The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898 - Volume VI, 1583-1588
by Emma Helen Blair
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The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898

explorations by early navigators, descriptions of the islands and their peoples, their history and records of the catholic missions, as related in contemporaneous books and manuscripts, showing the political, economic, commercial and religious conditions of those islands from their earliest relations with European nations to the close of the nineteenth century

Volume VI, 1583-1588

Edited and annotated by Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson with historical introduction and additional notes by Edward Gaylord Bourne.

Editorial Announcement

The Editors desire to announce to their readers an important modification in the scope and contents of this work. As originally planned and hitherto announced, the series was intended to furnish the original sources, printed and documentary, for the history of the Philippine Islands only to the beginning of the nineteenth century. To most of our readers, the reasons for this are obvious: the fact that the classic period of Philippine history is thus bounded; the comparative rarity and inaccessibility of most material therein to the general public; the vast extent of the field covered by Philippine history, and the necessary limitations of space imposed upon the selection of material for this work; the closing of foreign archives to all investigators after an early date in the nineteenth century; and the greater difficulty, in that later period, of securing a proper historical perspective. But so many and urgent requests have come to us, from subscribers and reviewers, for such extension of this series as shall cover the entire period of Spanish domination, that we have decided to modify the former plan in the manner here briefly indicated.

It is our purpose not to exceed the number of volumes already announced, fifty-five. We are able to do this because in our original plan, to avoid a subsequent increase in the number of volumes, a certain amount of space was purposely left for possible future changes as a result of later investigations to be made in foreign archives, or on account of the necessary excision of extraneous or irrelevant matter from the printed works which are to be presented in this series. The new title will be "The Philippine Islands: 1493-1898." The early and especially important history of the islands will be covered as fully as before. For the history of the nineteenth century, we will present various important decrees, reports, and other official documents; and provide a clear, careful, and impartial synopsis of some of the best historical matter extant, down to the close of the Spanish regime. Throughout the series will be used, as has been done from the beginning, all the best material available—historical, descriptive, and statistical—for reference and annotation. With the copious and carefully-prepared bibliography of Philippine historical literature, and the full analytical index, which will close the series; the broad and representative character of the material selected throughout; and the impartial and non-sectarian attitude maintained, the Editors trust that this change will still further enable scholars, historical writers, and general readers alike to study, with reliable and satisfactory material, the history of the Philippine Islands from their first discovery by Europeans to the close of the Spanish regime, and incidentally the history of the entire Orient.

Contents of Volume VI

Preface ... 13

Documents of 1583-85

Foundation of the Audiencia of Manila (concluded). Felipe II; Aranjuez, May 5, 1583 ... 35

Two decrees regarding the religious. Felipe II; San Lorenzo, June 21, 1583, and Aranjuez, April 24, 1584 ... 45

Annual income of the royal exchequer in the Philippines. Andres Cauchela, and others; Manila, June 15-30, 1584 ... 47

Letter to Felipe II. Melchor Davalos; Manila, July 3, 1584 ... 54

Letter to the archbishop of Mexico. Santiago de Vera; Manila, June 20, 1585 ... 66

Two letters to Felipe II. Fray Geronimo de Guzman [Madrid? 1585]; and Fray Jhoan de Vascones [1585?] ... 76

History of the great kingdom of China (extracts relating to the Philippines). Juan Gonzalez de Mendoza; Madrid, 1586 ... 81

Documents of 1586

Memorial to the Council by citizens of the Filipinas Islands. Santiago de Vera, and others; Manila, [July 26] ... 157

Letter to Felipe II. Alfonso de Chaves, and others; Manila, June 24 ... 234

Letter from the Manila cabildo to Felipe II. Andres de Villanueva, and others; Manila, June 25 ... 242

Letter to Felipe II. Antonio Sedeno; Manila, June 25 ... 247

Letter to Felipe II. Domingo de Salazar; Manila, June 26 ... 251

Letter from the Audiencia to Felipe II. Santiago de Vera, and others; Manila, June 26 ... 254

Letter to Felipe II. Pedro de Rojas; Manila, June 30 ... 265

Letter to Felipe II. Juan de Moron; Manila, June 30 ... 275

Measures regarding trade with China. Felipe II, and others; Madrid and Manila; June 17-November 15 ... 279

Brief erecting Franciscan province of the Philippines. Sixtus V; Rome, November 15 ... 290

Documents of 1587-88

Letter to Felipe II. Alvaro, Marques de [Villa] Manriquez; Mexico, February 8, 1587 ... 295

Letter to Felipe II. Santiago de Vera; Manila, June 26, 1587 ... 297

Letter from the Audiencia to Felipe II. Santiago de Vera, and others; Manila, June 25, 1588 ... 311

Bibliographical Data ... 323


Title-page of Historia del gran reyno de China, by Juan Goncalez de Mendoca (Madrid, M.D.LXXXVI); from copy (Madrigal edition) in Library of Congress ... 83

Title-page of "Itinerario" at end of Goncalez's Historia, from copy in Library of Congress ... 135

Signature of Alonso Sanchez, S.J., from MS. in Archivo general de Indias, Sevilla ... 228


The present volume covers the period of 1583 to 1588 inclusive. At the close of two decades of Spanish occupation in the Philippines, the native population is decimated, and the Spanish colonists are poor, heavily burdened with taxation, and largely non-producing. The islands are but nominally defended by a small, irregular, demoralized force of unpaid soldiers, whose lawlessness and arrogance render them dangerous to their own countrymen, and tyrants over the helpless natives. The Audiencia is a costly institution, a burden of which all the people complain. They have other grievances and many needs, which finally impel them to send a special envoy to Spain, to procure relief and aid from the home government. The documents in this volume contain much valuable information regarding the economic condition of the colony, and its commercial relations with China and Mexico respectively. As the Spanish settlers in the Philippines find that they are largely dependent upon China for their food, those who are wise see the necessity of encouraging and extending agriculture in the islands; but others are fired with the lust for wealth and conquest, and urge upon Felipe II a scheme for subduing China by force of arms, thus to give Spain the control of the great Oriental world, and incidentally to enrich a host of needy Spanish subjects.

In Volume V was presented the greater part of the royal decree establishing the Audiencia of the Filipinas; the document is here concluded. The duties of certain subordinate officials of that tribunal—commissioners of examination, jail-wardens, and interpreters—are carefully prescribed. Such commissioners are forbidden to play games of chance, except for articles of food ready to be eaten. Prisoners in jail shall not be allowed to gamble, except for food. The document closes with a general provision for a tariff of official fees, and for the care of the Audiencia's archives.

Felipe II decrees (June 21, 1583) that the Audiencia aid the Franciscan missionaries in the islands; and (April 24, 1584) that the religious orders there continue to receive from the royal treasury the gratuities originally bestowed upon them by Legazpi. The officials of the treasury furnish a statement of their accounts, which shows a yearly deficit in current expenses; and extraordinary expenses besides, which nearly equal the total revenue for the year. Alarmed at this condition of affairs, the Audiencia institutes an inquiry (June 15, 1584) into the commercial and industrial status of the colony; the witnesses all testify that great scarcity of supplies, and poverty among the people, are prevalent; that a considerable portion of the native population has perished; and that the non-productive elements of the population are much too large.

One of the auditors, Melchor Davalos, writes (July 3, 1584) to the king a letter which, withal containing some valuable information regarding matters in the islands, is a curious mixture of pedantry, bigotry, egotism, and vanity. He mentions the arrival and establishment of the Audiencia at Manila, complains that he cannot obtain the salary due him, and relates the services which, he thinks, entitle him to better treatment. He asks for instructions as to what shall be done with the Mahometans, and cites the permission formerly given to Legazpi by the king to enslave the Moros in certain cases, also the example set by the sovereigns of Spain and Portugal in expelling or crushing the Moors who inhabited their dominions. Davalos also desires the king to settle the question of slaveholding by the Spaniards, which he is inclined to justify; and to take such action as will prevent the Chinese from obtaining all the money which comes to the Philippines. The utmost poverty prevails among the Spanish soldiery, who are unpaid; and Davalos advises that they be sent to make fresh conquests, by which they can support themselves. The Spanish post in the Moluccas is menaced by the native king of Ternate, and a large force of troops is to be sent to its aid. A controversy arises among the Spanish officers over the appointment of a commander for this expedition, which Davalos proposes to settle by himself going as commander—thus satisfying all the discontented captains, as he informs his royal correspondent. He desires the king to grant him authority to punish the Chinese for vicious practices, and thinks that the friars should convert and baptize these heathen more rapidly than they are doing.

