Exploring The Pacific (Discovery & Exploration) by Martha Vail

By Martha Vail

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And Spain stood on the verge of economic catastrophe. Charles had acquired huge debts in gaining the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. Only by asserting Spain’s sovereignty in the Moluccas and expanding lucrative possessions in the Pacific could Charles prevent disaster. Charles pressed Portugal to revisit the Treaty of Tordesillas and to recognize Spanish claims on the Moluccas. Since the geographic position of the islands was still unclear to \ 50 negotiators, nothing was resolved, and Spain and Portugal continued to struggle for control of the Spice Islands.

Careful to hide the origins of their goods in the Spice Islands (the Moluccas, today part of Indonesia), Arab traders brought spices to and from India, whose ports welcomed ships arriving from the Spice Islands laden with pepper, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Before refrigeration, salting was used to preserve meats and other foods. Salt was therefore extremely valuable and obtained through the Eastern trade routes. In a time when no sugar, lemons, or limes enlivened the bland dishes of Europe, spices made food palatable.

Some historians speculate that Enrique was originally from that area, not from Malaya, and when the expedition reached the Philippines, Enrique became history’s first circumnavigator. On March 28 the ships anchored off the lush island of Cebu. With Spain’s desire for the gold and luxury goods of the East, there was an almost equally strong desire to bring the peoples of the new lands to salvation by converting them to Christianity. Priests had come on the expedition for this purpose. Magellan hoped that the people of Cebu would quickly abandon what he saw as their savage beliefs and embrace the Catholic faith.

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