Una diferente ‘Plus Ultra’ - the Avís-Trastámara Kings of All Spain and the Indies (Updated 11/7)

It's a very good update. The Spanish now have ample opportunity to consolidate if they choose. Tripoli is looking pretty isolated at the moment with the Spanish in Tunis and the Ottomans chastened.

I would also be interested in seeing how the Muslim loses in North Africa are butterflying the situation in Mali and the trans-Saharan trade network more broadly.
The Habsburg succession to the Spanish throne went a long way to open up Spain to German and Dutch markets. One of the effects was German banking houses like the Fuggers and the Welsers lending the capital for the investment into mining American Gold, which is a very capital intensive process. I wonder if an would Avis-Trastamara succession have hampered Spain's economy in that regard?
Edit: A lot of the fleets and the capital for the Portuguese spice trade was also provided by the Fuggers.
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The Habsburg succession to the Spanish throne went a long way to open up Spain to German and Dutch markets. One of the effects was German banking houses like the Fuggers and the Welsers lending the capital for the investment into mining American Gold, which is a very capital intensive process. I wonder if an would Avis-Trastamara succession have hampered Spain's economy in that regard?
Edit: A lot of the fleets and the capital for the Portuguese spice trade was also provided by the Fuggers.
There is a section of the timeline which talks about how Catholic Spain began to reform their economic and monetary policy.

There is a section of the timeline which talks about how Catholic Spain began to reform their economic and monetary policy.

Thanks, gave it a read. Still, making a humongous state owned political lending facility doesnt seem like the mature capital market of the Lowlands or Germany. I wonder if at some point all that silver will trickle down into Spain getting a scene of its own mix of smaller private banks.
Thanks, gave it a read. Still, making a humongous state owned political lending facility doesnt seem like the mature capital market of the Lowlands or Germany. I wonder if at some point all that silver will trickle down into Spain getting a scene of its own mix of smaller private banks.
It is less about some kind of trickle down effect, and more about supply and demand. What gap in the market does the State owned 'bank' generate and is there a way for legitimate businesses to fill that gap? The official policy of usury may be more protestant from the state, but culture is often hard to change. Will individual Spaniards have the need or desire for bank accounts, loans etc. to me it seems unlikely for a while.

And even if it were to develop, it will need more than a couple of recessions to weed out the dodgy 'banks' or the incompetent banks, and it will require the State to allow the bad banks to fail to incentivise good behavour and practice. Meanwhile, some kind of regulation to stop the development of legal loansharking, which actually harms investment and businesses.

It has been a long time since I read this entire timeline and I cannot recall atm the current status of Jews within the Kingdoms, but historically many fled to North Africa where presumably they'd be of use to the Catholic Spanish. They might be able to form the nucleus of the type of lending system you desire. My instinct is that we are unlikely to see a blossoming petit bourgeoise funded by clever loans by private banks for a century or two at least. I foresee more guilds for the trades and peasant farmers making up the bulk of the population of non-colonial Spain.
It is less about some kind of trickle down effect, and more about supply and demand. What gap in the market does the State owned 'bank' generate and is there a way for legitimate businesses to fill that gap? The official policy of usury may be more protestant from the state, but culture is often hard to change. Will individual Spaniards have the need or desire for bank accounts, loans etc. to me it seems unlikely for a while.

And even if it were to develop, it will need more than a couple of recessions to weed out the dodgy 'banks' or the incompetent banks, and it will require the State to allow the bad banks to fail to incentivise good behavour and practice. Meanwhile, some kind of regulation to stop the development of legal loansharking, which actually harms investment and businesses.

It has been a long time since I read this entire timeline and I cannot recall atm the current status of Jews within the Kingdoms, but historically many fled to North Africa where presumably they'd be of use to the Catholic Spanish. They might be able to form the nucleus of the type of lending system you desire. My instinct is that we are unlikely to see a blossoming petit bourgeoise funded by clever loans by private banks for a century or two at least. I foresee more guilds for the trades and peasant farmers making up the bulk of the population of non-colonial Spain.
You might see the early modern equivalent of a credit union coming from these guilds.
45. Ilhas de Ofir
~ Ilhas de Ofir ~
Southeast Asia c. 1550-1580


Spain had been fortunate to have in its service a man like Afonso de Albuquerque, whose constant and aggressive attempts to conquer every strategic port and choke point east of Boa Esperança would have surely failed if undertaken by someone without his inexhaustible energy and borderline reckless courage. Under his authority, Spanish interests had been secured firmly in a variety of extremely important locales in Asia, of which arguably the best investment had been Malaca. The rich and developed city on the Malaca Straits offered Spain a prized and much-envied promontory into East Asia, commanding the vast majority of all seagoing traffic between the Indian Ocean and the Java and South China Seas. For the Spaniards that recognized its potential, Malaca became as important to prioritize as the entirety of Spain’s possessions in India and East Africa. The Spanish administration in Asia had quickly adopted the personal strategy of Afonso de Albuquerque, which was to expend considerable effort and resources fortifying a select few of Spain’s most important territorial possessions, rather than attempt to tie down every strip of coastline in the style of a traditional conquest. Creating self-sustaining and unconquerable footholds in such a crowded and heavily contested part of the world would require not only the construction of expansive physical fortifications, but also the extension of the surrounding pale through missionary activity, military action, and land grants, as well as - most importantly - fostering the creation of a substantial, native Ibero-Christian community. The latter had been pursued vigorously by Albuquerque, who - just as he did in India - encouraged Spanish soldiers to marry local women and settle permanently within the city, in order to create and cement a loyal Catholic population that had ties to local affairs and a vested interest in perpetuating Spanish rule. Albuquerque likewise encouraged the settlement of órfãs do rei (“orphans of the king”), well-born orphan girls in the king of Portugal’s official custody, the shipment of whom became annual in 1542. These girls (between the ages of 12 and 30) were sent overseas to Spain’s Asian and African possessions to both bolster the local European population and to secure strategic marriages with the local nobility.

After bursting onto the scene with the surprise capture of Malaca in 1509, the Spanish then quickly made their presence known in virtually every corner of the East Indies. Innumerable feitorias, Catholic missions, and military endeavors - both formal and informal - were undertaken amid the equally innumerable islands of the Malay Archipelago in rapid succession, but only a handful of settlements evolved into what could be considered proper Spanish possessions. Once the wide-ranging freebooting, exploratory voyages, and diplomatic maneuvering cooled down in the second half of the 16th century, Spanish influence and control between the Strait of Malacca and the Celebes Sea coalesced around a dozen or so fortified footholds, the most important being (from west to east): Malaca (Malacca), straddling the strait through which the vast majority of oceangoing traffic to the Far East passed; Calapa (Sunda Kelapa), the primary port of the Javan Sunda kingdom; Macáçar (Makassar), the largest port on the isle of Celebes and entrepôt of the kingdom of Gowa; Solor, the island commanding access to Timor and the surrounding archipelago; Ambon, the island at the center of the Moluccas, known colloquially as the Spice Islands due to their highly lucrative native herbs; and Ternate, former seat of the once powerful rival of the nearby sultanate of Tidore.

- Quersonese Dourado -

The sudden and violent insertion of Spanish power into the Straits of Malaca was an unwelcome development for most of the surrounding powers, to say the least. While the capture of Malaca may have weakened its eponymous sultanate, it suffered no great collapse. The last sultan of Malaca, Mahmud Shah, had escaped with his life and relocated with his royal family to the region of Pahang in eastern Malaya after a number of failed attempts to retake Malaca in 1511, and then moved again to Bintan in the Riau Islands, where a new capital was established for what would become the sultanate of Johor. Virtually all of the territorial possessions of the former sultanate (barring Malaca itself) also stayed intact and loyal during this transition. Losing Malaca therefore did not decapitate the state structure or even seriously undermine the territorial integrity of the sultanate of Malaca, and Spain had earned a permanent and vengeful foe in Southeast Asia. Spanish aggression likewise created another powerful regional enemy when the unprovoked sack of the wealthy Sumatran port and sultanate of Pasai allowed Aceh, its nearby rival (also Muslim), to fill in the new power vacuum in northern Sumatra. As the only other competitors in the surrounding area were the ports of Pidie and Daya, Acehnese expansion quickly brought the sultanate into hostile relations with Spain, as both ports were friendly to the Spanish and housed informal communities of Spanish traders. Between the sultanates of Johor, Aceh, and others further afield, Spanish Malaca was attacked a countless number of times during the 16th century, three of which - in 1512, 1520, and 1565 - involved hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of warriors against which the Spaniards had to defend themselves.