The new governor, Santiago de Vera, writes (June 20, 1585) to the archbishop of Mexico. He encounters many difficulties—coolness on the part of the bishop, lack of support from his associates in the Audiencia, and but little acquaintance with the needs of the islands in the royal Council of the Indias. His duties are onerous and his responsibilities too great; he asks the archbishop to aid him in an appeal to the king for relief from these burdens and vexations. Vera cannot yet procure the quicksilver which he has been asked to send to Mexico, but will try to obtain it from the Chinese traders. The king of Ternate has revolted, and affairs there are in bad condition; more troops are needed, but cannot be spared from Manila. Vera discusses various matters concerning some of his officers, and affairs both military and civil. He sends to Spain, under arrest, two prisoners—one of them Diego Ronquillo, a kinsman of the late governor Gonzalo Ronquillo de Penalosa, charged with defalcation in the trust of the latter's estate.

A Franciscan official in Spain, Geronimo de Guzman, sends to the king (1585) certain recommendations regarding the government of the Franciscan friars in the Philippines. An Augustinian friar, Jhoan de Vascones, who has evidently gone from the islands to Spain, writes in behalf of his brethren there (1585?) to ask the king that more religious be sent to the Philippines and to other Oriental lands; that these friars be sent from Spain by way of India instead of Nueva Espana; that the authorities of India, secular and ecclesiastical, be commanded to aid the friars in their missionary journeys; that the latter be permitted to build monasteries as they may choose, "in remote and infidel lands," without awaiting government permission; and that the authorities at Manila be not allowed to send, at their own pleasure, the friars to other lands.

From the Historia del gran Reyno de China (Madrid, 1586) of the Augustinian Juan Gonzalez de Mendoza, we have translated such matter as relates to the Philippine Islands—portions of part ii, and of the "Itinerary" appended to Mendoza's work. He narrates (book i, part ii) the efforts of the Augustinian friars to carry the gospel to the Chinese. These are unavailing until, after the defeat of the Chinese pirate Limahon (whose exploits are narrated in some detail) by the Spanish forces, a Chinese officer named Omoncon, who has come to Manila in search of the pirate, forms a friendly acquaintance with the Spaniards, and, in return for favors at their hands, promises to convey to China some Spanish friars. For this mission are selected Fray Martin de Herrada (or Rada) and Fray Geronimo Marin, with two soldiers as an escort—one of whom is Miguel de Loarca, author of the curious "Relation" which appears in Volume V of this series. They are well treated by the Chinese, but are unable to establish a mission in that land, and finally are sent back to the Philippines. In the second book is related the voyage made by the Franciscans to China in 1579. At first they ask permission to go thither, which Sande is not willing to grant; but the conversion of a Chinese priest through their efforts makes them still more desirous of opening a mission in that country, and, Sande still refusing to allow this, they decide to go without informing him of their departure. To this account is appended an "Itinerary" of the journey made by another party of Franciscan friars from Spain to China and return. The writer relates various particulars concerning the Ladrones and Philippine Islands and their people, both historical and descriptive; the custom of slavery among them, and their religious beliefs; and the progress of Christianity in the archipelago—stating that the conversions therein now number 400,000. A supernatural appearance of a dead man's spirit, who describes the delights of the Christian heaven, is related in detail; this leads to many conversions among the natives, but some declare that "because there were Castilian soldiers in glory, they did not care to go thither, because they did not wish the soldiers' company." The products of the islands, and the articles imported from China, are enumerated, with mention of some current prices for produce.

A general junta, or assembly, of the estates of Manila—the church, the religious orders, the army, the royal service, and the citizens—is held on April 20, 1586; and a statement of their grievances and needs (signed on July 26) is sent to the home government by the hands of Father Alonso Sanchez, a Jesuit. They complain that the cathedral church has no suitable building, equipment, or provision for its services; and there is no means of support for the bishop and the clergy. They ask that tithes shall be paid, or else that the prebends be replaced by a few curates, who shall care for the souls of the Spaniards and their Indian servants. The royal hospital and that for the Indians are both in great destitution, and should be aided by royal bounty. More religious instructors are needed; and, in order to support them, more tribute should be required from the Indians, and the encomenderos should be compelled to pay tithes. The city of Manila demands some public property, with which to meet its necessary expenses; and the abolition of the duties hitherto imposed on commerce. They ask that the commutation of the royal fifth to one-tenth be made perpetual; and that offices and encomiendas be bestowed only on actual residents, who have rendered services in the islands. Workmen and mechanics in Manila should be paid there, and not in Mexico; a special official should be placed in charge of the ships; and there should be no commissary of the Inquisition in the islands. Complaint is made that too much money is sent thither from Mexico, apparently by speculators interested in the Chinese trade; and request is made that the export trade of the islands with Mexico be confined entirely to citizens of the former. It is asked that all future cargoes of goods from China be purchased at wholesale, by Spanish officers appointed for that purpose, and "afterward apportioned to the Spanish citizens, the Chinese, and the Indians, by a just and fair distribution," at cost price; that Chinese hucksters in Manila be suppressed; and that no Chinese be allowed even to remain outside of that city, save the Christian converts and those who are farmers or artisans, or who trade in food supplies. The Audiencia has become a burden; and it should be abolished, or its expenses be paid by the Mexican treasury. As the country has no agricultural industries, the king is asked to send farmers, with their families, as colonists; to exempt these from taxes, for a time, and from military or other personal service; and to forbid them to change their occupation. The Indians should be taught European methods of agriculture; cattle and horses should be imported into the islands and the native buffalo be domesticated and bred. The cultivation of lands granted to encomenderos should be enforced. Women should be brought from Spain, and provided with dowries, in order to become the wives of soldiers and workmen; and dowries should be provided for some native women, that they may marry poor Spaniards. Offices should not be sold; and encomiendas should be made large enough to pay their necessary taxes and other expenses. The Indians should not be obliged to pay the royal share of their gold; and their lawsuits should be despatched in the courts with simplicity and promptness. Tribute should not be collected from them by force, and without giving them religious instruction; and the boundaries of some encomiendas should be changed. A "protector of the Indians" should be appointed, who should not be also the royal fiscal; he should, besides, have charge of the Chinese. The soldiers are compelled to serve, yet are allowed no pay, from which many evils ensue; the troops have become demoralized; and the very existence of the colony is thus endangered. A regular paid force, of about three hundred and fifty men, should therefore be maintained; they should not engage in trade, or serve the officials; the officers should be clothed with suitable authority; and those sent from Nueva Espana should be soldiers, not boys and pages. Urgent request is made that the city of Manila be strongly fortified; this will inspire respect among their neighbors, and keep in awe the natives and the Chinese, who are liable at any time to revolt. Luzon is menaced with invasion by the Japanese, Malays, and English; and forts should be erected at various points for its defense. The coasts should be protected against pirates by a small fleet of light, swift vessels. It must be understood that no confidence can be placed in the natives, who kill Spaniards at every opportunity. The conquests hitherto made by the Spaniards should be further extended; and the districts and islands in which the natives are disaffected should be subdued and pacified. These will employ and reward the poor Spanish soldiers, and will afford protection to the converted natives, who are continually harassed and raided by their heathen neighbors. The regions that should be subdued range from the Liu-Kiu Islands to Borneo. The governor should be authorized to make such conquests, and even "to entrust them, by contract, to other Spaniards." The king is called upon "to aid in atoning for the wrongs inflicted on the Indians by the first conquerors," for which the latter are held responsible by the church, which refuses to absolve them from sins until payment for these wrongs be made to the Indians. This the conquerors are unable to do, and request for it aid from the royal treasury. The king is asked to compel the encomenderos to give religious instruction to their Indians. The abuses that prevail in the collection of tributes from the Indians are enumerated; in some places the natives are revolting, because treated so unjustly. Some Spaniards still hold Indians as slaves, in defiance of royal edicts; moreover, the natives themselves hold many slaves; and the priests are unwilling to grant absolution to either unless they release these slaves. Request is made for regulation of the system of slavery among the Indians. Complaint is made that the friars go from the islands wherever and whenever they please; thus they neglect their duties, arouse ill-feeling among the Chinese and other foreigners, and in many other ways do harm. This evil should be corrected by forbidding all Spaniards to leave the islands, or to give assistance to the friars in doing so, except by special permission from the authorities.

