21st of December, 1521

Saturday, the 2lst December, day of St. Thomas the Apostle, the King of Tadore came to the ships and brought us the two pilots, whom we had already paid, to conduct us out of these islands. They said that the weather was then good for sailing at once, but, having to wait for the letters of our companions who remained behind, and who wished to write to Spain, we could not sail till midday. Then the ships took leave of one another by a mutual discharge of bombards. Our men accompanied us for some distance with their boat, and then with tears and embraces we separated. Juan Carvalho remained at Tadore with fifty-three of our men; we were forty-seven Europeans and thirteen Indians.

The king’s governor[248] came with us as far as the island of Mare: we had hardly arrived there when four prahus laden with wood came up, which in less than an hour we got on board. We then took the south-west course.

In all the above-mentioned islands of Maluco are to be found cloves, ginger, sagu, which is their bread made of wood, rice, cocoa-nuts, plantains, almonds larger than ours, sweet and bitter pomegranates, sugar-canes, oil of cocoa and of sesame, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, comilicai,[249] which is a refreshing fruit the size of a water-melon, another fruit like a peach called guave, and other eatable vegetables. They also have goats and fowls, honey produced by bees not larger than ants, which make their hives in trunks of trees. There are also parrots of many kinds, and amongst them there are white ones called Catara, and red ones called Nori, which are the most sought after, not so much for the beauty of their plumage, as because they talk more clearly. One of these is sold for a bahar of cloves.

It is hardly fifty years since the Moors conquered Maluco and dwelt there. Before that, these islands were inhabited only by Gentiles, who did not care for the cloves. There are still some families of them who have taken refuge in the mountains, where the cloves grow.

The island of Tadore is in 0 deg. 27 min. North latitude, and 161 deg. west of the line of demarcation;[250] it is 9 deg. 30 min. distant from the first island of this archipelago, named Zamal, to the south-east and a quarter south. The island of Tarenate is in 0 deg. 40 min. of N. latitude. Mutir is exactly under the equinoctial line. Machian is in 0 deg. 15 min. S. latitude, and Bachian in 1 deg. of the same latitude. Tarenate, Tadore, Mutir, and Machian, are like four high and pointed mountains,[251] upon which the clove trees grow. Bachian is not visible from these four islands, but it is a larger island than any of those. Its clove mountain is not so high nor so pointed as those of the other islands, but it has a larger base.


(Book IV of the Milan Edition.)

Return from the Moluccas to Spain

Pursuing our voyage, after having taken in wood at the islet of Mare, we passed between the following islands:—Caioan, Laigoma, Sico, Giogi, Cafi, Laboan [252]Toliman, Titameti, Bachian, Latalata, Jabobi, Mata, and Batutiga. They told us that in the island of Cafi the people were small and dwarfed like the Pigmies; they have been subjected by force by the King of Tadore. We passed outside of Batutiga to the west, and we steered between west and south-west, and we discovered some islets to the south, on which account the pilots of Maluco said it would be better to cast anchor so as not to drift at night among many islets and shoals. We, therefore, altered our course to south-east, and went to an island situated in 2 deg. S. latitude, and fifty-three leagues from Maluco.

This island is named Sulach;[253] its inhabitants are Gentiles, and have not got a king. They eat human flesh; both men and women go naked, except a piece of the bark of a tree of two fingers’ breath before their natural parts. There are many other islands around here inhabited by anthropophagi. These are the names of some of them:—Silan, Noselao, Biga, Atulabaon, Leitimor, Tenetum, Gonda, Kailaruru, Mandan and Benaia.[254] We left to the east the islands named Lamatola and Tenetum.

Having run ten leagues from Sulach in the same direction, we went to a rather large island named Buru, in which we found plenty of victuals, such as pigs, goats, fowls, sugar-canes, cocoa-nuts, sagu, a certain food of theirs made of bananas called kanali,and chiacare, which here they call Nanga.[255]The chiacare are fruit like water-melons, but knotty on the outside; inside they have some small red fruit like plums, they have not got a stone in the middle, but instead of that have a certain pith like a white bean, but larger, they are tender to eat like chestnuts. We found here another fruit which externally is like a pine cone, and it is yellow, but white inside; on cutting, it is something like a pear, but much softer and better tasted. Here it is called comilicai. The inhabitants of this island are Gentiles, and have no king: they go naked like those of Sulach. The island of Buru is in 3 deg. 30 min. S. latitude, and seventy-five leagues from Maluco.

