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Indonesia History - Portugal

The Portuguese discovered and formed settlements along a great part of the coast of West Africa, and then began to extend their dominion over the Indian seas — the great Albuquerque, of the family of the blood royal of Portugal, having been appointed viceroy of the Indies. During the first years of the 16th century they began to supplant the Arabs on the south-east African shores, taking possession of the port of Sofala, extending their conquests inland over the gold region of Manica, and soon after establishing themselves at Mozambique.

Across the Indian Ocean Albuquerque followed up the beginning made by Cabral on the Malabar coast, conquering Goa, which he made the seat of the Portuguese government and the chief place of its Asiatic trade, extending commerce and settlements thence to the whole west coast of India, to Ceylon^ Malacca, the Sunda islands, and the coasts of China, and gathering knowledge of the Archipelago as far as the shores of New Guinea. The Arab state of Muscat fell into their power in 1507; the islet of Ormuz, in the entrance of the Persian Gulf, was also taken and made into a great entrepot for the goods brought from the Indies; and when the king of Persia sent to collect the tribute formerly paid him by the princes of the island, Albuquerque pointed to cannon balls and swords as the only coin that Portugal would render.

From 1505 the Court of Spain had earnestly engaged in the project of finding a way to the Spice Islands from the west, and in 1508 Pinzon and De Solis sailed in search of them, and explored the coasts of South America to the 40th degree of south latitude. It was not, however, until 1515 that the Pacific Ocean was discovered, when Nunez do Balboa, who in 1510 had been placed in command of the Spanish colony of Santa Maria on the Gulf of Darien, having gone on an expedition into the Sierra de Quarequa, suddenly from one of its peaks beheld a boundless sea outstretched below him. From the narrow isthmus on which he stood, it extended east, and west, and south, until it was lost in spaace. This was the true discovery of America, that it was not, as Columbus believed to his dying day, the easternmost coast of Asia, or the West Indies, but a separate continent.

After the conquest of Malacca by Albuquerque, the Portuguese had heard of the famed Spice Islands, and several ships — one commanded by Francisco Serrio (or Serrano, as the Spaniards called him), and another by his friend Ferniio de MagalhSens (known as Magellan) — were sent out in quest of them. The Portuguese Serrio was fortunate in reaching the Spice Islands or Moluccas on the western borders of the great ocean almost at the same time that Balbao and his Spaniards caught their first glimpse of the great South Sea from the east. So little was then known or conceived of the huge width of this ocean, that Serrio believed, on reaching the Spice Islands, that he must be close to America, and laid plans with his friend Magellan for reaching them by a nearer route. The latter returned to the Portuguese court with great hopes of reward for his services in the Indies, and with schemes for future discovery, but on being coldly received and denied his well-merited honours, he renounced his allegiance and took service under the king of Spain.

In October 1515, De Solis was sent out to discover the Spice Islands from the west, and in January 1516 entered the Rio do la Plata, originally named Rio de Solis; its present name not having been given to the river until 1525, when Diego Garcia found some plates of silver, probably from the mines of Potooi, in the hands of the wild Indians on its banks. De Solis, having anchored in the mouth of the river, went on shore to explore the country inland, when he and eight of his men were set upon and massacred by the natives, and roasted and devoured by them in sight of his ships; whereupon the disheartened expedition returned to Spain.

Towards the close of the fifteenth century, when the sailors of Spain and Portugal were extending their discoveries ever farther west and east Pope Alexander had divided the world between these nations, giving the western hemisphere to Spain, and the eastern to the Portuguese. The line of demarcation was drawn indefinitely through the unknown region of the other side of the world, and when the Portuguese had reached the Spice Islands doubts were raised as to whether they had not passed the limit assigned to them by the Pope and trespassed on the Spanish hemisphere.