Then follows a curious scheme for invading and conquering China; this would bring much wealth to the crown of Spain, and be the means of converting innumerable souls to the Christian faith; the king is urged to undertake this enterprise at once. The arguments in justification of this conquest are left for Father Sanchez to explain to his Majesty. The forces, equipment, and supplies necessary are enumerated in detail, as also what part of these can be furnished in the Philippines themselves, where preparations for the expedition have already begun. The fleet which is expected to come from Spain with men and supplies should land in Cagayan, Luzon; the routes which may be taken by those vessels are described, and that by the Strait of Magellan is recommended as the shortest and safest. It is desirable to induce the Portuguese to take part in the proposed conquest; and an auxiliary force will probably come from Japan. The Jesuit missionaries who are in China are expected to act as guides and interpreters for the expedition. The troops should be so numerous and well equipped that they can at once awe the Chinese into submission; but they should not be allowed to ravage the country, nor should the native government be destroyed, as has so often been done in other Spanish conquests. It must be understood that the proposed expedition is not to deal with the Chinese as if they were Moors or Turks; it will be sent only to escort the preachers of the faith, and to see that any converts that they may gain shall be unmolested by the Chinese authorities; it should therefore be commanded and officered by honorable, humane, and Christian men. The gains which would result from the conquest of China are enumerated—at first, mainly religious; these include the foundation of many schools, churches, and monasteries for the Chinese, wherein they will speedily become Europeanized. The writer praises the natural abilities and excellent qualities of the people, and especially the virtue of their women. As for worldly advantages, these are many and great. Every year China can furnish to the Spanish treasury galleons loaded with gold, silks, and other treasures; much silver from its mines; and large amounts in rents, taxes, etc. All China can be divided into encomiendas; and there will be many offices and dignities to be enjoyed by the king's faithful vassals—indeed, "a great part of the Spanish people could come to reside there, and be ennobled." On account of the great virtue, modesty, submissiveness, and beauty of the Chinese women, they would prove to be excellent wives for the Spaniards; thus the two peoples would mingle, and "all would be united, fraternal, and Christian." It is for lack of such amalgamation that European experiments in Oriental colonization have hitherto failed; but the proposed scheme will ensure to Spain success in such expansion. They have thus far failed therein in the Philippines, scorning the natives as inferior beings, who are fit only to be their slaves. The Spaniards care only for their own enrichment, and treat the natives cruelly; consequently the latter are steadily diminishing, and the condition of the islands is deteriorating. But in China all will be different, in both temporal and spiritual matters; and both Spaniards and Chinese will be greatly benefited, enriched, and increased. Certain minor advantages to arise from the conquest of China are enumerated—the establishment of numerous episcopal sees; the foundation of new military orders, and the extension of the old ones; the creation of many titled lords, and appointment of viceroys for the conquered provinces. China, thus subdued, will be a vantage-ground from which Spain can control all Asia and a land-route to Europe. Chinese colonists can be imported into the Philippines, "and thus enrich themselves and this land." And, finally, the immediate occupation of China will forestall any advance into the far Orient by the French, or the English, or any other heretical nation. This scheme—which as it proceeds acquires, like a soap-bubble, great size and brilliant coloring, and proves equally unsubstantial and transient—is signed by the governor, bishop, superiors of the religious houses, and a long array of other notables in the islands.

By the mail which carries the "Memorial" are sent various letters supplementing the information contained in that document, or commending the envoy, Father Sanchez. The military officials write to the king (June 24), reminding him that the foothold gained in the islands by the Christian faith can be maintained only by the presence of troops there. The soldiers (whose courage and loyalty in the past are praised) are discouraged, because they have not received the rewards which they expected; they are lawless and demoralized, and their officers cannot control them. The defense of Manila is thus imperiled, and the natives are led to despise the Spaniards. The officers who write this letter complain because they have been unjustly treated in their efforts to improve this condition of affairs; they ask for redress, and for the abolition of the royal Audiencia. A letter from the cabildo (municipal council) of Manila commends Sanchez as their envoy to the king. They complain that the Audiencia "cannot be maintained here without the total destruction of the state," which cannot bear the burden of this expense; and ask that it be abolished. They ask for a garrison of three hundred paid troops, and the grant of an encomienda to the city of Manila. They complain of the losses inflicted not only upon the merchants of that city, but upon the colonial government, by the trade which Mexican merchants carry on through the port of Manila with the Chinese; and demand that this traffic be restricted to the citizens of the islands. They ask the king to see that more friars be sent out, both Augustinians and Franciscans. The cabildo recommend that the archdeacon Juan de Bivero receive from the king some reward for his hitherto unrecompensed services in the Philippines. On the same day Antonio Sedeno, rector of the Jesuits at Manila, writes a letter commending Sanchez for this present embassy, and recounting his past services to the Philippine colony. On June 26 Bishop Salazar writes a short letter, regarding some points outside of Sanchez's commission. One of these concerns the respective precedence of the bishop and the Audiencia on public occasions. The bishop also describes the quarrels between the president and auditors of the Audiencia, and his success in reconciling these differences. He has delivered, although against his better judgment, certain prisoners to the Inquisition, in obedience to a royal decree. A letter from the Audiencia of the Philippines to the king (dated June 26), recommends an increase in the rate of tribute paid by the Indians; the money thus obtained could be used to pay the soldiers, which would greatly improve the standard of military service in the islands. The colonial treasury is greatly embarrassed by heavy expenses, and the salaries of the Audiencia would better be paid from Mexico; then the encomiendas of Indians now taxed for that expense could be assigned to the soldiers who have so long been serving in the Philippines without pay. The king is asked to make an annual appropriation for the military and marine expenses of the islands. Father Sanchez is recommended by the Audiencia also, as their envoy to the home government. Their dissensions are now all settled, and some matters which caused these disagreements are referred to the king for his decision. They notify him of certain changes which they have made in the customs tariff of the islands, especially on the Chinese trade; it appears therefrom that the economic dependence of the Philippines on China is very close, especially in the matter of supplying food and cattle. Certain extension of authority which had been granted to the bishop is asked by the Audiencia for him. The participation of the Spaniards in the rich Chinese trade has aroused the jealousy of the Portuguese in India, who are endeavoring to shut out the Castilians from that country; the king is asked to take such measures as he deems best in this matter. Complaint is made that a certain Mexican officer has gone, in disobedience to his orders, to China, apparently to trade.

Pedro de Rojas, a member of the Audiencia, also writes (June 30) in commendation of Sanchez. He relates the dissensions in the Audiencia over the appointments to offices, and asks for royal action which shall settle this difficulty. He seconds the request made in other letters for the removal of the Audiencia, provided a capable and honest man be selected for governor, and gives advice regarding the conduct of colonial affairs. He complains of the injury to the interests of the colony which results from the Chinese trade in silks and other luxuries, and advises that it be stopped; then the Chinese will bring cattle, food, and other supplies, to the advantage of the Spaniards. The latter have devoted themselves to commerce; and, as most of them are soldiers, they neglect their military duties, lose their courage, and have become vicious and demoralized. Rojas urges that they be restrained from engaging in traffic, leaving the islands, or transferring their encomiendas to the crown. A seminary for girls should be established at Manila, and young women from Spain should be encouraged and aided to come to the islands. The gold obtained in the Philippines should be sent to Mexico, and a specified sum of money, in coin, should be sent thence to the islands each year. Rojas recommends that Bishop Salazar be made governor, and praises his qualifications for that office; next to the bishop, the auditor Ayala would be most suitable.