A few circumstances prevented Spanish Malaca from crumbling under this incessant hostility. For one, Afonso de Albuquerque had been diligent during his stay in Malaca in overseeing the construction of new fortifications, choosing a nearby and hitherto underutilized hill to create an imposing fortress with a five-story keep known colloquially as “A Famosa.” Additionally, although during the 16th century the Spanish east of India numbered less than 4,000 and there were never more than a few hundred Portuguese soldiers in Malaca, the Spanish consistently and effectively wielded two military advantages over the peoples of the Malay Archipelago: the galleon was a superior warship in terms of firepower and hull integrity to those which formed the backbone of local navies, and - while gunpowder weaponry had been used in Southeast Asia for centuries - the number of firearms per capita among the Spaniards vastly exceeded that of local forces. Finally, Malaca was a multiethnic and religiously pluralistic urban center in which Muslim Malays did not have an absolute monopoly on power or wealth, with much of the population represented by a very large Chinese community and other communities of varying sizes from Malabar, Coromandel, Bengal, Ceylon, Persia, and Arabia - most of whom were indifferent about which ethnic or religious group controlled the city, and many of whom were readily employed in Spanish military endeavors. Spanish Malaca was also administered in a relatively relaxed and lenient manner in regards to non-Christian - even Muslim - religious practices compared to some other locales in the Estado da Índia, although the city’s principal mosque was converted into a cathedral immediately after the city’s fall in 1509.


Left: a lancaran, the backbone vessel of native navies in the Malay Archipelago in the 16th century
Right: a double barreled cetbang swivel cannon

For these reasons as well as due to bouts of political chaos, the surrounding sultanates eventually abandoned any sincere hope of capturing Malaca after 1565, and a balance of power between Johor, Aceh, and Spanish Malaca became the norm in the straits. With Aceh and Johor vacillating between moments of tense competition and mutual hatred and moments of united desire to drive out the Spaniards, Spanish Malaca in turn had to vacillate between gestures of peace at one moment and subversive maneuvers to take advantage of Muslim disunity at another. This allowed for a relatively brief period of renewed expansionism. The northwest frontier was secured along the Linggi River, and then further protected on the other side of the river by a secluded military base that was established next to the Portuguese lighthouse at Cape Rachado. A fort was built at the mouth of the Muar River (the fort settlement also called Muar) in 1568, solidifying the pale of Malaca’s southeastern border and allowing for raids deep into Johorian Malaya, one of which sacked Kota Batu, the royal capital of Johor, in 1587, and again in 1599 alongside the important Johorian island of Bintan. In the Malayan interior, fortifications and customs stations had been built at Tampin, Machap, Selandar, and Pekan Asahan by the turn of the century. An attempt to establish a permanent formal foothold on the other side of the straits at Dumai was also attempted in 1574, but had to be abandoned in less than 7 months, although a small Dominican mission and an even smaller feitoria were maintained on the adjacent isle of Rupat.

While Malaca had to continue to function in this permanently besieged state, the Spanish had made good progress in nearby Java. The Sunda Kingdom - longtime competitor to the now defunct Majapahit empire - had achieved prosperity and peace in the late 15th and early 16th centuries due to both the decline of its Javan rival and the capable and energetic rule of its king, Jayadewata (known also to posterity as Sri Baduga Maharaja). The vast majority of the Sundanese were still fiercely adherent to their traditional beliefs and associated Islam with the newfangled aggression of their culturally similar but linguistically different Javan neighbors. Sunda, being therefore an anti-Islamic, wealthy, capable regional power, offered the perfect opportunity for a much-needed ally to Spanish Malaca - following the same diplomatic trend that fostered warm relation with the non-Muslim kingdom of Siam. What was more, King Jayadewata was insistent in currying good favor with the Spanish, and consequently acquiring military assistance, he hoped. Jayadewata had sent his son, the crown prince Prabu Surawisesa to Spanish Malaca in 1512 to extend the friendship of his father, and again in 1521 to propose a formal alliance along with an invitation to trade in pepper and construct a fort in the kingdom’s main port of Calapa (Sunda Kalapa), at the mouth of the Ciliwung River. The fact that the Spanish had been approached by Sri Baduga first was a somewhat rare reversal of Spanish diplomacy in Asia, and was also rare in that the treaty - signed in August of 1522 - would be ratified in two separate copies for the king of Sunda and the king of Spain himself. Apart from securing a beneficial defensive alliance and trading relationship with the Spanish, Jayadewata consolidated his rule over the previously divided kingdoms of Sunda and Galuh, established a new capital at Pajajaran and constructed defensive moats surrounding the city, and oversaw the improvement of the road connecting Pajajaran and Calapa. Allying with the Sundanese, however, roped the Spanish into another increasingly desperate theater of war.

The principal threat to the Sunda Kingdom was the powerful, growing Muslim sultanate of Demak in eastern Java, founded by Raden Patah (known to the Portuguese as Pate Rodim), a former vassal of Majapahit rumored to have been the son of the last king of Majapahit, Brawijaya, and a Chinese concubine. Between 1513 and 1518, Raden Patah was at war with Patih Udara, the rajah of the Hindu-Buddhist kingdom of Daha, over mastery of the eastern half of the region of Pasisir (the northern coastal plain of Java) and in 1518 conquered Daha with the submission of its capital, Kediri. After this the sultanate of Demak became the more commonly accepted successor to Majapahit in the former empire’s rapidly Islamizing former core territories - as well as in some still firmly Hindu ones - and the sultan of Demak acquired tributaries not only across Java but in Sumatra and Borneo as well. Raden Patah died soon after his victory, however, and was succeeded by his brother-in-law Pati Unus (known to the Portuguese as Pate Onus), who made the ill-fated decision to spend his short reign attempting to overwhelm Spanish Malaca. The Spanish insistence on establishing a monopoly on the spice trade and repeated appeals by the dispossessed sultan of Johor convinced the sultan of Demak and the powerful trading cities of the northern Javan coast (a region known as Pasisir) to amass a large fleet and attempt to drive the Spanish out of Malaca on two occasions, one with a fleet numbering 100 ships in 1512 and another with a fleet of 375 ships in 1520. Had the Javans made their move on Malaca shortly after the Spanish takeover in 1509, they might have been successful, but by 1512 the Spanish had completed their new fortifications. Both attacks were repelled, with Pati Unus killed in battle during the 1520 expedition. The loss of so many ships severely weakened both the military and trading capabilities of Islamic Pasisir for decades.

Had Raden Patah lived longer or had Pati Unus not been so disastrously committed to taking Malaca, their rapidly ascendant sultanate may have overpowered the Sunda Kingdom or at least taken the port of Calapa - the latter of which was a goal which was frequently and openly voiced by Raden Patah and Pati Unus alike. After all, it took 10 years for the Spanish-Sunda alliance to be made official in 1522, and even then the Spanish only completed their promised fortress in Calapa in 1525 (something which required an emergency 20,000 ducat grant from the Spanish crown). Fortunately for Sunda and its Spanish benefactors, Demak was broiled in a succession crisis between the childless Pati Unus’ two brothers, Raden Kikin and Raden Trenggana, for two years after his death, and Demak’s vassal-cities were too hard hit by the failures of 1512 and 1520 to muster the necessary forces to take Calapa before it could be fortified. When Raden Trenggana won out over his brother, however, the new sultan’s attentions were turned westward, with the rival sultanate of Cirebon being bested and forced into tribute in 1526. From Cirebon, Trenggana ordered his able commander Fatahillah to assault Calapa, leading to a brief, failed siege in 1527. Trenggana made no further attempt on Sunda for the time being and turned back east, spending the rest of the 1520s and the 1530s conquering the region of Mataram in central Java along with the important northern port of Tuban.

His power base revitalized and expanded, Trenggana marched to Calapa himself at the head of a 40,000 man army in 1540. Trenggana relentlessly pillaged the Galuh Kingdom (eastern half of the Sunda Kingdom since 1482) and his forces washed over the northern coast, even taking the smaller port of Banten. Nevertheless, he was unable to take Calapa due to the resilience of its defenders and (more importantly) his inability to contest Spanish naval supremacy, which kept the port well-supplied. When influenza broke out in Trenggana’s camp, he was forced to turn east once more at the head of less than 20,000 broken men, this time venturing to conquer the Hindu principalities east of the Brantas River. While on campaign against the principality of Pasuruan in 1546, he was assassinated by a 10 year old child noble from Surabaya, who stabbed him with a kris while serving him betel nut. Demak again fell into a bloody feud over the sultan’s succession, this time between Trenggana’s son Mukmin and Arya Penangsang, son of Tranggana’s brother and defeated claimant Raden Kikin. Mukmin sat on the throne for three years before Arya Penangsang had him murdered and took the throne himself. Harsh mishandling of domestic affairs and rivalries between vassals as well as unending waves of bloody court intrigue eventually made Arya Penangsang extremely unpopular among the realm’s nobles, who had the him killed in 1568 and Trenggana’s son-in-law Hadiwijaya crowned sultan of Demak. Hadiwijaya would move all of Demak’s regalia to his court in Pajang, raising Pajang to the status of sultanate and lowering Demak to the status of vassal state. This move re-focused royal power in Mataram and alienated the vassal-cities of Pasisir, leading to a weakening and eventual dissolution of control and influence over the cities of Surabaya and Gresik, as well as the complete de facto autonomy of former vassals in Kalinyamat and Cirebon.


