Volume 2, Chapter 6 -- History of the Discovery and Conquest of India by the Portuguese, between the years 1497 and 1505, from the original Portuguese of Hernan Lopez de Castaneda.
*Dedication by Castaneda*
*Section 1* -- Previous steps taken by the King of Portugal, John II, preparatory to the Discovery of India
*Section 2a* -- Narrative of the first Voyage of Vasco de Gama to India and back, in the years 1497, 1498, and 1499 (up to the arrival at Calicut)
*Section 2b* -- Narrative of the first Voyage of Vasco de Gama to India and back, in the years 1497, 1498, and 1499 (about Calicut)
*Section 2c* -- Narrative of the first Voyage of Vasco de Gama to India and back, in the years 1497, 1498, and 1499 (from the meeting with the Zamorin of Calicut onward)
*Section 3* -- Voyage of Pedro Alvarez Cabral to India in 1500; being the second made by the Portuguese to India, and in the course of which Brasil was discovered
*Section 4* -- Voyage of John de Nueva, being the third made by the Portuguese to India
*Section 5* -- The Second Voyage of De Gama to India in 1502; being the Fourth made by the Portuguese to the East Indies
*Section 6* -- Transactions of the Portuguese in India, from the departure of De Gama in December 1502, to the arrival of Alonzo de Albuquerque in 1503
*Section 7* -- Voyage of Alonso and Francisco de Albuquerque to India in 1503; being the fifth of the Portuguese Expeditions to the East Indies
*Section 8* -- Transactions of the Portuguese in India under Duarte Pacheco, from the departure of Alonso and Francisco de Albuquerque in January 1504, till the arrival of Lope Suarez de Menesis with succours in September of that year
*Section 9* -- The Voyage of Lope Suarez de Menesis to India, in 1504; being the sixth of the Portuguese Expeditions to the East Indies



Although in strict conformity to chronological arrangement, the discovery of America by COLUMBUS in 1492, ought to precede our account of the discovery of the maritime route from Europe to India by the Portuguese, which did not take place until the year 1498; it yet appears more regular to follow out the series of Portuguese navigation and discovery to its full completion, than to break down that original and vast enterprise into fragments. We might indeed have stopt with the first voyage of De Gama, which effected the discovery of India: But as the contents of this Chapter consists of what may be considered an authentic original record, and carries on the operations of the Portuguese in India to the year 1525, it seemed preferable to retain this curious original history entire. It is obvious that Castaneda must have used the original journals of De Gama, and other early Portuguese commanders, or of some persons engaged in the voyages and transactions; as he often forgets the historical language, and uses the familiar diction of a person actually engaged, as will appear in many passages of this Chapter.

The title of this original document, now first offered to the public in modern English, is "The first Booke of the Historie of the Discoverie and Conquest of the East Indias by the Portingals, in the time of King Don John, the second of that name. By Hernan Lopes de Castaneda; translated into English by Nicholas Lichefield, and dedicated to Sir Fraunces Drake. Imprinted at London by Thomas East, 1582."

Though the transactions here recorded are limited in the title to the reign of John II. they occupied the reigns of his immediate successor Emmanuel, or Manuel, and of John III. Castaneda's history was printed in black-letter at Coimbra, in eight volumes folio, in the years 1552, 1553, and 1554, and is now exceedingly scarce. In 1553, a translation of the first book was made into French by Nicolas de Grouchy, and published at Paris in quarto. An Italian translation was published at Venice in two volumes quarto, by Alfonso Uloa, in 1578.[1] That into English by Lichefield, employed on the present occasion, is in small quarto and black-letter. The voyage of De Gama is related by De Barros in his work entitled Da Asia, and has been described by Osorius, Ramusio, Maffei, and de Faria. Purchas gives a brief account of it, I. ii. 26. The beautiful poem of the Lusiad by Camoens, the Portuguese Homer, is dedicated to the celebration of this important transaction, and is well known through an elegant translation into English by Mickle. In the present chapter, the curious and rare work of Castaneda, so far as his first book extends, is given entire; and the only freedom employed in this version, besides changing the English of 229 years ago into the modern and more intelligible language, has been to prune a quaint verbosity, mistaken by Lichefield for rhetorical eloquence. The dedication of the early translator to the celebrated Sir Francis Drake, is preserved in its original dress, as a sufficient specimen of the language of England at the close of the sixteenth century.