Juan Moron, a military officer, sends (June 30) a report of his expedition to Maluco with troops to succor the Spanish fort there. He urges that a stone fort be erected for the defense of Manila, and that some encomiendas of Indians be granted for the support of the municipal government; and commends the envoy Sanchez.

A group of documents which contain "measures regarding trade with China" (1586-90) throws much light on economic conditions in the Spanish colonies at that time. The first of these (dated June 17, 1586), although unsigned, is apparently written by a member of the royal Council of the Indias. He cites letters from several Spanish officials of high standing, to show that the Philippine-Chinese trade is injuring that of the mother-country and of Mexico; and the complaint is again made that Spanish money is continually flowing into China, thus depleting the wealth of the colonies. The writer recommends that the latter be forbidden to import Chinese goods; and that the viceroy of Nueva Espana be directed to take measures to accomplish this. Two days later, a decree to this effect is signed by the king. Extracts from a letter written (November 15) by the viceroy, after referring to the success of the efforts made to sustain the Spanish colony in the Philippines, and to propagate the Christian faith among the natives there, indicate the desirability of continuing the trade begun with China. Through this agency, his Majesty's subjects in the colonies are benefited, and (a still more important consideration) an open door for the entrance of the Christian faith into that heathen land is secured. If the Chinese trade be cut off, the Spanish population of the Philippines cannot be maintained, and the natives will rebel against their conquerors. The encomenderos depend upon the Chinese for clothing and food, and for the opportunity to dispose of the goods received from the Indians as tributes. In view of all these considerations, the viceroy has abrogated the royal decree for the present, and has, besides, ordered the collection of a heavy duty on all cloth imported from Spain to Mexico.

A brief of Sixtus V (November 15, 1586) erects into a province the former custodia of the Franciscan friars in the Philippines.

The viceroy of Mexico advises the home government (February 8, 1587) to encourage the merchants who carry on the Philippine trade, especially by selling to them ships made in the royal shipyards.

Santiago de Vera, governor of the Philippines, writes to the king (June 26, 1587). He entreats that more soldiers be sent, and that they be supplied with food and other necessaries; for, as those hitherto sent have received no food or pay, most of them have died from their privations, or from the unhealthful climate. In view of the recent destruction of the city of Manila by fire, Vera has forbidden the people to build any more houses of wood, obliging them to use stone for that purpose. Finding the city practically defenseless, Vera has begun to build near it a fort and other means of defense; and he asks for a small number of paid soldiers as a garrison for the city. He has assessed on the encomenderos and other citizens and on the Indians the expenses of these works. Another fort is needed at Cavite. The king is asked to grant money and workmen for completing these fortifications. Copper has been discovered in adjoining islands, also sulphur. The trade with China is important and flourishing; and the products of that country are offered at Manila at very low prices. The Chinese ask that the Spaniards will establish a trading-post in their country. Friendly intercourse with Japan is commencing, and the Jesuit missionaries there are freely allowed to preach the Christian faith. Vera has remitted the duties on goods brought to Manila from Japan and Macao. A controversy has arisen between him and the bishop, the latter having ordered that the Chinese converts to the Christian faith should cut off their long hair, which causes many to avoid baptism: the king is asked to settle this question. Vera has sent to Macao for the recalcitrant Mexican officer who was mentioned in a previous document. A Japanese prince, a Christian, offers to aid the Spanish with troops in any warlike enterprise that they wish to undertake.

A letter from the Audiencia to Felipe (June 25, 1588) reports the capture of the treasure-ship "Santa Ana" off the California coast, by the English adventurer Thomas Candish, which has caused much loss and hardship to the Spaniards in the Philippines. Complaint is made of vexatious imposts levied on the Philippine trade by the viceroy of Mexico; the Audiencia ask that he be ordered to cease these measures, also that he shall not meddle with letters sent from Spain to the islands, or with the personal affairs of officials there. The existence of the Philippine colony is endangered by the trade which is beginning between Mexico and China; and, having lost its best ships, colonists are no longer sent to augment its population. Gratuities from the royal treasury have been bestowed upon the various religious communities. The Audiencia commends the labors of the Jesuits, but advises that a college be not established for them, as they request, since "there are in all this country no students to attend their teachings." The hospitals should receive more aid from the crown. The difficulties between the bishop and the Audiencia are explained; but they are now adjusted, and peace prevails. It will be well to send many religious to the islands, provided they belong to the orders already there.

The Editors

August, 1903.

Documents of 1583-85

Foundation of the Audiencia of Manila (concluded). Felipe II; Aranjuez, May 5, 1583. Two decrees regarding the religious. Felipe II; San Lorenzo, June 21, 1583, and Aranjuez, April 24, 1584. Annual income of the royal exchequer in the Philippines. Andres Cauchela, and others; Manila, June 15-30, 1584. Letter to Felipe II. Melchor Davalos; Manila, July 3, 1584. Letter to the archbishop of Mexico. Santiago de Vera; Manila, June 20, 1585. Two letters to Felipe II. Fray Geronimo de Guzman [Madrid? 1585]; and Fray Jhoan de Vascones [1585?]

Sources: These documents are obtained from the original MSS. in the Archivo de Indias, Sevilla—excepting the royal decrees, which are found in the Cronica of Santa Ines and in the "Cedulario Indico" of the Archivo Historico Nacional, Madrid, respectively.

Translations: The first document is translated by Henry B. Lathrop, of the University of Wisconsin; the second and fourth, by Alfonso de Salvio, of Harvard University; the third, by Arthur B. Myrick, of Harvard University; the fifth, by Jose and Clara M. Asensio; the sixth, by Herbert E. Bolton, of the University of Texas.

Foundation of the Audiencia of Manila (concluded)


251. [Examinations not to be repeated.]

252. Item: We command that the said commissioners of examination [receptores], and special clerks who go on inquiries, shall not play games of chance, except for articles of food ready to be eaten, on pain of removal from office.

253-259. [Form of entry of witness's oath; fees charged must be endorsed; cases must be accepted promptly, in due order; absence and accounting for writs; fees received must be recorded; commissions may not be begged for; reports of investigations made out in public form must be given to the parties.]

260-264. [Taxing of charges; discharge of commissioners on completion of commission; commissioners may not be employed if they are relatives of clerks, attorneys, or advocates, or if they have boarded or lodged with them within a year; procedure on second trial.]

265-272. [Procedure in the assignment of commissions; cases accepted must not be thrown up; requests of parties for summoning of witnesses are not to be entered on the record; testimony is to be taken before local magistrates, if so desired; rights of commissioners-in-ordinary and of supernumerary commissioners to assignments.]

273. Item: A commissioner of inquiry may be appointed as soon as there shall be two court clerks appointed, or even one, that possible frauds may be avoided.

274-277. [Procedure in the event of challenge of commissioner; procedure for appointment of commissioners within and without the five leagues; oath of commissioner for outside cases; commissioners and clerks to take down testimony themselves, with no other person present.]

278. Item: No supernumerary commissioner shall be appointed without being examined, and giving bonds for the administration of his office. No dependent or member of a household of our said president and auditors may be appointed to such commissionership, under penalty that the clerk appointed contrary to this ordinance shall lose all fees and salary for the time during which he shall occupy himself with the commissionership.

279-280. [The number of lines on a page in a record of inquiry; the number of words in a line; the excellence of handwriting required; the dating of reports of examinations.]


281-284. [The bailiff's [portero] duties; his fees those of the bailiffs of the royal council; a lodging to be given him in the building of the Audiencia; tardiness fined one peso; excessive fees to be repaid sevenfold to the exchequer; presents for good news not to be accepted—penalty, fourfold repayment to the exchequer; the bailiff to enforce rules of precedence.]

Jail Wardens

285-286. [The warden [carcelero] shall accept no gifts from prisoners or others for them; shall not oppress them, or relax their imprisonment, or dismiss or arrest them without warrant; his oath.]

287. [His fees are those assigned to alguazils in the official table of fees.]

288. [A separate ward must be provided for women.]

289. [Nightly inspection is required. If prisoners escape through the warden's fault or negligence, he must suffer their penalty, or pay their debt]

290. [A full record of the prisoner's name and the circumstances of his imprisonment must be kept]

291. Item: He shall not entrust the keys of the prison to any Indian or black, on pain of being compelled to pay in his own person and estate the damage and injury which shall follow from his having so entrusted the keys.

