Billeder på siden

A. D.

1501 past) the great magazine of all the rich productions of the Eaft,-Spain, with an equal and unrivalled rapidity, firft made herself mistress of the ifles, and next the best part of the continent of America, excepting Brafil, discovered and poffeffed by Portugal; in confequence of which, the cities of Seville and Cadiz became the ftorehouses for the riches of the newly dif covered western world. England at length made only fome faint and fruitless attempts for the colonizing of North America, towards the latter part of this century, as France had likewife done in Canada, with little better fuccefs.

In the mean time, the happy fituation of Antwerp foon renders her the great central staple of Europe, for the merchandize of both the Indies, as well as for the naval ftores and other bulky commodities of the northern parts of Europe, thereby drawing incredible wealth to that city, and to the adjacent country. Which state of commercial matters began gradually to prejudice the Hans-towns, more especially those on the Baltic thores, which, for, the two preceding centuries, had been the great managers of trade for almost all the European nations without the Mediterranean Sea.

A great part of Christendom shakes off the Papal yoke; a circumftance which produced alfo confiderable alterations in Europe. England begins early to establish a permanent navy-royal -and, after much difpute, gets entirely rid of the German Hanfeatic merchants of the Steelyard at London-commences a great fishery on the banks of Newfoundland-and also a whale fishery at Spitsbergen or Greenland-and her trade to Ruffia; and, by means of her important discovery of a paffage by fea to that country round the north cape of Lapland, opens an extenfive field for other new discoveries, and new branches of commerce.-She alfo commences her Turkey and Guinea traffic-defeats the grand attempt of the renowned Spanish armada—and, in the very last year of this century, incorporates an East India Company. Holland too, nearly about the fame time, commenced her trade to the Eaft Indies, and erected a great company for that commerce. France begins and afterwards much improves her broad filk manu; facture. Spain's cruel bigotry, first, by expelling the remaining Moors of Granada, and next the Proteftants of the Netherlands, and by the fiege, &c. of Antwerp, difpeoples her country, and thereby fupplies England, Holland, and the Hans-towns with great numbers of wealthy and induftrious manufacturers and artificers, as well as with an acceffion of excellent and most beneficial new manufactures.-An inundation of filver flows into Europe from America; which is foon again, for the most part, exported to the Eaft Indies by the Portuguese, who grow marvelously rich by their importations in that commerce, and alfo by their importation from Brafil, of gold, &c.

A new and potent maritime and commercial power fuddenly starts up, by the revolt of Seven of the Netherland provinces from the dominions of Spain; which crown, on the other hand, feizes on and adds to their monarchy, the kingdom of Portugal.

So bold and adventurous are the navigators of this age become, (who, in little more than one century preceding this, durft fcarce venture out of fight of land) that the terraqueous globe is four times failed round by men of three different nations! Many very hazardous, though unfuccefsful attempts, are made alfo, by feveral different na

A. D.

1501 tions, to explore a paffage by fea to China and India, as well by the north weft as the north


The Turkish empire continues to triumph throughout all this century, not only by its conquefts from the ftate of Venice, and particularly of the famous ifland of Cyprus,-as also of Rhodes from the Knights of St. John of Jerufalem; but, likewife, by feveral very important encroachments on the fide of Hungary and Poland,-by reducing the Crimea (or Chim Tartary) to its fubjection-and by the abfolute conqueft of all Syria and Egypt; fo vaft an increafe of territory and dominion within the compafs of one century, made all Chriftendom to


The Dukes of Ruffia, till this century obfcure, and till now often tributary to the Tartars, make likewife fuch efforts, by their conquefts from Poland;-by their discovery and conquest of the large provinces of Siberia and Samoieda, till then abfolutely Pagan, and before unknown even to Ruffia itself;-and, laftly, by their conqueft of the two Tartar kingdoms of Cazan and Aftracan, that they at length conjoined all thofe very extenfive provinces to their dominion, which conftitute the very potent modern Ruffian empire.