The Straits of Malaca, c. 1580
(see symbol key at bottom for reference)
Green: area of Spanish dominance, Pink: hostile powers, Blue: friendly powers
1: Sultanate of Aceh, 2: Sultanate of Johor, 3: Sultanate of Brunei, 4: Sultanate of Banten,
5: Sultanate of Cirebon, 6: Sultanate of Kalinyamat, 7: Sultanate of Pajang (formerly Demak)
8: Sunda Kingdom

The failed conquest of Calapa was not without impact, however. The port of Banten remained in Muslim hands after Trenggana departed from Sunda in 1540, and although the Spanish sacked the city in an attempt to stamp out an embryonic Muslim polity in the region, they were unable to drive out Fatahillah and the remnant Javans completely. Banten became the seat of a new vassal state loyal to the sultanate of Demak under Fatahillah, and Fatahillah’s son Sendang Garuda declared himself its sultan once Demak had entered terminal decline. Particularly worrying to not only Calapa but to Malaca as well was the subjugation of the pepper-producing region of Lampung by Sendang in the 1560s, which transformed Banten into a serious regional competitor to Calapa and turned the Sunda Strait into a Muslim-controlled waterway in the larger spice trade that could potentially divert Muslim trade away from the Malaca Straits.

Besides the extensive fortifications at Calapa and Pajajaran and the good road between them, the rest of Sunda had become worryingly vulnerable. This vulnerability would be laid bare in 1554, when the sultanate of Cirebon - re-asserting its independence from Demak - undertook a campaign into the Sunda Kingdom, culminating in the sack and destruction of Kawali, traditional capital of Galuh in 1558. The devastation and destabilization wreaked in Galuh by Cirebon and Demak in the 1540s and 1550s would cause a serious retraction of Sundanese royal control in that old kingdom by the late 1560s. Spanish Malaca now not only had the defenses of its undermanned city and environs on its plate, but also had the responsibility of maintaining a consistent stream of military and financial assistance with the increasingly encircled Sunda Kingdom.

The religious issue - as everywhere else in the Malay Archipelago - was also a complicated one, and presented an exceptionally difficult challenge to the Spanish. While there were sizeable factions within the Estado da Índia (and outside of it) that viewed evangelization as secondary in importance to trade, the spread of the Christian religion was always counted among the priorities of interacting with overseas populations by the Spanish crown and by a plurality of the crown’s subjects that were active overseas. Genuine compulsion of conscience notwithstanding, the Spanish crown’s interests in promoting Catholicism could be as politically and economically-minded as those of the Estado da Índia. While trade and military cooperation with the polytheist states of Asia was all well and good, the Spanish crown - just like any other state at the time - desired subservient vassals and tributaries wherever it could find them, and this was an arrangement that went hand in hand with the baptism of rulers and the free movement of Catholic missionaries. The supreme permeation of Catholicism in the mind of the average 16th century Spaniard must also be considered.

In short, what all this meant was that Catholicism and the sharing of it was going to be mixed into every interaction between Spanish subjects and non-Christians, and that, consequently, every interaction between Spanish subjects and the Sundanese was going to be tinged with a seemingly irresolvable religious tension. At this point in the century, the Sunda Kingdom’s raison d'être was not only the self-determination of the Sundanese people but also the protection of the Sundanese spiritual order against invasive and disruptive foreign religions. The inevitable conflict between this sense of purpose for the Sundanese state and the Spanish urge to evangelize became evident by the late 1560s, during the reign of Raga Mulya, who had welcomed numerous Gregorian and Martinian advisors and educators into his court in Pajajaran, which in previous decades was welcomed but was now greeted with raised eyebrows. The more hardline traditionalists among the Sunda nobility had gradually come to see being overly friendly and concessive with the Christians as no different from inviting in Muslim imams, and Raga Mulya became detested by many for his perceived weakness and imprudent fondness for foreign ideas. It did not help that his rulership was, at best, indecisive and reserved - the second in what would become a chain of weaker and more ineffective rulers. To make matters worse, Islam was filtering into the country naturally, as it had been doing for the past century. On a visit in 1513, the Portuguese apothecary Tomé Pires remarked that the ports of both Banten and Cimanuk (both belonging to the Sunda Kingdom) had a significant number of Muslim inhabitants, the former owing to missionaries from Johor, the latter to missionaries from Cirebon. The thriving Muslim communities in those ports no doubt played a very important role in the relatively easy establishment of a new Muslim state at Banten in 1540, as well as in the surrender of Cimanuk to the sultanate of Cirebon without a fight during the invasion of 1554.

By the 1580s, the regime of the Sunda Kingdom was more or less propped up by the Spanish, with the whole of Calapa virtually under the governance of the Spanish fort and feitoria, an ailing state kept alive by Spanish guns and ships and the occasional turmoil that afflicted its invasive neighbors. The political and religious situation of the Malaca Straits and the Java Sea thus made any further expansion in the straits extremely difficult for the next few centuries. If any substantial conquest or fruitful missionary effort was to be achieved in the Malayan Archipelago with the resources available to the Spanish there, it would be found further east.

- Orang Serani -

The conflict between Christianity and Islam in the Malay Archipelago was also unlike any other encounter between the two religions. Islam was experiencing the culmination of two centuries of proselytization, and was on a vigorous upswing in the region, with intensified missionary efforts and prolific warrior sultanates springing up on top of the ashes of decrepit polytheist states. However, Christianity - increasingly invigorated by Reform Catholicism and the boldness of an exceptional generation of explorers and evangelists - had upset what had hitherto appeared to be a textbook Islamic victory, forcibly making a toehold out of Malaca, the heart of Malay Islam. Islam possessed a clear advantage in the archipelago, but was now butting heads with the small yet unyielding influence of another Abrahamic religion. Southeast Asia therefore offered fertile ground for conversion of the like encountered so far in the Americas, and missionaries were as integral to political and economic expansion as any cannon or galleon.

In partial contrast to affairs in the western Malay Archipelago, the introduction of Christianity to the eastern half of the archipelago offered much more promise. It did, however, also carry interesting circumstances that were unique among those encountered by Spanish missionaries. In 1557, a Portuguese Gregorian by the name of Antonio Vaz (who was responsible for the conversion of the sultan of Bacan and his court) gave us insight into the actual religious composition of the Moluccas at the time (at least from his perspective), observing that Islam was primarily the religion of the nobility, whereas the common folk either had little regard for the Prophet or were secretly resentful of Islam, retaining their folk beliefs. Also, while the rulers and aristocracy of the Moluccan sultanates had been Sunni Muslims since the latter half of the 15th century, they themselves were still in the process of Islamization into the late 16th century, primarily due to distance from the core of the Muslim world, and the masses that they ruled over were, at best, only partially Islamized. The Moluccan elite were therefore Islamic enough to generate unease toward the Christian Spaniards, but syncretist enough for many of them to tolerate or even be enticed by the Christian religion. As elsewhere in the maritime Far East, conversion to Christianity (or at least acceptance of baptism) also carried promising business relations with the Spanish and the potential assistance of their potent (albeit small) regional military - boons that offered an even greater incentive to convert for the downtrodden lower classes and vulnerable rural communities.