292. [Warden and jailers are to have no business dealings or familiarity with the prisoners, or eat or gamble with them.]

293. [The jailers must live in the prisons.]

294. Item: There shall be a chaplain in the prison, to say mass before the prisoners daily; and the ornaments and other things necessary therefor shall be provided and paid for from the exchequer fines. The jailer shall take care that the chapel or place where mass is said shall be clean.

295. Item: He shall cause the prison and the cells thereof to be swept twice a week; and to be provided with clean water, so that the prisoners may drink without paying any fee. No jail-fee shall be charged to boys arrested for gambling, or to officials of our Audiencia arrested by order of our president and auditors—under a penalty of a fine of four times the amount, paid to our exchequer.

296. Item: No permission or opportunity for gambling shall be given in the jail, for money or other things except food. Wine shall not be sold to the poor; or, if sold, shall be sold at the price it is worth, and no more. No jail-fees shall be received from the poor under penalty of a fourfold fine for our exchequer.

Interpreters of the Audiencia

297. Item: We ordain and command that there shall be a body of interpreters for our said Audiencia; and that before they are admitted to exercise that office they shall swear in due form to perform their duties well and faithfully, in declaring and interpreting the case or matter committed to them, clearly and openly, without concealment or addition—declaring simply the fact of the crime, business, or testimony under examination. They shall likewise swear not to be partial to either side, or to favor one more than the other, and not to accept any reward for their service beyond the fee assessed and fixed for them, under the penalty decreed for forswearers, and the damages and interests of the parties, and a sevenfold return of the amount received, and removal from office.

298. Item: They shall receive no gifts or promises from Spaniards, or from the Indians, or from other persons who shall have or shall expect to have businesses or suits with them. They shall not accept such gifts or promises, of great or small amount, even for articles of food or drink; and even if these are voluntarily offered, without any request for them being made by the said interpreters or by others. In case of violation of this ordinance, they shall pay sevenfold what they have taken, for our exchequer; and charges thereof shall follow the procedure prescribed for charges against the judges and officials of our Audiencia.

299. Item: We ordain that the said interpreters shall not listen, in their own houses or out of them, to Indians who shall come to plead or do business in our Audiencia; but shall take them, without listening to them, to the said Audiencia, that there the case may be heard and determined in conformity with justice. In case of violation of this ordinance, they shall suffer for the first offense a penalty of three pesos for the court-room; for the second, double the penalty applied as aforesaid; and for the third, in addition to the said double penalty, they shall be dismissed from office.

300. Item: They shall not arrange the pleadings of Indians, nor be attorneys or solicitors in their cases and affairs, under the penalty prescribed in the preceding ordinance, applied as aforesaid.

301. Item: They shall be present at the meetings of court, at hearings, and at inspections of prisons, on every day that is not a holiday. At least in the afternoons they shall be present in the house of the president and auditors. All the above-mentioned duties, and each and every part and matter thereof, they shall take care to distribute among themselves in such a way that there shall not, by the default of them or of any of them, be any failure or delay in determining cases or other matters—under a penalty of two pesos for the poor for each day when the interpreters, men or women, or any of them, shall fail to do their duty in any of the aforesaid matters; and that, in addition, they shall pay the damages, interests, and costs to the party or parties detained for this cause.

302. Item: They shall not absent themselves without license from our president, under penalty of losing salary for the time while they were absent, and a fine of twelve pesos for the said court-room, for every instance of violation of this ordinance.

303. Item: We command that when they shall be occupied with suits or matters outside of the place where our said Audiencia shall sit, they shall accept nothing from the parties, directly or indirectly, beyond the fee assigned them. They shall make no bargains or agreements with the Indians, or partnerships, in any manner—under penalty of repaying sevenfold that which they thus accept and bargain for, and of perpetual discharge from office.

304. Item: For each day when any one of the said interpreters shall go out on commission and by order of our said Audiencia, from the place where it shall sit, they shall take as fee in addition to their salary two pesos, and no more; and shall accept no food or anything else from the parties, directly or indirectly, under the penalty of being obliged to repay it sevenfold to our exchequer.

305. Item: For each witness examined, if the interrogatory is of more than twelve questions, they shall receive two tomins; if the interrogatory is of less than twelve questions, one tomin, and no more, under penalty of paying fourfold to our exchequer. But if the interrogatory shall be long and the case laborious, the auditor before whom the examination is conducted may assess, in addition to the other fees, a moderate sum proportionate to the labor and time consumed.

306. Item: We command that the interpreters, each in turn, shall be in attendance at nine in the morning on every day when cases are heard, in the offices of the court clerks, to receive the memorandum which will be given him by the fiscal for summoning witnesses whom it shall be desirable to examine for the dues of the treasury—under a penalty of half a peso, for the poor of the prison, for every day of failure to be present.

307. And since, in regard to the fees to be taken by the officials of the said Audiencia, an official tariff [arancel] has been made, we command that what is contained therein shall be observed and fulfilled until other provisions are made and decreed by us.

308. Item: We ordain and command that, in the rest of the cases and matters, coming before the said Audiencia not here determined upon, shall be followed the ordinances made by us, and to be made by our said president and auditors.

Tariff of fees

309. [A list on which shall be entered the official tariff of fees must be posted in the court-room, and copies must be kept in the clerks' offices.]

310. Item: We ordain and command that our said president and auditors shall make a tariff of fees, in accordance with which our chief clerk of mines and the other officials who have no official tariff shall take their fees; and that they shall do the same in all the governments of their district, paying consideration to the nature of the offices, the region where they are situated, the expenses there, and the lack of supplies that may exist therein. These tariffs of fees are to be sent when made, with the signatures of the president and auditors, to our said council, to be examined and confirmed; and in the interim the tariffs which shall be made shall be observed.


311. Item: We command that in the house of our Audiencia there shall be a room in which there shall be a cabinet wherein shall be deposited the records of cases determined by the said Audiencia, after the decrees of execution [executorias] have been transcribed, the records of each single year being placed one above another. The court clerk shall place on each record of a case a strip of parchment stating the persons and the subject of the case. This shall be done within five days after the decree of execution has been transcribed. And in another part of the said room another cabinet shall be placed, in which shall be deposited the grants, decrees, and documents pertaining to the state, preeminence, and jurisdiction of the said Audiencia and provincial court [provincia] of its district. All shall be locked and the key be kept by the chancellor [chanciller]. All records shall be covered with parchment.

312. Item: We ordain and command that whenever an event occurs for which no provision or decree is made in these ordinances, and in the other decrees, provisions, and ordinances enacted for the said provinces, and in the laws of Madrid made in the year [one thousand] five hundred and two, and the provisions therein, [1] and command that our president and auditors, clerks and advocates, and other officials of our said Audiencia shall each, within thirty days, take the copy of this ordinance.

313. Item: We command that in the said Audiencia there shall be a record in which shall be entered all royal orders [cedulas] which we shall send or shall have sent to them; and they shall take care to observe and obey the same. And since it is our will that the said articles and ordinances above written shall be observed, and since it is likewise fitting for our service and the administration of our justice, we give commandment to our said president and auditors of the said Audiencia, which is accordingly to be established in the said city of Manila of the said island of Lucon, and to our fiscal, alguazil-mayor, and the officials and servants thereof whom the content of the said ordinances affects—both to those whom we now send and to those who shall be appointed henceforth—to each and every one of them, that they shall regard, observe, and perform them, and cause them to be observed and performed, in everything and for everything, as is contained and decreed in the said ordinances; and that they shall not proceed or act, or permit any to proceed to act, in any manner contrary to the tenor and form of these and of their contents.

Given at Aranjuez, May fifth, one thousand five hundred and eighty-three.

I The King

I, Antonio de Erasso, secretary to his Catholic Majesty, caused this to be written at his command.

The licentiate Diego Gasca de Salazar The licentiate Alonso Martynez Espadero The licentiate Don Gonsalvo de Cuniga Don Lope de Vaillo The licentiate Emojosa The licentiate Francisco de Villafane

Ordinances to be observed by the Audiencia established by your Majesty's command in the city of Manila, of the island of Luzon, of the Philipinas.

