The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898/Volume 1/Instructions to Cartagena

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


I, the King. That which you, Juan de Cartagena our captain, are to do in the fulfilment of your duties as our inspector-general of the fleet, which we are sending under command of Ruy Falero and Fernando de Magallãins, our captains, knights of the order of San Tiago, on the voyage of discovery which, with the blessing of Our Lord, they are about to undertake as our captain-generals of said fleet, is as follows:

First: in order that you may go well-informed, the instructions and agreement made with our said captains for the voyage of discovery are as follows:

I, the King. Inasmuch as you, Fernando de Magallãins, knight, native of the kingdom of Portogal and bachelor Ruy Falero, also native of said kingdom, wish to do us signal service, binding yourselves to discover within the boundaries which pertain to and belong to us in the Ocean Sea, within the limits of our demarcation, those islands and mainlands, riches, spices, and other things with which we shall be well pleased and these our kingdoms well profited, we order herewith the following agreement to be made with you:

First: in order that you may and shall with good fortune go on a voyage of discovery in that part of the Ocean Sea within our limits and demarcation; and as it would not be just that since you are going yourselves to perform the aforesaid, other persons should venture to do the same; and considering that you are to have the hardship of this enterprise: it is my will and pleasure (as I now promise) that, for the term of the first ten years ensuing we shall not permit any other person to go on a voyage of discovery by the same route and course that you may take; and that if anyone else should wish to undertake it and ask permission, it shall not be granted until you have been informed thereof, so that, if at the same time you should so desire, you may undertake it also, being as well prepared, equipped, and furnished with as many vessels as equally well-conditioned, equipped, and manned as those of the other persons wishing to make the said discovery. But it is to be understood that if we should wish to order or permit other persons to undertake such an enterprise by the western route, in the district of those islands, with Tierra Firme and all other places already discovered, towards the desired direction, for the purpose of seeking the strait of those seas, we may so order or permit to these others. If they should wish to start on their discoveries from Tierra Firme or from the island of Sant Miguel, and go through the southern sea, they may do so. Likewise if the governor or people who, by our mandate, are now, or may be in the future, in the said Tierra Firme, or any others of our subjects and vassals should wish to set out on a voyage of discovery in the southern sea, wherein such discovery is permitted; and if they wish to send out ships for further discoveries; then our said governor, vassals, and any other persons who, according to our pleasure, should go upon such discovery in that direction, may do so, notwithstanding the aforesaid of any section and clause whatever in this agreement. But we also desire that if you should wish to do so, you may discover by any of these said routes, provided the place be not already discovered or found.

The aforesaid discovery must be made in such manner that you do not discover or do anything to his prejudice, within the demarcation and limits of the most serene king of Portogal, my very dear and well beloved uncle and brother, but only within the limits of our demarcation.

And acknowledging your wish to serve us which has moved you to undertake the said discovery; the service which we shall receive therefrom; and the benefit of our royal crown—as a remuneration for the labor and danger which you will have to undergo, it is our will and pleasure, and our desire in all the islands and mainlands that you may discover, to grant you—as we do in this present—that of all the profit and gain from all the lands and islands you may so discover, both rents and rights, and whatever else accrues to us in any way, you shall have and take the twentieth part (after first deducting all expenses which may be involved); also you shall have title as our adelantados[1] and governors of said lands and islands, you, your children, and lawful heirs forever. This shall be on condition that the supremacy of the same shall pertain to us and to the kings after us, and if your children and heirs are natives of our kingdoms and married therein; and if the said government and title of adelantado shall descend to your son or heir after your death. We shall have your letters and privileges to this effect sent to you in proper form.

We also grant you grace and give you license and power, so that each year hereafter you may take and send, and you shall send, either in our vessels or in any others that you may prefer, to said islands and lands that you shall discover, as above, the value of one thousand ducats first cost. This is to be employed at your risk, and in the place and manner you may deem best. And you can sell this there and use it as you shall decide and desire. You shall bring the returns thereof to these kingdoms, paying us as our rights the twentieth part thereof, without being obliged to pay any other taxes whatsoever, those usually imposed or those which may be newly levied. It is to be understood, however, that this is to be after the return from the first voyage, not during the same.

