A KING CONVINCED
 THE fantastic Faleiro and the serious Magellan won a great victory when they brought over
Bishop Fonseca to their way of thinking, for his way was the king's way—just then;
and they convinced Charles of the feasibility of their scheme when they convinced the head
of the India house. For one who had grown old and gray in the fitting out of expeditions
which rarely realized the expectations of their promoters, and in combating the plans of
hard-headed navigators who desired to sail to the uttermost ends of the earth, the great
churchman was quite enthusiastic. This may have been because he was still under the spell
of that necromancer, Ruy Faleiro; but whatever the cause, he promised to take the matter
up with the king, who was then absent on
 a hunting-trip, and this was equivalent to stamping it with the royal approval. Indeed,
Fonseca attended to the business so faithfully that a capitulation was drawn up and signed
only two months after their arrival at Valladolid, first by the king, then by Faleiro and
Magellan, by which the sovereign agreed to provide an armada of five ships, provision it
for two years, and furnish at least two hundred and fifty men for the crews.
The date of this instrument was March 22, 1518, only five months after their arrival in
Spain, and it must be admitted that the partners had made very good progress. Very few
petitioners at royal courts, especially at the court of Castile, had ever received such
prompt and respectful attention, or had so few obstacles thrown in their way. The reader
will quite naturally revert to the case of Columbus, by way of contrast, and recall the
long years spent by that humble suppliant at the court of Isabella and Ferdinand. But the
granting of a petition is not immediately fulfilling the obligations incurred, and
eighteen months passed away before that promised fleet set sail.
By the terms of the contract between the
 king and the Portuguese partners, no exploration was to be projected or carried within the
boundaries claimed by the king's "dear and well-beloved uncle," Dom Manoel, whose "rights"
were to be rigidly respected. In other words, while Charles was willing to appropriate the
services of Dom Manoel's former subjects, whose secrets were invaluable assets, and in
effect invade the islands pertaining to Portugal, he was yet scrupulous to show a careful
observance of the Tordesillas treaty, by which the world-line of delimitation was fixed
between the two countries.
No time less favorable, on the face of it, could have been chosen for the securing of a
concession from Spain, where the rights of her nearest neighbor were concerned, than that
taken by Faleiro and Magellan, for other important negotiations were going on, which
Charles very much desired to see carried through successfully. These negotiations related
to nothing less than a matrimonial alliance between Dom Manoel, aged fifty, and King
Charles's sister Leonora, aged twenty. Like most aged wooers who have set their hearts
upon acquiring youthful consorts, the Portuguese king was ardent
 in his love-making (by proxy), while the prospective bride was diffident, though subject
to the command of her brother—in fact, an unwilling victim.
The ambassador charged with the important mission was one Alvaro da Costa, Dom Manoel's
grand chamberlain and keeper of the robes. He was less fit, apparently, to transact such
weighty negotiations as those with which he was intrusted than to dust and air his
sovereign's wardrobe, for though aware of what was occurring with reference to the
Moluccas, he could conceive of no method for arresting progress. A marriage treaty was
drafted at Zaragoza, on May 22, 1518, which was ratified July 16, only four days before
the India house was finally informed that it was the king's unalterable determination to
prosecute the enterprise projected in conjunction with Faleiro and Magellan. Charles must
have known that his royal cousin of Portugal would not view this action in a favorable
light. In truth, Dom Manoel's ambassador lost no time in giving him that impression, first
by suggestive hints, then by open arguments, but without avail. As the summer waned,
without any signs of
relent-  ing on the part of King Charles as to severing connections with the ambassador's
discredited countrymen, Dom Alvaro became quite frantic, and one day, pushing past the
officers on guard, told the sovereign to his face that he was committing a great wrong in
putting this affront upon his royal master. He was, in fact, jeopardizing the chances for
the union between the king's sister and the king's cousin; but it is related that Charles
replied rather tartly to this insinuation, that it mattered to him no whit, for his sister
was sure of a suitor, and perchance might occupy a greater throne than the Portuguese. In
point of fact, a few years later she did, for having been married to Dom Manoel in
November, 1518, she was, after his death in 1521, united to Francis I. of France, whom she
The last week of September, 1518, Dom Alvaro wrote his sovereign a letter concerning his
woes, which, as it gives a faithful picture of the times and throws much light upon the
intentions of Dom Manoel respecting Magellan, is herewith reproduced, in translation, from
the original in the archives of the Torre do Tombo:
 "SIRE,—Concerning the matter of Fernao Magalhaes, how much I
have done and how much I have labored, God knows; and now, Chievres [the minister] being
ill, I have spoken upon the subject very strongly to the king himself, putting before him
all the inconveniences that in this case may arise, and also representing to him what an
ugly matter it was, and how unusual, for one king to receive the subjects of another king,
his friend, contrary to his wish—a thing unheard of among caballeros, and accounted
both ill-judged and ill-seeming. Yet I had just put your highness and your highness's
possessions at his service here in Valladolid, at the moment he was harboring these
persons against your will.
