Spanish and Portuguese Conflict in the Spice Islands: The Loaysa Expedition to the Moluccas 1525-1535 : From Book XX of The General and Natural History of the Indies by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés book cover
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Spanish and Portuguese Conflict in the Spice Islands: The Loaysa Expedition to the Moluccas 1525-1535
From Book XX of The General and Natural History of the Indies by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés

Edited By

Glen Frank Dille

ISBN 9780367700751
Published June 1, 2021 by Routledge
216 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, (1478–1557), warden of the fortress and port of Santo Domingo of the Island of Hispaniola, also served his emperor, Charles V, as the official chronicler of the first half-century of the Spanish presence in the New World. His monumental General y Natural Historia de las Indias, consisting of three parts, with fifty books, hundreds of chapters and thousands of pages, is still a major primary source for researchers of the period 1492–1548. Part One, consisting of 19 books, was first published in 1535, then reprinted and augmented in 1547, with a third edition, including Book XX, the first book of Part II, appearing in Valladolid in 1557. Book XX, which was printed separately in Valladolid in 1557 (the year of Oviedo’s death), concerns the first three Spanish voyages to the East Indies. While it might be expected that the narrative of Magellan’s voyage would predominate in Book XX, Oviedo devoted only the first four chapters to this monumental voyage. The remaining thirty–one concern the two subsequent and little-known Spanish follow-up expeditions to the Moluccas 1525-35. The first, initially led by García Jofre de Loaysa, set out from Coruña to follow Magellan’s route through the Strait and across the Pacific. A second relief expedition under Alvaro Saavedra was sent out in search of Loaysa’s company from the Pacific coast of New Spain in 1527. In each venture only one vessel reached the Spice Islands. Oviedo’s narrative offers many details of the 10 years of hardships and conflict with the Portuguese, endured by the stoic Spanish, and of the growing unrest it provoked among their indigenous hosts. The news that Charles V had pawned his claim to the King João III of Portugal allowed a very few of the Spaniards to negotiate a passage back to Spain via Lisbon, while others remained in Portuguese settlements in the East Indies. The reports made by the returnees to the Consejo de Indias were integrated by Oviedo into his narrative, expanded and enriched by personal interviews. His chronicle includes much information about the indigenous culture, commerce, geography and of the exotic fauna and flora of the Spice Islands.

Table of Contents


1. The Spice Trade

2. The Moluccas at the Time of the Arrival of the Europeans

3. Portugal Challenges the Muslim Monopoly

4. Spain Challenges the Portuguese Spice Monopoly

5. Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes’s General and Natural History

6. Book XX of the Second Part of the General History of the Indies: written by Captain Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés

7. Oviedo’s source: Andrés de Urdaneta

8. The Loaysa Expedition to the Spicelands: the Events of the Voyage

9. The Years spent by the Spanish survivors in the Moluccas

10. Urdaneta and the Tornaviaje, 1565

11. The Significance of the Loaysa Expedition

12. This Translation


General Prologue



V. Which treats of the second and infelicitous voyage to the Spicelands, with the second armada that the Emperor, our lord, sent there in the second discovery commanded by Captain-General Fray García Jofre de Loaysa, Knight of the Order of Rhodes, citizen of Ciudad Real

VI. How Captain-General Fray García Jofre de Loaysa rejoined the other ships of the armada, and of other events that happened to them, and of the giants and people of the Strait of Magellanes to whom Magellanes gave the name Patagones

VII. What happened to the cleric Don Joan de Areyzaga among the giant Patagones, and of the continuation of their journey in search of the ships of the armada

VIII. Of some particulars of the people called the giants, and of the birds, fish and other things that those of this armada observed

IX. Continuing the journey of the armada that went with Commander Fray García de Loaysa, and of some particulars of the river and harbour of Santa Cruz and of that land

X. Of some particulars of the river of San Alfonso where he had been before, as reported in Chapter IV, and how the armada returned to the Strait of Fernando Magallanes

XI. Of some particulars of the famous Strait of Ferdinand Magellanes

XII. Of what happened to Captain Sanctiago de Guevara and to Chaplain Don Juan de Areyzaga and the other Spaniards aboard the pinnace Santiago in their journey beyond the Strait

XIII. In which is the conclusion of the account of the cleric Don Juan de Areyzaga

XIV. Of the Strait of Magallanes, its length and width, its notable parts, the giants that inhabit it and other particulars.

XV. How the third captain-general named Salazar died, and Martín Iñiquez de Carquizano was elected to fill the position and continued the voyage to the Maluco; how they came upon a rich island called Vendanao and what happened to them there

XVI. How they discovered the Ladrones Islands and came upon a Christian Spaniard who had sailed in the first armada with Captain Ferdinand Magellan

XVII. How the third captain-general named Salazar died, and Martín Iñiquez de Carquizano was elected to fill the position and continued the voyage to the Maluco; how they came upon a rich island called Vendanao and what happened to them there

XVIII. Which treats of the province of Cebú and of the trade there with Chinese merchants and in the other islands of the Célebes archipelago, and of the voyage of this flagship

XIX. Of the embassy that Captain Martín Iñiguez de Carquizano sent to the kings of Tidore and of Gilolo; and of the gracious responses and good will the emissaries received from those kings and how pleased they were at the arrival of those Castilians at their lands

XX. How the Emperor’s captain determined to go see the kings of Tidore and Gilolo and departed in his ship accompanied by their emissaries in their paraos; how on the way he was given a letter from the captain-general of the king of Portugal and his response to it

