26th of December, 1519

We remained thirteen days in this country of Verzin, and, departing from it and following our course, we went as far as thirty-four degrees and a third towards the antarctic pole; there we found, near a river, men whom they call “cannibals,”[37] who eat human flesh, and one of these men, great as a giant, came to the captain’s ship to ascertain and ask if the others might come. This man had a voice like a bull, and whilst this man was at the ship his companions carried off all their goods which they had to a castle further off, from fear of us. Seeing that, we landed a hundred men from the ships, and went after them to try and catch some others; however they gained in running away. This kind of people did more with one step than we could do at a bound. In this same river there were seven little islands, and in the largest of them precious stones are found. This place was formerly called the Cape of St. Mary, and it was thought there that from thence there was a passage to the Sea of Sur; that is to say, the South Sea. And it is not found that any ship has ever discovered anything more, having passed beyond the said cape. And now it is no longer a cape, but it is a river which has a mouth seventeen leagues in width, by which it enters into the sea. In past time, in this river, these great men named Canibali ate a Spanish captain, named John de Sola,[38] and sixty men who had gone to discover land, as we were doing, and trusted too much to them.

Afterwards following the same course towards the Antarctic pole, going along the land, we found two islands full of geese and goslings, and sea wolves, of which geese the large number could not be reckoned; for we loaded all the five ships with them in an hour. These geese are black, and have their feathers all over the body of the same size and shape, and they do not fly, and live upon fish; and they were so fat that they did not pluck them, but skinned them. They have beaks like that of a crow. The sea wolves of these two islands are of many colours, and of the size and thickness of a calf, and have a head like that of a calf, and the ears small and round. They have large teeth, and have no legs, but feet joining close on to the body, which resemble a human hand; they have small nails to their feet, and skin between the fingers like geese. If these animals could run they would be very bad and cruel, but they do not stir from the water, and swim and live upon fish. In this place we endured a great storm, and thought we should have been lost, but the three holy bodies, that is to say, St. Anselmo, St. Nicolas, and Sta. Clara, appeared to us, and immediately the storm ceased.

13th of December, 1519

After that we had passed the equinoctial line, towards the south, we lost the star of the tramontana, and we navigated between the south and Garbin, which is the collateral wind [or point] between south and west; and we crossed as far as a country named Verzin, which is in twenty-four degrees and a half of the antarctic sky. This country is from the cape St. Augustine, which is in eight degrees in the antarctic sky. At this place we had refreshments of victuals, like fowls and meat of calves,[20] also a variety of fruits, called battate, pigne (pine-apples), sweet, of singular goodness, and many other things, which I have omitted mentioning, not to be too long. The people of the said place gave, in order to have a knife, or a hook[21] for catching fish, five or six fowls, and for a comb they gave two geese, and for a small mirror, or a pair of scissors, they gave so much fish that ten men could have eaten of it. And for a bell (or hawk’s-bell)[22] they gave a full basket[23] of the fruit named battate; this has the taste of a chestnut, and is of the length of a shuttle.[24] For a king of cards, of that kind which they used to play with in Italy, they gave me five fowls, and thought they had cheated me. We entered into this port the day of Saint Lucy[25] [13th December], before Christmas, on which day we had the sun on the zenith,[26] which is a term of astrology. This zenith is a point in the sky, according to astrologers, and only in imagination, and it answers to over our head in a straight line, as may be seen by the treatise of the sphere,[27] and by Aristotle, in the first book, De Cœlo et Mondo. On the day that we had the sun in the zenith we felt greater heat, as much as when we were on the equinoctial line.