Moreover, it is our will and pleasure that if the islands, which you shall discover in this manner, exceed six in number, having first chosen six [for us], you may assign to yourselves two of those that remain. Of these you shall have and take the fifteenth part of all the profit and gain of rent and rights pertaining to us, left clear, over and above the expenses involved.

Yten: We wish and it is our will and pleasure that, considering the expenses and labors involved by you on said voyage, to grant you grace—as we do by this present—that at the return of this first fleet and for this once you shall have and take the fifth part of whatever pertains to us in the things that you bring from those regions, which remains clear, over and above the expenses involved in the said fleet. In order that you may accomplish the aforesaid better, and that the necessary caution may be observed, I shall order five ships to be armed for you, two of one hundred and thirty tons, two of ninety and one of sixty tons, all to be sufficiently manned, provisioned, and armed. It should be known that said ships shall be provisioned for two years and shall have two hundred and thirty-four persons to manage them, counting masters, mariners, deck hands and all others necessary, according to the memorandum of the same. This we shall order to be put into effect immediately by our officials of the India House of Trade who reside in the city of Sevilla.

Because it is our will and pleasure that the aforesaid should be kept and complied with in every respect, we desire that, if, in the prosecution of the aforesaid, either of you should die, the contents of this present instrument shall be observed and fulfilled by the remaining one, and as faithfully as it must be kept, should both live. Furthermore, in order that there may be justice and a good account of the aforesaid, and the suitable caution as regards our estates, we are to appoint, and we shall appoint a treasurer, accountant, and clerks for said ships, who shall keep and record the account and calculation of every thing, and before [whom shall pass][2] and be delivered everything acquired by the said fleet.

This I promise you and I pledge on my royal faith and word that I will order it kept and observed in every particular, according to the contents herewith. I order this present instrument given, signed with my name. Given at Valladolid, March twenty-two, one thousand five hundred and eighteen. I, the King. By command of the King: Francisco de los Covos.

Then when you shall come to the city of Sevilla, you shall show our officials of the India House of Trade, residing there, the despatch which you bring concerning your said office, informing them fully and specifically of the method which you think you ought to employ in guarding the interests of our estates; also of the said voyage, and the contents of this instruction.

Yten: You will cause our accountant of said fleet to take note of everything spent and which will be spent in said fleet; everything in the cargo taken in the ships from the said city of Sevilla; and the wages and provisions, the merchandise carried, both that belonging to us, and that belonging to others who may supply anything for the furnishing and maintenance of the said fleet. You must see to it that a book is kept in which you will make entry of all that is loaded in the holds. These things must be marked with your mark, each different class of merchandise being by itself; and you must designate particularly what belongs to each person, because, as will be seen later, the profits must be allotted at so much to the pound, in order that there may be no fraud.

Yten: You will ask the said officials of Sevilla to give you, before the departure of said fleet, an inventory of all the merchandise and other articles placed on board, both on our account and for any other persons. Our accountant must put all this in the charge of our treasurer of said fleet, entry being made in the books of both, in order that, when, with the blessing of Our Lord, said fleet shall return, they may give an account and calculation of everything which can be easily verified and explained. And I order these latter to give you such account, so that whenever the said articles shall be bartered in the said lands and islands, during the bartering, the things bartered shall be unloaded in presence of the said treasurer, and he shall note everything bartered for them, and he shall do this, setting down everything fully and specifically.