Many extremely useful difcoveries and improvements are made in this century for the advancement of commerce, navigation, &c. as in Aftronomy by the famous Nicholas Copernicus of Thorn in Pruffia, and by Tycho Brahe of Denmark; alfo in the practical part of mercantile bufinefs, by the invention of merchants-accounts by double entry, commonly called Italian Book-keeping; by Decimal Arithmetic alfo, about the clofe of this century; when likewife. Pocket Watches are firft brought into England from Germany :-Knit Stockings come first from Spain, and the more beneficial improvement of the modern Stocking Frame is invented at Cambridge.

"In Italy," fays Voltaire, in his General Hiftory of Europe, "the politer arts flourished,

not only at Rome and Florence, but at Venice, Naples, Genoa, &c. and King Francis I.

tranfplanted them into France, in whofe time there were only two coaches in Paris, ons "for the Queen, and the other for Diana of Poitiers. In commercial matters, Marfeil"les carried on a great foreign trade; Lyons alfo and the Netherlands abounded in the finest "manufactures. The correfpondence which the cities of Nurenburg and Augsburg in Ger

many had with Venice, ftill enabled them to be the firft difpenfers of the rich commodities “of Afia.—Industry, however, had not as yet changed thofe huts of wood and plaister, of "which the city of Paris was compofed, into fumptuous palaces. London was still worse built, and its inhabitants lived much harder; even the firft peers of the realm carried their "wives behind them on horfeback when they went into the country. Thus it was, that all "the princeffes travelled, their heads covered with a kind of waxen linen in rainy weather, "and went in no other habit to the King's palace; and this ufage continued till the middle "of the feventeenth century:" (Here Voltaire is certainly widely mistaken) "The magni"ficence of Charles V. Francis I. Henry VIII. and Leo X. was confined to days of fhew. "As early as the reign of Louis the Twelfth, they had began to introduce filken and "gold ftuffs, manufactured in Italy, instead of the coftly furs. There were no manufac"tures as yet at Lyons; goldfmiths ware was very bad; and Louis XII. having indif

A 2


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


A. D.


"creetly prohibited its manufacture, the French had their plate from Venice. There were as "yet no plantations of mulberry trees but in Italy and Spain: yet the French fashions began already to be copied in Germany, England, and Lombardy.-And the Italian historians complain, that fince the expedition of Charles VIII. their countrymen affected the French "drefs."

[ocr errors]



Emanuel, King of Portugal, (not improperly furnamed the Great, by the hiftorians of that nation) flushed with the fuccefs of two difcoveries, viz. that of Eaft India, and of the fouth continent of America, now fent out three fhips to Eaft India. In their way they discovered the ifle of Afcenfion, in eight degrees fouth of the line, and other ifles on the south coast of Africa: on their return from India they difcovered the then uninhabited ifle of St. Helena, (in fouth latitude fixteen) which has fince been long and most usefully in the poffeffion of the English East India Company, as a refreshing place for their fhips returning homeward. It is fituated near the mid-way between Africa and America, at the distance of about fix hundred leagues north weft of the Cape of Good Hope. The Portuguese stored it with hogs, goats, and poultry; and, for many years after this they were wont to stop at it in their homeward-bound Eaft India voyages, to fupply themselves with those provifions and fresh water; but it is very difficult to find or come at exactly in their outward-bound voyages, because of the trade winds. The next year Vafco de Gama was fent thither with ten fhips, being the first who croffed over directly from Mozambique to India,—and Soderias with fifteen fhips. The following year they built a fort at Cochin, fubdued the King of Mombaza and others in Eaft Africa, and fent fhips to cruize against the Moors at the entrance of the Red Sea, and their greatest enemies in India. In fhort, they pushed on fo numerous and great conquefts in commerce to India, that a Viceroy was foon established there; and afterwards, under the conduct of their great General, Albuquerque, they became mafters of Ormus in the Perfian Gulph; also of Goa, and many other ports on the coafts of Malabar and Coromandel, and alfo the coafts of the ifle of Ceylon, where the best, and almost the only true cinnamon is produced: they alfo poffeffed themselves of the Malacca promontory; and, to compleat the whole, fubdued the famous Moluccas, or Spice iflands: fo that the princes of India began to court their favour.. Thus was Portugal, from a very moderate condition, in a very few years greatly exalted and enriched, by the fole enjoyment of the commerce to India; in which that nation then probably flattered themselves they were never to have a rival.

