The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages AD 1492-1616


By Samuel Eliot Morison, Published in 1971



Mainly the voyages of Columbus, Magellan, Drake and Morison

When the competition among Spain and Portugal and England and France became more heated and better organized, and when the gold and silver of Mexico and Peru began to fill treasure ships, the perils of capture (along with the rewards of buccaneering) increased. Sir Francis Drake, it seems, was uncommonly humane and actually released the crews of captured Spanish treasure ships (to the captain of one he presented an elegant musket and gunpowder, a gilt corselet, a silver‐gilted bowl inscribed “Francisqus Draques,” along with a safe conduct. But the general rule was to torture, hang, or behead captives. When Captain Cristóvão Jacques (a French captain in the service of the King of Portugal) discovered three “unauthorized” French vessels on the shores of Brazil, he took their 300 survivors, hanged some and buried the rest alive up to their shoulders to provide a target practice for his harquebusiers. On another occasion, after a Portuguese commander had secured surrender of a French garrison by promising to spare all the captives, he had the captured commander and 20 others hanged and all the rest sent back to a Portuguese prison—except for two of the plumpest Frenchmen, who were delivered to the neighboring Indians to serve as luncheon meat.

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