Robert Kerr.

A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 02 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a online

. (page 32 of 52)
Online LibraryRobert KerrA General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 02 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a → online text (page 32 of 52)
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general and his brother when they had entered the harbour. On the arrival
of the other two ships, the governor again sent off some of his people to
visit them, still taking them for Turks, presenting many pleasant and
delicate viands, and asking permission to visit them in person. The
general, in return, sent the governor a present, consisting of red hats,
short gowns, coral, brass basons, hawks bells and many other things,
which he slighted as of no value, and asked why the general had not sent
him scarlet, which he chiefly desired.

Soon afterwards the governor came off to visit the general; who, being
apprized of his coming, ordered all the ships to be dressed out in their
flags. He likewise made all the sick and infirm men to be kept out of
sight, and brought a good many of the most alert men from the other ships,
whom he ordered to be secretly armed, in case of any violence or
treachery on the part of the Moors. The governor came on board,
accompanied with many men, all well apparelled in silk, having many ivory
trumpets and other musical instruments, on which they played almost
without ceasing. The governor was a lean man, of good stature, dressed in
a linen shirt down to his heels, over which he wore a long gown of Mecca
velvet, having a cap of silk of many colours, trimmed with gold, on his
head, at his girdle he wore a sword and dagger, and had silk shoes. The
general received him on entering the ship, and led him to an awning,
trimmed up in the best manner they were able. The general then begged him
not to be offended that no scarlet had been sent, having brought none
with him, and that his ships only contained such merchandize as were fit
to be bartered for victuals for the people; and that his only object at
present was to discover the way to the Indies, for which purpose he had
been sent by a great and mighty king, his master. All this was conveyed
through the interpretation of Fernan Martin[32]. The general then ordered
an entertainment of the best meats and wines which the ship afforded, to
be set before the governor and his principal attendants, of all which
they partook willingly, even drinking wine with good will. The governor
asked whether they came from Turkey, as he had heard say that the Turks
were a fair people like them, and desired to see our country bows, and
the books of our law. To this the general answered, that he and his men
were not from Turkey, but from a kingdom in their neighbourhood; that he
would most willingly shew his bows and other weapons, but had not the
books of our law, as they were not needed at sea. Then some cross-bows
were brought, which were bent, and shot off in presence of the governor,
also some of our harness or defensive armour, with all of which he was
much pleased, and greatly astonished.

During this conference, the general learnt that the port of Calicut in
India was 900 leagues distant from Mozambique; and, as there were many
shoals in the course, that it was very necessary to have a pilot from
this place. He learned also that there were many cities along the coast.
He likewise understood, that the kingdom of Prester John was far from
this place, in the inland country[33]. Considering the expediency of
having a pilot, the general requested to have two from the governor, who
agreed to the demand, on condition that they should be well used. The
reason of wishing to have two was, lest one might die during the voyage,
and our people were much pleased with this promise. The governor came a
second time to visit the general, and brought with him both the pilots
whom he had promised; to each of whom were given thirty crowns and a coat,
each crown being worth five shillings, under this condition, that
whenever one of them should go on shore, the other should remain on board,
that one might always stay by the ship while in harbour.

Notwithstanding these friendly meetings, speeches, and assurances, it
soon appeared, after the departure of the governor, that the Moors had
learned, during their intercourse with our people, that they were
Christians, on which the former friendship and good will of the Moors
towards them was changed to wrath and fury, and they henceforwards used
every endeavour to kill our men, and to take possession of the ships. The
governor, therefore, and his people, used every effort for this
mischievous purpose, and had certainly succeeded, if the Almighty had not
moved the heart of one of the Moorish pilots who had been received into
the Portuguese fleet, to reveal the same to the general; who, fearing
lest the infidels might suddenly execute their purpose, as being numerous
in comparison to his small company, determined to remain no longer in the
harbour. Wherefore, on Saturday the 10th March 1498, being seven days
after his arrival, he quitted the harbour of Mozambique, and cast anchor
close to an island, at the distance of a league from that place;
intending, on Sunday, to hear mass on shore, that they might confess and
receive the sacrament, which had not been done since leaving Lisbon.