The said country of Verzin is very abundant in all good things, and is larger than France, Spain, and Italy together. It is one of the countries which the King of Portugal has conquered [acquired]. Its inhabitants are not Christians, and adore nothing, but live according to the usage of nature, rather bestially than otherwise. Some of these people live a hundred, or a hundred and twenty, or a hundred and forty years, and more; they go naked, both men and women. Their dwellings are houses that are rather long, and which they call “boy”; they sleep upon cotton nets, which they call, in their language, “amache.” These nets are fastened to large timbers from one end of their house to the other. They make the fire to warm themselves right under their bed. It is to be known that in each of these houses, which they call “boy,” there dwells a family of a hundred persons, who make a great noise. In this place they have boats, which are made of a tree, all in one piece, which they call “canoo.” These are not made with iron instruments, for they have not got any, but with stones, like pebbles, and with these they plane[28] and dig out these boats. Into these thirty or forty men enter, and their oars are made like iron shovels: and those who row these oars are black people, quite naked and shaven, and look like enemies of hell. The men and women of this said place are well made in their bodies. They eat the flesh of their enemies, not as good meat, but because they have adopted this custom. Now this custom arose as follows: an old woman of this place of Verzin had an only son, who was killed by his enemies, and, some days afterwards, the friends of this woman captured one of the said enemies who had put her son to death, and brought him to where she was. Immediately the said old woman, seeing the man who was captured, and recollecting the death of her child, rushed upon him like a mad dog, and bit him on the shoulder. However, this man who had been taken prisoner found means to run away, and told how they had wished to eat him, showing the bite which the said old woman had made in his shoulder. After that those who were caught on one side or other were eaten. Through that arose this custom in this place of eating the enemies of each other. But they do not eat up the whole body of the man whom they take prisoner; they eat him bit by bit, and for fear that he should be spoiled, they cut him up into pieces, which they set to dry in the chimney, and every day they cut a small piece, and eat it with their ordinary victuals in memory of their enemies. I was assured that this custom was true by a pilot, named John Carvagio, who was in our company, and had remained four years in this place; it is also to be observed that the inhabitants of this place, both men and women, are accustomed to paint themselves with fire, all over the body, and also the face. The men are shaven, and wear no beard, because they pluck it out themselves, and for all clothing they wear a circle surrounded with the largest feathers of parrots,[29] and they only cover their posterior parts, which is a cause of laughter and mockery. The people of this place, almost all, excepting[30] women and children, have three holes in the lower lip, and carry, hanging in them, small round stones, about a finger in length. These kind of people, both men and women, are not very black, but rather brown,[31] and they openly show their shame, and have no hair on the whole of their bodies. The king of this country is called Cacich, and there are here an infinite number of parrots, of which they give eight or ten for a looking-glass; there are also some little cat-monkeys[32] having almost the appearance of a lion; they are yellow, and handsome, and agreeable to look at. The people of this place make bread, which is of a round shape, and they take the marrow of certain trees which are there, between the bark and the tree, but it is not at all good, and resembles fresh cheese. There are also some pigs which have their navel on the back,[33] and large birds which have their beak like a spoon, and they have no tongue. For a hatchet or for a knife they used to give us one or two of their daughters as slaves, but their wives they would not give up for anything in the world. According to what they say the women of this place never render duty to their husbands by day, but only at night; they attend to business out of doors, and carry all that they require for their husband’s victuals inside small baskets on their heads; or fastened to their heads. Their husbands go with them, and carry a bow of vergin,[34] or of black palm, with a handful of arrows of cane. They do this because they are very jealous of their wives. These carry their children fastened to their neck, and they are inside a thing made of cotton in the manner of a net. I omit relating many other strange things, not to be too prolix; however, I will not forget to say that mass was said twice on shore, where there were many people of the said country, who remained on their knees, and their hands joined in great reverence, during the mass, so that it was a pleasure and a subject of compassion to see them. In a short time they built a house for us, as they imagined that we should remain a long time with them, and, at our departure thence, they gave us a large quantity of verzin. It is a colour which proceeds from the trees which are in this country, and they are in such quantity that the country is called from it Verzin.

It is to be known that it happened that it had not rained for two months before we came there, and the day that we arrived it began to rain, on which account the people of the said place said that we came from heaven, and had brought the rain with us, which was great simplicity, and these people were easily converted to the Christian faith. Besides the above-mentioned things which were rather simple, the people of this country showed us another, very simple; for they imagined that the small ships’ boats were the children of the ships, and that the said ships brought them forth when the boats were hoisted out to send the men hither and thither; and when the boats were alongside the ship they thought that the ships were giving them suck.