To the east of this island, at a distance of ten leagues, there is another one larger, and which borders on Giailolo, and it is named Ambon.[256] It is inhabited by Moors and Gentiles, but the former are on the sea shore, and the others in the interior; these are also anthropophagi. The products of this island are the same as those of Buru. Between Buru and Ambon, there are three islands surrounded by reefs named Vudia, Kailaruru and Benaia. To the south of Buru, at a distance of four leagues, is another small island named Ambalao.

At thirty-five leagues from Buru, south and a quarter south-west, is Bandan, with thirteen other islands. In six of them grow mace and nutmeg. Zoroboa is the largest of them, Chelicel, Saniananpi, Pulai, Puluru, and Rasoghin, the other six are Unuveru, Pulanbaracan, Lailaca, Mamica, Man, and Meut. In these islands nutmegs are not found, but only sagu, rice, cocoanuts, bananas, and other fruits, and they are near one another. The inhabitants of these are Moors, and have no king. Bandan is in 6 deg. of S. latitude, and 163 deg. 30 min. longitude from the line of demarcation. As this island was a little out of our course, we did not go to it.

Leaving the island of Buru in the direction south-west and a quarter west, about eight degrees of latitude,[257]we arrived at three other islands near each other named Zolot,[258] Nocemamor, and Galian. Whilst we sailed amidst these islands, a great storm fell upon us, for which we made a vow of a pilgrimage to our Lady della Guida. We put the ship before the storm and made for a rather high island, which afterwards we learned was named Mallua, but before we could reach it, we had to struggle much with the squalls of wind which descended from the mountains and with the currents. The inhabitants of this island are savages, and more beasts than men; they eat human flesh; they go naked, except the usual piece of bark to cover their natural parts. But when they go to fight they wear on the back, the breast, and the flanks, pieces of buffalo hide, ornamented with shells,[259] and boars’ tusks, and tails of goat skins, hanging before and behind. They wear the hair raised high up by means of cane combs with long teeth, which go through it. They wrap up their beards with leaves, and enclose them in cases or tubes of reed, a thing which seemed to us very ridiculous. In one word these were the ugliest men we had seen in these Indies. Both their bows and arrows are made of reeds, and they carry their food in bags made of leaves. When their women saw us they came towards us with their bows drawn, but when we had given them some presents we soon became friends.

We passed fifteen days in this island in caulking the ship whose sides had suffered. We found here goats, fowls, wax, cocoanuts, and pepper. For a pound of old iron they gave fifteen pounds of wax or of pepper.

There are two kinds of pepper here, the long and the round. The long pepper is like the flower of the hazel tree in winter; its plant is like ivy, and like it clings to trees; its leaves are like those of the mulberry tree; it is called luli. The round pepper grows like the other, but its fruit is in ears like Indian corn, and the grains are pulled off in the same manner; it is called lada. The fields here are full of pepper plants.

Here we took a man to conduct us to some island where we could find plenty of victuals.

The island of Mallua is in 8 deg. 30 min. S. latitude, and 169 deg. 40 min. longitude from the line of demarcation.

The old pilot from Maluco related to us, whilst sailing, that in this neighbourhood there was an island named Aruchete, the inhabitants of which, men and women, are not more than one cubit high, and they have ears as large and as long as themselves, so that when they lie down one serves them for a mattress, and with the other they cover themselves.[260] They are shorn and naked, their voices are shrill, and they run very swiftly. They dwell under ground, live on fish and a certain substance which grows between the bark and the wood of a tree, which is white and round like coriander comfits, and which is named ambulon. We would have gone there willingly, but the shoals and currents did not allow of it.


18th of December, 1521

Wednesday morning everything was prepared for our departure from Maluco. The Kings of Tadore, of Giailolo, and of Bachian, and a son of the King of Tarenate had come to accompany us as far as the island of Mare. The ship “Victoria” made sail and stood out a little, waiting for the ship “Trinity”; but she had much difficulty in getting up the anchor, and meanwhile the sailors perceived that she was leaking very much in the hold. Then the “Victoria” returned to anchor in her former position. They began to discharge the cargo of the “Trinity” to see if the leak could be stopped, for it was perceived that the water came in with force as through a pipe, but we were never able to find out at what part it came in. All that day and the next we did nothing else but work at the pumps, but without any advantage. Hearing this, the King of Tadore came at once to the ships, and occupied himself with us in searching for the leak. For this purpose he sent into the sea five of his men, who were accustomed to remain a long time under the water, and although they remained more than half-an-hour they could not find the fissure. As the water inside the ship continually increased, the king, who was as much affected by it as we were, and lamenting this misfortune, sent to the end of the island for three other men, more skilful than the first at remaining under water.


