Magellan’s Voyage

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Manner of intercourse between men and women

They told us that this was the wish of their women, and that if they did otherwise they would not have intercourse with them. And when they wish to cohabit with their wives, the latter themselves take the member without its being prepared or rigid, and so they put it little by little into their nature, beginning with the stars. Then when it is inside it stiffens, and remains there until it becomes soft, for otherwise they would not be able to withdraw it. And those people do this because they are of a weak constitution.…

When one of the principal men among them is dead, they practice these ceremonies for him. First, all the ladies of the house go to the dead man’s house, where he lies in a coffin. Round this coffin are ropes stretched like lists, to which are attached many branches of trees, and in the middle of each branch is a cotton cloth like a canopy. Beneath this the greatest ladies seat themselves; all veiled and covered with white cotton cloths, each having a maid who fans her with a fan of palm. The other women are seated, all sad and weeping, around the dead man’s chamber. Then there is one who with a small knife cuts off little by little the dead man’s hair. And there is another (who was the dead man’s chief wife) who lays herself upon him, and sets her mouth, her hands and her feet to those of the dead man. And when the other woman is cutting off the hair, the latter one weeps. And when she has ceased cutting, the latter one sings.… And they keep the dead man five or six days with these ceremonies. And I think that he is anointed with camphor. Then they bury him, in the same coffin or closed box, in a place covered and surrounded by wood.

In the last week of April Magellan, having allied himself with the king of Cebu, was faced with a difficult choice that presented itself again and again as European explorers and conquerors fanned out across the world: Should he allow himself to become involved in the wars of his new ally, or should he remain aloof? Silapulapu, the ruler of the little island of Mactan off the east coast of Cebu, was subject to the ruler of Cebu but refused to follow his example and do homage to the King of Spain. One of Silapulapu’s subordinate chiefs, whose name was Zzula, was willing to pledge his fealty to Magellan’s master but was prevented from doing so by fear of his overlord, against whom he now invoked Magellan’s aid .

…The captain-general resolved to go there with three boats. And however strongly we besought him not to come, yet he (as a good shepherd) would not abandon his sheep. But at midnight we set forth, sixty men armed with corselets and helmets, together with the Christian king; and we so managed that we arrived at Mattan three hours before daylight.

The captain would not fight at this hour, but sent by the Moor to tell the lord of the place and his people that, if they agreed to obey the King of Spain, and recognize the Christian king as their lord, and give us tribute, they should all be friends. But if they acted otherwise they should learn by experience how our lances pierced. They replied that they had lances of bamboo hardened in the fire and stakes dried in the fire, and that we were to attack them when we would.…

When day came, we leapt into the water, being forty-nine men, and so we went for a distance of two crossbow flights before we could reach the harbor, and the boats could not come further inshore because of the stones and rocks which were in the water. The other eleven men remained to guard the boats.

Having thus reached land we attacked them. Those people had formed three divisions, of more than one thousand and fifty persons. And immediately they perceived us, they came about us with loud voices and cries, two divisions on our flanks, and one around and before us. When the captain saw this he divided us in two, and thus we began to fight. The arquebusiers and crossbowmen fired at long range for nearly half an hour, but in vain … Seeing this, the captain cried out, “Do not fire, do not fire any more.” But that was of no avail. When those people saw this, and that we fired the arquebuses in vain, they shouted and determined to stand fast. But they shouted louder when the arquebuses were discharged, and then they did not stay still from fear, but jumped hither and thither, covered by their shields. And thus defending themselves they fired at us so many arrows, and lances of bamboo tipped with iron, and pointed stakes hardened by fire, and stones, that we could hardly defend ourselves.

Seeing this the captain sent some of his men to burn the houses of those people in order to frighten them. Who, seeing their houses burning, became bolder and more furious, so that two of our men were killed near these houses, and we burned a good thirty of their houses. Then they came so furiously against us that they sent a poisoned arrow through the captain’s leg. Wherefore he ordered us to withdraw slowly, but the men fled while six or eight of us remained with the captain. And those people shot at no other place but our legs, for the latter were bare. Thus for the great number of lances and stones that they threw and discharged at us we could not resist.