"I begged him to consider that this was not the time to offend your highness, the more so
in an affair which was of so little importance and so uncertain; and that he would have
subjects enough of his own to make discoveries, when the time came, without resorting to
these malcontents of your highness, whom your highness could not fail to believe likely to
labor more for your disservice than for anything else. . . . I also represented to him the
bad appearance that this would have, in the year and very moment of the marriage—the
ratification of friendship and affection. And also, that it seemed to me that your
highness would much regret to learn that these men asked leave of him to return, and that
he did not grant it, the which are two faults: the receiving of them contrary to your
desire, and the retaining them contrary to their own. And I begged of him, both for his
own and your highness's sake, that
 he would do one of two things—either permit them to go, or put off the affair for
this year, by which he would not lose much, and means might be taken whereby he might be
obliged, and your highness might not be offended, as you would be were this scheme carried
"He was so surprised, sire, at what I told him, that I also was surprised; but he replied
to me with the best words in the world, saying that on no account did he wish to offend
your highness, and many other good words; and he suggested that I should speak to the
cardinal, and confide the whole matter to him. I, sire, had already talked the matter over
with the cardinal, who is the best thing here, and who does not approve of the
business, and he promised me to do what he could to get off the affair. He spoke to the
king, and thereupon they summoned the Bishop of Burgos, who is the chief supporter of the
scheme. And with that, certain two men of the council succeeded in making the king believe
that he did your highness no wrong, since he only ordered exploration to be made within
his own limits, and far from your highness's possessions; and that your highness should
not take it ill that he should make use of two of your subjects—men of no great
importance—while your highness himself employed many Spaniards. They also adduced
many other arguments, and at last the cardinal told me that the bishop and others insisted
so much upon the subject that the king could not now alter his determination.
"While Chievres was well, I kept representing this business to him, as I have just said,
 much more. He lays the blame [of course] upon those Spaniards who have pushed the king on,
but says he will speak to the king. On former occasions, however, I besought him much on
this subject, and he never came to any determination, and thus I think he will act now.
"It seems to me, sire, that your highness might get back Fernao de Magalhaes—which
would be a great blow to these people—but as for the bachelor [Ruy Faleiro], I do
not count him much, for he is half crazy . . .
"Do not let your highness infer that I went too far in what I said to the king, for,
besides the fact that all I said was true, these people do not perceive anything, nor has
the king liberty, up to now, to do anything for himself, and on that account his actions
may be the less regarded.
"May the Lord increase the life and dominions of your highness, to His holy service.
"From Zaragoza, Tuesday night, September 28, 1518.
"I kiss the hands of your highness.
"ALVARO DA COSTA."
It was true, as Dom Alvaro wrote Dom Manoel, the king could not, or would not, alter his
determination, and, spurred on by the Bishop of Burgos, the India house excelled all
previous records in furnishing ships, supplies, and men. A friend of an official high in
position, one Aranda, was deputed to purchase the ships, which were obtained at
 Cadiz, and were in such poor condition that the Portuguese factor, who was spying upon
these proceedings for his king, reported them unsafe even for a voyage to the Canaries.
"They are old and battered," he wrote, "and their ribs as soft as butter! Sorry would I be
to sail in them, your highness." But one of these "sorry ships" afterwards sailed around
the world, for the first time in the history of the globe it circumnavigated, and two of
them safely reached the Philippines. Still, they were old, practically unseaworthy, and it
required all Fernan Magellan's skill and care to make them fit, and carry him across two
These are their names and their tonnage: the San Antonio, 120 tons;
Trinidad, 110 tons; Concepcion, 90 tons; Victoria, 85 tons, and the
Santiago, 75 tons. They closely approximated to the total tonnage promised by the
king in his capitulacion, falling but twenty tons short, in the aggregate; and Magellan,
seeing that his royal master was trying to keep faith with him, set himself cheerily to
the work of fitting them out.
King Charles, indeed, went further than he had promised, for, in advance of confirming the
agreement he had made with Magel
 lan and Faleiro, he bestowed upon them a precious token of his high esteem. In the
presence of the king and his council, at Valladolid, they were admitted to the venerated
Order of Santiago, and decorated with the cross of comendador, or knight-commander.
Then, about the end of July, the two captains left Valladolid for Seville, where their
labor was unremitting, until the fleet dropped down the Guadalquivir to San Lucar.
