Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Torbald, Mar 1, 2017.
Africa, Asia, and the wacky hijinks of the Trastamara-Aviz crew.
Yeah, well everyone kind of want to see the Far East. Maybe because seeing Catholic samurai fighting "por Dios, Patria, y Rey" sounded cool to them.
(Not to mention I also want to see how the Portuguese are treating the Philippines so far)
This is an incredible timeline, you have a knack for writing, the maps are great, and your knowledge is extensive. I'm excited to see the next update.
I would prefer option one, I think an update on the Spanish in the East Indies, China, and Japan is overdue to the importance of the region to the Spanish empire.
In regards to the upcoming East Asia update, you mentioned last year that Fernando of Naples, appointed as Viceroy of Naples by Miguel da Paz and emerged as the founder of the Spanish cadet dynasty in Southern Italy as well as turned Naples into a center of Rennaisance art and learning, was a huge Sinophile who founded a Gregorian institution that sent missionaries and emissaries to China. May we see a Naples that is more involved in the Spanish colonial empire and assists the Portuguese in their pursuits of Chinese influence?
There was also a thread earlier about Asian slaves in the Americas. While incredibly interesting and somewhat applicable to this timeline, I think that idea specifically is a little bit far fetched. However, I think it is already pretty clear that the Spanish will be integrate the numerous, skilled people of East Asia as manpower into their pluricontinental, transracial empire.
excellent Timeline. I read it from start to finish in one go.
@Torbald this is an utter masterpiece.
I don't think a Surviving Miguel da Paz empire would have a reason to destroy the Bruneian Empire since it already has routes to the East...but continue this TL..just write it even if it is not plausible.
I love the timeline so far. Any planned updates?
a few pages ago the author asked which update we would like, and almost everybody voted for one on east asia, but that's the one that would take the longest. So now we just have to be patient, though take comfort in the fact that after this long wait the next few updates should probably come faster.
Nice. OP hasn't posted since January 13th.
Guess we'll just lock this until the OP requests it be reopened.
~ Ventos Divinos ~
In terms of historical and economic significance, the capture of Malaca by a Portuguese fleet in 1509 stands shoulder to shoulder with Vasco da Gama’s arrival in India eleven years earlier, for with the Straits of Malaca pried open, the Spanish became the first Europeans to reach the Far East by sea and to open negotiations with what was considered the prize jewel: China.
Imperial China had been one of the focal points of the European imagination since the travels of Marco Polo in the 13th century, meaning that with the charting of its coasts in the early 16th century by Portuguese explorers, the Spanish monarchy and the Estado da Índia considered it a top priority to establish diplomatic relations with the Dragon Throne and hopefully negotiate a trade deal as well. This enthusiasm was not misplaced: China was indeed the vast, cultured, and - most importantly - rich civilization that all the dreams of Cathay evoked. Even before the union of crowns, the initiation of trade with China was a matter of utmost importance to King Manuel of Portugal, who ordered the formation of a diplomatic mission to represent the Portuguese crown to the Chinese emperor and deliver the king’s own handwritten letter to him, expressing hopes for “amizade e irmandade.”
An often ignored but extremely successful trait of Portuguese trade and empire-building was the ability to acculturate to different regions and cultures, to make peaceable agreements with the locals and their rulers - sometimes even after exercising brazen aggression against them to secure a foothold - and to maintain this ever-expanding diplomatic web over centuries. In truth, the survival of the positively skeletal Spanish presence overseas in 16th and 17th century Africa and Asia can be attributed to the consistent excellence of Portuguese diplomacy from very early on in their endeavors. This diplomatic savviness had yielded profitable results: more or less placid trading relationships were attained time to time with some of the most committed enemies of the Portuguese (such as the sultanates of Aceh, Bijapur, and Kilwa) and warm, long-lasting friendships were established with others (such as with Siam, Kongo, and - to a certain extent - Vijayanagara). However, King Manuel’s embassy to Ming China stands out as a sore exception to this track record.
- Folangji -
Departing in 1515, a fleet under the command of Fernão Peres de Andrade carried the Portuguese mission - headed by Tomé Pires, a respected but lowborn former court apothecary and scribe for the feitoria at Malaca - to the mouth of the Pearl River, which it reached in August of 1517. Almost immediately, concerning obstacles prevented the advance of the mission, which was barred from proceeding past the port of Guangzhou (known to the Portuguese as Cantão) for more than two years, finally given leave to move further inland in January of 1520. After being informally received by the emperor himself, Zhengde, in the southern capital of Nanjing, Pires travelled to Beijing, where he expected to be received more formally and to begin discussing matters of substance with the imperial court. However, once in Beijing matters began to unravel precipitously.