To the right Worshipfull Sir Fraunces Drake, Knight, N. L. G. wisheth all prosperitie.

They haue an auncient custome in Persia (the which is also observed throughout all Asia) that none will enterprise to visit the king, noble man, or perticularly any other person of countenance, but he carieth with him some thing to present him with all worthy of thanks, the which is not onely done in token of great humilitie & obedience, but also of a zealous loue & friendly affection to their superiours & welwillers. So I (right worshipfull following this Persian president) hauing taking vpon me this simple translation out of the Portingale tongue, into our English language, am bold to present & dedicate the same vnto you as a signification of my entire good will. The history conteineth the discouerie and conquest of the East Indias, made by sundry worthy captaines of the Portengales, in the time of King Don Manuel, & of the King Don John, the second of that name, with the description, not onely of the country, but also of every harbour apperteining to every place whervnto they came, & of the great resistance they found in the same, by reson wherof there was sundry great battles many times fought, and likewise of the commodities & riches that euery of these places doth yeeld. And for that I know your worship, with great peril and daunger haue past these monstrous and bottomlesse sees, am therfore the more encouraged to desire & pray your worships patronage & defence therof, requesting you with all to pardon those imperfections, which I acknowledge to be very many, & so much the more, by reason of my long & many years continuance in foreine countries. Howbeit, I hope to have truly observed the literal sence & full effect of the history, as the author setteth it forth, which if it may please you to peruse & accept in good part, I shall be greatly emboldened to proceede & publish also the second & third booke, which I am assured will neither be vnpleasant nor vnprofitable to the readers. Thus alwaies wishing your good worship such prosperous continuance and like fortunate successe as GOD hath hitherto sent you in your dangerous trauaile & affayres, and as maye euery waye content your owne heartes desire, doe euen so take my leaue. From London the fifth of March. 1582.

Your worships alwayes to commaund,
Nicholas Lichefild.

[1] Bibl. des Voyages, V. 2.



To the most high and mighty Prince, John III.
King of Portugal and Algarve, &c.

It hath seemed to me, most high and mighty prince, our dread king and sovereign, so important and weighty a matter to undertake a history of the great and valiant actions which our Portuguese have performed in the discovery and conquest of India, that I often thought to relinquish the attempt. But as these noble deeds were principally undertaken and performed for the glory of Almighty God, the conversion of the barbarous nations to the Christian faith, and the great honour of your highness; and as, by the power and mercy of the Omnipotent, such fortunate success has been granted to these famous enterprises, I have been encouraged to proceed. I therefore trust entirely to the aid and comfort of the divine goodness in publishing this work, giving the glory thereof to God alone, and its earthly praise to your excellent highness, and the king Don Manuel your father, of famous and happy memory.