16th century Moluccan elites

It nevertheless must be added that there were still some exceptional obstacles in the conversion of a few strategically important regions. Local and inter tribal politics were often a deciding factor in the reception of Christianity, and the difficulty of traversing the complex relations between hundreds of states and cultural groups of varying sizes often hampered the spread of Christianity in otherwise promising locations. For instance, the kingdom of Gowa - a Bugis state in southwestern Celebes and the most powerful in the region - had a mutually beneficial relationship with the Spanish centered around the thriving port of Macaçar, and was resistant to the spread of Islam (possibly owing in no small part to the popularity of pork among the Bugis). As Macáçar more or less guarded the entrance to the Spice Islands and the Eastern Lesser Sunda Islands, and was also the most developed and populous port of the southeastern Malay Archipelago, the Spanish operations in Solor and Timor had to compete with Ambon and Ternate for the favor of the feitoria there. The feitoria at Macáçar in turn had to compete with the feitoria at Calapa for the favor of the captaincy of Malaca. Christianization during the 16th century proved laborious, however, due to the profusion of competing states in the area and their response to Spanish missionaries. While converts were being made in Celebes, their numbers remained low, primarily due to the chronic shortage of priests and consequent lack of catechesis. However, encouraging success came in the 1540s to the north of Gowa, in a region known as Ajatappareng, which consisted of five principalities that formed an alliance as a response to the growing might of Gowa and the formation of the rival Telumpoccoe alliance to the east, which consisted of the three Bugis kingdoms of Bone, Wajo, and Soppeng. Intrigued by the Celebes’ potential riches, a Portuguese trader named Antonio de Paiva made multiple voyages to the island and Malaca from 1542 onward. During these expeditions, Paiva engaged in separate theological discussions with the Ajatappareng kings of Suppa' and Siang and their ministers, and was requested to arrange baptism for La Putebulu, king of Suppa' and his family, followed by the king of Siang in 1544.

These baptisms came with the unofficial promise of a military alliance, so it is more than likely that some of these conversions were done in the hope of military support from the Spanish against the expansionist kingdom of Gowa. The baptisms continued in 1545, with more rulers converted by a Portuguese Dominican named Vicente Viegas, following which Catholicism spread rapidly (if in many places superficially) among the populace of Ajatappareng. By baptizing Gowa’s rivals, suspicion among the elite of Macaçar emerged towards the Catholic missionaries in particular and the Spanish in general. Situations like this soured the idea of conversion to the power brokers on the unconverted side and also discouraged further missionary efforts. With only a few hundred priests and friars available in Southeast Asia during the 16th century, the Spanish had to choose their missionary efforts carefully. Similarly to the Sunda Kingdom or the Majapahit remnant states in Blambangan and in the many petty kingdoms of Bali, in a relatively secure realm like Gowa there was both a sense of urgency toward safeguarding religious traditions seemingly threatened by the Abrahamic faiths as well as a simple lack of material or political justification for a conversion to Catholicism. The Spanish could offer many things, such as firearms or American silver, but these things could only be brought over in small quantities and over extended periods of time, and the promise of military assistance from a group as scattered and few as the Spanish in Asia was often hard to be impressed by.

Most successful attempts at conversion were therefore in the hands of determined missionaries rather than in the barrels of Spanish cannons. The Portuguese Dominicans (and to a lesser extent the Franciscans and Augustinians) were indispensable in the early exploration of the East Indies and the development of Spanish interests there, with the Spanish and even European presence on numerous islands in the 16th century consisting solely of Dominican missionaries. Their impact was especially potent in the Moluccas and the Lesser Sunda Islands, where the indigenous populations were much more receptive to Christianity than were the Malays to their west. While a Spanish trading post had been established on the isle of Solor (in the village of Lamaquera) in 1520, it was in 1569 that the Dominicans constructed the island’s first fort out of palm tree trunks. When this fortified mission was burned down by Javanese Muslim pirates a year later, the Dominicans quickly set about rebuilding it, this time with more durable walls with stones made from sand, calcium, and eggs of the local hawk-eagle. The diligence of these Dominicans ensured that Solor would become a valuable Spanish asset and the center of Spanish control in the Solor Archipelago and the Lesser Sunda Islands, with a population of no more than 200 Portuguese (“white” and “black” Portuguese) while the Christianized natives numbered roughly 25,000 by 1590. To the immediate west, the larger island of Flores - named by the Portuguese for the red-orange flowers of its Delonix regia trees - offered even more fertile ground for missionary work, with feitorias and missions emerging in the villages of Larantuca and Maumere, and a local rajah accepting baptism in 1587. To the south, the isle of Timor also became frequented by Spanish merchants due to its abundance of sandalwood, a prized source of perfumes and incense - the latter of which made it highly marketable to both Buddhists and Hindus, who considered sandalwood sacred. Missionary work had been established in Timor as early as 1556 by the Dominican friar António Taveiro, who was operating out of Solor, and in 1569 a formal Spanish feitoria was established at Lifau (Alifau in Portuguese), to trade with the nearby kingdoms of Oé-Cusse and Ambeno.


Solor, c. 1560

To the north, the evangelization effort in the Moluccas Proper also held promising aspects. The Spanish missionaries were fortunate in that this region was going through a century-old power struggle between a predominantly Islamic ruling class atop numerous trading sultanates, and a predominantly polytheistic and Hindu tribal majority dominating the Moluccas’ interiors and the shores of un-Islamized islands. On the island of Ambon, the Spanish found a semi-urban populace split unevenly between the 'uli-lima' (group of five) - who were Muslim converts and allies to the Muslims of Java - and the 'uli-siwa' (group of nine) - who retained their traditional beliefs and who were seeking powerful allies to depose the uli-lima. The Spanish easily tipped this balance and were more or less welcomed by the uli-siwa, who appreciated the aid and consequently found Christianity appealing. However, despite the central location of Ambon - Solor’s chief competitor - in the Moluccas and its proximity to the Banda Islands, it failed to elicit any excessive interest from the Spanish for the first half of the 16th century. While a formal feitoria was established in 1520, the local Ambonese opposed the construction of a new Spanish fort until 1549, and Muslim pirates were a regular pest on the island’s northern coast until the turn of the century. Further dampening Spanish interest in Ambon was the failure to establish a peaceful or permanent presence in the Banda Islands at the time. After being discovered by António de Abreu and Francisco Serrão (who had bribed or coerced Malay pilots to guide them) in 1512, two profitable and fairly peaceable exchanges occurred at the Banda Islands that same year and in 1515, in which the Spanish ships were packed full of nutmeg, mace, and also clove, the former two over which the Banda Islands enjoyed an exclusive monopoly, being the only location in the world at the time in which nutmeg and mace were grown. Due to distractions elsewhere, the Spanish would not return until 1529, this time with a company of troops under the captain Garcia Henriques, who had orders to construct a fort. Feeling threatened, the Bandanese attacked the Spanish when they began their unauthorized construction, and the cost of the intermittent fighting that followed convinced Henriques to depart the island and leave the nutmeg and mace trade to the middlemen in Ambon. Spanish visitation afterwards was not prohibited, but the Bandanese chieftains were unenthusiastic towards Christian evangelization. Spanish difficulties in the region changed, however, when Spanish fortunes were reversed in Ambon’s other rival, the feitoria on the island of Ternate.

After sacking Ternate in 1522, the Spanish expedition under Fernão Magalhães forced its sultan, Bayan Sirrullah, to allow the establishment of a fort and feitoria, leaving the island under Spanish domination. After Bayan died (presumably poisoned) mere months later, his son, Tabariji, succeeded him as sultan. Meanwhile, Dayal, an older son of Bayan and half brother of Tabariji, had fled to neighboring Tidore in 1522 and was taken in by its sultan, Mir, his maternal uncle. While Ternate was Tidore's rival, Sultan Mir refused to turn over Dayal to the Spaniards, and gradually formed an anti-Spanish coalition with the other sultanates of the Moluccas in Jilolo and Bacan (Gilolo and Bachão to the Portuguese). With the Spaniards' confidence bolstered by their successful overturning of a regional potentate in Ternate with only 200 Portuguese troops, another Spanish expedition sacked Tidore in 1525 with minimal provocation - ruining the burgeoning friendly trade relations with that sultanate and further souring the local opinion - although the expedition would depart without occupying Tidore, a more good natured gesture intended to keep its sultan mindful not to fall out of good standing with Spain. When a Christianized village on the island of Halmahera was attacked by Ternateans in 1535, the Spanish - who had begun to exercise an outsize control over the royal court and began to suspect that Tabariji had rejected Spanish influence - used this incident as context to force Tabariji's abdication, sending the 17 year old sultan to Malaca, and thence to Cochin. Tabariji's 12 year old brother, Hairun, was then made sultan, and the Spanish attempted to procure custody of him but were blocked by his mother and the grandees of Ternate, although they allowed European tutelage. Hairun seemed interested in Christianity early on and also dressed in Portuguese fashion and spoke Portuguese well, giving hope for his conversion to Spanish contemporaries, but his ambivalence continued, and, with age, he leaned further and further towards his Islamic countrymen. Despite denying any ill will toward the Spaniards, they moved to depose him in 1544, once a more promising prospect for a Christian ruler of Ternate emerged. The attempt failed, with Hairun being tipped off beforehand and fleeing under the cover of night to Jilolo.