First and foremost, representatives of the former sultanate of Malaca were present in the imperial retinue and they immediately voiced their enmity against the Portuguese for having violently seized ownership of a city that was one of the emperor’s tributaries. Likewise, Pires was bombarded with complaints concerning the activities of some of his countrymen, who had acted and were continuing to act in a an intrusive manner, sometimes even engaging in slave raids and piracy off the South China coast. Furthermore, the letter penned by King Manuel was subjected to a rigorous examination by the court mandarins (behavior which the Portuguese were soon to discover was characteristic of Chinese imperial bureaucrats) and was declared to be objectionable on the grounds that Manuel presumed equality between himself and the emperor by referring to him as “brother.” When Pires attempted to salvage the situation by informing his audience that the resident Chinese community of Malaca supported the Portuguese takeover, he only succeeded in arousing more suspicion as Chinese subjects were forbidden to leave the country.
In light of these grievances, the Portuguese were ordered to return Malaca to its sultan and their offer of trade was flatly refused. The Chinese interpreters in the service of the Portuguese were also accused of having falsely presented this embassy as a tribute mission, and were accordingly condemned and beheaded. Pires’ desperate position was then rendered completely hopeless by the careless actions of Fernão Peres de Andrade’s brother, Simão, who had been operating on the Chinese coast with a fleet of his own and without royal approval. Simão was reported to have conducted raids on Chinese ports, purchased Chinese slaves, and constructed a fort at Tuen Mun without approval - the outrageousness of which was amplified by false reports of Simão and his men engaging in cannibalism and abducting Chinese children. Pires and the rest of the embassy would be imprisoned in Beijing indefinitely, while Chinese coast guard junks were dispatched to expel Fernão Peres de Andrade’s fleet. The Portuguese fleet barely escaped the Chinese blockade, and the entirety of the Portuguese embassy would die in prison or from torture during interrogation. For multiple generations the Spanish had thus been cemented in the popular Chinese imagination as unruly and discourteous barbarians who behaved scandalously and sought only to pillage.
The Zhengde Emperor
The outcome of the 1515-1519 mission to the Ming court left the Spanish unceremoniously shut out from trade with one of the richest polities on earth, and thus constituted one of the great failures of the Spanish imperial project. Yet, rather than diminish, the Spanish presence in East Asia and its involvement in local politics and commerce steadily expanded in spite of this enormous obstacle, which it was able to circumvent thanks to a plenitude of opportunities on the fringes of the Chinese sphere. While the East Asian mainland was made virtually impenetrable for the time being, Spanish determination and maritime acumen would nevertheless successfully lodge agents of the kingdom of Spain in the islands to the west for centuries.
The discovery of the Spice Islands of the East Indies was the true jackpot moment for Early Modern Portugal, and by 1550 the profits made in the Malaysian Archipelago made up as much as two-thirds of all revenues collected by the Portuguese Crown. The climate may have been prohibitive for large-scale settlement in most areas and numerous enemies had been made amongst the region’s Muslim potentates, but the Portuguese flourished for the most part in this corner of the world, particularly in the eastern half, dubbed the “Ilhas Miguelinas” by Fernão de Magalhães. Apart from being incredibly spice-rich, the Miguelinas also possessed indigenous populations that had not yet been Islamized for the most part (save for in a few locations) and were therefore much more receptive to Christianity than the peoples to their immediate west. What was more, the vast Chinese diaspora in these islands was usually supportive of Portuguese administration and willing to cooperate with its trading initiatives, and was also relatively open to Christianization. In fact, by the mid-16th century, the largest demographic group in the urban centers of Portuguese East Asia were Christians of Min Chinese extraction.
Despite the departure of almost 8,000 Portuguese for Asia during the first half of the 16th century (exceeding the number of those settling in the much closer Brazilian colonies), there were just over 4,000 moradores, soldiers, and royal employees recorded by the Estado da Índia in 1550. While this number reflects the hardships of traveling to a distant and often hostile environment - constantly thinned out by warfare and diseases such as scurvy and malaria - it also reflects the emergence of a colonial society in Portuguese Asia in the absence of a steadier influx of immigrants and reinforcements from Spain.
As the Estado da Índia’s mid-century census only listed adult males born in Portugal or born to two Portuguese parents, there were significant populations that remained uncounted yet were still bound to the Estado by varying degrees. Due to both the desperate need for additional manpower in whatever form it could be acquired and the openness of the Portuguese towards interracial relations, these populations were regarded - and regarded themselves - as Portuguese or Spanish in all but birth, with the only designation separating European and non-European members being that of “white Portuguese” and “black Portuguese.” With European women being incredibly scarce in Asia, certain Portuguese settlements often became entirely “black” within a few generations, yet these individuals still considered themselves as Portuguese and Catholic as anyone born in Lisbon.
