Manila Galleon

Manila Galleon

Overview

The Manila galleons or Manila-Acapulco galleons were Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 trading ship
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

s that sailed
Sailing
Sailing is the propulsion of a vehicle and the control of its movement with large foils called sails. By changing the rigging, rudder, and sometimes the keel or centre board, a sailor manages the force of the wind on the sails in order to move the boat relative to its surrounding medium and...

 once or twice per year across the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 between Manila
Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

 in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, and Acapulco
Acapulco
Acapulco is a city, municipality and major sea port in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast of Mexico, southwest from Mexico City. Acapulco is located on a deep, semi-circular bay and has been a port since the early colonial period of Mexico’s history...

, New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

 (present-day Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

). The name changed reflecting the city that the ship was sailing from. Service was inaugurated in 1565 with the discovery of the ocean passage by Andrés de Urdaneta, and continued until 1815 when the Mexican War of Independence
Mexican War of Independence
The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who sought...

 put a permanent stop to the galleon
Galleon
A galleon was a large, multi-decked sailing ship used primarily by European states from the 16th to 18th centuries. Whether used for war or commerce, they were generally armed with the demi-culverin type of cannon.-Etymology:...

 trade route.

In 1521 Magellan was blown west across the Pacific by the trade winds.
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The Manila galleons or Manila-Acapulco galleons were Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 trading ship
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

s that sailed
Sailing
Sailing is the propulsion of a vehicle and the control of its movement with large foils called sails. By changing the rigging, rudder, and sometimes the keel or centre board, a sailor manages the force of the wind on the sails in order to move the boat relative to its surrounding medium and...

 once or twice per year across the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 between Manila
Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

 in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, and Acapulco
Acapulco
Acapulco is a city, municipality and major sea port in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast of Mexico, southwest from Mexico City. Acapulco is located on a deep, semi-circular bay and has been a port since the early colonial period of Mexico’s history...

, New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

 (present-day Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

). The name changed reflecting the city that the ship was sailing from. Service was inaugurated in 1565 with the discovery of the ocean passage by Andrés de Urdaneta, and continued until 1815 when the Mexican War of Independence
Mexican War of Independence
The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who sought...

 put a permanent stop to the galleon
Galleon
A galleon was a large, multi-decked sailing ship used primarily by European states from the 16th to 18th centuries. Whether used for war or commerce, they were generally armed with the demi-culverin type of cannon.-Etymology:...

 trade route.

Discovery of the route


In 1521 Magellan was blown west across the Pacific by the trade winds. The problem was to go east. The first ship to try this
Trinidad (ship)
The Trinidad was the flagship of Ferdinand Magellan's voyage of circumnavigation. Unlike Elcano's Victoria, which returned to Spain, the Trinidad tried and failed to return by way of Mexico. Trinidad was a nao of 100 tons with square sails on the fore and main masts and a lateen mizzen. Its...

 failed. In 1529 Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón
Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón
Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón was one of the Spanish explorers in the Pacific Ocean. It is unknown the exact date and place of birth, but known to be born in the late 15th century or 16th century in Spain...

 also failed. In 1543 Bernardo de la Torre
Bernardo de la Torre
Bernardo de la Torre was a Spanish sailor, primarily noted for having explored parts of the Western Pacific Ocean south of Japan in the 16th century.-Exploration:...

 failed. The Manila-Acapulco galleon trade began when Andrés de Urdaneta
Andrés de Urdaneta
Friar Andrés de Urdaneta, O.S.A., was a circumnavigator, explorer and Augustinian friar. As a navigator he achieved in 1536 the "second" world circumnavigation after first one led by Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano in 1522...

, sailing in convoy under Miguel López de Legazpi
Miguel López de Legazpi
Miguel López de Legazpi , also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo , was a Spanish conquistador who established one of the first European settlements in the East Indies and the Pacific Islands in 1565. He is the first Governor-General in the Philippines...