The deposed Tabariji (still in exile in Cochin) had meanwhile become steadfast friends with a Portuguese officer by the name of Jordão de Freitas, and through this friendship had become convinced of the Christian religion and converted of his own accord, taking "Dom Manuel" as his baptismal name. His mother Nyaicili Boki Raja had converted two years earlier, taking the baptismal name “Dona Isabel,” and was installed as regent in Ternate. As Nyaicili was the daughter of a sultan of Tidore, and the wife of one sultan of Ternate and mother to another, she offered a highly promising bridge between the two sultanates and an end to their bitter rivalry, and also could have been (just as importantly) a potential watershed figure in the Christianization of the Moluccas. Years of diplomatic finagling and some earnest religious work had finally produced the circumstances for Catholicism and Spanish rule to triumph in the Moluccas, but the time was not yet right, as many of the actors involved were too short-sighted and often too brutal for this to come to pass.

Spanish involvement in the Far East during the early and mid 16th century was extremely complicated, and in order to properly analyze Spanish failures here during this period - whether diplomatic or otherwise - one must first look at larger issues with the Spanish spice trade. Just as Spain had sought to render the Indian Ocean its mare clausum, Spanish authorities in Malaca realized the potential of dominating interport trade in the Malay Archipelago very soon after seizing the port. Until the late 16th century, Spaniards in the East Indies secured trade deals and shipments of cash crops and other precious commodities through a combination of overtly aggressive gunboat diplomacy and the generous usage of American silver. The Spice Crash of the late 1540s and the diversion of royal funds back to Europe and the Mediterranean in the 1550s though the 1580s made silver payments harder to come by for the Spaniards in the East Indies, which created a volatile diplomatic shift in the region. American silver was a much-needed sweetener for Spanish-East Asian relations, as the shiny bullion had made it much easier for the native princes and oligarchs to forgive the rampant Spanish freebooting, and in its absence many of the potentates in East Asia felt that the time had come to air out their grievances, sometimes violently.

Additionally, despite the massive revenue that was to be made in the Spice Islands and its importance to the Spanish Crown, the circumstances of physically reaching the riches there had done much to indirectly harm Spanish diplomacy in the region. The maritime distance from Lisbon to Malaca (following the Cape Route) in the 16th century was more than 13,000 nautical miles - 24,000 kilometers, more than half the circumference of the Earth. What was more, a varying concoction of storms, shipwrecks, doldrums, scurvy outbreaks, or possible death or capture at the hands of pirates or other enemies awaited those foolhardy to make such a daunting trip. The Carreira da Índia therefore naturally tended to attract not as many upstanding, tactful, or well-to-do individuals as it attracted those for whom there were few opportunities at home, or worse, those who were on the run for indictable reasons. The Miguelinas were about as far as one could get from Spain at the time where it was worth trying one’s luck, and consequently the Spanish presence there was plagued early on by plenty of bad apples - often unscrupulous and greedy, sometimes downright bloodthirsty and rapacious. Sometimes the distance from the effective power of the laws of Spain also tempted hitherto reputable men into acting unlawfully, as was seen in Fernão Magalhães and João Serrão’s unsanctioned sack of Ternate to avenge Serrão’s brother, Francisco, or João da Silveira and Sancho de Tovar’s similarly unsanctioned expedition to Maynila. Whether the result of simple uncouthness or out of desperation due to their isolation and severe manpower shortage, the Spanish frequently undermined their position in the Spice Islands as well through diplomatic and administrative blunders - the most grievous being their management of affairs in the Moluccas in the 1540s and 1550s.

With Hairun in exile in Jilolo, Nyaicili’s regency got off to a good start, with a balance established between the interests of the Spanish and those of the Ternatean elite. The violent rivalries between the Moluccan sultanates sagged as well, with Spanish galleons occasionally making patrols to put an end to trading conflicts that spiraled out of control. When Nyaicili suddenly passed away in 1550, however, the 6-year calm in the region disappeared as well. The Spanish in Ternate had hoped that Nyaicili’s regency had softened the Ternatean nobles to the concept of a Catholic monarch and that the time had come for Tabariji to be called up from Cochin to take up the Ternatean throne. A coup would have ensued immediately had it not been for the intervention of Rodrigo Magalhães, who, as the captain-major of Sambongão was in closer proximity to Ternate and had a better understanding of the local politics than his superiors in Malaca.

The captain-general of Malaca, António de Noronha, wanted to publicly present Tabariji to the Ternateans as a show of good faith, but Magalhães was emphatic that Tabariji be kept a safe distance from Ternate before the path to his peaceful installment was guaranteed. Magalhães' caution was not misplaced. For the magnates of Ternate, incessant Spanish interference was enough of a nuisance, but submitting to an apostate who had renounced Islam was simply too much to bear. Tabariji was a less appealing prospect than his mother Nyaicili as well, as the Ternateans felt an older woman was less likely to impose her newfound religion on them than a younger man. A failed poisoning attempt on Tabariji in Malaca while he was en route to Ternate confirmed Magalhães’ concerns, and it was decided that Tabariji would take up indefinite residence in Ambon until an aristocratic assembly in Ternate could be convinced to recognize his accession. This assembly never materialized, as the Spanish garrison found itself confronted after Nyaicili’s funeral by an embassy of nobles, among whom was Hairun, having been snuck back into Ternate by a conspiracy of Muslim Ternateans. The conspirators informed the Portuguese captain, Fernão Lopes d’Espinho, that Ternate would accept no other ruler than Hairun and that the Spanish would be allowed to remain and keep their feitoria if this demand was met. The conspirators also claimed that Hairun’s claim had the support of the sultans of Jilolo, Tidore, and Bacan. D’Espinho agreed to negotiate with Hairun himself outside of the protection of the feitoria provided the pretender was not accompanied by his guard. Meeting outside the walls, the negotiation proceeded with concessions made to Hairun, but, after the meeting was concluded, two Spanish guards accosted Hairun and stabbed him to death.

This was an outrageously reckless and critically shortsighted move considering the precarious situation of the Spanish in the Moluccas, and Hairun’s claim was immediately taken up by his skilled and vengeful son, Babullah. D’Espinho had misguidedly assumed the claim of support from the other Moluccan sultanates was a mere bluff, and now Jilolo and Tidore moved to install Babullah on the throne of Ternate. Even the sultanate of Brunei - with which relations had begun to cool - expelled the Spanish ambassador and began raiding Christian settlements in the Miguelinas. The Spanish feitoria was put to siege, and the nearest Spanish outposts scrambled to relieve it. Three galleons and a dozen galleys and junks had to be assembled in the harbor of distant Malaca, arriving just under two months after the beginning of the siege. After a massive and fiercely fought battle with the Moluccan fleet, the Spanish navy was able to break through and resupply the feitoria. However, issues emerging with the sultanates of Aceh and Brunei required the Spanish ships to depart after a week, after which the blockade was restored. Another 3 months passed before the Spanish garrison relented, and although they were allowed to leave Ternate mostly unharmed, they were forced to surrender their weapons and were jeered and pelted with rocks and fruit.

The Spanish presence in Halmahera and the surrounding islands quickly evaporated and Christianized villages were pillaged relentlessly, as a southern Spanish-Islamic frontline solidified in the Ceram Sea. A number of feitorias and Catholic missions were affected by the collapse of Spanish rule over Ternate; Ambon and its environs was regularly harassed by Muslim pirates from Ternate and Java, and the Spanish presence in the Sula, Sangihe, and Talaud islands and the feitorias at Manado and Dávau were all wiped out by Babullah’s forces by 1560. Islam received a breather on the island of Maguindau and the beleaguered Sulu Archipelago due to combined Bruneian and Ternatean assaults on Spanish holdings, with the Spanish feitoria on the isle of Palauã destroyed by Bruneian raiders in 1555, and the isle of Jolo liberated in 1558, following which nearly half the population of the more Christianized and Spanish-aligned isle of Basilão was butchered or enslaved. The large Spanish donatary of Cotavato had to withdraw from the coastline, emboldening the Mouros on its borders and increasing its reliance on the assistance on the hill-dwelling Teduray. Sambongão and its captaincy came under intense pressure from the sea, barely enduring an 8-month siege by Mouro pirates and Ternatean ships in 1559 and only surviving after concessions were made to the nearby rajah of Sanmalan (Samalã to the Portuguese) in order to procure a food supply. This disruption of Spanish control was nearly fatal to Catholic proselytization efforts in this part of the archipelago. With the supply of missionaries cut off, catechesis weakened, and a great number of converts in turn either reverted to their former beliefs or easily apostasized to Islam when pressured by the Moluccan sultanates. This upset of previously unchecked Spanish dominance sparked other acts of aggression towards Spanish holdings in loose coordination with the Moluccan sultanates, with the sultanates of Aceh and Kalinyamat besieging Malaca in 1565 with cannons and gunners gifted by none other than the Ottoman Turks in tow.