Further supplementing the meager Portuguese presence in the Far East was an unexpected element arriving not from the traditional eastern route, but from the west. In 1532, Sebastián Caboto had been invited by Esteban Beraza (then serving as de facto viceroy of Nueva Vizcaya) to supervise the construction and navigation of a squadron of ships that would push eastwards, to see what lay beyond the seemingly interminable waters of the yet-unnamed ocean first sighted by Vasco Núñez de Balboa in 1513. After the withdrawal of private investors, Caboto found another sponsor in the Greek conquistador, Pedro de Candia, who funded the completion of a proper carrack, the San Erasmo. Departing from Nueva Candia in 1534, the crew of the San Erasmo sailed for a harrowing 7 months before arriving in waters traversed by the Portuguese - the islands to the southeast, which had first been explored by the Portuguese navigators Diogo da Rocha, Gomes de Sequeira, and Jorge de Menezes, who dubbed them the “Ilhas Pelaginas” after the appellation of their king. They then found their way into the Miguelinas, from whence they were guided by a patrolling Portuguese ship to the port of São Lourenço de Celudão. After 4 months in the East Indies - where they were detained by the suspicious Portuguese authorities - Caboto and the San Erasmo slipped out of Mainila Bay under the cover of night, found a northeastern current to take them back to the Americas, and arrived off the coast of northern Nueva Castilla in mid 1536.
With the route between the Castilian Americas and Portuguese Asia discovered, it was only a matter of time before more Castilians sought to exploit this backdoor passage. Indeed, as repeated concessions to the Spanish Crown were made by the Cortes of Portugal in exchange for loans of silver bullion from the Castilian Casa de Prestación during and after the Spice Crash of the early 1540s, increased Castilian involvement in Portugal’s half of the world became an inevitability. When the Portuguese Cortes took notice of this intrusion and attempted to have Juan Pelayo set a new boundary in 1546 between Castilian and Portuguese spheres to the east of the precious Spice Islands, it was in no fiscal position to make demands, and Juan Pelayo - citing more pressing concerns - pocketed the petition. While not yet confirmed de jure, Portuguese ownership of - or at least preeminence in - the Spice Islands was the de facto state of affairs, and was often enforced as such against non-Portuguese Spaniards. But the Portuguese in these seas did not form a united front in this regard - many of them were in the Orient to ply their own trade privately, and eagerly sought out the services of Castilian mercenaries and sailors in order to gain an advantage over their more anti-Castilian compatriots. Division on this issue was prevalent even at the highest administrative levels, with individuals such as Inácio de Brito, one of the captain-majors of Malaca, freely employing hundreds of Castilian soldiers, while others - such as the donatary of Timor, Xulio de Melgaço - imprisoned or even killed whichever unfortunate Castilian fell into their hands.
Many Castilian investors who had bought out the enterprises of Portuguese merchants operating in Africa or Asia simply bypassed this restriction by hiring Portuguese middlemen to manage these overseas properties in person while they collected the dividends at home in Iberia. What was more, the “Océano Pacífico” (so named by Caboto) over which the Castilians trespassed was inconceivably vast, making any concerted effort to intercept Castilian interlopers both needlessly antagonistic and logistically impossible. Once the number of Castilian-owned trade ventures in the Far East had reached a more comfortable level, and once the opinion of the Estado da India towards Castilian assistance began to shift after a more comprehensive assessment of Portuguese resources, the presence of Castilians in Portuguese East Asia became less of a point of contention and more of a boon to both groups of Spaniards.
More valued than the Castilians, however, were those accompanying them. For simple demographic reasons, the indigenous, Christianized Indios Amigos of the Americas (and their mestizo half-brethren) made up the larger share of the Crown of Castile's subjects in the Far East during the 16th century and 17th centuries. As they were not Peninsular Castilians, these Indios and Mestizos were much easier to trust for the Portuguese. Their trustworthiness was compounded by the fact that, while not Spanish, they were still Catholic, and the presence of additional Catholics was vital in this far corner of the world, where Catholicism was virtually unheard of and - in some places - the object of hatred and suspicion.
As was the case on the American frontier, Indios and Mestizos were the ideal colonists: not only did most of them have extensive military experience (primarily against the Chichimecs and Araucos) but they also possessed greater immunity to tropical diseases. Likewise, the shared - albeit distant - ancestry of the native peoples of the Americas and of East Asia lended itself to a noticeable ethnic similarity between them, meaning that local East Asians found Indios and Mestizos to be much less foreign - and therefore much less suspicious - than the Spaniards, allowing them to fill a much-needed intermediary role in the region. One exceptional example of this favored minority was Juan Tezozómoc, a full-blooded Tlaxcalan sellsword who found his way to the East Indies in 1569, where he participated in expeditions to Brunei, the Moluccas, and Formosa, before finally settling down as an encomendero in the Bicol Peninsula.