, discovered a return route from Cebu City
Cebu City
The City of Cebu is the capital city of Cebu and is the second largest city in the Philippines, the second most significant metropolitan centre in the Philippines and known as the oldest settlement established by the Spaniards in the country.The city is located on the eastern shore of Cebu and was...

 to Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 in 1565. Attempting to return, the fleet split up, with part of it heading south. Urdaneta reasoned that the trade winds of the Pacific might move in a gyre
Gyre
A gyre in oceanography is any large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. Gyres are caused by the Coriolis Effect; planetary vorticity along with horizontal and vertical friction, which determine the circulation patterns from the wind curl...

 as the Atlantic winds did. If in the Atlantic ships made a wide swing (the "volta
Volta Do Mar
"Volta do mar", "volta do mar largo" or "volta do largo", is a navigational technique perfected by Portuguese navigators during the Age of Discovery in the late fifteenth century, using the dependable phenomenon of the great permanent wind wheel, the North Atlantic Gyre...

") to the west to pick up winds that would bring them back from Madeira
Madeira
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago that lies between and , just under 400 km north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean and an outermost region of the European Union...

, then, he reasoned, by sailing far to the north before heading east he would pick up westerlies
Westerlies
The Westerlies, anti-trades, or Prevailing Westerlies, are the prevailing winds in the middle latitudes between 30 and 60 degrees latitude, blowing from the high pressure area in the horse latitudes towards the poles. These prevailing winds blow from the west to the east, and steer extratropical...

 to bring him back to the west coast of North America
History of the west coast of North America
The human history of the west coast of North America is believed to stretch back to the arrival of the earliest people over the Bering Strait, or alternately along a now-submerged coastal plain, through the development of significant pre-Columbian cultures and population densities, to the arrival...

.
Though he sailed to 38 degrees North
38th parallel north
The 38th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 38 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean...

 before turning east, his hunch paid off, and he hit the coast near Cape Mendocino
Cape Mendocino
Cape Mendocino located on the Lost Coast entirely within Humboldt County, California, USA, is the westernmost point on the coast of California. It has been a landmark since the 16th century when the Manila Galleons would reach the coast here following the prevailing westerlies all the way across...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, then followed the coast south to San Blas
San Blas
San Blas, the Spanish name for Saint Blaise, can refer to:*San Blas, La Rioja*San Blas Department*San Blas, Costa Rica*San Blas, Quito*San Blas, El Salvador* San Blas, Nadur* San Blas, Nayarit* San Blas, Sinaloa* San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca...

 and later to Acapulco
Acapulco
Acapulco is a city, municipality and major sea port in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast of Mexico, southwest from Mexico City. Acapulco is located on a deep, semi-circular bay and has been a port since the early colonial period of Mexico’s history...

. Most of his crew died on the long initial voyage, for which they had not sufficiently provisioned.

By the 18th century it was understood that a less northerly track was sufficient, but galleon navigators steered well clear of the forbidding and rugged fogbound California coast; According to historian William Lytle Schurz, "They generally made their landfall well down the coast, somewhere between Point Conception
Point Conception
Point Conception is a headland along the Pacific coast of U.S. state of California, located in southwestern Santa Barbara County. It is the point where the Santa Barbara Channel meets the Pacific Ocean, and as the corner between the mostly north-south trending portion of coast to the north and the...

 and Cape San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas , commonly called Cabo, is a city at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, in the municipality of Los Cabos in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. As of the 2010 census, the population was 68,463 people...

...After all, these were preeminently merchant ships, and the business of exploration lay outside their field, though chance discoveries were welcomed".

The first motivation for exploration of Alta California
Alta California
Alta California was a province and territory in the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later a territory and department in independent Mexico. The territory was created in 1769 out of the northern part of the former province of Las Californias, and consisted of the modern American states of California,...

 was to scout out possible way-stations for the seaworn Manila galleons on the last leg of their journey. Early proposals came to little, but in the later 18th century several Manila galleons put in at Monterey
Monterey, California
The City of Monterey in Monterey County is located on Monterey Bay along the Pacific coast in Central California. Monterey lies at an elevation of 26 feet above sea level. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,810. Monterey is of historical importance because it was the capital of...

.

Spice trade


Trade served as the fundamental source of income for Spanish colonists in the Philippine Islands. A total of 110 Manila galleons set sail in the 250 years of the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade (1565 to 1815). Until 1593, three or more ships would set sail annually from each port. The Manila trade was becoming so lucrative that Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

 merchants petitioned king Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 to protect the monopoly of the Casa de Contratación based in Seville. This led to the passing of a decree in 1593 that set a limit of two ships sailing each year from either port, with one kept in reserve in Acapulco and one in Manila. An "armada" or armed escort of galleons, was also approved.