7th of December, 1521

On Saturday three sons of the King of Tarenate, with their wives, who were daughters of our King of Tadore, and afterwards Pedro Alfonso, the Portuguese, came to the ships. We gave a gilt glass goblet to each of the brothers, and to the three wives scissors and other things; and when they went away we fired several bombards in their honour. We afterwards sent on shore a present of several things to the widow of the King of Tarenate, daughter of the King Tadore, who had not ventured to come on board the ships.


17th of November, 1521

Sunday morning this same king came on board the ships and wished to see how we fought, and how we discharged the bombards, at which he was greatly pleased, for in his youth he had been a great warrior.

The same day I went on shore to see how the cloves grow, and this is what I observed. The tree from which they are gathered is high, and its trunk is as thick as a man’s body, more or less, according to the age of the plant. Its branches spread out somewhat in the middle of the tree, but near the top they form a pyramid. The bark is of an olive colour, and the leaves very like those of the laurel. The cloves grow at the end of little branches in bunches of ten or twenty. These trees always bear more fruit on one side than on the other, according to the seasons. The cloves are white when they first sprout, they get red as they ripen, and blacken when dry. They are gathered twice in the year, once about Christmas and the other time about St. John’s day, when the air in these countries is milder, and it is still more so in December. When the year is rather hot, and there is little rain, they gather in each of these islands from three to four hundred bahars of cloves. The clove tree does not live except in the mountains, and if it is transferred to the plain it dies there.[237] The leaf, the bark, and the wood, as long as they are green, have the strength and fragrance of the fruit itself. If these are not gathered when just ripe they get so large and hard that nothing of them remains good except the rind. It is said that the mist renders them perfect, and indeed we saw almost every day a mist descend and surround one or other of the above-mentioned mountains. Among these people everyone possesses some of these trees, and each man watches over his own trees and gathers their fruit, but does not do any work round them to cultivate them. This tree does not grow except in the five mountains of the five Maluco islands. There are, however, a few trees in Giailolo and in a small island between Tadore and Mutir named Mare, but they are not good.

There are in this island of Giailolo some trees of nutmegs. These are like our walnuts, and the leaves also are similar. The nutmeg, when gathered, is like the quince in form and colour, and the down which covers it, but it is smaller. The outside rind is as thick as the green rind of our walnuts, beneath which is a thin web, or rather cartilage, under which is the mace, of a very bright red, which covers and surrounds the rind of the nuts, inside which is the nutmeg properly so called.

There also grows in Tadore the ginger, which we need to eat green, instead of bread. Ginger is not a tree, but a shrub, which sends out of the earth shoots a span long like the shoots of canes, which they also resemble in the shape of the leaves, only those of the ginger are narrower. The shoots are good for nothing; that which makes ginger is the root. When green, it is not so strong as when it is dry, and to dry it they use lime, or else it would not keep.

The houses of these people are built like those already described, but are not so high above the ground, and are surrounded with canes after the fashion of a hedge. The women here are ugly, and go naked like the others, having only their middles covered with cloth made of bark. The men also are naked, and notwithstanding that their women are ugly, they are exceedingly jealous; and amongst other things which displeased them, was that we came ashore without cloaks,[238] because they imagined that might cause temptation to their wives. Both men and women always go barefoot.

Since I have spoken of cloth, I will relate how they make it. They take a piece of bark and leave it in water until it has grown soft; they then beat it with wooden clubs to extend it in length and breadth, as much as they please; thus it becomes like a veil of raw silk with filaments enlaced within it, so that it appears as if it was woven.

Their bread is made with the wood of a tree like a palm tree, and they make it in this way. They take a piece of this wood, and extract from it certain long black thorns[239] which are situated there; then they pound it, and make bread of it which they call sagu. They make provisions of this bread for their sea voyages.

Every day there came from Tarenate many boats laden with cloves, but we, because we were waiting for the king, would not traffic for those goods, but only for victuals: and the men of Tarenate complained much of this.


