« AnteriorContinuar »
destroy any vessels which might be found presuming to urge a commerce in that quarter.*
Immediately after the decision, a company was formed at Seville to prosecute the trade which had received so high and solemn a sanction, and Cabot was solicited to take the command.+ One of the parties to the association was Robert Thorne of Bristol, then resident in Spain, who with his partner was led into the adventure, “principally,” as he says, “ for that two English friends of mine which are somewhat learned in cosmographie, should go in the same ships to bring me certain relation of the country, and to be expert in the navigation of those seas. In September 1524, Cabot received from the council of the Indies permission to engage in the enterprise, and he proceeded to give bond to the Company for the faithful execution of his trust. His original request was, that four ships properly armed and equipped should be provided at the expense of the Treasury, while the Company on its part should supply the requisite funds for the commercial objects.|| The agreement with the emperor was executed at Madrid on 4th March 1525, and stipulated that a squadron of, at least, three vessels of not less than one hundred tons should be furnished, and one hundred and fifty
The title of Captain General was conferred on Cabot. The emperor was to receive from the Company four thousand ducats and a share of the profits.
It was proposed instead of pushing directly across the Pacific
* Peter Martyr, Dec. vi. cap. x. + Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. ix, cap. iii.
Hakluyt, vol. i. p. 215. We may conjecture one of these to have been Jorge Barlo, (George Barlow,) who, with another, brought to Spain Cabot's Despatch from the La Plata, (Herrera, Dec. iv. lib. iii. cap. i.)
s Peter Martyr, Dec. vii. cap. vi.
** Peter Martyr, Dec. vii. cap. vi. Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. ix. cap. iii. Gomara says two hundred and fifty, but his assertion has no weight against the concurring testimony of the two Historians cited, one a member of the Council, and the other referring to official documents.
after penetrating through the Strait, as Magellan had done, to proceed deliberately and explore on every side, particularly the western coast of the Continent.*
The arrangement at first was, that the expedition should sail in August, 1525;t but it was delayed by circumstances to which it may be proper now to advert as bearing on its ultimate fate.
* Peter Martyr, Dec. vii. cap. vi.
JEALOUSY OF THE CONTEMPLATED EXPEDITION ON THE PART OF PORTUGAL
MISSION OF DIEGO GARCIA, A PORTUGUESE.
In order to understand fully the circumstances which conspired to throw vexatious obstacles in the way of the expedition, and in the end to defeat its main object, we must go back to the voyage of Magellan that first opened to Spain a direct communication with those regions of which Portugal had before monopolised the lucrative commerce.
No sooner did the project of that intrepid navigator become known in Portugal than the utmost alarm was excited. Remonstrances were addressed to the government of Spain; threats and entreaties were alternately used to terrify or to soothe the navigator himself, and assassination was openly spoken of as not unmerited by so nefarious a purpose. Finding these efforts vain, a tone of bitter derision was adopted.
The Portuguese said, that the king of Castile was incurring, an idle expense, inasmuch as Magellan was an empty boaster, without the least solidity of character, who would never accomplish what he had undertaken.”
Had Magellan perished a month earlier than he did, these contemptuous sneers would have passed into history as descriptive of his real character. There is every reason to believe, that he fell a victim to the treachery infused into the expedition; and the pilot, Estevan Gomez, who openly urged retreat after a conside
* Decian los Portugueses que el Rei de Castilla perderia el gasto porque Hernando de Magallanes era hombre hablador, i de poca substancia, i que no saldria con lo que prometia.” Herrera, Dec. ii. lib. iv. cap. X.
able progress had been made in the Strait, was, we know, a Por
The conduct of the Portuguese authorities to the surviving vessels was marked by cruelty and rapacity; and even the gentle spirit of Peter Martyr breathes indignation. Official notice was received that the ship Trinity, had been captured and plundered by the Portuguese, and that this had been followed up by their going to the Moluccas, taking possession of them, and seizing property of every description.
“The Pilots and King's servants who are safely returned, say that both robberies and pillage exceed the value of two hundred thousand ducats, but Christophorus de Haro especially, the General director of this aromatical negociation, under the name of Factor, confirmeth the same. Our Senate yieldeth great credit to this man. He gave me the names of all the five ships that accompanied the Victory, and of all the Mariners, and mean Officers whatso
And in our Senate assembled he shewed why he assigned that value of the booty or prey, because he particularly declared how much spices the Trinity brought.
“It may be doubted what Cæsar will do in such a case. I think he will dissemble the matter for a while, by reason of the renewed affinity, yet though they were twins of one birth, it were hard to suffer this injurious loss to pass unpunished.”+
In reference to the voyage of Cabot, the alarm of the Portuguese would seem to have been yet more serious ; for they saw in it not a doubtful experiment, but a well concerted commercial enterprise. The emperor was besieged with importunities; the King of Portugal representing that it would be “the utter destruction of his poor kingdom,” to have his monopoly of this trade invaded. The honest historian is persuaded, that though a tie of consanguinity existed between the two monarchs by their common descent from Ferdinand and Isabella, and though the Emperor had given his sister Catherine "a most delicate young lady of seventeen,” in marriage to the King of Portugal, a step injurious to the kingdom of Castile, the chief sinews of his power,”
* Herrera, Dec. ii. lib. ix. cap. xv. † Peter Martyr, Dec. viii. cap. X.
Purchas, vol. i. B. i. ch. ii.
* Peter Martyr, Dec. vii. cap. vii.
as the arrest of the expedition, would not be taken.* So far as endearing domestic ties could influence such a matter, the apprehension here implied was to be yet further increased. tiation was going on for the Emperor's marriage to Isabella, the sister of the King of Portugal, and the ceremony took place in March, 1526. The dowry received was nine hundred thousand crowns, and rumours, in the course of the treaty, were current that one of the articles of the double alliance stipulated an abandonment of the Moluccas. Passing onward with the subject, it may be stated that early in 1529 the Emperor relieved himself from all difficulty by mortgaging the Moluccas to the King of Portugal for three hundred and fifty thousand ducats, with the right of exclusive trade until redemption.t This step excited the utmost disgust in Spain, and it was openly said that he had better have mortgaged Estremadura itself. He would listen, however, to no representations on the subject. A proposition having been made to
pay off the whole of the mortgage money, on condition that the applicants should have six years enjoyment of the trade, the Emperor, then in Flanders, not only rejected the offer, but sent a message of rebuke to the council for having entertained it. Aside from private feelings, he doubtless, as a politician, thought it unwise to put in peril an alliance so intimate and assured for any commercial purpose unconnected with the schemes of ambition by which he was engrossed.
Matters, however, had not reached this crisis before Cabot sailed ; and the intense anxiety of Portugal could, therefore, look only to the indirect efforts at frustration, for which the intimate relations of the two countries might afford opportunities.
In all the accounts of Cabot's enterprise given by the Spanish historians, reference is found to an expedition under the command of a Portuguese,I named Diego Garcia, which left Spain shortly
* Peter Martyr, Dec. vii. cap. vii. + Herrera, Dec. iv. lib. v. cap. x.
Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. x. cap. i.