Although these glorious deeds are well known and spread abroad over the world, they yet cannot be sufficiently made manifest unless set forth in writing, by means of which their memory may endure for ever, and remain always as if present to the readers; as history hath perpetuated the actions of the Greeks and Romans which are of such high antiquity. Of other transactions, nothing inferior to theirs, perhaps even far greater, which have been performed by other nations, there is little or no memory, because these do not remain recorded by history: Such are those of the Assyrians, Medes and Persians; of the Africans against the Romans; of the Suevi against Julius Caesar; of the Spaniards in recovering their country from the Moors; and principally of these invincible and pious kings of Portugal, your glorious ancestors, Don Alonso Henriques, Don Sancho his son, and Don Alonso, who acquired the kingdoms of Portugal and Algarve by great and wonderful deeds of arms. Of all which, there hardly remaineth any memory, for want of having been duly recorded by writing. So likewise of those actions which have been performed in India, only as it were of yesterday, the exact memory of them is confined to four persons; and if they were to die, all remembrance of these transactions must have ended, to their great dishonour. Considering these things, I resolved to record these noble deeds which the subjects of your highness have performed in the discovery and conquest of India, which have never been surpassed in valour, or even equalled, in any age or country. Leaving all mention of the conquests of Cyrus and other barbarians, and even taking into the account the deeds of Alexander, so famous over all the world, which are as nothing compared to what has been performed since India became frequented by the Portuguese, no more than a dead lion can be likened to one alive. The conquests of Alexander were all by land, and achieved by himself in person, against nations who were little trained or accustomed to feats of arms. But the Portuguese conquest of India was performed by the captains of your highness, after a voyage by sea of a year and eight months, going almost around the globe, from the utmost limits of the west through the vast and bottomless ocean, seeing only the heaven and the water; a thing never before attempted by man, and hardly even imagined. After surmounting hunger and thirst, and daily exposure to furious storms, and a thousand dangers in the voyage; they had to encounter great and cruel battles on their arrival in India; not against men armed only with bows and spears, as in the time of Alexander, but with people of stout and tried courage and experienced in war, having ordinance and fire-workers more numerous even than the Portuguese, besides many other excellent weapons. The power of these men, against whom the subjects of your highness had to contend, was infinitely greater than that of King Porus, against whom Alexander had to encounter; yet the Portuguese, though few in number, uniformly had the victory, and never retired from the war as was done by Alexander.

Leaving the actions of the Greeks, and considering what was performed by the Romans with their innumerable armies and vast fleets, which seemed to cover the face of the sea, and by means of which they thought to have conquered the whole earth. Yet they never adventured beyond the Red Sea; neither was the greatest of their famous victories comparable to those battles which have been fought by our men in India; in which, most invincible prince, the great prosperity of your father and you is well known. As, without moving from your palace, discoveries and conquests have been achieved by your captains, more extensive than ever were discovered or conquered by any prince in person. There never was any conquest, either by the Barbarians, Greeks, or Romans, of any thing like equal difficulty with this of India; neither any kings or captains of any of these nations equal in valour and conduct to those of your father and yourself, as will manifestly appear from the whole tenor of the following history.

The great actions which the subjects of your highness have worthily accomplished, must be deemed to have been permitted and appointed by the providence of God; that so those barbarians, with their vain idols, and the false sectaries of Mahomet, might be brought into the catholic faith, as at this time great numbers have been added to the Christian religion. For, since these great exploits, your highness, as a most godly and Christian prince, hath taken especial care, and hath given command that the Christian doctrine of the brotherhood of the company of Jesus should be taught in India, which you ordered to be brought from Rome, and have always supported at your expence. Thus likewise, you have erected and founded the noble and sumptuous university of Coimbra, to augment the honour and reputation of your kingdom; where, besides many divines and colleges of poor begging friars to expound the evangelical law, there are temporal men also to instruct those of your subjects that defend and enlarge the commonwealth by deeds of arms, and those who adorn the same by means of learning.

All these heroic virtues of your highness being well known to me, have encouraged me to publish this work and others, which have some taste of learning, that they may remain a perpetual memorial of the noble deeds of so many gentlemen and knights of Portugal, your subjects. In this I have been much forwarded by having been in India, where I sojourned with my father, who was sent into that country by your highness as a judge. I spent all my youth in the pursuit of learning, and in the study of ancient historians. Being in India, I set myself with all diligence to learn and understand all that had been done in regard to the discovery and conquest of that country by the Portuguese, with the intention of making the same known and common to all men. By my inquiries, and through the information derived from sundry gentlemen and captains, both such as were actually present in the various transactions, and employed in their execution, as by others who were engaged in counselling and preparing the means of their being performed, I have derived much authentic information; as, likewise, by the perusal of many letters and memorials, which were written by men of credit and reputation, all of which I have examined as evidences of the authenticity of my work, both while in India and since my return into Portugal. As the matters I meant to write of were many, so it became necessary for me to acquire information from many sources; and as those whom I examined were upon oath, it is lawful for me to bring them forward as sure evidence. In these researches some of these men had to be sought after in almost every part of Portugal; and being separated in sundry places, my inquiries have occasioned great travail of my person, and much expence; to which I have devoted the greater part of my life, and have constituted the preparation for this work my sole recreation. Since my residence in the university of Coimbra, in the service of your highness, I have joined together all these informations; which, together with the duties of my office, have caused much toil both of body and mind. Having now accomplished the composition of this book and others, I most humbly offer the same to your highness; and, after many and most fortunate years of governing, I pray God to take you from the transitory seignory of this earth, and to receive you into the perpetual joys of Heaven.