13th of November, 1521

The next day the king sent his son named Mossahap to the island of the Mutir for cloves with which to freight our ships. We had spoken to the king that day of some Indians whom we had captured, and he entreated us to make a present of them to him, as he had the intention of sending them back to their native country, accompanied by five men of Tadore, who, on restoring them to their country, would praise and commend the King of Spain and make a good name for the Spaniards. We gave him the three ladies whom we had destined for the queen, as has been said above, and all the men except those of Burné: he very much appreciated this gift.

The king then asked another favour—that was, that we should kill all the pigs we had on board, for which he would give an ample compensation in fowls and goats. We gave him satisfaction in this, cutting their throats and hanging them up under the deck, so that the Moors should not have occasion to see them, since if by accident they see any pig they covered their faces not to see it or perceive its smell.

In the evening of the same day Pedro Alfonso,[234] the Portuguese, came in a prahu, but before he came on board the ships the king sent to call him, and said to him, that although he belonged to Tarenate he should take good care not to answer falsely to the questions we were going to ask him. He indeed, after coming on board, told us that he had come to India sixteen years ago, and of these years he had passed ten in Maluco; and it was just ten years since those islands had been discovered by the Portuguese, who kept the discovery secret from us. He then related to us that a year, less fifteen days, had elapsed since a large ship had come hither proceeding from Malacca, and had gone away laden with cloves; but that on account of the bad weather, she had been obliged to remain some months at Bandam. He added that her captain was Tristan de Meneses, a Portuguese, from whom, on asking what news there was in Europe, he had heard that a squadron of live ships had sailed from Seville to discover Maluco in the name of the King of Spain, and that the captain of this squadron was Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese, for which reason the King of Portugal, being angry that a subject of his should attempt to do a thing so opposed to him, had sent some ships to the cape of Good Hope, and others to the Cape Sta. Maria,[235] where the cannibals are, to impede their passage, but they had not fallen in with them. Having learned later that Magellan had passed by another sea, and was making for Maluco by way of the west, he had written to his Captain-Major of the Indies, named Diogo Lopez de Sequeira, to send six ships to Maluco against the Spanish squadron. But the captain-major, having at that time received information that the Grand Turk was planning an expedition against Malacca, was obliged to send against him sixty sail to the Straits of Mekkah, in the country of Jiddah, where, however, they only found a few galleys which had grounded near the beautiful and strong city of Aden, and they set fire to them.

This enterprise, added De Lorosa, had prevented the captain-major from immediately sending an expedition against Magellan; but a little later he had sent to Maluco a great galleon with two rows of cannon, commanded by Francisco Faria, a Portuguese: but neither did this one come, for on account of the shoals and currents which are near Malacca, and the contrary winds, it was unable to pass that promontory, and was compelled to turn back.

He also related that a few days before a caravel with two junks had come to these parts to get news of us. The junks had sailed to Bachian to load cloves, with seven Portuguese on board. These men, who did not respect the wives of the inhabitants, nor even those of the king, notwithstanding the warning they had received from the king himself, were all killed. The men of the caravel, on hearing of this, returned in haste to Malacca, abandoning the junks with four hundred bahars of cloves and as much merchandise as would have purchased another hundred bahars. He also related that every year many junks go from Malacca to Bandan to buy mace and nutmeg, and go thence to Maluco to purchase cloves. They make the voyage from Bandan to Maluco in three days, and employ fifteen in the voyage from Bandan to Malacca. He said, lastly, that since ten years back the King of Portugal had derived great profit from these islands, and he took especial care to keep these countries concealed from and unknown to the Spaniards. He related many other similar things, passing several hours in conversation with us: and we said and did so much, offering him a large salary, that we made him determine on coming with us to Spain.


11th of November, 1521

Monday, the 11th of November, Chechilideroix, one of the above-mentioned sons of the King of Tarenate, came with two prahus to the ships sounding drums: he was dressed in red velvet. We learned that he had near him the widow and sons of Francisco Serrano. When we knew him, being aware that he was an enemy of the King of Tadore, we sent to ask him whether we might receive him in the ships, which, as we were in his port, we would not do without his consent. The king sent us word to do whatever we pleased. But meantime Chechilideroix, seeing our hesitation, had some suspicion, and moved further off from the ships. We then went to him in a boat, and made him a present of an Indian cloth of gold and silk, with some looking-glasses, knives, scissors, etc.: these things he accepted but disdainfully, and soon after departed. He had with him an Indian who had become a Christian, named Manuel, the servant of a certain Pedro Alfonzo de Lorosa, a Portuguese, who, after the death of Serrano, had come from Bandan to Tarenate. Manuel being able to speak Portuguese, came on board the ships, and told us that although the sons of the King of Tarenate were enemies to the King of Tadore, yet they were disposed towards the service of Spain, Then, by means of him, we wrote to De Lorosa to come to our ships without any suspicion or fear.