With such limitations it was essential to build the largest possible galleons, which were the largest class of ships known to have been built anywhere up to that time. In the 16th century, they averaged from 1,700 to 2,000 tons, were built of Philippine hardwoods and could carry a thousand passengers. The Concepción, wrecked in 1638, was 43 to 49 m (140–160 feet) long and displacing some 2,000 tons. The Santísima Trinidad was 51.5 m long. Most of the ships were built in the Philippines and only eight in Mexico. The Manila-Acapulco galleon trade ended in 1815, a few years before Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. After this, the Spanish Crown took direct control of the Philippines, and was governed directly from Madrid. This became manageable in the mid-19th century upon the invention of steam power ships and the opening of the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

, which reduced the travel time from Spain to the Philippines to 40 days.

The galleons carried spice
Spice
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for flavor, color, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth. It may be used to flavour a dish or to hide other flavours...

s, porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

, ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

, lacquerware
Lacquerware
Lacquerware are objects decoratively covered with lacquer. The lacquer is sometimes inlaid or carved. Lacquerware includes boxes, tableware, buttons and even coffins painted with lacquer in cultures mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere.-History:...

, processed silk cloth gathered from both the Spice Islands
Maluku Islands
The Maluku Islands are an archipelago that is part of Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone...

, and Asia-Pacific
Asia-Pacific
Asia-Pacific or Asia Pacific is the part of the world in or near the Western Pacific Ocean...

, to be sold in the Americas, namely New Spain and Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

 as well as in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an markets. East Asia trading was primarily on a silver standard
Silver standard
The silver standard is a monetary system in which the standard economic unit of account is a fixed weight of silver. The silver specie standard was widespread from the fall of the Byzantine Empire until the 19th century...

; the goods were mostly bought by Mexican silver. The cargoes were transported by land across Mexico to the port of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

, where they were loaded onto the Spanish treasure fleet
Spanish treasure fleet
The Spanish treasure fleets was a convoy system adopted by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1790...

 bound for Spain. This route was the alternative to the trip west across the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

, and around the Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the...

, which was reserved to Portugal according to the Treaty of Tordesillas
Treaty of Tordesillas
The Treaty of Tordesillas , signed at Tordesillas , , divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between Spain and Portugal along a meridian 370 leagueswest of the Cape Verde islands...

. It also avoided stopping over at ports controlled by competing powers, such as Portugal and the Netherlands. From the early days of exploration, the Spanish knew that the American continent was much narrower across the Panamanian isthmus
Geography of Panama
Panama is a country located in the Central America region of North America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. Panama is located on the narrow and low Isthmus of Panama. This S-shaped isthmus is situated between 7° and 10° north latitude...

 than across Mexico. They tried to establish a regular land crossing there, but the thick jungle, and malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 made it impractical.

It took at least four months to sail across the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 from Manila to Acapulco, and the galleons were the main link between the Philippines and the viceregal capital at Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 and thence to Spain itself. Many of the so-called "Kastilas" or Spaniards in the Philippines were actually of Mexican descent, and the Hispanic culture of the Philippines is somewhat close to Mexican culture. Even after the galleon era, and at the time when Mexico finally gained its independence, the two nations still continued to trade, except for a brief lull during the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

. The Manila galleons sailed the Pacific for two hundred and fifty years, bringing to Spain their cargoes of luxury goods, economic benefits, and cultural exchange.

The wrecks of the Manila galleons are legends second only to the wrecks of treasure ships
Spanish treasure fleet
The Spanish treasure fleets was a convoy system adopted by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1790...

 in the Caribbean. In 1568, Miguel López de Legazpi's own ship, the San Pablo (300 tons), was the first Manila galleon to be wrecked en route to Mexico.
Between the years 1576 when the "Espiritu Santo" was lost and 1798 when the "San Cristobal(2)" was lost there were twenty Manila Galleons http://shipwrecks-Philippines.com wrecked within the Philippine archepelago. In 1587 a Manila galleon was captured by Thomas Cavendish
Thomas Cavendish
Sir Thomas Cavendish was an English explorer and a privateer known as "The Navigator" because he was the first who deliberately tried to emulate Sir Francis Drake and raid the Spanish towns and ships in the Pacific and return by circumnavigating the globe...

 and in 1743 by George Anson, 1st Baron Anson
George Anson, 1st Baron Anson
Admiral of the Fleet George Anson, 1st Baron Anson PC, FRS, RN was a British admiral and a wealthy aristocrat, noted for his circumnavigation of the globe and his role overseeing the Royal Navy during the Seven Years' War...