Furthermore, as you will see, I have ordered certain merchants to place on board the said fleet the merchandise and articles to be sent for ransoms. These are they whom the father bishop of Búrgos, very reverend in Christ and a member of our council, may appoint to furnish the same to the amount of four thousand ducats, which after subtracting the twentieth part of the profits which God shall give to said fleet, must be used for the redemption of captives. The remainder is to be divided between us and said merchants, each of whom draws profit according to the number of pounds he has placed on board. Also in all the expenses of the said fleet, the wages and costs, both in the merchandise and other things, you must see to it that our accountant takes note of what is placed on board, in our name and in the names of others, so that the amount of the shares will be known and what is due us. You shall deliver everything to our said treasurer in the presence of our accountant, who shall enter it on his books, their names and yours being signed at each entry, so that in everything there may be due caution and the requisite clearness.

You shall also see to it carefully that the bartering and trading of said fleet is done to the greatest possible advantage to our estates, and that everything is delivered to said treasurer, said accountant of said fleet taking note, in your presence, in order to bring it to us. The aforesaid portion which belongs to us you shall deliver to our officials at Sevilla; that which is due to said merchants and other persons you shall give and deliver to them after the return of the said fleet to these kingdoms, according to the order given you as hereinbefore stated. In everything, you must take care that the said treasurer records in his book and in that of said accountant, stating what is delivered to him, and the results of the bartering, it being entered in his book and in that of the said accountant—every one being present at the entries in said books, in order that each division of said entries may correspond with that of the other book, no more in one book than in the other. This will be signed by you and by said treasurer and accountant, as before stated, in the manner and according to the order prescribed in this our instructions. We command this so that everything may be stated clearly and that requisite caution be exercised in regard to our estate.

Moreover, you must watch and see to it that all the rents belonging to us [in (?)—blank space in Alguns documentos] whatever manner, in said lands and islands that are discovered by said fleet, [whether (?)—blank space in Alguns documentos] in trade or in any other way; also the rents of the salt marshes which in the said islands and lands have belonged up to the present and will hereafter belong to us.

Yten: You shall see to it that our treasurer of the said fleet collect the fifth and other rights whatsoever belonging to us, of all and whatsoever bartering that be made or shall be made in the future in said islands and lands; also the slaves, guanins,[3] pearls, and precious stones, drugs, or spices and other things whatsoever that must be delivered and which belong to us, fulfilling that which is commanded to and agreed upon with the said captains, merchants, and other persons. You will see that said accountant entrusts this to said treasurer, as aforesaid, in your presence, observing therein the order as before stated.

Moreover you must see to it that the said treasurer shall receive all the fines that have been imposed and shall be imposed by our said captains and by any justice and person whatever, and that said accountant shall enter them in a separate book, in your presence.

Moreover, you must exercise much care and vigilance to see that our service is complied with and to effect what is proper for the colonization and pacification of the lands that are found. You will advise us fully and specifically of the manner in which our instructions and mandates are complied with in said islands and lands; of our justice; of the treatment of the natives of said lands, with whom you must be careful to use good faith and fulfil all that is promised—they must be treated most affectionately, both in order that they may be influenced to become good Christians, which is our principal desire, and that they may with good will serve us and be under our government, subjection, and friendship; how said captains and officers observe our instructions, and other matters of our service; and of everything else of which you think I should be informed, as I state and declare herein.

When, with the blessing of Our Lord, the fleet shall set sail, you together with our other said captains, inspector general, and officers shall write me of the departure and of the caution you are employing. [Blank space in Alguns documentos]. In the future whenever you write me of the events of the said voyage and of those matters concerning which you must inform me, you will all together write me in one letter, but if you think that I should be advised privately of anything which relates to our service, you may do so.

Moreover, you must treat our said captains and officials well since they are those to whom we have entrusted duties, and they shall do the same to you. For I am sure that they will serve us on this voyage and in the future as good and loyal subjects as they have shown themselves to be heretofore; and it is my will to show them favor and grace. All that you see which may be suitable for our service you must guide and direct, aiding in all possible way to serve us to the best of your ability.