A beautiful young girl came one day inside the ship of our captain, where I was, and did not come except to seek for her luck: however, she directed her looks to the cabin of the master, and saw a nail of a finger’s length, *and went and took it as something valuable and new, and hid it in her hair, for otherwise she would not have been able to conceal[35]it, because she was naked,* and, bending forwards, she went away; and the captain and I saw this mystery.[36]

Some Words of this People of Verzin.

Milan Edition.
Millet – Au mil – Maize.
Flour – Farine – Huy.
A hook – Ung haim – Pinda.
A knife – Ung coutteau – Taesse – Tarse.
A comb – Ung peigne – Chignap – Chipag.
A fork – Une forcette – Pirarne.
A bell – Une sonnette – Itemnaraca – Hanmaraca.
Good, more than good – Bon, plus que bon turn maraghatorn.

3rd of October, 1519

Monday, the third of October of the said year, at the hour of midnight, we set sail, making the course auster, which the levantine mariners call Siroc,[15] entering into the ocean sea. We passed the Cape Verd and the neighbouring islands in fourteen-and-a-half degrees, and we navigated for several days by the coast of Guinea or Ethiopia; where there is a mountain called Sierra Leona, which is in eight degrees latitude according to the art and science of cosmography and astrology. Sometimes we had the wind contrary and at other times sufficiently good, and rains without wind. In this manner we navigated with rain for the space of sixty days until the equinoctial line, which was a thing very strange and unaccustomed to be seen, according to the saying of some old men and those who had navigated here several times. Nevertheless, before reaching this equinoctial line we had in fourteen degrees a variety of weather and bad winds, as much on account of squalls as for the head winds and currents which came in such a manner that we could no longer advance. In order that our ships might not perish nor broach to[16] (as it often happens when the squalls come together), we struck our sails, and in that manner we went about the sea hither and thither until the fair weather came. During the calm there came large fishes near the ships which they called Tiburoni (sharks), which have teeth of a terrible kind, and eat people when they find them in the sea either alive or dead. These fishes are caught with a device which the mariners call hamc, which is a hook of iron. Of these, some were caught by our men. However, they are worth nothing to eat when they are large; and even the small ones are worth but little. During these storms the body of St. Anselme appeared to us several times; amongst others, one night that it was very dark on account of the bad weather, the said saint appeared in the form of a fire lighted at the summit of the mainmast,[17] and remained there near two hours and a half, which comforted us greatly, for we were in tears, only expecting the hour of perishing; and when that holy light was going away from us it gave out so great a brilliancy in the eyes of each, that we were near a quarter-of-an-hour like people blinded, and calling out for mercy. For without any doubt nobody hoped to escape from that storm. It is to be noted that all and as many times as that light which represents the said St. Anselme shows itself and descends upon a vessel which is in a storm at sea, that vessel never is lost. Immediately that this light had departed the sea grew calmer, and then we saw divers sorts of birds, amongst others there were some which had no fundament.[18] There is also another kind of bird of such a nature that when the female wishes to lay her eggs she goes and lays them on the back of the male, and there it is that the eggs are hatched. This last kind have no feet and are always in the sea. There is another kind of bird which only lives on the droppings of the other birds, this is a true thing, and they are named Cagaselo, for I have seen them follow the other birds until they had done what nature ordered them to do; and after it has eat this dirty diet it does not follow any other bird until hunger returns to it; it always does the same thing.[19]There are also fish which fly, and we saw a great quantity of them together, so many that it seemed that it was an island in the sea.

20th of September, 1519

Tuesday, the 20th September of the said year,[13] we set sail from St. Lucar, making the course of the south-west otherwise named Labeiche;[14] and on the twenty-sixth of the said month we arrived at an island of great Canaria, named Teneriphe, which is in twenty-eight degrees latitude; there we remained three days and a half to take in provisions and other things which were wanted. After that we set sail thence and came to a port named Monterose, where we sojourned two days to supply ourselves with pitch, which is a thing necessary for ships. It is to be known that among the other isles which are at the said great Canaria, there is one, where not a drop of water is to be found proceeding from a fountain or a river, only once a day at the hour of midday, there descends a cloud from the sky which envelops a large tree which is in this island, and it falls upon the leaves of the tree, and a great abundance of water distils from these leaves, so that at the foot of the tree there is so large a quantity of water that it seems as if there was an ever-running fountain. The men who inhabit this place are satisfied with this water; also the animals, both domestic and wild, drink of it.