.

Hawaii


For 250 years, hundreds of Manila galleons traveled from present-day Mexico to the Philippines, with their route taking them south of the Hawaiian Islands
Hawaiian Islands
The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles from the island of Hawaii in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll...

. And yet, no historical records of any contact between the two cultures exist. British historian Henry Kamen
Henry Kamen
Henry A. Kamen is a British historian born in Rangoon on Oct 4. 1936. He studied at the University of Oxford, earning his doctorate at St. Antony's College. He subsequently taught at the University of Warwick and various universities in Spain. In 1970, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal...

 maintains that the Spanish did not have the ability to properly explore the Pacific Ocean, and were not capable of finding the islands which lay at a latitude 20° north of the galleon route and their currents. However, Spanish activity in the Pacific was paramount until the late 18th century. Navigator Urdaneta
Urdaneta
-Places:Ecuador* Urdaneta Canton, Los Ríos ProvincePhilippines* Urdaneta, PangasinanVenezuela* Urdaneta Municipality, Aragua* Urdaneta Municipality, Lara* Urdaneta Municipality, Miranda* Urdaneta Municipality, Trujillo-People:...

 was the first to sail the Pacific from west to east, establishing the maritime route from Asia to America in 1565, that lasted until 1815. Spanish expeditions discovered Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, the Marianas, the Carolines and the Philippines in the North Pacific, as well as Tuvalu
Tuvalu
Tuvalu , formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls...

, the Marquesas
Marquesas Islands
The Marquesas Islands enana and Te Fenua `Enata , both meaning "The Land of Men") are a group of volcanic islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the southern Pacific Ocean. The Marquesas are located at 9° 00S, 139° 30W...

, the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

 and New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

 in the South Pacific. Spanish navigators also discovered the Pitcairn
Pitcairn Islands
The Pitcairn Islands , officially named the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, form a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. The islands are a British Overseas Territory and overseas territory of the European Union in the Pacific...

 and Vanuatu
Vanuatu
Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu , is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was...

 archipelagos during their search for Terra Australis
Terra Australis
Terra Australis, Terra Australis Ignota or Terra Australis Incognita was a hypothesized continent appearing on European maps from the 15th to the 18th century...

 in the 17th century.

There are questions as to whether Spanish explorers did arrive in the Hawaiian Islands two centuries before Captain James Cook
James Cook
Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

's first visit in 1778. Ruy López de Villalobos
Ruy López de Villalobos
Ruy López de Villalobos was a Spanish explorer who sailed the Pacific from Mexico to establish a permanent foothold for Spain in the East Indies, which was near the Line of Demarcation between Spain and Portugal according to the Treaty of Saragossa in 1529...

 commanded a fleet of six ships that left Acapulco in 1542 with a Spanish sailor named Juan Gaetano aboard as pilot. Depending on the interpretation, Gaetano's reports seemed to describe the discovery of Hawaii or the Marshall Islands in 1555. If it was Hawaii, Gaetano would have been one of the first Europeans to find the islands. Most scholars have dismissed these claims as lacking credibility.
After 1565, Andrés de Urdaneta's new route allowed Manila galleons to sail regularly between Mexico and the Philippines for two and a half centuries, ending in 1815. The westward route from Mexico passed south of Hawaii, making a short stopover in Guam before heading for Manila. The exact route was kept secret to protect the Spanish trade monopoly against competing powers, and to avoid Dutch and English pirates. Due to this policy of discretion, if the Spanish did find Hawaii during their voyages, they would not have published their findings and the discovery would have remained unknown. From Gaetano's account, the Hawaiian islands were not known to have any valuable resources, so the Spanish would have not made an effort to settle them. This happened in the case of the Mariana and Caroline Islands, which were not effectively settled until the second half of the 17th century. Spanish archives contain a chart that depicts islands in the latitude of Hawaii but with the longitude ten degrees east of the Islands. In this manuscript, the Island of Maui
Maui
The island of Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands at and is the 17th largest island in the United States. Maui is part of the state of Hawaii and is the largest of Maui County's four islands, bigger than Lānai, Kahoolawe, and Molokai. In 2010, Maui had a population of 144,444,...