XXI. How the Portuguese went to fight the Castilians at Tidore with many more people than the soldiers of the Emperor; how the ones and the others fared in this encounter; and how the Portuguese returned badly damaged to their fortress of Ternate

XXII. How Captain Martín Iñiguez sent a parao to determine if the two ships they saw sailing were of the armada or not; and how those who set out on this mission captured two paraos at sea and burned a town on the island of Motil that the Portuguese held

XXIII. How the general sent Captain Urdaneta to search for the ships they had sighted from Camafo; and how he burned down a town on an island and killed or captured its inhabitants; and how he came upon eight paraos with Portuguese on board

XXIV. How Captain-General Martín Iñiguez ordered a galleon built to send to Spain because the flagship was no longer seaworthy; how two paraos of Portuguese came and the Spaniards sallied forth against them

XXV. Which treats of the arrival of Don Jorge de Meneses in India and of the subsequent differences and wars between the Portuguese and the Castilians; and how the parties agreed to a truce which was broken by the Portuguese

XXVI. How Fernando de la Torre was elected captain-general on the death of Martín Iñiguez; how the fusta the Castilians were building in Gilolo was destroyed by a fire secretly set by the Portuguese; how a principal gentleman of Tidore was killed for sleeping with the queen; and of other things pertinent to the history

XXVII. How Quichilhumar, governor of Machián, abandoned the Portuguese and passed over to the Castilian side and how the Portuguese destroyed the city of Machián by means of an Indian traitor; and of the intervention of the Portuguese and Castilians in support of their allies

XXVIII. How, at the Emperor’s command, the governor of New Spain sent a galleon and crew to the Spicelands to learn of Captain Fray García de Loaysa’s armada, and found things in the state that has been related, and of what happened on the galleon’s arrival

XXIX. How Hernando Cortés’s galleon, captained by Alvaro de Saavedra, departed the Maluco carrying some Portuguese prisoners and the despicable thing they did to the captain in stealing the ship’s boat; and how the ship returned to Tidore

XXX. How …Captain Saavedra’s galleon returned to the Maluco to be cleared to return to New Spain; how the king of Gilolo and special friend of the Castilians died; how Tidore was lost as well as our fortress by the treason and mutiny of Fernando de Bustamante

XXXI. How the galleon of Governor Hernando Cortés returned a second time, coming to Camafo; and how Captain Fernando de la Torre renewed the war because the Portuguese did not live up to the agreement; and how the Indians on both sides made peace among themselves and agreed to kill the Castilians and the Portuguese

XXXII. How Gonzalo Pereyra came to the Maluco as the king of Portugal’s captain and arrested Don Jorge de Meneses; and how Gonzalo Pereyra and the Castilians re-established the peace between the parties; and how the Indians of Ternate rose up against the Portuguese, …and how the Portuguese recovered their fortress and … the Castilians sent to India to request passage to Spain

XXXIII. How the Portuguese took the city of Gilolo where the Castilians were and how the Castilians and their captain passed over to the Portuguese and went with them to their fortress in Ternate where Captain Tristán de Atayde gave them the two thousand ducats that the Portuguese governor of India granted them for their journey

XXXIV. A description of the clove islands called the Maluco, and an account of the clove gathered in each island one year to the next; and of their customs, marriages, conduct and merchandise exchanged between those people; and likewise of the Célebes Islands, the Banthán Islands

XXXV. Of some customs, ceremonies, and rites of the Indians of the Spicelands; and of how the Castilians left Maluco for India, passing by way of Java; and especially of Captain Urdaneta, the one who most travelled and saw things of those parts

XXXVI. Of a remarkable case of a fruit resembling almonds, and how many of them are found on a small islet without there being an almond tree or any tree that bears such a fruit on that island nor is that fruit produced where it is found; rather it comes by air


1. The narrative which Andres de Urdaneta submits to your Majesty of the fleet which your Majesty despatched to the Spice Islands under the Comendador Loaysa, in the year 1525

2. Narrative of all that was traversed and discovered by the Captain Alvaro de Sayavedra who sailed from the port of Yacatulo in New Spain on November 1st, 1527: which fleet was despatched by Don Hernan Cortes, Marquis of Valle

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Professor Glen Frank Dille (1940–2019), was a veteran of the United States Air Force, serving as Captain in the Vietnam-era. He received his BA and MA from the University of Colorado (Boulder), and his Ph. D from Tulane University in New Orleans. He took up a position in Spanish Language and Literature at Bradley University, Peoria in 1978, retiring in 2005 with the conferred rank of Professor Emeritus. Specializing in Early Modern Spanish Literature, he published La Comedia llamada Serafina: an Anonymous Humanistic Comedy of 1521, in 1979, followed by Antonio Enríquez Gómez, 1988, a study of the work of the dramatist, poet and novelist (1600-1663). Professor Dille was a distinguished translator. Writing from the Edge of the World: The Memoirs of Darien, 1514–27, 2006, makes available Oviedo’s account of his service in Panama. The General and Natural History of the Indies., Book 50, Misfortunes and Shipwrecks in the Seas of the Indies, Islands, and Mainland of the Ocean Sea (1533–1548), appeared in 2011. These two editions, together with Professor Dille’s translation of portions of Book XX in this present volume, provide welcome access to some of the treasures of a huge text which is still largely available only to readers of Spanish.