In 1517, Ferdinand Magellan, who, according to De Barros, had been present at the capture of Malacca, proceeded to Valladolid, gave it as his opinion that the Spice Islands fell within the Spanish boundary. Magellan, in concert with the astronomer Ruy Faleiro, who had likewise expatriated himself from Portugal, prepared a globe on which they showed the Spice Islands in such a position that they lay within the Spanish hemisphere, and Magellan urged upon the Spanish court that these rich possessions could be reached more readily by the " Spanish route "—that is, by the western voyage, than by the " Portuguese " or eastern route round the south cape of Africa. At the same time, comparing South America with South Africa, he showed the probability of the existence of a passage to the South Sea round the coast of South America, and warmly advised a renewal of the search, which had been abandoned in the belief that the land stretched continuously to the south.

Accordingly, in 1519, Charles V gave Magellan five ships for the purpose. Every one of them was accompanied by a Portuguese pilot; and the Santiago was commanded by Joao Serrao, an old Portuguese, on whose knowledge of the east, and especially of the Moluccas, of which they were in search, Magellan placed great reliance. On 21 October 1520, St. Ursula's day, he reached the cape, which he called Cabo de las Virgiues, at the entrance of the strait now called after Magellan.

On 06 September 1522 the Vittoria, under Sebastian del Cano, arrived at San Lucar. the only survivor of the noble fleet which had sailed from the same port on the 20th of September 1519. The circumnavigation of the world, which had originated in the dispute between Spain and Portugal about the possession of the Moluccas, was completed, and the sphericity of the earth demonstrate. Charles V received del Cano with the highest distinction, and conferred ou him a life pension and a coat of arms, which bore branches of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg, with a globe for the crest, and the motto, 'Primus circumdedisti me.'

In 1519 the Spaniards laid claim to the Banda (United), or five (really ten) Nutmeg Islands, and the Moluccas, or five Clove Islands, as falling within the line of their sovereignty laid down by the Pope. In regard to the dispute as to the respective rights of Portugal and Spain to the Spice Islands, the king of Spain was confirmed in the possession of the Philippine Islands, but the Moluccas were finally surrendered to the king of Portugal, under the agreement that the king of Portugal lent the king of Spain 350,000 ducats in respect of any claims which the latter might have on the Moluccas, in the possession of which the king of Portugal was not to be disturbed until the money was repaid, which was never done.

Portugal freed itself by a rebellion (1640) from the forced union with Spain, which had lasted for 60 years, and had involved the country in war and disaster at home, as well as abroad in the Indies. A few years later, in 1648 the peace of Westphalia secured the independence of Holland from the Spanish yoke. Just at the end of the sixteenth century, the Dutch first opened up trading communication with the East Indies, and entered into alliances with the Achinese of Sumatra; two years later their East India Company was formed. Spain and Portugal being united in war with the Netherlands at home in Europe, the contest was extended to the Indies, where by violence and intrigue the Dutch began to oust the Portuguese from their possessions.

The secret route to the Indies being at last discovered, Cornelius Houtman had rounded the Cape in 1595. The Portuguese were still endeavoring to reduce Bantam; Houtman agreed to assist them provided that he might erect a factory when the port was captured. The Portuguese fleets and ports being ill-defended by Spain, the Dutch became not merely successful competitors, but seized the Portuguese possessions in the East, as they did on the coast of Brazil. Trading companies began to spring up in the Netherlands; in 1602 the Dutch East Indies Company was formed, which absorbed all its rivals, as did the English Company.

In 1606 the sultan of Ternate, fruitlessly attempted to league the native princes to expel the Dutch, who, in 1613, obtained from them the exclusive right of buying the cloves; and this compact led to the country being invaded and desolated for seventy years, the natives eventually being subdued, after fighting bravely. Within a few years the Dutch were established on every hand: in India, Ceylon, Sumatra, Java, the Moluccas, and elsewhere. After tyrannising over the native sovereigns for sixty years, the Portuguese were driven out by the Dutch, with the aid of the natives, and the Dutch became as rapacious and cruel as their predecessors.

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Page last modified: 18-04-2012 19:22:45 ZULU