World History

The Age of Exploration

The Age of Exploration was a critical time in our history. Africans, Asians, Europeans, and Americans were exploring, vying for influence, and forging complex global trade links. These are a few key historical events that occurred during the age of Captain DaCosta’s voyage.

After many attempts to reach Japan, the first encounter between the Japanese and Europeans occurred in August or September 1543. According to the Teppo-ki, the Japanese account of how firearms came to Japan, the Chinese boat carried around 100 Chinese sailors and 3 Portuguese men. The Portuguese were Francisco Zeimoto, Antonio da Mota, and Antonio Peixoto. Blown off course during a trading mission to the Chinese port of Ningpo, they landed accidentally at Tanegashima, a small island off the coast of Kyushu Japan.

The boat was carrying animal hides from Siam to China. It is likely that when the Japanese encountered the dirty unshaven sailors, they referred to them as Nambanjin, or Southern Barbarians. The lord of Tanegashima, Lord Tokitaka, was impressed by their two matchlock guns. After buying them, he learned how to shoot and later how to manufacture gun barrels and gunpowder. He ordered his men to continue manufacturing guns, marking the first time firearms reached Japanese soil.


In July 1547, Jaques Francis, described as a Guinea diver from Arguin Island off the coast of Mauritania, was hired by the British Admiralty along with his Venetian master, Piero Paolo Corsi, to help salvage the wreck of Henry VIII’s famous ship, the Mary Rose. This task, however, was to prove complicated. A legal argument over recovered salvage arose between Corsi and a group of Italian Merchants that led to Jaques Francis being called to the witness stand in English court.

On July 19, 1545, a French Invasion fleet entered the Solent, the strait that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England. They were intent on destroying the English fleet and invading the Isle of Wight. The crew of the Mary Rose attacked the invaders, but tipped over and sank within minutes because she her upper decks were overladen. She took down 400 sailors and 181 guns of various sizes and types.

As the sunken ship was in 6 fathoms of water, the salvage job had to be hired out to foreign salvage specialists. A number of unsuccessful attempts were made by different Venetian teams before December, 1545.

In 1546, another Venetian, Piedro Paolo Corsi and his salvage team were appointed to attempt another recovery. Francis the head diver of the team, was bought from another Italian merchant, because of his diving expertise. It is likely he was a highly trained former pearl diver and had an outstanding record of underwater exploits.

The former salvage team accused his master Corsi of stealing blocks of tin from two other wrecks. Francis became an important witness in the court case. While the Admiralty were ready to accept his testimony and selfhood, the Italian witnesses denounced him as an uncivilized man, a “slave,” a “morisco,” a “Black more,” a “bondeman,” and an “infidell borne,” arguing that his testimony was therefore inadmissible.

He stood his ground in court, arguing for his own humanity and personhood, but the whole case highlighted the difficulties Europeans had in accepting black men and women as human, and in accepting their intelligence and ethnic origins as worthy of respect.

Leonel de Sousa, a Captain-Major of the voyage to Japan, reached the coast of Guangdong in 1552. There, he learned that all foreigners were able to trade after payment of taxes to the Chinese, except the “Folanji” including Portuguese, then considered pirates.

In 1554, de Sousa agreed with Guangzhou officials to legalize the Portuguese trade, on condition of paying certain customs duties. The single surviving written evidence of this agreement is a letter from de Sousa to Infante Louis, king John III’s brother, dated 1556. It states that the Portuguese undertook to pay the fees and were not to erect fortifications.

The letter is an extremely important document in the history of Sino-Portuguese relations. It describes protracted negotiations with the haitao Wang Bo, identified in Chinese sources as having accepted a bribe from the Portuguese to dry their cargo and pay taxes in Guangzhou. Leonel de Sousa and Wang Bo agreed on the the mandatory 20% fees, but only on half the cargoes. This treaty was followed by the recognition of Macau as an official Portuguese warehouse in 1557. de Sousa became the second Captain-Major, or governor of Macau in 1558.

