HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 11 no. 1 & 2 (1963)

De Molvccis Insulis

Maximilianue Transylvanus

Discipline: History



Most Reverend and Illustrious Lord: my only Lord, to you I most humbly commend myself. Not long ago one of those five ships returned which the emperor, while he was at Sara­gossa some years ago, had sent into a strange and hitherto un­known part of the world, to search for the islands in which spices grow. For although the Portuguese bring, us a great quantity of them from the Golden Chersonesus, which we now call Ma­lacca, nevertheless their own Indian possessions produce none but pepper. For it is well known that the other spices, as cinna­mon, cloves, and the nutmeg, which we call muscat, and its cover­ing [mace], which we call muscat-flower, are brought to their Indian possessions from distant islands hitherto only known by name, in ships held together not by iron fastenings, but merely by palm-leaves, and having round sails also woven out of palm- fibers. Ships of this sort they call “junks,” and they are impelled by the wind only when it blows directly fore or aft.