[Endorsed: "Establishment of the Audiencia of Manila, and the ordinances which must be observed. In the year 1583."]

Two Royal Decrees Regarding the Religious

The Audiencia to Aid the Franciscans

The King: To the president and auditors of our royal Audiencia, established at our order in the island of Luzon in the Filipinas islands. To those islands have gone recently descalced religious of the order of St. Francis to preach the holy gospel, and to engage in the instruction and conversion of the natives therein; and more will go thither regularly, both from these kingdoms and from Nueva Espana. Now because we hope that, by means of their instruction and example, much fruit will be gathered among those natives, therefore we desire—a thing befitting the service of God, our Lord—that they be aided, and held in all estimation, so that with more energy and fervor they may continue their good purpose; and we order you that, as far as you are concerned, you aid them to the utmost of your ability, and extend to them all possible protection, whenever occasion offers, as their exemplary life merits. San Lorenzo, June twenty-one, one thousand five hundred and eighty-three.

I The King

Countersigned by Antonio de Eraso, and approved by the members of the council.

Legazpi's Aid to the Religious Approved

The King: To Doctor Santiago de Vera, president of our royal Audiencia established in the city of Manila, in the Filipinas islands; or, in his absence, to the person or persons to whom the government of the islands has been entrusted. Father Andres de Aguirre, [2] of the order of St. Augustine, has reported that the adelantado Miguel Lopez de Legaspe gave orders in my name to pay, as a gratuity for the support of each of the religious who were engaged in the conversion and instruction of the natives of those islands, one hundred pesos of Tepusque and one hundred fanegas of rice. Thus the religious have been aided, although in later years the judges and officials of my royal exchequer have paid this gratuity with some reluctance, alleging that for such payments my orders must be produced. The matter having been examined by my Council of the Indias, it was agreed that I should issue this my decree, by which I command you to provide for giving the aforesaid gratuity to the said religious, as above stated. This decree is to be executed without fail.

I, The King

By order of his Majesty:

Antonio de Eraso

Aranjuez, April 24, 1584.

Annual Income of the Royal Exchequer in the Philippines

Report of the annual income from tributes and other sources of profit appertaining to his Majesty in these islands of the West, and the ordinary expenses therein.

The tributes from the villages belonging to the royal crown amount in one year to twenty-two thousand pesos of eight reals each XXII U. [3] pesos

Dues from tithes and assays of gold, four thousand pesos IIII U. pesos

From import duties on merchandise which comes from Nueva Espana and China, six thousand pesos VI U. pesos

Fines accruing to the exchequer, one thousand pesos I U. pesos


XXXIII U. pesos

Salaries and ordinary expenses

The yearly salaries of the president, auditors, and fiscal of the royal Audiencia amount to sixteen thousand five hundred and forty-four pesos of the said gold XVI U. DXL[IIII] pesos

The salaries of two royal proprietary officials, and of another who serves to fill a vacancy, four thousand six hundred and eighty-seven pesos and four tomins IV U. DCLXXXV[II] pesos

Gratuities to the religious orders, three thousand pesos III U. pesos

Collection of tributes, one thousand five hundred pesos I U. D pesos

Ordinarily there are a hundred seamen, shipwrights, and forge-men, whose wages are paid from the royal treasury in Nueva Espana; and some assistance, charged to that treasury, is given to them in this island, as aid for their support, besides their ration of rice— which amounts in one year to two thousand pesos II U. pesos

Item: Fifty-five Indians who are carpenters, and a like number of iron- workers, for work on the ships; and a hundred other Indians for services in casting artillery, building houses for the royal service, work on the fortifications, manning the oars on three fragatas, and ordinary service— who earn two thousand pesos II U. pesos

Item: Twenty thousand fanegas of rice for the sustenance of the seamen, shipwrights, and iron-workers, and the Indians for the above works and services; at the rate of two tomins a fanega, this costs five thousand pesos V U. pesos

Five hundred quintals of iron, at one peso a quintal U. D pesos

Also five hundred quintals of cordage, net weight, at one peso a quintal U. D pesos

Also five hundred quintals of pitch, at one peso a quintal U. D pesos

Five hundred pesos' worth of charcoal, for the forges U. D pesos

One thousand pesos' worth of timber, logs, and planks, for the dockyards and work on the ships I U. pesos

For the repairing of magazines, royal buildings, and fortifications, and for timber for the same, one thousand pesos more I U. pesos

The said expenses amount to forty-one thousand eight hundred and thirty-one pesos XLI U. DCCC. XXXI pesos

Accordingly, in one year the exchequer incurs a debt of eight thousand eight hundred and thirty-one pesos; usual debt of the treasury each year VIII U. DCCC. XXXI pesos

The said account does not include extraordinary expenses that arise, such as the pacification of the natives throughout these islands, and certain other expeditions, and material for their defense—expenses that occur each year (especially for the past three years), in this region. With the aid sent to Maluco, repairs on his Majesty's galleon which came from that place, the rebuilding of the fort and magazines, and the buildings which have been erected for the royal Audiencia and its president and auditors, the said works have cost his Majesty in all more than thirty thousand pesos in the said three years for extraordinary expenses, for which sum the royal exchequer is indebted.

Extraordinary expenses for three years, XXX U. pesos

Andres Cauchela Juan Baptista Roman Domingo Nerdules

In the city of Manila, in the Philipinas Islands, on the fifteenth day of June, one thousand five hundred and eighty-four, the honorable president and auditors of the royal Audiencia established in this said city stated that, in order that his Majesty might be informed of the value of provisions and other articles sold in this island, as well as of the harvests therein and of the supplies that are brought from Nueva Espana and the realms of Castilla, they gave orders to make, and they did make, before me the following investigation.

Luis Velez Cherino

And, for the said investigation, the honorable licentiate Rojas, auditor of the royal Audiencia, took and received an oath before God and the blessed Mary, and on the sign of the cross and on words of the holy gospels, from Don Antonio Gofre Carrillo, treasurer of his Majesty's royal exchequer in this city and the Philipinas islands-under which obligation he promised to tell the truth. Being asked regarding the tenor of the title of this inquiry, he said that this witness knows that every year one or more ships come from Nueva Espana to these islands for traffic, which bring, as merchandise, velvets, satins, damasks, taffetas, ribbed cloths in colors, velvet caps, shoes and stockings, linens from Holland and Rouen, wine, vinegar, oil, olives, capers, preserves, hams and fat bacon, flour, soap, hats, netted hose, Cordovan leather, raisins, almonds, and many other articles from the produce of Espana and Nueva Espana. All these things are in this land usually worth double their value and cost in Nueva Espana. Many times we have experienced lack of wine for saying mass and for the sick; sometimes a jar holding an arroba of wine has been worth at least one hundred gold pesos, and even much more. These things which are brought from Nueva Espana are so necessary that the people, especially those of gentle birth, could not do without them. For instance, they cannot clothe themselves with stuffs that are made in this land, or with those that are brought from the mainland; for these are thin silks of such quality that garments made of them are worthless, for lack of durability and fineness. Consequently, they would not be worn if the people were not very poor. The supplies that we have at present in this country are pork and buffalo meat, fowls, rice, wax candles, and lard; and the Sangleys' flour, which is very poor and cannot be eaten. It is now held at so high a price that what was bought four years ago for a toston cannot now be bought for three pesos. Where they used to give six fanegas of rice for one toston, they now ask three pesos, at one toston a fanega. They used to sell twelve to sixteen fowls for four reals; at present, when there are no large fowls, they cost two or three reals apiece, instead of a toston. A hog that used to cost alive four to six reals now costs six or seven pesos, and no one is found to buy. This witness thinks that the cause for the high prices in this country is that so many Spaniards have come hither, that so many of the natives of these islands have perished, and that so few people cultivate the soil or breed fowls or swine. [4] The witness knows this because, during the four years that he has spent in this land, he has seen that the conditions and events are as he has described them. He asserts this to be the truth, on the oath that he has taken. He declares that he is twenty-seven years of age, rather more than less; that he has no personal interest in this affair; and is fully competent to be a witness. He signed this with his name,