Galileo Galilei was born on 5 February 1564. He was an Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician, and played a major role in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. He has been called the “father of observational astronomy”, the “father of modern physics”, the “father of scientific method”, and the “father of science”.

Spanish Explorer Andrés de Urdaneta discovered and plotted a path across the Pacific from the Philippines to Acapulco in the Viceroyalty of New Spain (present day Mexico). It came to be known as “Urdaneta’s Route”.

His return trip from The Philippines to Mexico in 1565 proved to be a milestone in navigational history. It was to be the longest voyage ever taken, up to that time, 7644 miles navigating on unknown routes. On 18th September, his crew sighted the Californian island of Santa Rosa, the climax of the first Pacific crossing from west to east. With the crew hungry and thirsty, Urdaneta followed the coastline until reached his chosen destination, Acapulco. The voyage arrived on 8th October, 1565.

The Lusiads, is a Portuguese epic poem by Luís Vaz de Camões (sometimes anglicized as Camoëns).

Written in Homeric fashion, the poem focuses mainly on a fantastical interpretation of the Portuguese voyages of discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries. Os Lusíadas is often regarded as Portugal’s national epic, much in the way as Virgil’s Aeneid was for the Ancient Romans, or Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey for the Ancient Greeks. It was first printed in 1572, three years after the author returned from the Indies.

The Battle of Ksar El Kebir, also known as Battle of Three Kings (in Arabic: معركة الملوك الثلاث) was fought in northern Morocco, near the town of Ksar-el-Kebir and Larache, on 4 August 1578. The combatants were the army of the deposed Moroccan Sultan Abu Abdallah Mohammed II, with his ally, the King of Portugal Sebastian I, and a large Moroccan army nominally under the new Sultan of Morocco (and uncle of Abu Abdallah Mohammed II) Abd Al-Malik I.

A Plan to Recover the Throne

The Christian king, Sebastian I, had planned a crusade after Abu Abdallah asked him to help recover his throne. Abu Abdallah’s uncle, Abd Al-Malik, had taken it from him with Ottoman support. The defeat of Portugal and attendant death of the childless Sebastian led to the end of the Aviz dynasty, and the integration of the country in the Iberian Union for 60 years under the Philippine Dynasty in a dynastic union with Spain.

The Battle

On 4 August, the Portuguese and Moorish allied troops were drawn up in battle array, and Sebastian rode around encouraging the ranks. But the Moroccans advanced on a broad front, planning to encircle his army.

The Sultan had 10,000 cavalry on the wings, and in the center he had placed Moors who had been driven out of Spain and thus bore a special grudge against Christians. Despite his illness, the Sultan left his litter and led his forces on horseback.

The battle started as both sides exchanged several volleys of gunfire from musketry and artillery. A commander named Stukley, leading the Portuguese center, was killed by a cannonball early in the battle. The Moroccan cavalry advanced and began to encircle the Portuguese army. Both armies soon became fully engaged in melee. Eventually the flanks of the Portuguese army gave way to the Moorish cavalry, threatening the center. Seeing the flanks compromised, and having lost its commander early in battle, the Portuguese center lost heart and was overcome.

Defeat of the Portuguese

The battle ended after nearly four hours of heavy fighting. It resulted in the total defeat of the Portuguese and Abu Abdallah’s army with 8,000 dead, including the slaughter of almost the whole of the country’s nobility, and 15,000 taken prisoner; perhaps 100 survivors escaped to the coast. The body of King Sebastian, who led a charge into the midst of the enemy and was then cut off, was never found.

The Sultan Abd Al-Malik also died during the battle, but from natural causes (the effort of riding was too much for him), and the news was concealed from his troops until total victory had been secured. Abu Abdallah attempted to flee but was drowned in the river. For this reason, the battle was known in Morocco as the Battle of the Three Kings.

