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numerous very rich ornaments. There was on board the first vessel—that of Lupo Samaneca—an extraordinarily beautiful tiger, but it has not been brought to us. The reports concerning Cortes and his extreme ability in the art of deceiving and corrupting people are contradictory. It seems to be certain that he possesses such quantities of gold, pearls, and silver as have never before been heard of. They are brought to him secretly at night, unknown to the magistrates, and carried in by a back door of his immense residence, on the shoulders of the caciques' slaves. We shall speak later of the towns and their municipal officers, the numerous and opulent country houses, the gold and silver mines, the extent of the provinces, as well as many other similar things.
As we are working secretly to devise certain preventive measures, I am forbidden to talk too much. Nothing must be said for the moment, until we have completed the stuff we have begun to weave. Let us, therefore, put all that to one side, and speak a little about the other squadron. In my Decade brought to Your Holiness by my representative the bachelor Antonio Tamarano, and which began with the word Priusquam, I spoke at length concerning the fleet sent to the archipelago of the Moluccas where the spices grow, and which lies under or very near to the equatorial line. We said that in our controversy with the King of Portugal, at Pacencis, vulgarly called Badajoz, the Portuguese lost their case but refused to abide by the decision.
The armament of the fleet had been suspended, and after the rupture of negotiations it was first sent to Bilboa in Biscay, and afterwards to Ferrol, a port of Galicia, and the safest of all the ports where sea-going vessels may take refuge. This was about the calends of June of this year, 1525. The fleet was provided with everything necessary for a long voyage, and also for battle if forced into an engagement. It lay at anchor several days awaiting favourable winds. It is composed of seven ships, four of two hundred and twenty tons, and there are also, to use the vulgar tongue, two caravels, the seventh being what is called in Spanish a patache. Finally, the necessary parts for building an eighth ship have been loaded on board, and will be put together as soon as the fleet arrives at the desired port of the island of Tidor, one of the Moluccas. As we have already related in the book treating of the voyage round the world, addressed to Pope Adrian, it is in this island that one of the surviving ships remained for some time with fifty of its crew. As soon as the fleet arrives, two of the lightest vessels will be used for exploring the archipelago and examining carefully the countries lying under and on that side of the equinoctial line.
While this fleet was lying in port, the King of Portugal, brother-in-law and cousin of the Emperor, incessantly begged and entreated that he might be spared this great loss; but as the Emperor was unwilling to offend Castile, which is as the heart of his empire and kingdoms, he refused the King's request. The squadron therefore set sail with a favourable wind on the feast of Santiago, the patron of Spain. As the anchor was raised, trumpets sounded, drums beat, and cannons were fired in sign of joy, so that the heavens almost seemed to fall and the earth shook. On the eve of the departure, the commander of the fleet, Garcia Loaysa, Knight of St. John, who four years before had been sent by the Emperor on an Embassy1 to the Grand Turk, swore allegiance before Count Fernando de Andrada, governor of Galicia, who had formerly defeated the French general, Aubigny, in Calabria.* The other captains took oath before the Admiral, the soldiers and servants before the captains. Loaysa afterwards received from Andrada and the viceroy in great pomp and amidst general applause, the royal standard, which had just been blessed. Profiting by a stern wind, he set sail.1
1 As stated in the Introduction, Peter Martyr was tendered this Embassy to the Sultan, but prudently declined. The difficult mission was then entrusted to Loaysa.
* The Marechal d'Aubigny fought in the Italian campaigns under Charles VIII., Louis XII., and Francis I. After the battle of Seminara in Calabria he retreated, and it is to this check that Peter Martyr here refers. Vol. n—26
In obedience to the Emperor's orders, the Spaniards have promised to write from the Canaries to our Council, under whose authority they are. Garcia Loaysa is in command of the flag-ship. The commander of the second is Juan Sebastian de Cano, who brought the Victoria back to Spain, laden with perfumes, after being obliged to abandon his other ship shattered by storms. The third and fourth ships are commanded by Pedro de Vera, and Roderigo de Acufia, respectively, the latter being a man of illustrious birth, and both having several times commanded squadrons and distinguished themselves by their exploits and great reputation. The fifth ship is commanded by Don Jorge Manrique, brother of the Duke of Najara, who is younger and less experinced than the others; though of better birth, he has consented to accept a less important command, for he not unreasonably thinks that he should give way to more experienced chiefs. The commander of the sixth vessel is a nobleman from Cordova, Hozes; and it is a nobleman who commands the last ship, the little patache.
Before taking leave of this fleet, it remains to mention a fact of no small importance, which arouses much interest. What moved the Emperor and us members of the Council, to arm in a Galician port a squadron destined for the spice islands, and this to the serious injury of the great city of Seville, in which Indian business has hitherto been transacted? This port of Galicia offers safety and is, moreover, situated at the extremity of Spain, nearest Great Britain, bordering on the frontiers of France, and very convenient for merchants from the north looking for spices. Mention of two formidable dangers, which our sailors escape in this port must not be omitted; the stretch of ocean separating it from the mouth of the Guadalquivir, which is navigable as far as Seville is so swept by tempests that the lightest winds off the promontory of Sagres and its neighbourhood drive ships on the rocks and shatter them more mercilessly than if they were thrown upon the reefs of Scylla or into the whirlpool of Charybdis. Pirates constitute another danger. They prowl along those coasts shut in between stern mountains and deserted valleys, which are uninhabited, owing to their sterility. The valleys serve the pirates as hiding-places. Informed by their watchers placed high up on the mountains, they attack passing ships. This is the reason why it was decided to equip the fleet in this port.
1 For particulars of Garcia Loaysa's voyage to the Moluccas, consult Navarrete, tom v.
The course to be taken by the squadron will be that followed by the Portuguese Magellan, when he made the journey round the world, following what philosophers call the torrid zone and advancing in the antarctic hemisphere beyond the Tropic of Capricorn.
Another squadron commanded by the Italian, Sebastian Cabot, will also take that same direction. I have mentioned him and Magellan in the book on the journey round the world dedicated to Pope Adrian, and the second preceding book addressed to the Duke of Sforza. Both these fleets are being fitted out in the Guadalquivir; they will first go to Hispaniola and the other islands, San Juan, Cuba,—otherwise called Fernandina,—and Jamaica, where I hold my benefice, and which has been renamed Santiago. After that they will divide and sail for the new continent and New Spain conquered by Fernando Cortes. I have promised some day to speak of the grandeur and the resources of this last possession. For the moment, however, there are as many fleets ploughing the ocean waves, and as many vessels coming and going from the New World, as there are merchants coming from Italy to fairs at Lyons, or from France and Germany to the fairs at Antwerp in Belgium.
Gladly, Most Holy Father, would I penetrate by some opening into the interior of your apartments and witness the joy of your heart manifest itself in your face when you first learn of these discoveries, and when these most curious particulars of heretofore unknown countries are told you, and you learn that they have been spiritually given as wedding gifts to the Church, Christ's spouse, and that nature is inexhaustible in her gifts, according to her royal bounty. And if there still remain unknown countries to be discovered, they are preparing to later obey you and the Emperor. May Your Holiness be content with this new effort, as the beginning of a feast. I wish you a happy life.
From the town of Toledo in Carpentana, and the Imperial Court.
The thirteenth day of the calends of November in the year 1525.