The licentiate Pedro de Rojas Don Antonio Gofre Carrillo

Before me:

Luis Velez Cherino

[Then follow the depositions of Juan Arze de Sadornel, Andres Cauchela, the captain Juan Pacheco Maldonado, Pedro Carballo, the ensign Christobal de Axcueta, Don Juan de Bivero (treasurer of the Manila cathedral, and a priest), and Don Juan de Armendares (canon of the cathedral, and a priest). They are couched in almost the same words as the foregoing. The testimony of all shows the high cost of living in the islands, and ascribes the cause to the great number of Spaniards, the deaths by disease and war of many natives, and the coming of great numbers of Chinese for purposes of trade, they as well as the Spaniards being non-producers. Of the natives many have engaged in trade and but few till the soil, thus increasing the dearth of provisions and forcing prices still higher. The two priests do not take the oath in the same form as the laymen, but by "placing the hand upon the breast, and swearing by their priestly word." After all of these depositions, each of them attested in due form by the notary, the document continues:]

All the above, according to what passed before me, the said clerk of the court, I have given and delivered, signed with my name and signet [i.e., flourish] to the honorable president and auditors, written on ten sheets together with this present, accompanied with my signet. In the city of Manila, in the Filipinas islands, on June thirtieth, in the year one thousand five hundred and eighty-four—the witnesses being Rodrigo de Leon and Alvaro Mendez de Herrera.

Luis Velez Cherino.

The words are crossed out where is read poner, a, y, queste de; and corrected where is read hacienda, tostones, and come; and de has been inserted between the lines. I, Luis Velez Cherino, court clerk of the royal Audiencia established in this city of Manila, have written this and caused it to be written; and here I affix my signet to such document, in witness of the truth.

Luis Velez Cherino.

Letter from Melchior Davalos to Felipe II

Royal Catholic Majesty:

It was through divine inspiration, we may believe, that your Majesty appointed a president and auditors for this extremity or beginning of the world; for at the very time when Governor Don Gonzalo Ronquillo had just died or was about to die, in this city of Manila, the Council, more than four thousand leagues from here, resolved upon and decreed the foundation of the royal Audiencia in Manila, and we came hither—as president and governor, Doctor Santiago de Vera; I, who was living quite neglected in Mexico, as first auditor; the licentiate Rojas as second auditor, and the licentiate Ayala as fiscal. It is said that another auditor, the licentiate Bravo, remained in Castilla; all of us excepting him came here. We set sail from the port of Acapulco on the ninth of March, according to the new computation of time which your Majesty, by order of the supreme pontiff, commanded us to observe. I mention this point because we who came enjoyed an experience never known before—namely, that while at sea we kept Ascension day, Whitsunday, Trinity Sunday, and Corpus Christi day; when we landed we kept and celebrated the same feast-days in Manila, because the new reckoning was not yet in force there, and does not come into effect until the fifth of October of the present year. It is a memorable event that according to the said new reckoning we arrived here on the twenty-sixth of May, and according to the old on the sixteenth of the same month. [5] The Audiencia was established with all the authority and pomp possible. We found the city burned down, and no habitable houses except those of straw, rushes, and boards, which could easily burn down again any day. Concerning this and other matters, a report will be sent by the president. The officials of the royal exchequer not only refused to lend me money, but did not even pay me more than half of the three months' salary due me from the time when I left Acapulco. The others have drawn their salaries from the time when they left Castilla, the president since he left Mexico, and I only from the day when we set sail. I am not unworthy of favors, most potent sire; for I have spent forty years in continual study, thirty of which have given me much experience in matters of justice and legal pleading, and this is well known in Mexico. If the records of the past be examined in the Council, it will be seen that in the ten or twelve months while I was fiscal of that royal Audiencia I accomplished more than did my predecessors for twenty years. Besides all this, I am a man of good repute. I was an advocate for the Inquisition during more than eleven years, namely, from the time when your Majesty established it in Mexico. My uncles and the relatives of Dona Maria de Sandoval, my wife, won Nueva Espana, as can be seen by the records of the royal Council of the Yndias; and no one is more worthy to receive the remuneration for his services than are my wife and I. By virtue of a decree ordering me to remove my entire family and household, the royal exchequer of Mexico lent me for the space of two years two thousand pesos to aid me on my voyage. This assistance was not sufficient, and, not being able to sell my estates, I was obliged to leave them deserted, because I had already sold my negroes. I shall be entirely ruined unless your Majesty release me from the payment of those two thousand pesos, or at least give me a continuance of ten years. I entreat your Majesty for this, since in order to foster decency among the women I brought here three sons and a nephew, whose exceedingly honorable and virtuous reputation is known throughout Nueva Espana, where I brought them up.

With the help of God, who in His infinite mercy made me pleasing and well liked, I shall endeavor to live, administer justice, and deal with others irreproachably. Since this is so, and I dwell in a land where there is so little stability and truth, I beseech your Majesty not to judge me without first hearing me. I greatly honor the president, and the authority which even a duke would maintain if he were here as your Majesty's lieutenant; for in distant regions this befits the service of your Majesty. Nevertheless, in what concerns the administration of justice, I strive to lose no opportunity. The president is in poor health at present, and I do not know whether in his letters he has touched upon the matters which I shall mention here.

I wrote from Mexico beseeching your Majesty, for the peace of the royal conscience and of the consciences of us who serve here, that a consultation be held to decide upon what shall be done with the Mahometans, of whom these islands are full. I sent a report, and said that, keeping the matter in mind, I would send a more detailed account from here; but I could not find time for study, on account of my continual occupation in the sessions of the Audiencia and rendering opinions. This year I am probate judge, and for the first four months of the year provincial alcalde; and since people find that matters are readily settled I am beset by the natives with their petty lawsuits. I wish that I might have had more time to collect what can be put together, and to write on law. However I shall not neglect perchance to make some slight report. The following is a clause from a letter of your Majesty which I found, addressed to the adelantado Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the first discoverer of these islands, in effect this:

"We have also been petitioned in your behalf concerning the Moro islands in that land, and how those men come to trade and carry on commerce, hindering the preaching of the holy gospel and disturbing you. We give you permission to make such Moros slaves, and to seize their property. You are warned that you can make them slaves only if the said Moros are such by birth and choice, and if they come to preach their Mahometan doctrine, or to make war against you or against the Indians, who are our subjects and in our royal service. But in no way or manner shall you enslave the Indians who have embraced the doctrine of Mahoma; on the contrary, you shall endeavor to persuade and convert them to our holy Catholic faith by kind and lawful methods."