After the ships were come to anchor in this place of safety from being
burnt by the Moors, which the general greatly dreaded, he determined to
go back to Mozambique in his boat, to demand the other pilot who had been
promised, but who still remained on shore. Leaving his brother with the
fleet, in readiness to come to his aid if needful, the general went
towards Mozambique with his boat, accompanied by Nicholas Coello, and the
Moorish pilot. On their way they saw six _zambucos_ or boats, filled with
Moors, coming towards them, armed with long bows and arrows, and also
with shields and spears. The Moors called to our people to come along
with them to the town; and the Moorish pilot, who explained their signals,
advised the general to do so, as the governor would not otherwise deliver
the other pilot, who still remained on shore. The general was much
displeased at this advice, believing the pilot only wished him to
approach the shore, that he might be able to run away, and therefore
ordered him to be secured as a prisoner. He likewise gave orders to fire
at the Moorish boats from his ordnance. When Paulo de la Gama heard the
shot, believing the general to be in more danger than he actually was, he
immediately came with the ship Berrio under sail to his aid. On seeing
this, the Moors fled away in such haste that the general could not
overtake them, and therefore returned with his brother to where the other
ships were at anchor.

Next day, being Sunday, the general and all his men went on shore, where
they heard mass, and received the sacrament very devoutly, having
confessed the evening before. After this they re-embarked and set sail
the same day. Having no hope of procuring the other pilot, the general
ordered to release him whom he had confined, and carried him on the
voyage. But he, willing to be revenged for the indignity he had
experienced, determined on carrying the Portuguese fleet to the island of
Quiloa, which was all peopled with Moors; and, as it seemed, intended to
inform the king of that place that our ships belonged to the Christians,
that he might destroy them and kill the crews. For this purpose, he
craftily persuaded the general not to be in trouble for want of the other
pilot, as he would carry him to a great island, on hundred leagues from
thence, which was inhabited half by Moors, and half by Christians, who
were always in war with each other, and where he might easily find pilots
to conduct him to Calicut. Though the general was much pleased with this
information, he yet did not give implicit credit to the Moor, but
promised him high rewards if he carried him in safety to that country,
and so went forward on the voyage with a scant wind.

On the Tuesday the fleet was still in sight of the land from which they
took their departure, and remained becalmed all that day and the next. On
Wednesday night, a gentle breeze sprung up from the eastward, on which
the fleet stood off to seaward, but on Thursday morning, on again making
the land, they were four leagues to leeward of Mozambique, whence plying
to windward, they came back that evening to the island where they had
heard mass on the Sunday before, where they cast anchor and remained
eight days waiting for a fair wind. While here at anchor, a white Moor,
who was a _molah_ or minister among the Moors of Mozambique, came on
board the generals ship, representing that the governor was much grieved
at the breach of peace and friendship between them, which he would now
gladly renew. To this the general made answer, that he would make no
peace with the governor unless he sent him the other pilot whom he had
hired and paid. With this answer the _molah_ departed, and never came
back. After this, while still waiting for a fair wind, there came another
Moor on board, accompanied with his son, a boy, and asked the general to
give him a passage to the city of Melinda, which he said was on his way
to Calicut. He said that he was a native of the country near Mecca,
whence he had piloted a ship to Mozambique, and would gladly go with him,
that he might return to his own country; and farther, he counselled the
general not to remain in expectation of any answer from the _zeque_, who
he was sure would make no peace with him, on account of his hatred to the
Christians. The general was rejoiced at the coming of this Moor,
expecting to acquire information from him concerning the straits of the
Red Sea, and of the towns on the coast between Mozambique and Melinda, by
which he had to sail, and therefore gave orders to receive this Moor and
his son on board.