The court of Dom Manuel Tabariji in Ambon, c. 1565

The one unpredicted boon to come out of this situation for the Spanish was the concentration of displaced resources and manpower in Ambon, which became a more heavily-fortified and Lusitanized settlement with greater capacity for trade volume and power projection. This in turn prompted a more serious attempt to subdue the extremely lucrative Banda Islands, which received its first successful Spanish fort and feitoria in 1559. A more lasting Spanish settlement was made possible on Banda Neira due to the decision to bring along 240 Christian Ambonese farmers and merchants. Meanwhile, with Ternate out of reach for more than a decade, Tabariji - known to the Spanish by his baptismal name, “Dom Manuel” - had been deprived of a proper coronation on his home isle. To amplify the prestige of the Ternatean pretender and reinforce his claims, the captain-major of Malaca himself, António de Noronha, paid Tabariji a visit on Ambon in 1556 and organized a makeshift coronation for him in which he reaffirmed his baptismal vows and pledged submission to the king of Spain, after which he was crowned not the king of Ternate, but “o rei das Molucas” - the king of the Moluccas. Noronha brought with him a circlet of silver and a signet ring bearing the coat of arms of Portugal, along with a throne made of lacquered teak with inlaid Malay patterns in gold leaf, crafted in Malaca, which was placed in the modest palace that had been built for Tabariji adjacent to the Spanish fortress when he first arrived in Ambon.

Ternate had rapidly resumed its role as the leading power in the Northern Moluccas under the capable and aggressive rule of Sultan Babullah, and the sultan of Brunei, Saiful Rijal (known to the Portuguese as Lixar) had brought the extent of his maritime empire and its raiding parties back to the shores of Luçon and Maguindau. However, as Ternatean hegemony returned to the Moluccas, so too did the anxiety of its old rivals, and the alliance between the Moluccan sultanates fell apart as soon as the Spanish were no longer an immediate concern. Tabariji was also not without supporters, nor had his mother been without committed loyalists. Those among the Ternatean nobility who had converted to Catholicism or sympathized with it, as well as those who appreciated the lucrative trade with Malaca and the period of peace during Nyaicili’s regency between the Moluccan sultanates formed a counter-conspiracy to precipitate peaceful relations with the Spanish or even their return to Ternate. What truly prevented a collapse of Spanish power in the Malay Archipelago and a complete and lasting Ternatean ascendancy in the Moluccas, however, was the new line of transit discovered between the Portuguese East Indies and the Castilian Americas. Crossing the Pacific was certainly no short ordeal - measuring 14,000 to 16,000 kilometers from Nueva Castilla or Nueva Vizcaya to the port of Ambon - and the first nescient voyages throughout the 1530s and 1540s were especially fraught with disaster, but by the late 1550s a one-way trip could be completed in less than 4 months. Whether taking the Cape Route or the Trans-Pacific Route, getting any number of Peninsular Spaniards from Europe to the East Indies was costly and exorbitantly time-consuming. However, criollos, mestizos, and indios amigos in the Americas could be moved to the Malay Archipelago in the hundreds comparatively quickly. What this meant was that by the 1560s, Spanish endeavors in the East Indies could return to conquest in earnest.

- Kemurkaan Allah -

The state of affairs in Southeast Asia had become so dire by the 1560s that the pleas of the captain-major of Malaca finally reached the ears of Juan Pelayo himself. In an unprecedented mandate, Juan Pelayo - unwilling to commission a fleet from Spain proper when a massive Turkish military operation in the Mediterranean seemed imminent - ordered the Council of the Indies to determine the best avenue for funneling ships and soldiery from Spain’s more pacified American possessions into Spain’s much less pacified Asian possessions. By 1562, the Council of the Indies elected to organize an expedition from Nueva Castilla (chosen over Nueva Vizcaya due to the untrustworthy reputation of that viceroyalty after the Beraza revolt), which would assist the Portuguese in the Malay Archipelago. In 1564, 6 galleons, 670 soldiers, and 28 priests had been assembled and would set sail from Ledesma (OTL Manzanillo) under the captain Blas López de Villarcayo, to be followed by two other galleons and 210 auxiliaries in 1565. The knowledge of the Portuguese East Indies - geographically and politically speaking primarily - was minimal in Nueva Castilla, and the instructions of the Council of the Indies were not very helpful. Even after dozens of completed voyages between Asia and the Spanish Americas, the Nuevacastellano fleet was not entirely certain on which route to take to reach Malaca - where they assumed their services were needed most - and set off into the Pacific with no guidance beyond the knowledge of a few trusted ocean currents.

It is somewhat fortuitous, then, that the fleet from Nueva Castilla took the route that led them into the Halmahera Sea, from whence they followed the instruction of locals toward the “Pelabuhan Sepanyol” - the “Port of Spain” - which by then was Ambon. The timing was opportune, as Ambon had been under the administration of the same captain-major - Vicente Castro de Pinhel - for 14 years. Such a long tenure was of course due to the lack of reliable officers in Southeast Asia as well as a bit of self-serving greed, but was also beneficial in that it had provided Ambon with consistent leadership in this trying time, and gave Castro the sort of local knowledge and personal interest in local affairs that came with such a lengthy residence. Under Castro’s administration, Ambon had been prioritized at the expense of numerous other feitorias in the region but to the long-term benefit of Spanish power in the Moluccas (as Ambon was the superior choice of investment). Castro had also taken on the local tradition of seasonal raiding, which he pursued vigorously. This meant that at any given time Castro had at least three galleons, more than 200 Portuguese soldiers, and many hundreds of lascarins and local auxiliaries at his disposal, ready for a naval expedition. When Villarcayo arrived in Ambon in March of 1565 (miraculously without losing a ship), Castro had three galleons in his service and was preparing to conduct another seasonal raid northward. The arrival of six more galleons with hundreds of men at arms was quite unexpected, and excited Castro with the possibilities of a massive reversal in fortunes in the protracted war against the Moluccan sultanates. Even more exciting to Castro was the fact that the viceroy of Nueva Castilla - conscious of the legal issues separating their kingdoms - had carefully instructed Villarcayo to defer to Portuguese leadership on his arrival, and Villarcayo had been content to follow these instructions. In less than a week, an expedition to knock Ternate out of the war was unanimously agreed upon.

However, after another week had passed, Villarcayo suddenly took ill and died, and command of the Nuevacastellano expedition passed to his lieutenant, Cristóbal Domínguez de Aroche. Aroche, unlike his perished captain, was a significantly rougher man than his predecessor, and who had spent the last 15 years of his life fighting a brutal war of attrition with the Chichimecs. Aroche intended to carry over the traditions and know-how of Castile’s experience with the Indios of Mesoamerica, planning on employing tactics more befitting a conquistador of the Americas than an agent of the Estado da Índia. He immediately ordered about his men as he saw fit, having just endured a four month voyage over the Pacific and as a consequence quickly growing impatient with Castro’s more seasoned but also more meticulous planning. After Aroche and his six galleons departed Ambon ahead of schedule, Castro and his three were forced to follow lest the campaign lose its cohesion right out of port.

The Spanish armada passed Tidore and hid behind the island of Maitara as scouts were sent to scope out the Ternatean fleet - assembled along the southeast coast of Ternate in anticipation of the arrival of the Spaniards. The three Portuguese galleons began to hesitate when the scouts reported no less than 120 vessels, although most of them were mere catamarans. Aroche then unexpectedly broke off his galleons without the permission of the captain-major once night had fallen, heading southward and then swinging about in a wide curve toward the southwestern Ternatean coast. There he disembarked with 200 men while instructing his ships to lure the Ternateans into an attack close enough to the Portuguese ships that the Portuguese would be forced to join in the fray. After trudging nearly 8 kilometers to the outskirts of the port of Ternate and waiting for the first glimpse of daybreak and the sound of cannons raging nearby, Aroche and his contingent set about darting through the streets with torches, igniting as many structures as possible. With most of Ternate’s fighting men fighting in the harbor, the flames spread uncontrollably, abetted by the palm thatch roofs attached to every single building. The 9 Spanish ships were by now completely surrounded and some were at risk of being overwhelmed. Seeing the fire burning ever brighter, the Castilian galleons took advantage of the Ternateans’ distraction over the sight of their city aflame and dropped sails, painstakingly forming a single file beeline towards the shore while the Portuguese ships watched in bewilderment. The ferocity of the Nuevocastellanos was unexpected by both the Moluccans and the Portuguese. As the galleons continued to desperately fend off thousands of Moluccan seamen, the Spaniards ashore burned and butchered indiscriminately. With the entirety of the port of Ternate seemingly engulfed in flames, the Moluccan fleet fell apart from both despair over Ternate’s fate and their ineffectiveness against the Spanish ships. Sultan Babullah, his two sons, and a very large portion of the city’s populace perished in the chaos. The entire city was a smoking ruin.