10th of August, 1519

Monday, the day of St. Laurence, the 10th of August, in the year above mentioned, the fleet, provided with what was necessary for it, and carrying crews of different nations, to the number of two hundred and thirty-seven men in all the five ships, was ready to set sail from the mole of Seville; and firing all the artillery, we made sail only on the foremast, and came to the end of a river named Betis, which is now called Guadalcavir. In going along this river we passed by a place named Gioan de Farax, where there was[12] a large population of Moors, and there was a bridge over the river by which one went to Seville. This bridge was ruined, however there had remained two columns which are at the bottom of the water, on which account it is necessary to have people of the country of experience and knowledge to point out the convenient spot for safely passing between these two columns, from fear of striking against them. Besides that, it is necessary in order to pass safely by this bridge and by other places on this river, that the water should be rather high. After having passed the two columns we came to another place named Coria, and passing by many little villages lying along the said river, at last we arrived at a castle, which belongs to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, named St. Lucar, where there is a port from which to enter the ocean sea. It is entered by the east wind and you go out by the west wind. Near there is the cape of St. Vincent, which, according to cosmography, is in thirty-seven degrees of latitude, at twenty miles distance from the said port; and from the aforesaid town to this port by the river there are thirty-five or forty miles. A few days afterwards the captain-general came along the said river with his boat, and the masters of the other ships with him, and we remained some days in this port to supply the fleet with some necessary things. We went every day to hear mass on shore, at a church named Our Lady of Barrameda, towards St. Lucar. There the captain commanded that all the men of the fleet should confess before going on any further, in which he himself showed the way to the others. Besides he did not choose that anyone should bring any married woman, or others to the ships, for several good considerations.

20th of October 1518

[This portion is undated, serving as prologue to the actual commencement of the voyage on August 10, 1519]


Anthony Pigapheta, Patrician of Vicenza, and Knight of

Rhodes, to the very illustrious and very excellent

Lord Philip de Villiers Lisleaden, the famous

Grand Master of Rhodes, his most

respected Lord.[1]

Since there are several curious persons (very illustrious and very reverend lord) who not only are pleased to listen to and learn the great and wonderful things which God has permitted me to see and suffer in the long and perilous navigation, which I have performed (and which is written hereafter), but also they desire to learn the methods and fashions of the road which I have taken in order to go thither, [and who do] not grant firm belief to the end unless they are first well advised and assured of the commencement. Therefore, my lord, it will please you to hear that finding myself in Spain in the year of the Nativity of our Lord, one thousand five hundred and nineteen, at the court of the most serene king[2] of the Romans, with the reverend lord, Mons. Francis Cheregato,[3] then apostolic proto-notary, and ambassador of the Pope Leon the Tenth, who, through his virtue, afterwards arrived at the bishoprick of Aprutino and the principality of Theramo, and knowing both by the reading of many books and by the report of many lettered and well-informed persons who conversed with the said proto-notary, the very great and awful things of the ocean, I deliberated, with the favour of the Emperor and the above-named lord, to experiment and go and see with my eyes a part of those things. By which means I could satisfy the desire of the said lords, and mine own also. So that it might be said that I had performed the said voyage, and seen well with my eyes the things hereafter written.