- Os Cinco Ronin -
However, the Spanish and their affiliates were not the only freebooters prowling the islands and straits of the Far East. In 1371, the Ming dynasty issued the first “sea ban,” or Haijin (海禁), a set of laws prohibiting virtually all maritime and even coastal activity by private Chinese individuals which backfired spectacularly, leading to the emergence of frequent, large scale predatory endeavors by the wokou - groups of primarily Chinese and Japanese pirates that terrorized the East and South China Seas. While the Ming were by no means powerless to stop these wokou, the root of the problem lay with the Haijin, which only served to swell the number of pirates. Additionally, the Ming dynasty was beginning to falter by the early 16th century, with numerous emperors completely under the sway of opposing factions of powerful court mandarins and eunuchs, with the emperors more preoccupied with growing their harems and drinking themselves into a stupor. The Zhengde Emperor himself died in 1521 after falling into the Grand Canal while drunk and contracting diseases from its fetid waters. As he had no surviving children, Zhengde was succeeded by his cousin the Jiajing Emperor, who was only 14. By the 1520s, wokou piracy had officially become a state conspiracy, with entire towns and growing numbers of mandarins involving themselves in the various smuggling, extorting, bribing, and pillaging activities. The wokou gave the Portuguese an advantage in that they could use their own naval capabilities to combat them in order to regain the trust of the Ming court. However, certain developments brought the subjects of Spain into closer cooperation - rather than conflict - with the wokou.
A Japanese pirate from the Miguelinas
The Portuguese presence on the isle of Luçon had been fraught with difficulties ever since the conquest of the Rajahnate of Maynila by the expedition of João da Silveira and Sancho de Tovar in 1529. Infighting amongst the leadership, warfare with the neighboring natives, tropical disease, and lack of consistent resupply from other Portuguese outposts to the south had put the settlement of São Lourenço de Celudão in a precarious position and had winnowed out the city’s original 121 conquistadors to just 46 individuals in just 10 years (with Silveira himself dying in a battle against the Mouros of Hagonoim). While there remained a steady trickle of Portuguese newcomers into the port who could refresh the depleted ranks, the desire for personal advancement via encomienda led to an equally steady trickle outwards of Portuguese to other yet-unsubjugated locales in Luçon. In early 1541, a fleet of junks arrived in Mainila Bay, carrying adventurers keen on exploiting the situation.
The man at the helm of this fleet - which consisted of 13 ships and 988 men - was a Japanese ronin by the name of Kawashima Sota, who had been banished from his homeland a dozen years prior for an unknown crime, and had since been pursuing the life of a mercenary and pirate in the Luçon Strait. Accompanying Kawashima were four other ronin and two Tagalog princes, one of whom was the son of Matanda, the former Rajah of Maynila. Information on the weakened state of the captaincy of Mainila had surely reached the ears of individuals such as Kawashima by way of the port of Aparri - called “Faro” by the Portuguese - which was located at the mouth of the Cagaião River on the northern coast of Luçon and had a significant Japanese expatriate community. As the Portuguese existed outside of the Chinese tributary system, Kawashima had little to expect in the way of repercussions or retaliation.
Portuguese Celudão had withstood a number of sieges and raids since 1529 (mostly from the Sultanate of Brunei and its local Mouro allies), but matters were different in 1541. For one, an earthquake had collapsed a large portion of the stone curtain wall constructed by the Portuguese, and this gap had not yet been fully repaired, having only a temporary wooden palisade to block it. Additionally, a web of native dissidents within the city (some of whom were in prominent positions within the captaincy’s militia and administration) had long been in contact with Kawashima’s subordinates, and were now prepared to assist the attackers in whatever way they could. On Kawashima’s orders (delivered by smoke signal) these dissidents doused the Portuguese gunpowder supply with water, rendering it useless, and set fires at the barracks and storehouses. The chaos within the walls allowed Kawashima’s forces to scale them without being mowed down by the Portuguese gunners, and once within the city they made quick work of any resistance. The loyalist survivors of the siege and the Portuguese and many of the native Christians dispersed throughout the surrounding countryside all fled to the safety of São Felicidade, the only other stone fortification in the area, located on a spit of land to the south named Cavite.
