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: *section index*

Volume 2, Chapter 6, Section 4 -- Voyage of John de Nueva, being the third made by the Portuguese to India.

In the same year 1501, supposing all differences to have been settled amicably at Calicut by Cabral, and that a regular trade was established both there and at Sofala and Quiloa, the king of Portugal dispatched three ships and a caravel from Lisbon, under the command of John de Neuva, a native of Galicia in Spain, who was accounted a valiant gentleman; having under his orders, Francisco de Navoys, Diego Barboso, and Hernando de la Pyna, as captains of three of the ships. Two ships of this fleet were destined to carry merchandize to Sofala,[1] and the other two to Calicut, and all the four contained only eighty men.[2] The instructions given to Nueva were, that he was to touch at the island of St. Blas, where he was to wait ten days if any of his ships had separated. He was then to proceed for Sofala, where, if a factory were settled he was to deliver the goods destined for that place before going to India. If a factory were not already settled there, he was to do every thing in his power for that purpose, leaving Alvaro de Braga there as factor, with the merchandize embarked in the caravel for that market. From Sofala, he was to proceed to Quiloa; and thence directly to Calicut. He was farther directed, in case of meeting with Cabral, to obey him as general, and desire him to settle a factory at Sofala, if his own attempt should fail.

Nueva left Lisbon on this voyage in March, four months before the return of Cabral, and arrived in safety at the isle of St. Blas; where he found a letter in an old shoe suspended from the branch of a tree, written by Pedro de Tayde,[3] informing him that the fleet of Cabral had passed this island on its way back to Portugal, and giving an account of what had happened at Calicut, of the good treatment the fleet had received at Cochin, where some of our men remained, and of the friendly disposition of the king of Cananor.[4] On consulting with the other captains, it was judged improper to leave the caravel at Sofala, in these circumstances, as their whole force did not exceed eighty men; wherefore they proceeded directly for Quiloa, where they found one of the exiles who had been left there by Cabral, from whom they received a particular account of all that had happened at Calicut, and of the loss of several of his ships, all of which he had learnt from some Moors. From Quiloa Nueva sailed on to Melinda, where the king confirmed the intelligence he had received from the exile at Quiloa.[5]

Thus fully instructed in the state of matters, Nueva deemed it prudent to keep all the ships of his small squadron, and sailed across from Melinda to Anchediva, where he came to anchor in November, intending to take in a supply of water at that place. While here, seven large ships belonging to Cambaya, which were bound for the Red Sea, appeared off the anchoring ground, and seemed at first disposed to attack our ships; but being afraid of the Portuguese ordnance, they continued their voyage. From Anchediva Nueva proceeded for Cananor, where he had an audience of the rajah, from whom he received particular notice of all that had happened in Calicut to Cabral, and of the offer which the rajah had made to load all his ships at Cananor. The rajah assured him of his earnest desire of doing every thing in his power to serve the king of Portugal, and pressed him to take in his loading at that port; but Nueva declined this offer for the present, until he had consulted with the factor at Cochin, for which port he took his departure from Cananor. On his way between Cananor and Cochin, Nueva took a ship belonging to some of the Moorish merchants at Calicut, after a vigorous resistance, and set it on fire.

On his arrival at Cochin, the factor who had been left there by Cabral came on board with the rest of his company, and acquainted him that the rajah was greatly offended with Cabral for leaving the port without seeing him, and for carrying away the hostages; yet had always kindly entertained him and the other members of the factory, lodging them every night in the palace for security, and always sending a guard of Nayres along with any of them who had occasion to go out during the day, on purpose to defend them from the Moors who sought their destruction, and who had one night set fire to the house in which they lodged before their removal to the palace. He also informed Nueva that the Moors had persuaded the native merchants to depreciate the price of the Portuguese merchandize, and not to take these in exchange for pepper, so that unless he had brought money for his purchases he would have little chance of procuring a loading. On this intelligence, and considering that he had not brought money, Nueva immediately returned from Cochin to Cananor, expecting to procure his loading at that port, in consequence of the friendly dispositions of the rajah towards the king of Portugal.[6] On his return to Cananor, he found that money was as necessary there for his purchases as at Cochin. But when the rajah, was informed of his difficulties from want of money, he became his security to the native merchants for 1000 quintals or hundred weights of pepper, 450 quintals of cinnamon, and fifty quintals of ginger, besides some bales of linen cloth.[7] By this generous conduct of the rajah, Nueva procured a loading for his ships, and left his European merchandize for sale at Cananor under the management of a factor and two clerks.