Yten: When in due time you have arrived in the regions where said fleet shall discover, you must investigate and ascertain what land it is. If it should be a land where you must barter, you must first effect the bartering of the merchandise of the said fleet before attending to any other private interest, following the decision and opinion of our said officials of the said fleet. After bartering the belongings of the fleet, the officers and people may barter the other merchandise of which, according to this mandate, they shall pay us the fifth part.

Yten: As one of the principal things required in such voyages is concord among the persons in charge, you must see to it carefully that there may be unity and harmony among you, and our said captains, and other officials. If there should be any misunderstanding among them, they must desist from all differences, and you and your companions shall settle all such and prevent them from taking place. Do the same yourselves and all being in harmony the interests of our service will be better guarded, which if the contrary is observed, would not be the case. This I order and charge you because therein you will serve me well.

Moreover, although the offices of our captains and inspector, treasurer, and accountant of said fleet are independent of each other, in that which relates to the trust of each, inasmuch as it is convenient for the good of our service and the increase of our royal income, for the colonization and pacification of our lands, each one must keep account of what pertains to the office of the other. Inasmuch as the office you hold as inspector general of the said fleet is an office of great trust, and it is necessary that there be exercised therein much diligence, care, and vigilance, I order you to charge and entrust yourself with this trust because it is the one office of said fleet on which all the others depend. Even should there be any negligence in the other offices and should there be no such good foresight and caution as is proper, if you fulfil your duty, it would be less inconvenient. You must labor and endeavor with all your strength to observe the care and thoroughness in everything relating to your said office and necessary for our service with that care and diligence which I expect from you, so that there may be a good record and the proper caution.

Although it has not been before stated, you are to have a separate book in which you shall enter all the aforesaid. Nevertheless you must be present at all entries and sign the books of our treasurer and accountant of the said fleet, because (though God forbid), should any accident befall any of the ships in which the said officials sail, it were well that in everything there should be due caution and a record of it; and that, besides being always present you have a separate book. Therefore I order and charge you that this book be similar to and contain the same account of the affairs of the said fleet as the one kept by the said accountant. You will keep a separate book, in which you will set down the accounts of the treasurer as herein stated. You will cause said treasurer and accountant to sign also in your book; but you shall not, on this account, neglect to be present in all matters, and observe diligence in the books of the others, as before mentioned.

Furthermore, that we may be informed of all, when at good time you will arrive at those lands and islands for which the said fleet is bound, you shall make a book and full relation of everything you see and find there. When you are about to return you shall have five copies made of this, placing one copy in each ship, so that in case of accident to any one of the said ships there may be a full account of everything. You must also place in each ship a list of everything which the said fleet brings in each one of the ships, each list being identical and in accordance with your books. You must take care that the goods brought by said fleet be divided among all the ships, placing in each one the amount deemed proper by our captains and officials.

I charge and order you to do all this and more which you may consider advantageous to our service and to the good interest of our estates and of said fleet, with that diligence and fidelity which I expect from you.

Barcelona, the sixth day of the month of April, one thousand, five hundred and nineteen. I, the King. By command of the King: Francisco de los Covos.

[Endorsed: "Instructions to Cartagena."]

  1. The title given formerly to the governor of a province.
  2. The Portuguese transcriber was unable to decipher the original of the bracketed words. Navarrete, who prints these instructions to Magalhães and Falero, (Col. de Viages, tomo iv, pp. 116–121) reads this passage thus "quien se pase" and continues "é se asiente." Alguns Documentos reads "que..." and continues "& se entregue." The MS. in Torre do Tombo from which the Portuguese transcript was made read "q enpase," continuing as does the Portuguese version. It must be remembered that Navarrete took his copy from the original document (existing in Seville) of the agreement made with Magalhães and Falero, made March 22, 1518; this was included in the instructions given to Juan de Cartagena, the recipient of the present letter, and was doubtless copied from the original in Seville.
  3. A metal found by Columbus in the Isla Española. It is composed of 18 parts gold, 6 of silver, and 8 of copper.—Dic. de la Lengua Castellano.