Yasuke was a samurai of black African origin who served under the Japanese hegemon and warlord Oda Nobunaga in 1581 and 1582. The name “”Yasuke”” was granted to him by Nobunaga, although why and when is unclear. His original name is not recorded in any known source, so it is unclear if Yasuke is a Japanese rendering of his previous name, or a wholly new name granted by his lord.

Where Yasuke Came From

There are various theories as to his origin. François Solier of the Society of Jesus in 1627 wrote that Yasuke was likely from Mozambique, but his account may have simply been an assumption. It was written long after the event and there is no surviving contemporary account that corroborates it. It is also possible that he also came from Portugal, Angola or Ethiopia, and he could conceivably originally have been an African mercenary in the employ of an Indian sovereign, of which there were many at this time. Television program Discovery of the World’s Mysteries (世界ふしぎ発見) suggested that Yasuke was a Makua named Yasufe. This was not a highly journalistic investigation, and the program provided little proof for their conclusions. The Makua didn’t have any significant conflict with the Portuguese based on the Island of Mozambique until 1585. He may have been a member of the Yao people, who were just coming into contact with the Portuguese at the time, which might account for his name, Yao added to the common Japanese male name suffix of suke.

Meeting Nobunaga

Yasuke arrived in Japan in 1579 in the service of the Italian Jesuit Alessandro Valignano, who had been appointed the Visitor (inspector) of the Jesuit missions in the Indies, meaning East Africa, South and East Asia. He accompanied Valignano when the latter came to the capital area in March 1581, causing a sensation. In one event, several people were crushed to death while clamouring to get a look at him.

Nobunaga heard the noise from the temple where he was staying and expressed a desire to see him. Suspecting the black color of his skin to be black ink, Nobunaga had him strip from the waist up and made him scrub his skin. These events are recorded in a 1581 letter of the Jesuit Luís Fróis to Lorenço Mexia and in the 1582 Annual Report of the Jesuit Mission in Japan, also by Frois. These were published in Cartas que os padres e irmãos da Companhia de Jesus escreverão dos reynos de Japão e China II, normally known simply as Cartas, in 1598.

Satisfied that he was in fact black, Nobunaga seems to have taken an interest in him. At some point, he was either given or allowed to enter Nobunaga’s service. Japanese accounts indicate he was presented to Nobunaga by the Portuguese, although European accounts make no mention of this.

It is likely that Yasuke could speak considerable Japanese. Nobunaga enjoyed talking with him (there is no indication that Nobunaga spoke Portuguese and it is unlikely that Yasuke would have been able to communicate in classical Chinese, the oriental lingua franca of the time). He seems to have become a close retainer, and was perhaps the only non-Japanese ‘warrior’ that Nobunaga had in his retinue, which could account for his rapid rise in favour and status. Yasuke was also mentioned in the prototype of Shinchōkōki owned by Sonkeikaku Bunko (尊経閣文庫), the archives of the Maeda Clan. According to this, Yasuke was given his own residence and a short, ceremonial katana by Nobunaga. Nobunaga also assigned him the duty of weapon bearer.

Battle in Kyoto

In June 1582, Nobunaga was attacked and forced to commit seppuku in Honnō-ji in Kyoto by the army of Akechi Mitsuhide. Yasuke was also there at the time and fought the Akechi forces. Immediately after Nobunaga’s death, Yasuke went to join Nobunaga’s heir Oda Nobutada who was trying to rally the Oda forces at Nijō Castle.

Yasuke fought alongside the Nobutada’s forces for a long time but he eventually surrendered his sword to Akechi’s men. They asked Akechi himself what to do with him. Akechi said that the black man was a beast and did not know anything, and furthermore, he was not Japanese, so they should not kill him but take him to the nanban-dera or nanban-ji (南蛮寺, literally the temple of the southern barbarians, how the Japanese referred to the Jesuit church). It is said that the reason why Akechi spoke in such a manner was a form of taking pity on him, i.e. giving a clear reason why not to kill him. Black people were not discriminated against in Japan at this time; they were even admired, for the Buddha was often portrayed as black in Japanese temples. However, perhaps Akechi also did not want to offend the Jesuits, needing all the friends he could get at this time of political turmoil.