Now in order to decypher the commencement of my voyage (very illustrious lord); having heard that there was in the city of Seville, a small armade to the number of five ships, ready to perform this long voyage, that is to say, to find the islands of Maluco, from whence the spices come: of which armade the captain-general was Fernand de Magaglianes, a Portuguese gentleman, commander of St. James of the Sword, who had performed several voyages in the ocean sea (in which he had behaved very honourably as a good man), I set out with many others in my favour from Barcelona, where at the time the Emperor was, and came by sea as far as Malaga, and thence I went away by land until I arrived at the said city of Seville. There I remained for the space of three months, waiting till the said armade was in order and readiness to perform its voyage. And because (very illustrious lord) that on the return from the said voyage, on going to Rome towards the holiness of our Holy Father,[4] I found your lordship at Monterosa,[5] where of your favour you gave me a good reception, and afterwards gave me to understand that you desired to have in writing the things which God of His grace had permitted me to see in my said voyage; therefore to satisfy and accede to your desire,[6] I have reduced into this small book the principal things, in the best manner that I have been able.

Finally (very illustrious lord), after all provisions had been made, and the vessels were in order, the captain-general, a discreet and virtuous man, careful of his honour, would not commence his voyage without first making some good and wholesome ordinances, such as it is the good custom to make for those who go to sea. Nevertheless he did not entirely declare the voyage which he was going to make, so that his men should not from amazement and fear be unwilling to accompany him on so long a voyage, as he had undertaken in his intention. Considering the great and impetuous storms[7] which are on the ocean sea, where I wished to go; and for another reason also, that is to say that the masters and captains of the other ships of his company did not love him: of this I do not know the reason, except by cause of his, the captain-general, being Portuguese, and they were Spaniards or Castilians, who for a long time have been in rivalry and ill will with one another. Notwithstanding this all were obedient to him. He made his ordinances such as those which follow, so that during the storms at sea, which often come on by night and day, his ships should not go away and separate from one another. These ordinances he published and made over in writing to each master of the ships, and commanded them to be observed and inviolably kept, unless there were great and legitimate excuses, and appearance of not having been able to do otherwise.

Firstly, the said captain-general willed that the vessel in which he himself was should go before the other vessels, and that the others should follow it; therefore he carried by night on the poop of his ship a torch or faggot of burning wood, which they called farol, which burned all the night, so that his ships should not lose sight of him. Sometimes he set a lantern, sometimes a thick cord of reeds[8] was lighted, which was called trenche.[9] This is made of reeds well soaked in the water, and much beaten, then they are dried in the sun or in the smoke, and it is a thing very suitable for such a matter. When the captain had made one of his signals to his people, they answered in the same way. In that manner they knew whether the ships were following and keeping together or not. And when he wished to take a tack on account of the change of weather, or if the wind was contrary, or if he wished to make less way, he had two lights shown; and if he wished the others to lower their small sail,[10] which was a part of the sail attached to the great sail, he showed three lights. Also by the three lights, notwithstanding that the wind was fair for going faster, he signalled that the studding sail should be lowered; so that the great sail might be quicker and more easily struck and furled when bad weather should suddenly set in, on account of some squall[11] or otherwise. Likewise when the captain wished the other ships to lower the sail he had four lights shown, which shortly after he had put out and then showed a single one, which was a signal that he wished to stop there and turn, so that the other ships might do as he did. Withal, when he discovered any land, or shoal, that is to say, a rock at sea, he made several lights be shown or had a bombard fired off. If he wished to make sail, he signalled to the other ships with four lights, so that they should do as he did, and follow him. He always carried this said lantern suspended to the poop of his vessel. Also when he wished the studding sail to be replaced with the great sail, he showed three lights. And to know whether all the ships followed him and were coming together, he showed one light only besides the fanol, and then each of the ships showed another light, which was an answering signal.

Besides the above-mentioned ordinances for carrying on seamanship as is fitting, and to avoid the dangers which may come upon those who do not keep watch, the said captain, who was expert in the things required for navigation, ordered that three watches should be kept at night. The first was at the beginning of the night, the second at midnight, and the third towards break of day, which is commonly called La diane, otherwise the star of the break of day. Every night these watches were changed; that is to say, he who had kept the first watch, on the following day kept the second, and he who had kept the second kept the third; and so on they changed continually every night. The said captain commanded that his regulations both for the signals and the watches should be well observed, so that their voyage should be made with greater security. The crews of this fleet were divided into three companies; the first belonged to the captain, the second to the pilot or nochier, and the third to the master. These regulations having been made, the captain-general deliberated on sailing, as follows.