Castro was furious - for Aroche forcing the Spanish ships into a sea battle that was nearly lost while he and his contingent conducted an unchallenged massacre on land, and more importantly for Aroche brazenly disobeying orders to regain control over Ternate and its wealth and instead utterly annihilating it. With his forces outnumbered by the Nuevacastellanos and with the more general goal of subduing Ternate accomplished, there was little Castro could do, and Aroche continued his de facto leadership over the expedition. Castro attempted to dissuade Aroche from straight away turning on Tidore by informing him that the remnants of the Moluccan fleet - dozens of ships and thousands of fighting men - were slowly regrouping at Jilolo, but Aroche insisted that Tidore be dealt with first. The sultan of Tidore, Gapi Baguna, had not yet finished crafting the terms of a peace offering before the Spanish ships were in his harbor. Aroche listened to his translator for a portion of these terms before offering his own: the construction of a Spanish fort on Tidore, the baptism of the sultan and his family, the oath of allegiance of the sultan to Dom Manuel Tabariji, and an annual tribute of 60 crates of peppercorn. These terms were unacceptable to the sultan and were perhaps intended as such, and his refusal was met with a coastal bombardment. With most of Tidore’s military capabilities at port in Jilolo after the battle of Ternate, surrender followed shortly. Gapi Baguna and his family would be taken aboard one of the galleons with all of his (confiscated) royal treasures and put under permanent house arrest in Ambon, one of his daughters given in marriage to Tabariji’s 12 year old son.

All that remained was to confront the residual Moluccan forces at Jilolo, which was by 1565 no longer an independent sultanate but an appanage governed by Babullah’s nephew. Years before, the sultan of Jilolo, Katarabumi - reputedly an outstanding ruler - had taken advantage of Jilolo’s superior access to arable land and improved the conditions of his sultanate to the point that Sultan Babullah grew wary enough to make an ultimatum demanding tribute in 1552. In truth, Babullah had desired direct control over Jilolo due to its supply of foodstuffs made available by its large hinterland on the isle of Halmahera. Katarabumi declined, confident in the fortress guarding his port, and Jilolo held out for 5 months before a Tidorean fleet arrived, hoping to share in the spoils. Katarabumi fled into the wilderness, adamantly refusing to acknowledge the suzerainty of Ternate, and the old and broken sultan poisoned himself a year later. Jilolo was placed under the rule of Katarabumi’s eldest son, Kaicili Gujarati, but in 1560 a revolt against Ternatean rule was organized with the cooperation of the Spanish and was promptly defeated, after which Babullah took his revenge and ambushed Kaicili’s fleeing ship, killing him along with most of the sultanate’s nobility. However, one of Katarabumi’s grandchildren, named Yusuf, was still alive and lived as a minor chieftain in the Halmahera interior. Breaking with his modus operandi, Aroche agreed with Castro that the best option was to offer Yusuf a renewed sultanate in which the Spanish would exercise minimal control in return for peaceful compliance with Spanish overlordship. This compromise was offered to the remaining Moluccan fleet at Jilolo, although more than half of the Moluccans elected to fight on, and in the following battle were routed once again. The Spanish disembarked a party of less than one hundred to ensure the surrender of the Moluccans in Jilolo’s fortress and to send another smaller party to beckon for Yusuf’s return. After some very logical hesitation, Yusuf took up rule in Jilolo after declaring Juan Pelayo his sovereign lord.


The Moluccas, c. 1580
(see symbol key at bottom for reference)
Green: area of Spanish dominance, Pink: hostile powers, Blue: friendly powers
1: Ajatappareng Confederation, 2: Kingdom of Gowa, 3: Principality of Buton, 4: Principality of Bacan

Such acts of extreme boldness had, of course, secured some truly colossal success in the Americas and some short term benefits in Asia. But these were also, obviously, not acts that could be repeated indefinitely and without repercussions. News of the cataclysmic fall of Ternate spread far and wide, just as it had with the fall of Malaca decades prior. Commentators as far away as Japan began to ruminate on the lengths these frightening Spaniards would go to secure power, and what heinous acts they would commit to keep it. Many of the enemies of Spain in these waters were successfully cowed, but their hatred only grew. While it was perhaps necessary to use drastic military measures to protect Spanish interests in this utterly distant corner of the globe, it certainly was not good grounds for building trust and peaceful trade relations with the resource-holders of Asia. What was of even greater concern (but was at the time imperceptible to most of the Estado da Índia) was that the potentates of Asia who were disinclined to tolerate further Spanish expansionism might in the future be willing to offer material concessions to anyone who could dislodge the Spanish, particularly to the increasingly far-ranging sailors of Spain’s European rivals. Two French vessels - the Pensée and the Sacre - had, after all, successfully reached Sumatra as early as 1529 under the command of the brother Jean and Raoul Parmentier, who had been bankrolled by the Norman shipowner Jean Ango and given approval by the French crown itself.

- Ilhas do Arcanjo -

With the three leading Moluccan sultanates shattered, their far flung trading and tributary networks dissipated quickly, although numerous upstart statelets in northern Celebes and the Sula Islands attempted to fill in the gaps afterwards. Tabariji made the obligatory visit to Ternate in October (and a cursory visit to Tidore), speaking in public to the beleaguered populace, assuring them that they would be allowed to live in peace under his protection and the protection of the king of Spain, but also encouraging them to accept baptism. Having grown comfortable in Ambon and distressed by the ruined remains of Ternate, Tabariji stayed only until the end of the monsoon season and departed in March, never to return. After 7 weeks mopping up Muslim pirates and Moluccan garrisons in the immediate area, Castro retired to Ambon, tasking Aroche and his Nuevocastellanos with cleaning up the mess they had made on Ternate, effectively making him the island’s governor. Aroche had come armed not only with a desire to violently flip Moluccan society upside down, but also with the careful instructions of the Spanish monarchy for societal planning in conquered territories, detailed extensively in the corollaries to the Leyes Nuevas pertaining to the Spanish Americas. Ternate’s complete destruction allowed Aroche to both control and compartmentalize the placement of its surviving populace and to rebuild the port following the plaza-centered town planning that was adhered to in every new settlement in the Americas, which allowed for a more open central marketplace and a more rapid mustering of Spanish troops in the event of an external attack or internal uprising.

Aroche engineered an even more sweeping societal change when he joined in military action around Maguindau and the Sulu Archipelago to assist the Portuguese there and brought back hundreds of Christian “indios miguelinos” from Cotabato and Sambongão to plant in Ternate, Tidore, and Halmahera. These Christian populations were dispersed among the Muslim, Hindu, and animist locals, disrupting their communal cohesion, giving the Spanish a loyal fifth column, and promoting the dissolution of non-Christian cultural and religious sensibilities. This practice was exceedingly commonplace in the Castilian Americas, where those among the indigenous populations that were more receptive to Christian teaching and more accepting of Spanish rule were given special privileges and economic opportunities, and were then co-opted for the continued military activities of the Spanish. To give the Spanish credit, they were admittedly generous in the sharing of spoils with these Indios and were relatively egalitarian in their treatment of them as comrades on the battlefield. The profusion of Christian converts in certain areas of Southeast Asia that followed the Moluccan War of 1550-1565 allowed the Spanish much greater mobility in managing its still very small possessions, with populations of Christian natives resettled or recruited for military service in batches numbering in the hundreds and sometimes thousands. Nowhere was this more effective than in the vast archipelago to the north of the Moluccas.

While the Spanish encountered in the empire of Brunei another Muslim thalassocracy that was arguably a greater threat than the combined strength of the Moluccan sultanates, they stood a greater chance of supplanting Bruneian hegemony due to a few circumstances. For one, the Spanish were fortunate in that the spread of Islam in Brunei’s overseas tributaries was much more recent and consequently much more surface-level than it was in the Moluccas. Brunei itself had been ruled by a Muslim dynasty since the mid 14th century, but Islamic proselytization in the vassal states it had established or subdued in the Miguelinas had only begun in earnest in the early 16th century, almost concurrently with the arrival of the Spanish and the alternative religious option they offered. Additionally, Brunei had a much more extensive network of Malay-speaking satrapies and trade posts in this region than the Spanish had, and was entering its golden age during this period decades under the competent rule of its sultan, Bolkiah, but the Spanish offered connection to a massively far-reaching global trade system. There were also issues of manpower - something that a coastline state like Brunei did not have in quantities that could easily overwhelm the Spanish - and decentralization, as the bulk of the Bruneian Empire’s makeup was comprised of highly autonomous princes and tribal councils, all of which regularly entertained the thought of total independence.