After two weeks looting the city and taking stock of the plunder, Kawashima and his associates were displeased by the lack of silver, which the Portuguese were reputed to have much of but which had been found only in small quantities. To make good on his investment, Kawashima decided to assault Cavite and thus wipe out the remaining Portuguese and take whatever additional treasures could be found within São Felicidade. However, in the time that had elapsed since the initial attack on Celudão, runners had been sent to sail southwards and seek help from the other Portuguese settlements in the Miguelinas, and a relief fleet consisting of two carracks and 20 balangays was already en route, commanded by Rodrigo Afonso de Magalhães, son of the late Fernão de Magalhães and his successor as captain-general of Mindanão.
The assault on Cavite seemed to be a foregone conclusion: there were no more than 120 Portuguese men-at-arms left (albeit with greater numbers of native and Chinese auxiliaries) and they had only two bronze cannons in their possession with minimal gunpowder available. However, the narrow spit of land provided an unforeseen bottleneck to Kawashima’s wokou, who suffered numerous casualties in a direct charge towards the main gate. The defense was spirited - a certain Manuel de Cartaxo, a man of great stature and robustness, clad in iron cuirass and wielding a massive montante, slew so many advancing opponents along the causeway that the wokou held back for quite some time out of fear at the thought of facing him. Large stones taken from structures inside São Felicidade were also rolled down the sloping walls, dispelling climbers and making the approach impassable for the attackers’ canoes.
The resilience of the remaining Portuguese and the piling bodies of wokou - combined with rumors spreading that the Christian inhabitants of Celudão and its environs were planning an uprising to expel the wokou - began to sow dissent in Kawashima’s camp. The final straw came with the arrival of Magalhães’ fleet after three weeks besieging Cavite, leading to the destruction of most of Kawashima’s ships after a heated six-hour battle. Still lacking enough men to land and properly dislodge the wokou, Magalhães blockaded the harbor and bombarded Celudão and the enemy camp outside Cavite. One of the Kawashima’s subordinates, another Japanese by the name of Kirishima Yudai, began conspiring with his fellow ronin to remove Kawashima and attempt to negotiate terms with the Portuguese. With the sole remaining man of the cloth in Celudão, a Franciscan friar named Tomás, acting as interpreter and go-between, the five ronin conspirators communicated in secret with Magalhães and eventually reached a compromise: the conspirators and their supporters would not be required to relinquish any of the goods they had seized and would be awarded the administration of large tracts of land in Luçon, on the condition that they kill or otherwise remove Kawashima, hand over the sons of Rajah Matanda, accept Christian baptism, and swear fealty to João III Pelágio, king of All Spain.
After nightfall, the five conspirators murdered Kawashima in his tent, and had their checklist of potential troublemakers similarly disposed of. After some fighting in the streets, the conspirators’ detractors (primarily Mouros and Malays) were mopped up and a formal parley was held on the shore with Magalhães and the Portuguese. The next day, Kirishima was endowed with the title of captain-major of Celudão and duke of Pasig, and the four leading ronin were baptized in the smoking ruins of Celudão’s chapel and given Christian names: Mishima Goro was baptized as Gonçalo Mixima, Ariga Takuya as Marcos Ariga, Akaza Minoru as Vicente Acaça, and Kirishima Yudai as José Quirixima. These names would live on into modern day, held by numerous men and women of prominence in the Miguelinas.
The defection of Quirixima and his cohorts linked the Portuguese to a previously closed world. The connections these pirate ronin had with certain wokou fleets brought together the already quickly-aligning interests of these pirates and the Portuguese, both of whom had been forced to develop an alternative means of commerce in order to get around China’s exclusion of Spanish and Japanese traders. The events of 1541 also revealed a wealth of potential allies and trading partners to the north, where many of the warring feudal lords of Japan - the daimyos - were open to outside assistance in their struggle for survival and dominance in their home islands.
- Nanban -
1541 was not, however, the earliest intimate encounter between Japan and the west. Two years prior, two Europeans were captured from the wreckage of a junk that shipwrecked off the coast of Fuko Island, one of whom was a Portuguese merchant named Pedro de Alcáçova, while the other was a Pugliese named Nicolò di Crispiano, who was a friar of the Cathaldine order (the Cataldini in Italian) - named for the 7th century Irish saint Cathaldus of Taranto, and one of the earliest of the new missionary orders of Reform Catholicism (having been approved by Pope Paul III in 1526).
Inspired by Saint Cathaldus’ pastoral work in an alien land far from home, the Cathaldines had petitioned the viceroy of Naples and brother of King Miguel, Fernando de Portugal, for his sponsorship in sending them to the far corners of the earth so that they might bring with them the light of the Gospel. Infante Fernando, who was well disposed to the reform movement within Catholicism and also held an insatiable curiosity for the Far East, indulged the Cathaldines’ request, and by 1535 there were approximately 22 Cathaldine friars operating in the Portuguese East Indies. To many Portuguese, Fernando was “nosso infante” - the prince they had hoped would take the Portuguese throne should the union with Castile be successfully severed - and news of his interest in the Far East was received with enthusiasm by the Portuguese laboring in the Orient.