As the ships were rather short of water, the general and the other
captains determined upon entering the harbour of Mozambique, to take in
what they needed; but ordered strict watch to be kept, lest the Moors
should set the ships on fire. They entered therefore again into the
harbour on Thursday; and when night came, they went in their boats in
search of water, which the Moorish pilot assured them was to be found on
the firm land, and offered to guide them to the place. Leaving Paulo de
la Gama in charge of the ships, and taking Nicholas Coello and the pilot
along with him in the boats, the general went on shore about midnight to
the place where the pilot said that water was to be had. But it could not
be found; whether that the pilot misled them in hope of escaping, or
finding he could not escape, did so out of malice. Having spent the whole
night fruitlessly in search of water, and day beginning to dawn, the
general returned to the ships for more force, lest the Moors might set
upon him and his small company at a disadvantage. Having furnished his
boats with a larger force of armed men, he returned to the shore, still
accompanied by Coello and the Moorish pilot, who, seeing no means of
escaping, now pointed out the watering-place close by the shore. At this
place they observed about twenty Moors armed with darts, who shewed as if
they meant to prevent them from taking water. The general therefore gave
orders to fire three guns, to force them from the shore, that our men
might be able to land unopposed. Amazed and frightened by the noise and
the effect of the shot, the Moors ran away and hid themselves in the
bushes; and our people landed quietly, and took in fresh water, returning
to the ships a little before sunset. On arriving, the general found his
brother much disquieted, because a Negro, belonging to John Cambrayes,
the pilot of Paulo de la Gama, had run away to the Moors, though himself
a Christian.[34]

Upon Saturday the 24th of March, being the eve of the annunciation of our
Lady, a Moor appeared early in the morning on the shore, abreast of the
ships, calling out in a loud and shrill voice, "that if our men wanted
any more water they might now come for it, when they would find such as
were ready to force their return." Irritated at this bravado, and
remembering the injury done him in withholding the promised pilot, and
the loss of the Negro, the general resolved to batter the town with his
ordnance in revenge, and the other captains readily agreed to the measure.
Wherefore they armed all their boats, and came up before the town, where
the Moors had constructed a barricade of boards for their defence on the
shore, so thick that our men could not see the Moors behind. Upon the
shore, between that defence and the sea, an hundred Moors were drawn up,
armed with targets, darts, bows, arrows, and slings, who began to sling
stones at the boats as soon as they came within reach. They were
immediately answered with shot from our ordnance, on which they retired
from the shore behind their barricade, which was soon beaten down, when
they ran into the town, leaving two of their men slain. The general and
his men now returned to the ships to dinner, and the Moors were seen
running from that town to another; and so much were they afraid of the
Portuguese, that they abandoned the island, going by water to another
place on the opposite side. After dinner, our people went with their
captains on shore, to endeavour to take some of the Moors, with the hope
of procuring restitution of the Negro belonging to Cambrayes, who had run
away from the ships, and they were likewise desirous of recovering two
Indians, who were said by the Moorish pilot to be detained as captives in

On this occasion, Paulo de la Gama seized four Moors who were in a boat;
but a great many Moors in other boats escaped, by hastening on shore and
leaving their boats behind, in which our men found much cotton cloth, and
several books of their Mahometan law, which the general ordered to be
preserved. The general and the other captains ranged in their boats along
side of the town, but did not venture on shore, not having sufficient
force, nor could they get any speech of the Moors. Next day they went on
shore at the watering-place, where they took what was needed without any
opposition from the Moors. Being now hopeless of recovering the Negro, or
of procuring the Indian captives, it was determined to depart; but the
general resolved to be revenged on the town and people for their enmity.
For which reason, he went against it next day with ordnance, and
destroyed it in such sort that the Moors had to abandon it, and flee into
another island within the country.[35] This being done, the fleet weighed
anchor on Tuesday the 27th of March, and departed from Mozambique, whence
they proceeded to two little rocks, which they called St George, and
where they came to anchor in waiting for a wind, which was now contrary.
Soon afterwards the wind came fair and they departed, but the wind was so
light, and the currents so strong, that they were forced in a retrograde