These kings have as many ladies as they please, but one only is the principal wife, and all the others are subject to her. The King of Tadore had a large house outside the city, where there were two hundred of the ladies he was most fond of, and as many more to serve them. The king eats alone, or with his principal wife, on a kind of raised dais, from which he can see all the others sitting round, and he decides upon the one who most pleases him to come to him. When the king’s dinner is finished, the ladies all eat together if he permits it, or else each one goes to eat in her own room. No one without special permission from the king can see those ladies, and if anybody by day or by night were found near their house he would be killed immediately. Each family is bound to give one or two daughters to the king. Rajah Sultan Manzour had twenty-six children, of whom eight were boys and eighteen girls. In the island of Tadore there is a kind of bishop, and the one that was there in our time had forty ladies and very many children.


10th of November, 1521

On the 10th of November—a Sunday—we had another conversation with the king, who wished to know how long a time we had been absent from Spain, and what pay and what rations the king gave to each of us; and we told him all this. He asked us for a signature of the king and a royal standard, since be desired that both his island of Tadore, and also that of Tarenate (where he intended to have his nephew named Calanogapi, crowned king) should become subject to the King of Spain, for whose honour he would fight to the death; and if it should happen that he should be compelled to give way, he would take refuge in Spain with all his family, in a new junk which he was having constructed, and would take with him the royal signature and standard.

He begged us to leave with him some of our men, who would always keep alive his recollection of us and of our king, as he would more esteem having some of us with him than our merchandise, which would not last him a long time. Seeing our eagerness to take cloves on board, he said that for that purpose he would go to an island called Bachian, where he hoped to find as much of them as were wanted, since in his island there was not a quantity sufficient of dry cloves to load the two ships. On that day there was no traffic because it was Sunday. The holiday of these people is on Friday.

It may please your illustrious lordship to have some description of the islands where the cloves grow. They are five—Tarenate, Tador, Mutir, Machian, and Bachian. Tarenate is the principal island. Its king, whilst he lived, had almost entire dominion over the other four. Tadore, the island in which we were, has its own king. Mutir and Machian have no king, but are governed by the people; and when the kings of Tarenate and Tidore are at war, they furnish them with combatants. The last is Bachian, and it has a king. All this province in which the cloves grow is called Maluco.

When we arrived here, eight months had not elapsed since a certain Portuguese, Francisco Serrano, had died in Tarenate. He was captain-general of the King of Tarenate when he was making war on the King of Tadore; and he acted so strenuously that this king was compelled to give his daughter in marriage to the King of Tarenate, who also received as hostages almost all the sons of the chief men of Tadore. Peace was then made, and from that daughter was born the nephew Calanopagi, of whom I have spoken. But the King of Tadore never forgave Serrano in his heart; and he having come several years later to Tadore to traffic in cloves, the king had him poisoned with some betel leaves, so that he survived hardly four days. The King of Tarenate wished to have him buried according to their own usage, but three Christian servants that Serrano had with him did not consent to it. In dying he left a little son and a little girl that he had of a lady he had taken in Java major, and two hundred bahars of cloves.

Francisco Serrano was a great friend and a relation of our unfortunate captain-general, and he it was who induced him to undertake that voyage, for when Magellan was at Malacca, he had several times learned by letters from Serrano that he was here. Therefore, when D. Manuel, King of Portugal, refused to increase his pension by a single testoon[230] per month, an increase which he thought he had well deserved, he came to Spain and made the proposal to his Sacred Majesty to come here by way of the west, and he obtained all that he asked for.

Ten days after the death of Serrano, the King of Tarenate, named Raja Abuleis,[231] drove out from his kingdom his son-in-law the King of Bachian, whose wife, the daughter of the King of Tarenate, came to Tarenate under the pretext of concluding peace, and gave him (her father) such a poison that he only survived two days, and dying left nine sons, whose names were told to me as follows: Chochili[232]-Momuli, Jadore Vunghi, Chechilideroix, Cilimanzur, Cilipagi, Chialinchechilin, Cataravajecu, Serich, and Calanopagi.