On the orders of Miguel da Paz, 90 Dominicans, Franciscans, and Hieronymites had been ferried to Malaca by 1525 with the dual assignment of evangelizing the peoples of the Far East and attending to the spiritual wellbeing of the king’s Christian subjects. The number of mendicant priests and friars in the Far East had quadrupled by 1539, and beyond Malaca the Portuguese colonial enterprise was virtually theocratic in its function and motives. Access to exotic markets was - like everywhere else - the primary goal, but here it was done just as much through priestly handlers as secular ones. This was a development that would have been impossible without the sponsorship of Fernando de Portugal and the resources available to him as viceroy of Naples. Throughout the 1520s and 1530s Fernando had consumed any and all information about the Orient voraciously (particularly concerning China). Stocking his personal library with innumerable Chinese-Italian and Chinese-Portuguese lexicons, codices, and botanical diaries (he refused the offer of meditative Buddhist and Daoist texts so as not to upset his brother or the ever-vigilant Holy Office), Infante Fernando’s fascination with the East eventually culminated in his founding of a “Collegio Orientale” (or, simply, the Orientale) for the University of Naples in 1546. Because of the Orientale, Italians would make up an outsize percentage of the Catholic missionaries operating in East Asia for the next two centuries.
Fernando de Portugal (to the left of the cardinal) meeting with the Gregorians in Naples, c. 1550s
After their capture, Nicolò di Crispiano and Pedro de Alcáçova were unceremoniously sold as slaves to a merchant living in the port of Hirado. A few short weeks later, Alcáçova - who had never quite recovered from the shipwreck - took ill and died, leaving Crispiano as the only European for more than a thousand miles in every direction. The friar had to be careful not to let this stark realization (combined with the intense culture shock) drive him to insanity. Luckily for Crispiano, this was not the first time he was in a similarly desperate situation, as he had already spent nearly 7 years deprived of the sacraments and the presence of his countrymen when he was taken prisoner by Barbary pirates in 1518. Crispiano slowly learned the Japanese language (something immensely difficult for him) and watched his tongue so as not to offend his master, who regarded him as little more than a novelty item. Once the first Portuguese ship arrived in Hirado in 1542, the locals had Crispiano brought to its captain, Martim de Alcochete. Perturbed by the thought of a pagan holding a Christian friar as his slave, Alcochete offered a large price for Crispiano, which his master gleefully accepted. Brought back to Malaca, Crispiano helped to inscribe a Japanese dictionary, which greatly eased the groundwork for missionary activity. As Japan had been officially located by Portuguese ships by accident on the isle of Tanegashima a year prior, the Cathaldine dictionary was extremely important for the opening of trade relations as well.
A joint Cathaldine and Dominican mission was organized by the captain-major of Malaca at the insistence of Nicolò di Crispiano, and senior Cathaldines arrived from Rome to head the effort, with three Italians - Eleuterio Caivano, Damiano Laterza, and their superior, Cristoforo Bonaccorso - arriving in Malaca in 1550 to coordinate the clerical resources at their disposal. Bonaccorso had been one of the founding members of the Cathaldines, and consequently had the administrative experience that his brethren in the Far East heretofore lacked. As most of their brothers were wrapped up in India or Badly needing catechists, Bonaccorso immediately decided that the Cathaldine and Dominican mission must take on additional religious orders - preferably ones with greater experience in the region. At the insistence of Luís Fróis, a Portuguese Orientale-educated Gregorian and representative of Infante Fernando, Bonaccorso agreed to request 18 Gregorians from the Americas to assist in the undertaking. It was specifically Gregorians that Infante Fernando had taken to, given their shared affinity for foreign cultures. Fernando had also met Sahagún’s energetic companion, Francisco de Javier, in 1540 during one of the missionary’s many trips back to Europe, and invited Javier to Naples while he was en route to Rome. Fróis cited the Gregorians’ great successes in adapting to and converting unfamiliar cultures through the simple insertion of Christian theology into preexisting terminology of the local religion, stating that the Gregorian mission in the kingdom of Kongo “had evangelized the natives so gradually and so gently, that they had become baptized without ever having noticed that they had been converted.” Departing from the Nuevacastellano port of Acapulco, a group of 18 gregorians led by Agustín de Tordehumos and Martín de Santoyo would arrive in Nagasaki in 1554.