Hernan Lopes de Castaneda.



Volume 2, Chapter 6, Section 1 -- Previous steps taken by the King of Portugal, John II, preparatory to the Discovery of India.

Don John, the second of that name, and thirteenth king of Portugal, considering that all spices, drugs, precious stones, and other riches which came from Venice, were brought out of the east, and being a prince of great penetration and high emprize, he was greatly desirous to enlarge his kingdom, and to propagate the knowledge of the Christian faith to distant regions. He resolved, therefore, to discover the way by sea to the country whence such prodigious riches were brought, that his subjects might thereby be enriched, and that his kingdom might acquire those commodities which had hitherto been brought by way of Venice. He was much encouraged to this enterprise, by learning that there were Christians in India, governed by a powerful monarch called Presbyter John, who was reported to be a Christian prince, and to whom he thought proper to send ambassadors, that an intercourse of friendship might be established between them and their subjects. He consulted, therefore, with the cosmographers of the time, whom he directed to proceed according to the example already given in sailing along the coast of Guinea, which had been formerly discovered by command of the prince his uncle, Master of the order of Christ. Accordingly, Bartholomew Diaz, one of the officers of the royal storehouse at Lisbon, was sent upon this expedition, who discovered that great and monstrous cape, now called of Good Hope, which was unknown to our ancestors. Finding it both terrible and dangerous, he yet passed 140 leagues beyond, to a river which he named Rio del Infante, whence he returned into Portugal. In this voyage, Diaz gave those names which they still retain, to the ports, harbours, and rivers where he took in fresh water, and erected certain marks, with crosses, and the royal arms of Portugal, the last of which was placed on a rock named El pennol de la Cruz, fifteen leagues on this side of the before-mentioned river. Diaz returned from this voyage without having procured any intelligence concerning India, as all the inhabitants of the coast which he visited and discovered were ignorant black savages.

On the return of Diaz, king John resolved to attempt the discovery of India by land; for which purpose he had formerly sent friar Antonio de Lisboa by land, in company with a lay person; but as they were ignorant of the Arabic language, they could not travel into those parts, and went no farther than Jerusalem, whence they returned into Portugal, without having acquired any knowledge of the object of their journey. Yet the king continued to prosecute this discovery of India by land, for which he employed two of his own servants, Pedro de Covillian and Alonso de Payva, both versant in the Arabic language, who were instructed to search out the dominions of Presbyter John, and the country whence the spices and drugs were brought to Venice, and to inquire whether there were any navigation from the southern extremity of Africa to India. To these men he gave a chart, which was extracted from a map of the world, by Calsadilla, bishop of Viseo, an eminent astronomer. He gave them likewise a general letter of credit and safe conduct, requiring them to be assisted and protected, and supplied with money, in whatever kingdoms or countries they might travel; ordering them to receive 400 crowns from the chest of the orchard of Almeryn, for their charges. Of this sum, they took what they deemed necessary to bear their expences till their arrival at Valentia in Arragon, placing the rest in the bank of Bartholomew of Florence, to be repaid at Valentia.

Receiving their audience of leave from King John, in presence of Don Manuel, duke of Viseo, afterwards king, they departed from Santaxen on the 7th May 1487, and came to Naples on St Johns day of that year; whence they were forwarded by the sons of Cosmo de Medici, and went to Rhodes, and thence to Alexandria. From this place they travelled as merchants to Cairo, whence they went in company with certain Moors of Fez and Tremesen to Toro, a harbour on the Arabian coast of the Red Sea. They here learned many things respecting the Indies, and of the trade from the Red Sea to Calicut; and, going from Toro to a place on the coast of Ethiopia, they went to the port of Aden. The travellers here separated, Alonso de Payva passing over to the emperor of Ethiopia, erroneously called Presbyter John. For he, of whom Marco Polo speaks, under that title, as governing all the Indies, and whose country joins with the great khan of Kathay, was vanquished and slain in a battle by that sovereign; at which time his kingdom was put an end to, and no one of that race or title has since reigned. Yet Alonso de Payva actually believed that the emperor of Ethiopia was Presbyter John, having learnt that he was a Christian king over a Christian nation, as shall be more particularly declared hereafter. At their separation they agreed to meet again at Cairo, when each had executed his part of the royal orders.

