spaniards, but assurances of friendliness finally won the Filipinos, and Magellan formed a compact with the dato of Cebu, whose name was Hamalbar.

The Blood Compact.—The dato invited Magellan to seal this compact in accordance with a curious custom of the Filipinos. Each chief wounded himself in the breast and from the wound each sucked and drank the other’s blood. It is not certain whether Magellan participated in this “blood compact,” as it has been called; but later it was observed many times in the Spanish settlement of the islands, especially by Legaspi.

The natives were much struck by the service of the mass, which the Spaniards celebrated on their landing, and after some encouragement desired to be admitted to the Spaniards’ religion. More than eight hundred were baptized, including Hamalbar. The Spaniards established a kind of “factory” or trading-post on Cebu, and for some time a profitable trade was engaged in. The Filipinos well understood trading, had scales, weights, and measures, and were fair dealers.

Death of Magellan.—And now follows the great tragedy of the expedition. The dato of Cebu, or the “Christian king,” as Pigafetta called their new ally, was at war with the islanders of Mactán. Magellan, eager to assist one who had adopted the Christian faith, landed on Mactán with fifty men and in the battle that ensued was killed by an arrow through the leg and spear-thrust through the breast. So died the one who was unquestionably the greatest explorer and most daring adventurer of all time. “Thus,” says Pigafetta, “perished our guide, our light, and our support.” It was the crowning disaster of the expedition.


Magellan Monument, Manila.

The Fleet Visits Other Islands.—After Magellan’s death, the natives of Cebu rose and killed the newly elected leader, Serrano, and the fleet in fear lifted its anchors and sailed southward from the Bisayas. They had lost thirty-five men and their numbers were reduced to one hundred and fifteen. One of the ships was burned, there being too few men surviving to handle three vessels. After touching at western Mindanao, they sailed westward, and saw the small group of Cagayan Sulu. The few inhabitants they learned were Moros, exiled from Borneo. They landed on Paragua, called Puluan (hence Palawan), where they observed the sport of cock-fighting, indulged in by the natives.

From 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.”

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.


The New World and the Indies as divided between Spain and Portugal

Half of World in which newly discovered countries were to be allotted to Spain.

Half of World in which newly discovered countries were to be allotted to Portugal.

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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