There is no further written information about him, but there were many Africans in the service of Japanese and European employers, as well as independently employed men, in Japan at this time.

In 1585, the Ottomans were confident after their capture of Egypt; they decided Muslim control of the African coast would be beneficial to their Empire. The Ottomans sent the pirate Ali Bey to burn Portuguese outposts and incite the Africans to revolt. His ship sailed south from the Red Sea, intent on robbing and sacking the Portuguese possessions on the East African coast. It was commanded by Sir Ali Bey. He is variously called a corsair, a pirate, and a commander.

His first target was a merchant ship commanded by Roque de Brito Falcáo. It held a valuable cargo. Roque De Brito set anchor at the island of Lamu, where a Muslim ruler promised him shelter. In fact the ruler sold him out to the Turks, who overpowered the ship and took control of all the cargo, also hoping to ransom Roque de Brito. Many other Muslim rulers along the coast hoped that Ali Bey would bring more Ottoman support for their struggle against the Portuguese. His success in reducing the heavy Portuguese taxes and trade rules made him a hero.

In retaliation, Portuguese commanders, led by Mateus Mendes de Vasconcelhos, razed whole cities and massacred thousands.

Because of the strategic importance of Mombassa, the commander of the Goa fleet, Mateus Mendes de Vasconcelhos, brought his fleet from India to bombard the city. The Turks had set up a small fort at the entrance to the harbor, but they were quickly overpowered and fled. Two of their ships, laden with gold, slaves, amber, and other trade goods, were seized by de Vasconcelhos’ troops.

At the same time, the Zimba people from the Zambezi, attacked Mombassa from the mainland. They had a reputation as cannibals, and had been conducting a campaign of conquest up and down the entire coast. It is likely they were paid or encouraged by the Portuguese to attack the Muslim communities on the coast, as retaliation for their uprising. Mombassa was completely sacked.

Those who survived the massacre, including Ali Bey, fled to the Portuguese ships, begging for safe passage. He reportedly said’ “I am not frightened by my adverse fortune, for such are the vicissitudes of war; I prefer being a captive of the Christians than being eaten by the barbarian Zimbas.” de Vasconcelhos received Ali Bey into his protection.

The fort at Mombassa, Fort Jesus, was rebuilt and fortified after this campaign.


Drawings of Ships from Two Cultures

A comparison of folk art drawings of Portuguese ships, by Africans and Portuguese in the 15-1600s.

Rock painting of a Portuguese ship

A handful of rock art depictions of sailing vessels likely painted by South Africa’s indigenous San and Khoi peoples. Their art reflects the contact between them and European mariners after the end of the 15th century.

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Wall drawings of Portuguese Ships at Fort Jesus

A panel of Portuguese grafitti inside a room at Fort Jesus, depicting ships, chameleons, fish, and soldiers in armor, completed with ochre and carbon by Portuguese sentries.

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The Roanoke Colony, also known as the Lost Colony, was founded by Sir Walter Raleigh on Roanoke Island in what is today’s Dare County, North Carolina, United States. It was a late 16th-century attempt by Queen Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement.

The colonists disappeared during the Anglo-Spanish War, three years after the last shipment of supplies from England. Their disappearance gave rise to the nickname “The Lost Colony.” There has been no conclusive evidence as to what happened to the colonists.

Mimar Sinan, or “Sinan the Architect” (c. 1489/1490 – July 17, 1588) was the chief Ottoman architect (Turkish: mimar) and civil engineer for sultans Suleiman the Magnificent, Selim II, and Murad III. He is considered the greatest architect of the classical period of Ottoman architecture and has been compared to Michelangelo, his contemporary in the West. Sinan was responsible for the construction of more than 300 major structures and other more modest projects, such as schools. His apprentices would later design the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Stari Most in Mostar, and help design the Taj Mahal in the Mughal Empire.