Pedro de Covillian sailed from Aden for the Indies, in a ship belonging to the Moors of Cananor, and went to Calicut and the island of Goa, where he acquired complete information respecting the spices of India, the commodities which come from other places, and the towns of the Indies; the names of all which he inserted, but ill written, in his chart. From India he went to Sofala, where he procured information respecting the great island of St Lawrence, called the Island of the Moon by the Moors. Observing that the natives of Sofala were black, like those of Guinea, he concluded that all the coast between was under subjection to the Negroes, and consequently that navigation was practicable from Guinea to Sofala, and thence to the Indies. Returning from Sofala, he went to Ormus, and thence to Cairo, where he learnt that Alonso de Payva was dead, and meant to have returned to Portugal. He chanced to meet at Cairo two Spanish jews, Rabbi Abraham, a native of Viseo, and Joseph, born in Lamego; who, after the departure of Covillian and Payva from Portugal, had told the king that they had been in Cairo, where they had received much information concerning Ormus, and of its trade with the Indies. From these Jews Covillian received letters from the king, directed to him and Payva, ordering them to return along with the Jews, if they had seen all that he had given them in charge. If they had not executed all his original instructions, they were now directed to send by the Jews an exact account of all the knowledge they had acquired, and to use their utmost efforts to visit Presbyter John, and to give all the information in their power respecting Ormus, to Rabbi Abraham, who had sworn by his law not to return to Portugal without visiting that place.

On receiving these letters, Covillian changed his intention of returning into Portugal, and dispatched Joseph there with letters to the king, giving an account of all that he had seen and learnt in India and Sofala, and transmitted the chart on which he had inserted all the places he had visited. In these letters he informed the king that the emperor of Ethiopia was assuredly the same with Presbyter John; but my opinion is that this is an error, as this sovereign has no such name in his own dominions, as I shall more clearly shew hereafter. On the departure of Joseph, Covillian and Rabbi Abraham went to Ormus, and thence back to the Red Sea; whence Covillian sent Abraham into Portugal, with letters to the king, containing all the information acquired in this part of the expedition, and intimating his determination to go into the dominions of Presbyter John. This he accordingly did, and came to the presence of the then emperor of Ethiopia, named Alexander, to whom he delivered the letters with which he had been entrusted by the king of Portugal for that monarch. Alexander received him courteously, and seemed much pleased with the letters of the king of Portugal, as being from so very distant a Christian prince, yet did not seem to attach much credit or importance to them. But he gave all honour, and many gifts to Covillian.

When Covillian was ready to depart from Ethiopia, and awaited leave for that purpose, which he had solicited, Alexander died, and was succeeded by a new emperor named Nahu, who could never be prevailed on to allow of his departure; neither could he procure leave for that purpose from the next emperor, David, the son of Nahu, so that Covillian had to remain in Ethiopia, and never returned into Portugal. From that time King John never heard more of him, and therefore concluded that he was dead; nothing having ever been received from him respecting his travels, except what was contained in the letters carried by the Jews, as before mentioned.

There came afterwards to Lisbon, a friar from this country of Presbyter John, who was received courteously by the king, and on whose reports of great things concerning that country, the king determined to proceed in making a discovery of the way to the Indies by sea. He accordingly gave orders to John de Bragança, his surveyor of the forests, to cut down timber for building two small ships for that voyage. But King John died, and was succeeded by King Manuel, of glorious memory, who had been chosen by Divine Providence to accomplish the discovery of these countries, by which the Christian faith hath been greatly extended, the royal house of Portugal much honoured, and the subjects wonderfully enriched.


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