While the Cathaldines, Dominicans, and Gregorians were all essential in evangelizing the lower classes and making the language and culture of Japan comprehensible to Westerners, possibly the most influential of the holy orders brought to Japan were the Martinians, who became a facet of Japanese Catholicism almost by mistake. Formed as an informal society in 1518 from the field chaplains of the Órdenes Militantes and named for the legionary-turned-bishop St. Martin of Tours, the Martinians - technically the Society of St. Martin of Tours - eventually grew into an order of its own in 1549 under the influence of Juan de Vega, the viceroy of Sicily who provided the many Martinians in his employ with a Gregorian education. As the Martinians were formed as a military ordinariate for the armies of Spain, the Papal approval of their rule was procured quickly on the influence of the Spanish monarchy. Additionally, since much of the Spanish soldiery making a livelihood in the far corners of the world had once served in North Africa, they were familiar with the Martinian chaplains and preferred them over the other orders (which were significantly harder for them to control). Consequently, Martinian priests were a common sight on Portuguese ships and therefore inevitably came into contact with the Japanese samurai and daimyo class. These Japanese favored the Martinians for their austere dignity and rigid discipline - which had carried over from their military origins - and the Martinians thereby introduced an element of familiarity into their strange Western religion for the most powerful persons of Japanese society.
A Martinian priest
Facing often intense resistance from the local administrative and philosophical spheres but motivated by a resurgence in Catholic zeal as well as by the commercial and political interests of Spain, the men of these holy orders in China and Japan engaged in some of the most nuanced evangelical work in the history of the Church. The appeal of converting a civilization as sophisticated as the Japanese was counterbalanced with serious challenges to the process. For one, the language barrier was difficult to surmount - the Japonic languages had no identifiable linguistic relatives - and led to embarassing mistranslations early on, such as the use of the name “Dainichi” (大日) to designate the Christian God, unaware that this was a term with inescapable Buddhist connotations (the name “Deusu” (デウス) - from the Portuguese “Deus” - was eventually used). Additionally, and more seriously, there were undeniable discrepancies between the worldview and moral codes of the Japanese and Spanish. For instance, as the Emperor of Japan is a semi-divine being according to Shinto mythology, there was little to no concept in Sengoku Japan of a universal law that transcended national law in importance. In everyday matters, Catholic missionaries had to attempt to sway the Japanese away from their relatively lax perception of concubinage, homosexuality, and murder - the latter in particular shocked the Europeans, with one Cathaldine friar remarking that “the Japanese fly to swords with little hesitation over the smallest disagreement.” Theologically, certain aspects of Christianity required a delicate and eloquent explanation when presented to the Japanese. The Shinto traditions of the land meant that reverence towards one’s ancestors was a religious obligation, and many Japanese were deeply troubled or took great offense to the notion of salvation existing only through the Church, which, when hamfistedly presented to them by certain struggling missionaries, seemed to suggest that their ancestors might be condemned to hellfire for not having received Christ. The crucifixion of Christ also vexed many Japanese, as crucifixion was still used as a form of public humiliation and execution throughout Japan, and seemed to conflict with the image of God the Father being all-merciful. Results were often mixed, and sometimes led to persecution and banishment, as commented on by Luís Fróis: "The port cities of Firando [Hirado] and Cangoxima [Kagoshima], whereby we had first entered into this country, are now wholly closed to us, and many Christians have been beheaded on the order of their governors."
It was therefore Catholicism that defined Spanish and indeed European interaction with Japan in the Early Modern Era. Unlike in India, where most of the converts made came from the lower castes (often Dalits, the lowest of the low) and were persuaded more by displays of personal holiness than by theological reasoning, in Japan converts were made across every social strata and responded positively to well-developed argumentation. Converts were also being made in much greater numbers than in India: in 1545, Bonaccorso reported only 500 native Christians in Japan, but this had risen to 40,000 by 1567, and reached roughly 800,000 by 1590. The isle of Kyushu’s proximity to Portuguese trade routes ensured that it contained most of these converts, especially the Shimabara Peninsula and the Amakusa and Goto Islands, which by 1600 were almost entirely Christian. A major incentive for conversion amongst the daimyos - and therefore a major source of conversion for their many subjects - was the potential for enrichment through trade with the Portuguese. Many of these conversions were both economically and politically motivated: as friendship and trade with these Spanish foreigners meant not only access to valuable goods but also to advanced military hardware, conversion to the Catholic faith of the proselytization-minded Spaniards offered a major advantage over neighboring daimyos. Of particular interest to the Japanese martial class was the Portuguese arcabuz, which was first shown to Japanese eyes on the isle of Tanegashima while two Portuguese sailors were hunting ducks. The daimyo of the island, Tanegashima Tokitaka, saw the immediate advantage of these weapons, purchased them from their owners, and ordered his smiths to replicate them. However, they were unable to replicate the helically drilled barrel. It would be some years before the Japanese were able to start producing firearms themselves, and in the interim their only access to them was through Portuguese merchants.
