صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

cosmographers, navigators, and jurisconsults in the town of Pax Augusta, — called in Spanish Badajoz, — since it lies near the Portuguese and Castilian frontier. The representatives assembled, and about the calends of April the disputes and discussions began. The Portuguese, determined not to give way on a single point, admitted none of the arguments advanced by our negotiators. The Spaniards wished the line of three hundred and seventy leagues to begin at the most easterly island of the Gorgones, namely, the one called San Antonio; and they say this island is situated within nine and a half degrees of longitude of the known meridian of the Fortunate Isles. The Portuguese, on the other hand, insist that the line should begin at the first of these islands called Sel, which lies only five degrees of longitude from the same meridian. The reasoning of the Spaniards is as follows: Suppose an arbitrator were appointed to decide between two neighbours in disagreement concerning the boundaries of their fields; granted that John has long possessed a well-known field and that his neighbour Francis should take possession of another field, a hundred paces distant, it would undoubtedly follow, if the distance were actually counted, starting from the spot where John's property begins, that John would be obliged to give up his land, for it would be entirely included in the claim of Francis. It follows that the Cape Verde Islands, which have hitherto always belonged to Portugal, must either be surrendered or the Portuguese must accept the distance reckoned from the most remote of these islands. One or the other of these solutions must be accepted.

The discussion was long and no conclusion was reached.

Had the Portuguese accepted the decision of the plenipotentiaries of Castile, they would have been compelled to recognise that, not only the Moluccas and the islands touching upon China, the great gulf, and the promontory of Satyres and Gilolo, but also even Malacca had all along been usurped by them. For the Castilians affirm that the authority of Ptolemy and other authors, in disagreement concerning the length of degrees, suffices to show the weak foundations of their adversary's claims. The Portuguese answer with arguments of the same character.

Let us note that our sailors who returned from the long voyage received from the ruler of those islands in whose kingdom they had loaded their ship, the Victoria, cloves, letters, and superb presents which constitute a striking proof of the vassalage he had sworn. As for the Portuguese they exhibit no treaty signed by any of those kings. Nevertheless, they say that the Portuguese name is known in those islands and that Portuguese subjects have been there. Our people admit this fact, but assert there was only a single man, who was a fugitive fleeing from judgment for his crimes, and that, moreover, no other proof of commercial relations can be produced. The decision our Emperor will make in our Royal Council is still uncertain. It is evident that it will be very hard for the Portuguese to see themselves excluded from known countries, while for the Spaniards it would not be agreeable to lose such an admirable opportunity for profit. * May God help us! Fare you well. Burgos, the fourteenth of July, 1524.

* Charles V. renounced his claims to the Moluccas in 1525, accepting an indemnity of 350,000 ducats. ~ a

BOOK X

NUMEROUS French pirates and soldiers of the King of France, with whom we are at war, have blocked all the ways both by sea and land. In such difficult times do we live! I, therefore, send you this letter in duplicate, since you wish to hear the news from the other world. Eighty representatives, all of them experienced men, were chosen to decide the dispute with the Portuguese, of which I have spoken. Each faculty had its representative; that is to say, there are six astronomers, six jurisconsults, six cosmographers, and six sailors. You know only a few of them, and His Holiness knows none. They have all returned and have reported to our Council, and they will soon report to the Emperor the results of that congress. The first to open the negotiation seem to have been Don Fernando Columbus, second son of Christopher Columbus, the first discoverer of the new country, who is a very learned man, and the licenciates Acuna and Emmanuel, the first being auditor of the Royal Council, and the second chancellor of Valladolid; associated with them was the licenciate Periso, of the chancery of Granada.

Nothing more was accomplished than I have above mentioned. The Emperor having appointed the last day of May the arbitrators chosen by Spain gave their decision on that date, on the bridge of Caya, which spans the river forming the boundary between Spain and Portugal. The Portuguese, who had everything to gain by postponing the decision, were unable to retard it by a single day or hour. The verdict defined that the Moluccas are situated, according to ancient and contemporary opinion, more than twenty degrees inside the limits assigned to Spain. The same holds good of Malacca and Taprobane,' that is, if the latter corresponds to the island which the Portuguese call Zamatra.

The Portuguese went home much disconcerted and grumbling over what had happened. They do not intend to abandon any of their pretensions, and we have heard that their young sovereign has sent out a large fleet and that they whisper among themselves that they will destroy our vessels if they find them in those waters. On the eve of the calends of July, our India Council decided that the Emperor should order our fleet of six vessels to sail before the end of next August. They will not be ordered to begin hostilities, but should they be attacked by a superior Portuguese force, the Emperor has at his disposition upon the continent a ready means of vengeance, should treaties be violated at sea. You are aware that Portugal is like a wedge in Castile, and precisely that part of Portugal in which are situated the most flourishing cities is as though blocked by the remarkable city of Medina del Campo; by Salamanca, Avila, Segovia, Toro, the prosperous kingdom of Toledo, and many other regions lying between the Guadiana and the Douro. Lhave often remarked in my preceding Decades that Portugal was formerly only a county of Castile, bestowed by an easy-going king, together with the royal title, upon one of his grandsons. It has also been decided that a certain Estevan Gomez, an expert navigator, shall seek for a new route, leading to Cathay, between the Baccalaos and Florida, which belongs to us. He will be given only one caravel, and his only instructions will be to search whether amongst the multitude of windings and the vast diversities of our ocean any passage can be found leading to the kingdom of him whom we commonly call the Grand Khan.

'Presumably Ceylon. Vol. 11—16

« السابقةمتابعة »