The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898/Volume 1/Extracto de una carta

The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803, Volume 1
edited by Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson

EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM THE INDIES

After I had written the above to your lordship, Yñigo Lopez arrived on the eighteenth from Malaca with the news that the Castilians were in Maluco; that three vessels had left Castilla under command of Fernando Magallaes. They had been sighted off the cape of San Agustin, from which point they had run about two hundred or three hundred leagues along the coast of Brasil. There they anchored in a river[1] which flows across the whole of Brasil, and was of fresh water. They sailed for six or seven days on this river until they came to the other part of the south, whence they started in quest of Maluco, sailing for five months in a wide expanse of waters without ever seeing land or finding islands, and with a steady stern wind. In this region one of the ships fled from Magallanes and started to return, but nothing more has been heard of it. At this time a great uneasiness became manifest among the Castilians, and it was rumored that Magallanes was going to deliver them over to the Portuguese; and they resolved to mutiny and seize the ships. Magallanes upon obtaining information of this was sorely grieved. He summoned the guilty ones before him one by one, but they flatly refused to come.[2] He killed those of whom he stood in fear, and gave their captaincies and duties to those whom he thought proper. He continued his forward course although he had but little food and water, and finally came in sight of an island which was the island of Burneo. They tried to land there against the will of the inhabitants. A great fight ensued, in which Magallanes and many of his fighting men were killed, and when the fleet, deprived of many men, was in such straits that it could easily have fallen into the hands of the inhabitants of that land, a Portuguese pilot, who had come with Magallanes, came to the rescue, took the tiller, and turned the course of the vessel toward Maluco. He reached that place and found there one of the followers of Don Tristan de Meneses (may he rest in peace). They took him prisoner and obtained from him all the information that they desired. Then they made their bargains in detail and at the wish of those on land disposed of their red caps and clothes which they had carried with them, in return for which those on shore loaded their vessels; these left Maluco laden with cloves, but in very poor condition as to their rigging and hulls. They left two or three men with small boats and defenses, and some shot to use for signals. It was their intention to go with their ships through the islands of Maldiva because they considered the course that they were taking dangerous. The weather, however, compelled them to land at Burneo from which place one of the vessels which was in the better condition started for those kingdoms, and may God grant her safe arrival. The other vessel returned with sixty hands to Maluco for it was leaking badly and not in a condition to undertake the voyage. They resolved to make a stay at Maluco with the artillery and wait there for news of the vessel which had left for Castilla which may it please Our Lord not to bring to that place unless it be for his service. All this news was had from two deck-hands of the same vessels, who had remained at Burneo for fear of embarking in them while in so poor condition. From this place Don Juan brought them to Timor where Pedro Merino was in command of the soldiers,[3] and from there he departed with these two deck-hands and brought them to Malaca where he found Yñigo Lopez, who was about to leave. Joining with him they both arrived in safety at Cochin with the Castilian deck-hands from whom they obtained all the above information.

[Addressed: "Sacred Caesarean and Catholic Majesty."]

[Endorsed: "To his majesty, xxjx of August from Cochin, December 23, 1522.

Advices of the voyage of Magallanes and of his death, and news from Portuguese India."]

  1. This must have been the Strait of Magellan.
  2. The Spanish reads literally, "They gave him a blow on the head with a mallet."
  3. The original is defective here, and this reading is only conjectural.