To make universal arrangements is to pass infallible rules, and in law we can hardly find such a rule; therefore we must distinguish in both times and occasions. With due respect, it seems to me that all Mahometans are enemies of the Church; and all the Ismaelites, their allies, confederates, and descendants must have the words of the Scriptures (as found in the 16th chapter of Genesis) written in their hearts: Hic erit ferus homo, manus ejus contra omnes et manus omnium contra eum. [6] Wonderful events occurred (and it would be well for your Majesty to have them examined and investigated) in the histories of Portugal, in the Decadas of Barros and in the books of Osorio, the good bishop of Algarve, [7]—who, by command of his Majesty the king, Cardinal Don Enrrique, wrote in Latin the history of the life, deeds, and virtues of the most renowned king Don Manuel, your Majesty's grandfather. All these books abound in accounts of field and naval battles, which the viceroys and captains-general of Malaca, Goa, Calicud, Ormus, and many other places, fought against well-known Moros of that region and those from Samatra, Java, and Bornei, who were aided by Turks, Mamelukes, Moors from Tunez [Tunis], and Moors who were driven away from Granada at the time of the Catholic kings. In a battle against Alfonso de Albuquerque [8] were seven hundred Mamelukes, three hundred Turks, and a thousand Moors from Tunez and Granada—sent there by the Sultan of Egipto [Egypt] before the Turks had defeated him. They peopled and filled these islands. Every year Turks come to Samatra and likewise to Borney; in Maluco and in Ternate these Turks are gathered against your Majesty, and have caused a great number of Christians who were instructed in the Catholic faith to apostatize. Moreover the king of that place is allied with the English heretics, and the Moros have inflicted terrible martyrdoms upon the Christians of these regions. The care with which the Turks have always offered help, both past and present, and that showed by the sultan at the time of Pope Julius the Second, is well known, and can be verified in the history by the said bishop of Algarve, book 4, folio 122. The sultan wrote to the pope, complaining of the said kings Don Manuel and the Catholic Don Fernando—saying that the Moors whom the latter had driven away from Granada and Castilla had gone to Egipto to complain; and that King Don Manuel was pursuing the Moors through the Red Sea and neighboring regions. He added that if this were not remedied, by ordering the said princes to desist from persecuting the Mahometans, he would destroy the holy house at Jerusalem and the sepulcher of the Redeemer. As can be verified, the letter contains many profane remarks against Christianity. It was sent by a Franciscan friar who lived in a monastery on the mount called Sion, and who was guardian there at Jerusalem. The said pontiff, as soon as he saw the letter, sent a copy of it to Castilla and Portugal through the same friar. King Don Manuel, your Majesty's grandfather, sent the celebrated answer to the pontiff, saying that he gave advice neither to the Apostolic See nor to the sacred council of cardinals; but what he answered (and he would do it with all his might) was to persecute Mahometans forever. He added that the Holy Father was much to blame for the sultan's pride, since he did not gather and unite in peaceful alliance the Christian princes, who were divided by wars in their own interests, and were neglecting so common an interest as that of undoing the power of Moors and Turks. He also answered that he understood his father and father-in-law, the Catholic king Don Fernando, to give the same answer. As I have said before, the histories of Portugal are full of these old enmities. It seems as if this evil sect had increased and multiplied in the West as well as in the islands and countries of the East. Indeed the various causes for this are to be found in the condition of these regions and in the measures, decrees, or instructions like those issued for Peru, Nueva Espana, and the other Yndias.

Concerning slavery, the main thing to be noticed is that we have here many kinds of slaves: some are slaves because their fathers and grandfathers were such; others sold themselves ad pretium participandum, either to make use of the money or to pay their debts; others were captured in war; others became slaves because, being orphans, they were held in that condition for food and expenses; others were sold in times of famine by their fathers, mothers, or brothers; others bear that name because of loans, for interest multiplies rapidly among the Indians and the Moros, and thus a poor man becomes a slave. There are men who become slaves on account of crimes, and failure to pay fines and penalties; and others for not having paid the tribute or tributes of their lords. Each of these reasons is an argument for justifying slavery. I chose to mention these details because it is proper to notify your Majesty and your Council of them.

Your Majesty has passed laws forbidding any one to take money out of your realms, or to buy or sell to pirates. But every year the Chinese take away all the money there is. There are many ships here, twenty-five or thirty in number, with four thousand men who have come here to trade. We fear no extortion on their part, because of the great importance to them of our commerce; but, as we have no merchandise to give them, having nothing except reals, it will be advisable for your Majesty to send orders as to what we should do, and how we are to decide the question of slaves, since there are so many classes of them, as I have shown above.

The poverty of the soldiers who come here is extreme, for they draw no pay, and the country cannot support them. It would be advisable to send orders to employ them in conquests, and to send over many soldiers. Also orders should be given to build some galleys which should not lie idle and become ruined, as did those left by Doctor Sande. Although the Indians and Moros here have taken to the oars with reluctance, we are greatly aided by having here, usually, Chinese who are willing to be hired at a low price. In all this may your Majesty take such measures as are most advantageous to your service.

About twelve days ago we received letters from Maluco, in which the captain commanding at that place says that the king of Ternate is now powerful, and has seized the most important stronghold. A reenforcement of eighty or a hundred men, with supplies, had been sent to him before the arrival of the Audiencia; and he says that he can hold out until the end of October or November. Speaking of the war which is to be carried on, the president was and is about to send four hundred men and a thousand friendly Indians. He is perplexed about the election of the captain-general, for each of the captains who seek that post desires to be sole commander, while the rest show displeasure that one of their equals should be appointed. Moreover, no one of them is pleased that Captain Bartolome Vaez Landero may be the commander. He is a Portuguese, who came here from Macan through the agency of Governor Diego Ronquillo, and remained here to protect this land with two ships, well equipped with artillery, in the service of your Majesty. On seeing this controversy, I proposed to the president on St. John's day that I and my sons, with our weapons, would go with the soldiers to serve in this expedition. The captains who are candidates are satisfied to have me for their general, and the Portuguese captain and his men are even more pleased. The president says that we shall deliberate upon what should be done, and still he has not come to any decision with me. He will wrong me if he withholds from me the leadership in this affair. In all that pertains to justice, I shall always be ready, with the help of God, who will favor me, to recover your Majesty's territories and to punish your enemies.

It is also important for the service of God that, by order of your Majesty, some decision be made as to the punishment that we shall inflict upon the Chinese or Sangleyes for the infamous crime which, as people here tell me, they practice on board their ships. [9] I am studying the question in order to inform this Audiencia; but, since the punishment may hinder commerce, it will be necessary to observe moderation, until your Majesty shall inform us what should be done in this matter. I have reproached and admonished the friars, telling them that they ought to exhort these wretched people. Some of them tell me that they are unwilling to baptize the Chinese, because they feel sure that they will apostatize as soon as they return to their own country. I tell them that they should do what it is in them to do; and that, if God does not choose to call these people, at least it should not be left undone by the friars. I shall always insist upon this.

When I spoke of Ternate, I forgot to mention a very important matter, which perhaps is already forgotten. There was a king in Ternate called Cachil Boleyfe, aged and very prudent, regarded by the Moros as a prophet. He was taken to Malaca because of a certain crime; and, having been acquitted, he received baptism and died there as a Catholic. He said that, having no legitimate successor, he constituted King Don Juan the Third of Portugal his heir to the kingdom and islands subject to Ternate. This will was brought to Ternate, and all the chiefs of the kingdom swore allegiance to the new king, with great feasting and solemnity. Possession of the kingdom was taken, with all the ceremonies required by law. This is what the historians say, especially Juan de Barros—in the third Decada, book five, chapter six. At the end of the seventh chapter, he says that the fortress now held by the tyrant was built by Captain Antonio de Brito, who began the work with his own hands on St. John's day, in 1522. He did this with the consent of all the Moros, and therefore called the fort San Juan. It is well that your Majesty should know the very foundation of your rights, and should at least understand that my endeavor is to give information and service. May God permit your Majesty to live, without setting a bound to your life; for the human race and the Church of God have need of this. From the city of Manila, July 3, in the year 84 (according to the old reckoning, as I have said). Most powerful Lord, your most humble servant kisses the feet of your Majesty.

The licentiate Melchior Davalos

[Endorsed: "To the sacred royal Catholic Majesty of the king, Don Phelipe, our sovereign lord. In his Council of the Indies." "Philipinas. To his Majesty, 1584. From the licentiate Melchor de Abalos, July 3." "Examined; there is nothing to be answered."]

Letter from Santiago de Vera to the Archbishop of Mexico

Most Illustrious Senor:

I was more content to learn of the health of your illustrious Lordship [10] than to know that you governed that land—since the first is of so great importance, and the other is merited by your Lordship. I hope that our Lord will bestow on you the see of St. Peter, that all may be as we your servants desire.

After having written another letter which accompanies this, I received that of your illustrious Lordship which came in the ship "San Juan." As in the other I have referred to some things that may be omitted here, and as I do not wish to weary your Lordship with a long account of business attendant on your charge, I write this only to assure your Lordship that you may command me.

Great satisfaction was felt in this country that the ship "Mora" arrived so miraculously at port. The death of the crew, I assure your Lordship, was not for lack of supplying themselves here with the necessaries for the voyage; for although but little time was spent in despatching the ship, I exercised much diligence in seeing that more men and provisions were shipped than is customary. There are things which our Lord permits; since it was His will that they should die, it was an instance of His great clemency.

I have always tried to fulfil your Lordship's commands in regard to the lord bishop, and he may command me and I will obey; but I know of no means in the world whereby I can preserve his love and make it lasting.

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