The son of a stonemason, he received a technical education and became a military engineer. He rose rapidly through the ranks to become first an officer and finally a Janissary commander, with the honorific title of ağa. He refined his architectural and engineering skills while on campaign with the Janissaries, becoming expert at constructing fortifications of all kinds, as well as military infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges and aqueducts. At about the age of fifty, he was appointed as chief royal architect, applying the technical skills he had acquired in the army to the “creation of fine religious buildings” and civic structures of all kinds. He remained in this post for almost fifty years.

His masterpiece is the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, although his most famous work is the Suleiman Mosque in Istanbul. He headed an extensive governmental department and trained many assistants who, in turn, distinguished themselves, including Sedefkar Mehmed Agha, architect of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Mimar Sinan’s works are among the most influential buildings in history.

On April 13, 1592, the First Division of the Japanese invasion army, consisting of 7,000 men led by Konishi Yukinaga, left Tsushima in the morning, arriving at the Korean port city of Busan in the evening. Korean naval intelligence had detected the Japanese fleet, but Won Gyun, the Right Naval Commander of Gyeongsang, misidentified the fleet as trading vessels on a mission. A later report of the arrival of an additional 100 Japanese vessels raised his suspicions, but the general did nothing about it.

Sō Yoshitoshi landed alone on the Busan shore to ask the Koreans for a safe passage to China for the last time; the Koreans refused, and Sō Yoshitoshi laid siege to the city.

The Battle of Jenné was a military engagement between the armies of the Mali Empire and the Moroccan Pashalik of Timbuktu. The battle was effectively the end of the great Mali Empire, setting the stage for other smaller West African states to emerge.

Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, the Mali Empire had been in near-constant state of decline. All of its periphery vassal territories had become independent states with some even challenging Mali’s sovereignty, notable Songhai. In 1591, the Songhai Empire was defeated at the Battle of Tondibi by a Moroccan expeditionary force using gunpowder weapons such as the arquebus and cannon.

Attempts to Rebuild the Mali Empire

Songhai power was pushed back eastward across the Niger where they formed the smaller but still robust Dendi Kingdom. The ruler of Mali, Mansa Mahmud IV saw this as a chance to rebuild his moribund empire. The first step in his plans was to seize the valuable city-state of Jenné, which controlled trade along the inland Niger valley.

The defeat of Mahmud IV at Jenné has been attributed to several causes. Though there are few details, the ability of each army to rally its forces was a major contributor. In few other instances are the effects of imperial collapse in the face of a changing political and military environment so well demonstrated. The Mali which faced off against the pashalik forces and its native allies was not the grand military of Mansa Musa. In fact, it had reversed back to its pre-imperial structure just at the time when leaps forward in technology and organization were essential to the empire’s survival.

Unreliable Allies

Mali’s disunity, already in full throttle since the mid-16th century had finally caught up with it at Jenné. Hammad Amina, the chief of the Fulbe at Masina, had promised support in taking Jenné, but instead betrayed the mansa and went over to the Moroccan side. He advised the Moroccans on what to expect from the Mandinka-Bamana army and kept his own forces from joining the battle. The Fulbe are not mentioned as lending military aid to Jenné’s defenders, and their absence from the battlefield may have had a great effect on the final outcome.

Mali was also unable to draw on its provinces for men and support. Mahmud IV been able to draw on the support of his traditional division commanders (the Sanqara-Zuma and Farim-Soura), he would have also had access to the reluctant the governor or Kala-sha of Kala province. Kala-sha Bukar refused to join the mansa without the two commanders, remarking in private:
“Since his two greatest lieutenants are not accompanying him, the situation is hopeless.”