The general was much pleased to find that one of the Moors taken by his
brother at Mozambique was a pilot, and was acquainted with the navigation
to Calicut. Proceeding on their voyage, they came, on Sunday the first of
April, to certain islands very near the coast, to the first of which they
gave the name of _Ilha da Açoutado_, because the Moorish pilot of
Mozambique was here severely whipt by order of the general, for having
falsely said that these islands were part of the continent, and likewise
for not shewing the way to the watering-place at Mozambique, as before
related. Being cruelly whipt, the Moor confessed that he had brought them
to this place expressly that they might perish on the rocks and shoals of
these islands, which were so numerous and so close together, that they
could hardly be distinguished from each other. On this the general stood
out to sea, and on Friday the 4th of April,[36] standing to the north-
west, he came in sight, before noon, of a great land, with two islands
near the coast, around which were many shoals. On nearing the shore, the
Moorish pilots recognized it, and said that the Christian island of
Quiloa was three leagues astern; on which the general was much grieved,
believing certainly that the natives of Quiloa had been Christians, as
represented by the pilots, and that they had purposely taken a wrong
course that the ships might not come there. The pilots, to conceal their
treachery, alleged that the winds and currents had carried the ships
farther than they reckoned. But in truth, they were more disappointed in
this than even the general, as they had reckoned upon being here revenged
upon the Portuguese, by having them all slain. In this God preserved our
people from the intended danger most miraculously, for if they had gone
to Quiloa they had all surely perished; as the general was so fully
persuaded of the natives being Christians, as reported by the pilot, that
he would doubtless have landed immediately on his arrival, and have
thereby run headlong to a place where he and all his people would have
been slain. Both parties being thus sorry for having missed Quiloa, the
general because he hoped to have found Christians, and the Moorish pilots
because of their intended treachery, it was determined to put back with
the intention of seeking for it; but still the wind and currents opposed
their purpose, and they tried a whole day in vain. This doubtless
proceeded from the providence of God, and his merciful goodness to our
men, who were thus preserved by miracle from the malicious and devilish
intentions of the two Moorish pilots of Mozambique.

The fleet being thus baffled and tossed to and fro, it was determined to
bear away for the island of Mombaza, in which the pilots said there were
two towns, peopled both by Moors and Christians. But they gave out this
as before to deceive our people, and to lead them to destruction; for
that island was solely inhabited by Moors, as is the whole of that coast.
Understanding that Mombaza was seventy miles distant, they bore away for
that place, and towards evening, they came in sight of a great island
towards the north, in which the Moorish pilots pretended there were two
towns, one of Christians and the other of Moors; making this false
assertion to make our people believe that there were many Christians on
this coast. While pursuing their voyage towards Mombaza for some days,
the ship San Raphael chanced one morning, two hours before day, to get
aground on certain shoals, two leagues from the shore of the continent.
Paulo de Gama immediately made signals to apprize the other ships of his
situation and their danger; on which they had the good fortune to avoid
the shoals and got safely to anchor. The boats from the other ships were
immediately sent off to assist Paulo de Gama in the St Raphael; and, on
seeing that the tide was then low, the general was much rejoiced, as he
well knew she would float again with the tide of flood; whereas, before,
he was much afraid she might be totally lost. He therefore gave orders to
carry all their anchors out to deep water, to prevent her from getting
farther on the shoal. By the time this was done day broke, and soon after
at low water the St Raphael was quite dry on a sand bank, having taken no
harm in striking. While waiting for the tide of flood, our people named
these sands _Os baixos de Sam Rafael_, or the Shoals of St Raphael, and
named certain islands and hills of the continent, then in sight, the
islands and hills of St Raphael.

While the ship remained thus dry, and the people walking about on the
sand, they saw two boats full of Moors, who came to our ships, bringing
many sweet oranges, much better than those of Portugal. These men told
the general not to fear any damage to the ship which was aground, as she
would float uninjured with the next flood; and the general was so much
pleased with this good heartening, that he gave them several presents,
which they accepted with many thanks; and understanding that our fleet
intended to put in at Mombaza, they requested to be carried thither. The
general granted their request, and permitted them to remain on board, the
others returning from our ships to their own country.[37] When it was
full sea, the St Raphael floated and got off the shoal, and the fleet
proceeded on its voyage.