In Kyushu, the daimyos - and therefore many of the retainers and subjects - of the Ito, Arima, Omura, Kuroda, and Otomo clans had all accepted baptism before 1590. The daimyo of the Otomo clan, Sorin, (know to the Portuguese as the “king of Bungo”) was a particularly helpful convert, having achieved preeminence in Kyushu, as well as influence in Honshu following a coup by Sue Harukata, which deposed Yoshitaka, the daimyo of the Ouchi clan, and replaced him with Otomo Sorin’s half-brother, Otomo Haruhide (now Ouchi Yoshinaga). Otomo Sorin would shed the last fetters of Buddhism with the death of his wife (a committed Buddhist) in 1572. What was perhaps more beneficial to Christianization in Japan than outright conversion, however, was the insouciance and ambivalence of certain powerful individuals - a certain daimyo by the name of Oda Nobunaga being the prime example. During the 1550s and 1560s, Nobunaga had expanded and consolidated the position of his clan to the point of dominance in Honshu and in the Japanese isles as a whole, which he maintained until his death in 1593. Luckily for the Christian mission, Nobunaga not only enjoyed the company of the Martinians, but was also steadily consumed by a hatred for Buddhism. A firm agnostic, Nobunaga razed numerous powerful Buddhist monasteries which had made the mistake of consistently siding with his enemies. This was not without reason, as armies of sohei - Buddhist warrior monks similar to the crusading orders of Europe - often formed potent military obstacles to the daimyos and were competitors for secular power in their own right.
Ultimately, Catholicism - and, by extension, Spanish influence - in the Far East would remain in a precarious position for many years to come, but the seeds for cultural interchange had been planted, and their sprouts would for centuries entangle peoples and nation-states separated by thousands of miles.
been waiting for this for a while, will write proper comment when I finish reading this wonderful new update.
Alright, now that I've read this, it seems the Spanish have played the game almost perfectly in the east, with the only exception being, as you said China. I however don't think its going to matter that much.
With the thousands of additional men coming from the Castilian part of all Spain, along with all the silver they can get their hands on, the Portuguese have the opportunity here to really create dominant system in this part of Asia. First of all they now have the strength to physically fight almost anyone around, with the only exception being the strongest states there, such as Brunei, and obviously china. And with extra cash, there's a hidden advantage. They can drop the inflation bomb on china and other states in the area, instead of just on their own heads. Obviously as much silver and gold as possible should be used to develop Spain. But obviously there's a limit to this. Once everyone is already working well, the only thing that you can do with the extra cash is to pay people more, which might sound great at first, until it utterly cripples your manufacturing base. Luckily the developing economic knowledge in Spain should be able to catch onto this, allowing them to escape the worst of it.
While it may be questionable, it will probably be beneficial to create economic and political chaos in the east. In that situation the Spanish have their best shot to truly make gains. Imagine the mid 1600s, china in throes of civil war as the Ming collapse and the Qing rise, and instead of the weak Portuguese and the newcomer dutch, too busy fighting each other to interfere, there's a strong united Spanish presence, which has reached an accommodation with the other Europeans, and is bolstered by millions of Catholics in the indies and japan. Now that's a force that just couldn't resist getting involved. Intense Asian hi-jinks ensue.
In lighter news, I think i can speak for most of the viewership in saying that samurai mercenaries fighting the protestants in Europe for the Spanish is the most epic thing this thread lacks. this update brings that glorious situation one step closer to reality. Also I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about the demographic impact these changes would have on Spain, and i'm curious if anyone cares to hear.
And perhaps a Christian Japan (or maybe one with a significant presence) could still emerge. (Probably took the blood sacrifice of Switzerland to achieve this )
Very glad to see this back!
PS. You might want to update the "Different Placenames" threadmark
Given this, plus the Christianization of large parts of Japan, I wonder if a Japantown is going to form in Manila?
I really enjoyed the Castillion "back door,"
The real question will be if there is a japantown in lisbon
I'm really glad to see this awesome timeline is still going!
Interesting to see Oda Nobunaga surviving an extra 11 years as that will have a pretty big impact on the unification, centralization, and Christianization of Japan going forward.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Portuguese or Spanish recruit Japanese Christian settlers for their colonies, the ocean currents lead straight from Japan to California (or Kariforniya in Japanese I'd assume) after all.
Quality > Quantity, welcome back @Torbald !
Separate names with a comma.