None of this is to say Brunei posed no threat to the Spanish, however. Due to the promising trade potential of Celudão as a stopover for trade with China (seen as something of an ultimate goal for the Spanish in Asia), the Spanish put an effort into establishing settlements on the nearby island of Minolo, eventually named “Ofir” in Spanish maps (a name of Biblical origin referring to an unknown and extremely wealthy island east of India, which floated around in the imagination of Spanish explorers and cartographers before ending up fixed on former Minolo), as a natural bulwark against the approach of the Bruneians very early on. Indeed, the Spanish were on the defensive on Ofir and Palauã until the 1580s, and frequently found themselves with their backs against the wall in Maguindau due to Bruneian expeditions there as well. This early investment in Ofir in turn facilitated the establishment of Catholic missions and trade back across the Ofir Strait in the region of Bombão and on the northern coast of the island of Majas. The fall of Ternate and defeat of the Acehnese assault on Malaca in the annus mirabilis of 1565 nonetheless permanently turned the tables on Brunei and its Sulu allies, with an expedition in 1567 retaking Basilão and Jolo and reducing the sultanate of Sulu to the island of Tauitaui (Tawi Tawi).


A battle between Spaniards and "Pintados" - Bisaian warriors known for their elaborate full body tattoos

Spanish expansion in the northern Miguelinas proceeded in an easier fashion than that in the Moluccas or Malacca Straits primarily due to its relative lack of political development and its superior accessibility to the Castilian Americas. The political structure of the islands north of the Moluccas was - barring a few centralized territorial states - based around organized communities and quasi-city-states known as barangays, which held anywhere from 20,000 inhabitants to as few as 50 families. The continuous patterns of piracy and raiding discouraged much of the isles’ coastal activity beyond that of the most powerful barangays, and encouraged smaller, more decentralized communities in the interior. This left large swathes of Luçon, the Bisaias, and Maguindau vulnerable to a hostile takeover by a sufficiently organized and well-armed force such as that fielded by the Spanish.

There were several organized polities that the Spanish would have to contend with, however. The rajahnate of Sebo, the confederation of Majas, and the kedatuan of Dapitan were all sizable Bisaian states which the Spanish never attempted to subdue militarily, contenting themselves with the establishment of feitorias and Catholic missions, trade relations with whom were spearheaded on the initiative of Rodrigo Afonso de Magalhães, son of the late Fernão de Magalhães and his successor as captain-major of Sambongão and captain-general of Maguindau. An attempt was made to more directly dominate the rajahnate of Cebu, however, by coaxing its rajah, Tupas, into allowing for the construction of a stone fortress in the middle of his capital in 1552. Without warning, Rajah Tupas massacred the Spanish soldiers and laborers once they had finished construction and took possession of the fort himself. The Catholic mission was spared, as Tupas, his family, and the nobility of his realm had accepted baptism in 1549. Under less level-headed guidance, the Spanish would have surely organized a punitive expedition, but Magalhães did not want to jeopardize the hitherto remarkable success the Spanish had enjoyed with the Bisaian states. After tenderly addressing the unexpected hostility and returning relations with Sebo to normal, Tupas was murdered under suspicious circumstances and the Spanish resumed occupation of their feitoria, letting the rajahnate keep the new fortress. Friendly relations had also been reached with Maguindau’s un-Islamized polities, namely those of Butuan (known to the Portuguese as Caragão) and Himologão.
The only outlier was Caboloan (known to the Portuguese as either Caboloã or Pancasirão) a state centered around the barangay of Binalatongan (Binalatongão to the Portuguese) in the Agno River basin that had begun to coalesce more concretely beginning in the 1520s, and by 1600 had still not fallen under the thumb of the Spanish circuit.

Similarly to what had happened after the capture of Malaca and the nominal dissolution of its sultanate, the subversion and conquest of prominent regional polities in the East Indies by Spanish subjects also led to the establishment of new polities or the strengthening of neighboring ones to fill in the power vacuum created in the surrounding area. The Portuguese conquest and short-lived occupation of the Bruneian satellite state of Maynila was welcomed by its nearby competitors, the barangay states of Cainta, Namayan, and Tondo - although the latter two would be subjugated by the Portuguese by 1541, after which they came under the supervision of the vassal wokou state in Celudão (a state eventually referred to as Tondo). The fall of Maynila also led to the creation of partially Islamized polities on the delta of the Pampanga River - Hagonoim, Macabebe, and Lubau - which harassed Spanish Celudão and then the new duchy of Tondo until a joint Spanish-Tondoese expedition destroyed them in the 1560s, dispensing the land and subdued populations either to varying Spanish, Japanese, and Indio donataries or to the protection and cultivation of Catholic religious orders. The conquest of Cotavato and the establishment of a donatary there also did not extinguish Islam in Maguindau nor was it the end of native resistance, with small, hostile, and heavily syncretized Islamic states emerging to the north in Lanau and to the south in Buluan.

In regards to their accessibility, the Moluccas and the Lesser Sunda Islands - and by extension the western half of the Malay Archipelago - had a massive obstacle between them and the Castilian Americas in the form of the vast, humid, and hostile Ilhas Pelaginas. In contrast, the approach to Maguindau, the Ilhas Luções, and the Ilhas Bisaias was open and the eastward islands of that archipelago proved open to Christianity and somewhat primitive in their military capabilities. Voyages from the viceroyalties of Nueva Castilla - from the port of Acapulco - and Nueva Vizcaya - from the ports of Limac and Nueva Candia - to the East Indies had become a biannual occurrence in the late 1560s, with one voyage departing in March and returning in December, while the other usually departed in April and returned in January (both aiming to miss the monsoon season). This trans-Pacific trade not only opened up the Americas to Asian goods but also increased the volume of Asian goods transmitted to Europe. It also brought with westward influx of both human capital - primarily in the form of much-needed soldiers and clergy - and material capital - primarily in the form of American cash crops and most helpfully in the form of American silver - gave a significant boon to Spanish manpower and buying power in Southeast Asia as well as the ease with which missionary activities could be undertaken there. The number of Spaniards officially registered with the Estado da Índia in the Malay Archipelago swelled from roughly 2,000 in 1550 to more than 5,000 by the end of the century. A Gregorian college was founded in Malaca in 1568 and in Ambon in 1576, and as early as 1579 the majority of the soldiers in the employ of the Estado da Índia in the Malay Archipelago were of American extraction. The western approach of the Spaniards venturing from the Americas also led to the creation of feitorias at Surigau and Cancabato in the Ilhas Bisaias and Fustes on the foot of the Ibalão peninsula, the latter of which fostered the creation of a Catholic mission deep in the peninsula’s interior at Naga.


The Northern Miguelinas, c. 1580
(see symbol key at bottom for reference)
Green: area of Spanish dominance, Pink: hostile powers, Blue: friendly powers
1: Sultanate of Brunei, 2: Majas Confederation, 3: Rajahnate of Sebo, 4: Kedatuan of Dapitan
5: Kingdom of Sanmalan, 6: Kedatuan of Himologão, 7: Rajahnate of Butuan, 8: Duchy of Tondo,
9: Sultanate of Buluan, 10: Sultanate of Lanau, 11: Sultanate of Tauitaui (formerly Sulu)

Such a plenitude of territorial and spiritual gains, along with a blossoming albeit tentative trade with Japan and the yet unrealized trade with China demanded greater attention from the Spanish crown. The vast majority of Spanish interests east of Boa Esperança were concentrated in India during the 16th century, and consequently there was significant pushback against the creation of new viceroyalties in East Africa or East Asia (lest they detract from the authority of the Estado da Índia and the concentration of royal investments in India). There was very little the Portuguese magnates and administrators in Zambezia or the Swahili Coast could do to combat the much more influential Indo-Portuguese power structure, but the situation in the Malay Archipelago and its unique access to American, Japanese, and Chinese markets necessitated an expanded bureaucracy and a more autonomous administration in Malaca. With Malaca in constant need of further investment in order to keep the narrow maritime access to East Asia open, and with large-scale holdings being accumulated by Spanish conquistadors and their native allies in the Miguelinas to the East, Malaca would receive its own viceroyalty on the orders of King Gabriel in March of 1582.


Symbol Key
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Some of you may notice that I've retconned a lot of names in TTL's Indonesia and the Philippines - don't worry, I'm going to add footnotes designating each one soon
Excellent and incredibly rich in detail as always!! I can't wait for you to write about North America - early Mexican history is fascinating and rich in possibilities, There were multiple expeditions to the north that could be successful in an ATL. Although I must say, I'm also intrigued about the Avís-Trastámara family in general and what's happening in West Africa, especially after re-reading the chapter about the Kingdom of Jolof.
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