Following the coast to the north-eastwards, the fleet came to anchor
outside of the bar of the harbour of Mombaza, about sunset of Saturday
the 7th of April. Mombaza is on an island very near the shore of the
continent, and has plenty of provisions, such as millet, rice, and cattle,
both large and small, all well grown and fat, especially the sheep, which
are uniformly without tails; and it abounds in poultry. It is likewise
very pleasant, having many orchards, abounding in pomegranates, Indian
figs, oranges, both sweet and sour, lemons, and citrons, with plenty of
pot-herbs, and it has an abundant supply of excellent water. On this
island there is a city having the same name, Momabza, standing in lat.
4°S. which is handsomely built on a rocky hill washed by the sea. The
entrance of the haven has a mark or beacon, and on the very bar there is
a little low fort, almost level with the water.[38]

Most of the houses of this place are built of stone and lime, having the
ceilings finely constructed of plaster, and the streets are very handsome.
This city is subject to a king of its own, the inhabitants being Moors,
some of whom are white and others brown[39]. The trade of this city is
extensive, and its inhabitants are well dressed, especially the women,
who are clothed in silk, and decorated with gold and precious stones. The
harbour is good and much frequented by shipping, and it receives from the
African continent, in its neighbourhood, great quantities of honey, wax,
and ivory.

The general did not enter the harbour that night because it grew late,
but commanded to hoist the flags in compliment, which the people did with
much mirth and joy, in hope that they had come to an island in which
there were many Christians, and that next day they might hear mass on
shore. They had likewise great hope that the sick, who were almost the
whole crews, might here recover their health; though, indeed, they were
much reduced in number, many having died during the voyage. Soon after
our ships came to anchor, although night approached, a large boat,
containing about a hundred men, all armed with swords and targets, was
seen coming towards the fleet. On reaching the generals ship, they would
have all come on board with their weapons, but the general only permitted
four of their principals to come aboard, and even they unarmed; causing
them to be told in their own language, that they must excuse his
precaution, being a stranger, and not knowing therefore whom he might
trust. To those whom he permitted to come on board he gave courteous
entertainment, presenting them with such conserves as he had, of which
they readily partook; and he requested of them not to take ill that he
had thus refused entrance to so many armed men. They said that they had
merely come to see him, as a new and rare thing in their country, and
that their being armed was merely because such was the custom of the
country, whether in peace or war. They also said, that the king of
Mombaza expected his arrival, and would have sent to visit him, if it had
not been so late, but certainly would do so next day. Their king, they
added, was rejoiced at his arrival, and would not only be glad to see him,
but would load his ships with spices. They also said that there were many
Christians on the island, who lived by themselves; at which the general
was much pleased, believing their story, which agreed with what the two
pilots had said. Yet he entertained some jealous doubts, for all their
fair speeches, and wisely suspected the Moors had come to see if they
could lay a train to take our ships. In this he was perfectly right, as
it afterwards appeared that this was their sole intent. The king of
Mombaza had received perfect intelligence that we were Christians, and of
all that we had done at Mozambique, and plotted to be revenged, by taking
our ships and killing our men.

Next day, being Palm Sunday, still prosecuting his wicked purpose, the
king sent some white Moors with a message to the general, declaring his
great joy at our arrival, inviting him into the harbour, and engaging to
supply him with all things he might be in need of; and, in token of amity,
sent him a ring, a sheep, and many sweet oranges, citrons, and sugar
canes. These white Moors were likewise instructed to pretend that they
were Christians, and that there were many Christians in the island. All
this was so well counterfeited, that our people actually believed them to
be Christians, on which account the general received them with much

Online LibraryRobert KerrA General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 02 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a → online text (page 32 of 52)