The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898/Volume 1/Preface


The history of the Philippine archipelago is fitly introduced by presenting a group of documents which relate to Pope Alexander VI's Line of Demarcation between the respective dominions of Spain and Portugal in the recently-discovered New World. So many controversies regarding this line have at various times arisen, and so little on the subject has appeared in the English tongue, that we have thought it well to place before our readers the more important of the documents relating thereto, of which a brief synopsis is here given.

They begin with Alexander's Bulls—two dated on the third and one on the fourth day of May, 1493. The first of these (commonly known as Inter cætera) grants to Spain all the lands in the West, recently discovered or yet to be discovered, which are hitherto unknown, and not under the dominion of any Christian prince. The second (Eximiæ devotionis, also dated May 3) grants to Spain the same rights in those discoveries which had formerly been conferred on Portugal in Africa. These grants are superseded by the Bull of May 4 (Inter cætera), which establishes the Demarcation Line, and grants to Spain all lands west and south thereof which were not already in the possession of any Christian prince. Still another Bull (dated September 25 of the same year) authorizes Spain to extend her sovereignty also over lands which shall be discovered to the East, including India—thus practically annulling both the Demarcation Line and previous concessions to Portugal. The latter power's remonstrances against this infringement of her former rights lead to the Treaty of Tordesillas (June 7, 1494), in which, by mutual agreement between the sovereigns, a new line of demarcation is established to be drawn two hundred and seventy leagues farther west than that of Alexander VI; and another document (dated April 15, 1495) makes suitable arrangements for a scientific and equitable determination of this boundary. The final action of the Holy See in this matter is indicated by a Bull of Leo X (Præcelsæ, dated November 3, 1514) granted to Portugal; it confirms all previous papal gifts to that power of lands in the East, and grants to her both past and future discoveries and conquests, there and elsewhere. Disputes arising between Spain and Portugal over the ownership of the Moluccas or Spice Islands (see letters of Cárlos I to his ambassadors at Lisbon, February 4 and December 18, 1523; and the treaty of Vitoria, February 19, 1524), the Junta of Badajoz is convened (April 11–May 31, 1524) to settle this question; and that body fixes the Line of Demarcation three hundred and seventy leagues west of San Antonio, the most westerly of the Cape Verde Islands. (In this connection are presented the opinions of Hernando Colon, Sebastian Cabot, and other competent judges; and letters from Cárlos I to the Spanish deputies.) This settlement proving ineffectual, the Moluccas are relinquished to Portugal by the treaty of Zaragoza (April 22, 1529), Spain retaining possession of the Philippine Islands, although the terms of that treaty placed them outside of her jurisdiction.

Reverting to a somewhat earlier date, we note incidentally the Bull of Alexander VI (Eximiæ, November 16, 1501) which authorizes the Spanish monarchs to levy tithes on the natives and inhabitants of their newly-acquired possessions in the western world; and proceed to a summary of the life and voyages of Fernão de Magalhães (commonly known as Magellan). Synopses are given of many documents published by Navarrete, dated from 1518 to 1527: a contract by Magalhães and Falero to deliver to the House of Commerce of Seville one-eighth of all gains accruing to them from their future discoveries; a petition from the same men to Cárlos I regarding the expedition which they are about to undertake; remonstrances against the undertaking, by the Portuguese ambassador in Spain; Magalhães's request for more money; various appointments in the fleet; restriction of the number of seamen; instructions to Magalhães; a royal order that Ruy Falero shall not accompany the expedition; Magalhães's last will; the expense account of the fleet; an attempted mutiny on one of the ships; Francisco Albo's journal of Magalhães's voyage; description of the cargo brought back to Spain by the "Victoria;" investigation of Magalhães's death; treaties with the natives of the Moluccas; advice given to the emperor by Diego de Barbosa; Brito's account of Magalhães's voyage; and the confiscation of two of his ships by the Portuguese.

This résumé is followed by various supplementary documents. A royal mandate (March 22, 1518) authorizes Falero and Magalhães to undertake their expedition of discovery. A letter from Cárlos to King Manuel of Portugal (February 28, 1519) assures him that nothing in this enterprise is intended to infringe upon Portuguese rights. A document written (April 6, 1519) to Juan de Cartagena, appointed inspector-general of Magalhães's fleet, gives detailed instructions as to his duties in that office, especially in regard to the equipment of the fleet, its trading operations in the Orient, the royal share of profits to be derived therefrom, and the current accounts of the enterprise; he is also charged with the necessary arrangements for the colonization of lands to be discovered, and commanded to furnish to the King information as to the treatment of the natives by their Spanish conquerors, and the general conduct of the officers of the expedition, etc. The fleet is ordered (April 19, 1519) to proceed directly to the Spice Islands, and all persons belonging to it are exhorted to obey Magalhães. A letter (1522) to the King of Spain gives information about Magalhães's death, obtained from some Spanish ship-boys who had found their way to the Portuguese posts in India. The earliest published account of this noted expedition is the letter written (October 24, 1522) to Matthæus Lang, archbishop of Salzburg, by a natural son of his named Maximilian Transylvanus (then a student at Valladolid), relating the events of Magallanes's voyage to the Moluccas (1519–21), his death at the hands of hostile natives, and the further experiences of his followers in the Philippine archipelago and on their homeward voyage. The small remnant of this expedition—the ship "Victoria," and eighteen men—reach Spain on September 6, 1522, the first persons thus completing the circumnavigation of the globe.

At this point should appear in the present series the relation of Magalhães's voyage written by Antonio Pigafetta, who himself accompanied the great discoverer. Printed books gave Pigafetta's relation in abridged form, in both French and Italian, as early as 1525 and 1536 respectively; but apparently his own original work has never hitherto been adequately presented to the world. The Editors of the present series, desiring to supply this deficiency, purpose to publish an exact transcription from Pigafetta's original manuscript, with accompanying English translation. They have not, however, been able to secure it in time for Volume II, where it should appear; it will accordingly be presented to their readers at a later period in this work.[1]

The Editors

  1. This work is reproduced in vol. XXXIII. (Wikisource contributor note)