Here let us ftop for a moment, to confider how the Eaft India merchandize was anciently conveyed into the weft of Europe, before we knew that a paffage thither was practicable by fea.


It is now many hundreds of years fince the famous city and republic of Venice firft adopted the traffic of fupplying the western and northern parts of Europe with Indian merchandize. The fpices, drugs, precious ftones, and other merchandize peculiar to those eastern parts the world were very anciently brought from India, by fea, to the confines of Egypt on the Red Sea, and thence over land to the river Nile, when they were conveyed to its mouth at Alexandria, that famous port of commerce, and from thence to Europe; poffibly long before the Romans had conquered that country, in the time of Auguftus, who found that trade already practifed by the Egyptians upon his conqueft of them. Yet this was but one of the routes or


A. D..

1501 ways, by which the precious merchandize of the eaft was conveyed into the weft, though poffibly the most ancient of any of them. Another route was from the city of Lahor in Indoftan, fituated in the thirty-fecond degree of north latitude, on a branch of the river Indus, about nine hundred miles north of Surat; and whilst that method of conveyance continued, Lahor was efteemed the greatest and most confiderable city of India for that commerce, which the Indians and Armenians carried on from thence through Perfia to the city of Aleppo in Syria; and fo on either to the ports of Tripoli or Scanderoon in the Levant fea; and laftly, by fea to Greece and Italy, and poffibly to fome other more western and northern parts -Another way of conveying the Indian merchandize into the weft, which is in ufe even at this day, was by fea from India up the Gulph of Perfia to Balfora, near the difemboguing of the Tigris into that Gulph, and thence up that famous river to Bir, and over land to Aleppo; or elfe further up the Euphrates, and then over land to Trapezium, (i. e. Trebifond) on the fouth fide of the Euxine Sea, and across that fea to the ancient port of Theodofia, (now Caffa, in the Taurica Chersonefus, or Crim-Tartary); alfo from Trapezium, along the fouth fhore of the Euxine Sea to Conftantinople. There was yet another ancient way of conveying the Indian merchandize to the weft; viz. from Lahor to the river Oxus, which runs into the Cafpian Sea, the voyage is then continued along the fouth fhores of that fea to the weft end of it, thence up the river Cyrus, and by land a little way to the river Phafis, which falls into the Euxine Sea at Colchis, and so as before to Conftantinople or Theodofia: or else across the Cafpian Sea to its north fide at Aftracan, and up the Volga, (anciently named the Rha) according to the opinion of Monf. Huet, Bishop of Avranches, in his Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients; which last named route is not very probable, confidering the barbarous ftate of the countries of Scythia, on the north fide of the Cafpian Sea in ancient times. After the Vandals, Goths, Lombards, and Moors had torn in pieces the western empire, and the latter, by the name of Saracens, had greatly weakened the eastern empire, all commerce in the weft feemed, in a great degree, to ceafe between nations. The trade to Eaft India was, however, revived, its merchandize being carried partly by land and partly by water to Caffa, (in what is now called Crim-Tartary) then belonging to Genoa. Trebifond was also a mart for Indian goods, and next Samarcand, in Zagatai, where the Indian, Turkish, and Perfian merchants met for bar-tering their wares; the Turks conveying theirs to Damafcus, Baratti, and Aleppo, and from thence to Venice, till the year 1300, when the Soldans of Egypt revived the ancient route to and from India by the Red Sea. Several other routes are occafionally mentioned by both the ancients and moderns to have been practifed between Europe and India; but as thofe already mentioned were the most known, we shall not dwell any longer on that particular point. What is more certain is, that, after the overthrow of the weftern empire, and long before the fall of the caftern or Greek empire, the city of Venice (as we have already feen) by means of her commerce to the principal Levantine ports of Aleppo and Alexandria, was, for many centuries, the chief ftaple or principal mart for the spices, drugs, precious ftones, and other rich merchandize of Syria, Egypt, Arabia, Perfia, and India, and from Venice they were difperfed over Europe; and in Germany particularly, the cities of Nurenburg and Augsburg were supplied fom Venice with great store of thofe Afiatic commodities, fo that they acquired great riches in fupplying that and other countries with them. Thus the city and republic of Venice became extremely rich, as well as famous all over Chriftendom, until the beginning of this fixteenth century, when the trade for Indian merchandize was gradually transferred to