 is named "La Desgraciada" (the disgraced), and what appears to be the Island of Hawaii
Hawaii (island)
The Island of Hawaii, also called the Big Island or Hawaii Island , is a volcanic island in the North Pacific Ocean...

 is named "La Mesa" (the table). Islands resembling Kahoolawe
Kahoolawe
Kahoolawe is the smallest of the eight main volcanic islands in the Hawaiian Islands. Kahoolawe is located about seven miles southwest of Maui and also southeast of Lanai, and it is long by wide, with a total land area of . The highest point on Kahoolawe is the crater of Lua Makika at the...

, Lanai
Lanai
Lānai or Lanai is the sixth-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is also known as the Pineapple Island because of its past as an island-wide pineapple plantation. The only town is Lānai City, a small settlement....

, and Molokai
Molokai
Molokai or Molokai is an island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is 38 by 10 miles in size with a land area of , making it the fifth largest of the main Hawaiian Islands and the 27th largest island in the United States. It lies east of Oahu across the 25-mile wide Kaiwi Channel and north of...

 are named "Los Monjes" (the monks).

William Ellis, a writer and missionary in early 19th century Hawaii, recorded several folk stories about foreigners who had visited Hawaii prior to first contact with Cook. According to Hawaiian writer Herb Kawainui Kane
Herb Kawainui Kane
Herbert "Herb" Kawainui Kāne , considered one of the principal figures in the renaissance of Hawaiian culture in the 1970s, was a celebrated artist-historian and author with a special interest in the seafaring traditions of the ancestral peoples of Hawaii...

, one of these stories:
concerned seven foreigners who landed eight generations earlier at Kealakekua Bay in a painted boat with an awning or canopy over the stern. They were dressed in clothing of white and yellow, and one wore a sword at his side and a feather in his hat. On landing, they kneeled down in prayer. The Hawaiians, most helpful to those who were most helpless, received them kindly. The strangers ultimately married into the families of chiefs, but their names could not be included in genealogies.


Debate continues as to whether the Hawaiian Islands were actually visited by the Spanish in the 16th century with researchers like Richard W. Rogers looking for evidence of Spanish shipwreck
Shipwreck
A shipwreck is what remains of a ship that has wrecked, either sunk or beached. Whatever the cause, a sunken ship or a wrecked ship is a physical example of the event: this explains why the two concepts are often overlapping in English....

s.

See also


  • Battles of La Naval de Manila
    Battles of La Naval de Manila
    The Battles of La Naval de Manila were a series of five naval battles fought in the waters of the Philippines in 1646, between the forces of Spain and the Dutch Republic, during the Eighty Years’ War...

  • History of the Philippines (1521-1898)
  • History of the west coast of North America
    History of the west coast of North America
    The human history of the west coast of North America is believed to stretch back to the arrival of the earliest people over the Bering Strait, or alternately along a now-submerged coastal plain, through the development of significant pre-Columbian cultures and population densities, to the arrival...

  • Spanish East Indies
    Spanish East Indies
    Spanish East Indies was a term used to describe Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which lasted for three centuries . With the seat of government in Manila, the territory encompassed the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and for a period of time, parts of...

  • Spanish treasure fleet
    Spanish treasure fleet
    The Spanish treasure fleets was a convoy system adopted by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1790...

  • Bernardo de la Torre
    Bernardo de la Torre
    Bernardo de la Torre was a Spanish sailor, primarily noted for having explored parts of the Western Pacific Ocean south of Japan in the 16th century.-Exploration:...


Further reading

  • Schurz, William Lytle. (1917) "The Manila Galleon and California", Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 107–126
  • Schurz, William Lytle. The Manila Galleon. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1939.

External links