On the 15th December, while waiting for a fair wind to begin his homeward voyage, the rajah sent notice to Nueva that eighty paraws were seen to the northward, which were past mount Dely, and that these vessels were from Calicut, sent expressly to attack the Portuguese ships; and the rajah advised him to land his men and ordnance for greater security: But the general was not of this mind, and sent word to the rajah that he hoped, with the assistance of God, to be able to defend himself. Next day, being the 16th of December, before dawn, about an hundred ships and paraws full of Moors came into the bay, sent on purpose by the Zamorin, who was in hopes to have taken all our ships and men. As soon as Nueva perceived this numerous armament, he hoisted anchor and removed his squadron to the middle of the bay, where he ordered all his ships to pour in their shot against the enemy without intermission. Doubtless, but for this, the enemy would have boarded his ships, and they were so numerous it would have been impossible for him to have escaped; but as the Moors had no ordnance, they could do our people no harm from a distance, and many of their ships and paraws were sunk, with the loss of a vast number of men, while they did not dare to approach for the purpose of boarding, and not a single person was killed or hurt on our side.

The enemy towards evening hung out a flag for a parley; but as Nueva feared this might be intended as a lure, he continued firing, lest they might suppose he stopped from weariness or fear. But the Moors were really desirous of peace, owing to the prodigious loss they had sustained, and their inability to escape from the bay for want of a fair wind. At length, most of his ordnance being burst or rendered unserviceable by the long-continued firing, and seeing that the Moors still kept up their flag of truce, Nueva ceased firing and answered them by another flag.[8] Immediately on this, a Moor came to Neuva in a small boat, to demand a cessation of hostilities till next day. This was granted, on condition that they should quit the bay and put out to sea, which they did accordingly. Although the wind was very unfavourable, Nueva stood out to sea likewise, which the enemy could hardly do, as their ships and paraws can only make sail with a fair wind. Notwithstanding all that had happened, Nueva was constrained to come to anchor close to the fleet of the enemy, and gave orders to keep strict watch during the night. At one time they were heard rowing towards our fleet, and it was supposed they intended setting our ships on fire; on which Neuva ordered to veer out more cable, to get farther off. Perceiving that the boats of the enemy continued to follow, he commanded a gun to be fired at them, on which they made off; and the wind coming off shore and somewhat fair, they made sail for Calicut.

Nueva, after returning thanks to God for deliverance from his enemies, took his leave of the rajah of Cananor, and departed for Portugal, where he arrived in safety with all his ships.[9]

After the departure of Nueva from Cananor, one of his men, named Gonsalo Pixoto, who had been made prisoner and carried to Calicut, came to Cananor with a message from the Zamorin to Nueva, making excuses for all that had been done there to Cabral, and for the attempt against his own fleet at Cananor, and offering, if he would come to Calicut, to give him a full loading of spices, and sufficient hostages both for his safety and the performance of his promise.

[1] It afterwards appears that one vessel only was destined for this particular trade: Perhaps the second was meant for Quiloa.--E.
[2] According to Astley, I. 49. the crews of these four vessels consisted in all of 400 men.--E.
[3] Called de Atayde by Astley.--E.
[4] According to Astley, I. 49. Nueva discovered in this outward voyage the Island of Conception, in lat. 8° S. But this circumstance does not occur in Castaneda.--E.
[5] Before arriving at Melinda, Nueva gave chase to two large ships belonging to the Moors, one of which he took and burnt, but the other escaped.--Astl. I. 49.
[6] According to De Faria, Nueva took in a part of his loading; at Cochin, with a view perhaps to preserve the credit of the Portuguese nation at that place.--Astl. I. 50. a.
[7] In the original this linen cloth is said to have been made of algadon, a word left untranslated by Lichefild, probably al-cotton, or some such Arabic word for cotton: The linen cloth, therefore, was some kind of calico or muslin.--E.
[8] According to De Faria, five great ships and nine paraws were sunk in this action. De Barros says ten merchant ships and nine paraws.--Astl. I. 50. c.
[9] On this part of the voyage, Astley remarks, on the authority of De Faria, that Nueva touched at the island of St Helena, which he found destitute of inhabitants; though it was found peopled by De Gama in his first voyage, only four years before. What is called the island of St Helena in De Gama's first voyage, is obviously one of the head-lands of St Elens bay on the western coast of Africa. The island of St Helena is at a vast distance from the land, in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.--E.


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