A. D.

1501 Lisbon, where it flourished exceedingly for about one century, until the Hollanders found the way to India.

Some have expreffed their astonishment, that fo prudent a ftate as Venice has made no attempts to form colonies and make new difcoveries without the Straits of Gibraltar, in order to retrieve the lofs of their trade in the Eaft Indian merchandize from Alexandria, &c. Yet much may be faid in their juftification :-For, firft, that republic was, in thofe times, obliged to be continually on its guard against the growing power of the Turks, who had already robbed it of most of its Levantine ifles, and whofe infolence and perfidy, even in time of peace, kept them in perpetual alarm.

Secondly, Their fituation fo far down the Mediterranean, and up the Adriatic, rendered fuch projects inconvenient for them, more efpecially, as in their paffage they must have been perpetually exposed to the corfairs of Barbary.

Laftly, They might poffibly entertain fome hopes, that fooner or later, the trade for East Indian merchandize might return into its ancient channel.

Whilft fuch great acquifitions were making by Portugal in the eaft, Columbus and Baftidas were making many ufeful difcoveries in the Weft Indies for the future benefit of Spain.

We should obferve alfo, under this year 1502, that Cabral, the Portuguese admiral, in his return from the Eaft Indies, fettled factories at Melinda, Quiloa, Mombaza, and Quirimba, on the Zanguebar coaft. Some modern authors relate, that in the city of Melinda, which is, it feems, neatly built with free-ftone, and finely adorned, the Portuguese have eighteen churches. On the coast of Ajan alfo, the Portuguese reduced most of their Princes to be their tributaries; so that they foon became mafters of the whole fouth-eastern coast of Africa, even up to the entrance into the Red Sea. Before the Portuguese came thither, the Arabians carried on a great commerce on this coaft, upon which they made many fettlements, but how long they had been there does not appear. They alfo had traded from thence to Perfia and India; but the Portuguese ruined that commerce, and got it all into their own hands.

About this time alfo, the great King Emanuel of Portugal turned his arms against the Moors of Barbary, on which coast he took and garrifoned feveral ports, fuch as Magazan, Agadir, called alfo Santa Cruz by the Europeans, Azamor, &c. most of which places, and those they had before on that shore, they have long fince loft or abandoned. Neither did Portugal ever reap much benefit from thofe port-towns, in point of commerce, any further than they helped to curb the Moorish pirates; which falutary object, however, neither they nor Spain. have ever been able effectually to accomplish. King Alphonfo V. had, so far back as the year 1448, taken the port of Alcazar on that coaft, as he did Tangier and Arzilla, in the year 1471.

In this fame year 1502, was finally concluded the most aufpicious marriage of Margaret, eldest daughter of King Henry VII. of England, to King James IV. of Scotland. The lands affigned by James for her dowry of two thousand pounds per annum, in earldoms, lordfhips, manors, forefts, with the palaces and caftles of Linlithgow and Stirling, are, at this time, probably more than ten times their value at that period. Her portion we have mentioned under the year 1500.


« ForrigeFortsæt »