Ferdinand Magellan and me (92)


Women aboard ship.

Carvalho was roundly criticised for the debacle of the attack on the local fleet and called upon Pigafetta for advice with his letter of apology.
“Dear Rajah,” he said, beginning his epistle out loud. “Is that the right way to address him do you think, Pigafetta?”

“Probably something more like ‘Most illustrious and venerated Son of Heaven, before whom kings tremble in awe of Your Majesty..” Pigafetta said, “or words to that effect.”

Before he was done, they heard a hail from the deck, indicating approach of a vessel and soon after one of the Greek seamen left ashore to set up the trading post, appeared in the doorway.
“Begging your pardon, Captain, I have a message from the Shahbanda.”


He says the rajah is not pleased. He says you have killed his people. He says the junk you captured belongs to his friend, the rajah of Luzon. Until you release it your officers, Espinosa and El Cano, will remain his guests.

Carvalho crumpled his letter, in its fifth draft, and buried his face in his hands. He had put a prize crew aboard the junk to which he laid claim and now he took a boat to get them off. He returned within the hour with the men-at-arms and also three slave girls. Pigafetta was astounded, and so was Master Andrew, the gunner, and others of the Council.

“Carvalho, why have you brought the girls?” Master Andrew asked.
“A present for Don Carlos. We shall turn them into Christians and take them back to Spain.”
“When did you become a missionary? I think you are more interested in their bodies than their souls.”
Mendez, the fleet accountant, raised the issue of primage. If Carvalho claimed primage on the girls as legitimate spoils of war their value should be assessed so the tax owing to the king could be calculated.

“I mean, are they worth as much as cloves or pigs or red hats or do we have to wait until we get them to the slave market and see how much they fetch.?”

Magellan would never allow women aboard ship and Carvalho’s action was the last straw for members of the council. Also, Trinidad was leaking badly and required hauling down for recaulking. Carvalho had lost whatever respect he ever had. As the ship sailed in search of a suitable location a meeting of senior officers decided he was unfit for the role and elected Mendez the Armada’s fifth captain general; the fourth in the three months since the death of Magellan. Espinosa, former master at arms, became captain of Trinidad and Carvalho reverted to pilot.
“As for the slave girls,” Mendez said in his new official capacity, we have a spare cabin they can live in. I suggest Master Andrew should be their guardian. He is perhaps too old to be tempted.”

“Not that old, Mendez,” Master Andrew said with a scowl.

see:A Singular Captain

A Singular Captain


    Author: leonidas

    Sailor from wayback with a Master's degree in Technology Management. Prefer classical music to rap and chicken curry to steak.

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