Meanwhile, Portuguese factors, hired agents, and even assassins, in the pay of Portugal
(it has been averred), sought to prevent Magellan from carrying out his scheme. He was
first approached by Dom Alvaro da Costa, the king's ambassador, who, having Dom Manoel's
promise of promotion should he succeed in defeating the enterprise, labored lustily to
dissuade him from the project. He offered him the royal pardon, not only, but the rewards
of a high position, if he would leave Spain and return to Portugal; but Magellan would not
listen. "Consider," then urged Dom Alvaro, "that you not only sin against the king, but
against God, inasmuch as he is the servant of God, and you will forever stain his good
 Moreover, reflect that you will be the cause of dissension between two sovereigns, who,
but for you, will still further strengthen the ties of blood and friendship that unite
them, by the union of the Spanish princess with his Highness Dom Manoel. But for you,
Fernan Magellan—consider well!"
"They will marry," answered Magellan, "whate'er betide, for your king's heart is set upon
it; though as to the princess—well, that is a matter for her conscience; little she
inclines that way, I fancy. As for me, my word is pledged to King Charles, and on my
sacred honor, I shall not break with him!"
"You will repent these words," declared Dom Alvaro, giving him an evil look; and that he
did not repent them was through no fault of the Portuguese. Departing from the region of
the court, however, Magellan was rid of the ambassador's presence, though not beyond his
influence—as he soon had reason to believe.
It was on a dark night, in Seville. After a day of toil at the India house, Fernan had
slipped over to a dinner with Bishop Fonseca, at whose house he was always welcome. The
two were much together now, for the bishop, erratic and sordid as he had the
 reputation of being in his dealings with others, had taken a great fancy to Magellan.
Usually, after an evening with his friend, Fonseca had insisted upon some of his armed
retainers accompanying Fernan to his home, in the house of Dom Diego Barbosa. But on this
night, somehow, the precaution was omitted, though the bishop well knew the dangers that
lurked in the path of his young friend. He saw to it, however, that Fernan had his sword
by his side, and laughingly remarked that he presumed he knew how to use it.
"If I do not, it is not from lack of practise," lightly replied Magellan, kissing the
fingers extended to him by the bishop, and swinging out into the darkness. He had not
proceeded far, for he was at a corner of the great cathedral, when out from the shadow of
its main portal leaped a man with a drawn dagger in his hand. He aimed a blow at
Magellan's back, between the shoulders; but his prey in prospective was alert, for he had
seen the sinister shadow, projected by the faint light of a waning moon. He whirled around
with great rapidity, and with his sword slashed the would-be assassin across the face.
Blinded by blood, the man whined
 piteously, and Fernan had not the heart to kill him, though he was completely at his
"Take that to Dom Alvaro," he simply said, wiping his sword and thrusting it into its
sheath. "And tell him this: It is a proverb of my country, and he must know it: 'The
lame goat never takes a siesta (cabra manca nao tern sesta)," he
added, grimly, limping away with this jest on his lips at his own deformity.
Fernan Magellan was not disturbed by these attacks, nor by the knowledge that his life was
constantly in danger, for he considered it "part of the game" to be assaulted. Give him
his good Toledo blade only, and fair warning—he asked nothing else of the enemy. The
Portuguese respected him for his courage, and took pride in him as their countryman; but
the dastardly hirelings of Dom Manoel continued to worry him, nevertheless.
One day in October, as he was engaged in overhauling the Trinidad, which he had
occasion to careen at low tide, early in the morning, a crowd of idlers gathered about him
as, busy at work, he went hither and thither about the ship-yard. At last, an
 alguacil, or petty official, a constable, went to one of the four capstans used in
careening the vessel, and tore from it a flag bearing the arms of Magellan, which, as was
customary for the captain of a ship, he had placed there.
"It is a Portuguese flag," he shouted, "and no right has he to fly it on a Spanish
vessel!" The crowd took up the cry: "A Portuguese flag on a Spanish ship. Down with the
An aristocrat by birth, and a comendador of Santiago by grace of the king, Magellan
refused to exchange words with the alguacil, and when the mob drove away his men and
advanced upon him with clubs and stones, he calmly folded his arms and told the captain of
the port, who had taken sides against him, that owing to the rising of the tide the vessel
was in peril, and if anything happened to her his would be the responsibility. As for the
mob, he turned his back upon it scornfully, refusing to explain or defend actions for
which he was responsible only to the king. The outburst of fury against him was somewhat
allayed by the arrest of a few of his men, who were marched off to prison by the alguacil
and the captain of the port; but Magellan himself was unharmed.
 The next day he wrote a spirited letter to the king, complaining of the insult offered to
"one of your highness's captains," and commending the action of his friend Sancho
Matienzo, an official of the India house, who had gallantly come to his rescue and calmed
the tumult, at the risk of his life. The king responded graciously, sending his approval
of what Magellan had done in the premises, praising Matienzo's action, censuring the port
captain, and ordering the arrest and punishment of the derelict officials. After which
rebuke by the king, no Spaniard dared insult Magellan publicly; but there was an
undercurrent of hatred running against him, as was shown by the straws on the surface.
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