The Mali Empire, like its Songhai competitor, failed to modernize its military machine. Although previous mansas had tried to purchase firearms or firearm-equipped mercenaries from the Portuguese, they were unsuccessful. This meant the Mali Empire went to war with the same methods it had been using since the days of Sundjata, but without the unity or scale of its past armies. A Mali Empire armed with guns instead of lances and arrows might have stopped Jenné’s reinforcement or taken the city outright.

The gunpowder weapons of the pashalik forces were not decisive against the Mali Empire either, despite the latter’s reliance on traditional infantry and cavalry forces. The use of guns saved the pashalik reinforcements from annihilation (along with the timely intervention of the king of Jenné), but they didn’t have the technical strength to rout the mansa’s forces either. Mansa Mahmud IV and his army stayed encamped at the dune of Sanuna awaiting a second engagement.

The Kingdom of Dahomey was an African kingdom (located in the area of the present-day country of Benin) that existed from about 1600 until 1894. Dahomey developed on the Abomey Plateau amongst the Fon people in the early 17th century and became a regional power in the 18th century by conquering key cities on the Atlantic coast. The last Dahomey king, Behanzin, was defeated by the French in 1894, and the country was annexed into the French colonial empire.

The United East Indian Company (Dutch: Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie; VOC), known to the British as the Dutch East India Company, was originally established as a chartered company in 1602, when the Dutch government granted it a 21-year monopoly on Dutch spice trade. It is often considered to have been the first multinational corporation in the world and it was the first company to issue stock. The largest and most valuable corporation in history, it possessed quasi-governmental powers, including the ability to wage war, imprison and execute convicts, negotiate treaties, strike its own coins, and establish colonies.

Statistically, the VOC eclipsed all of its rivals in the Asia trade. Between 1602 and 1796 the VOC sent almost a million Europeans to work in the Asia trade on 4,785 ships, and netted for their efforts more than 2.5 million tons of Asian trade goods. By contrast, the rest of Europe combined sent only 882,412 people from 1500 to 1795, and the fleet of the English (later British) East India Company, the VOC’s nearest competitor, was a distant second to its total traffic with 2,690 ships and a mere one-fifth the tonnage of goods carried by the VOC. The VOC enjoyed huge profits from its spice monopoly through most of the 17th century.

Having been set up in 1602, to profit from the Malukan spice trade, in 1619 the VOC established a capital in the port city of Jayakarta, which they called Batavia (now Jakarta). Over the next two centuries the Company acquired additional ports as trading bases and safeguarded their interests by taking over surrounding territory. It remained an important trading concern and paid an 18% annual dividend for almost 200 years.

Luis Melo was a Japanese merchant-mariner of samurai background and multiple identities, whose name frequently appears in both Spanish and Japanese documents of the time. He dealt in scrap metal and gunpowder, and was likely a smuggler and spy. From 1605, he served as an important channel of communication between Japan’s new strongman, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the Philippine authorities. Over time, Melo became Ieyasu’s most important informant on the Philippines.

Until the suspension of the trade between Japan and the Philippines in 1623, he continued to make large profits trading with the Spanish. In the last years of the sixteenth century, Japanese merchants provided Manila with a steady stream of iron, steel, and copper to cast cannon, the ammunition to go with these weapons, and large quantities of ready-made gunpowder and its ingredients. They provided crucial military supplies for the Spanish garrison at Manila at a time when it saw itself first threatened and then actually blockaded by Dutch naval power in Asia.

Early Years

Melo’s earliest appearance in the Japanese record dates from 1605. He is mentioned as an interpreter for an envoy from the Manila Governor, meaning he was a man of enough importance to be sent on a diplomatic mission to Japan. The year before, the governor had requested that the number of ships allowed to sail from Japan for the Philippines be limited. This record is contained in the diary kept of the red-seal licenses given out by Ieyasu’s cabinet, and appears in the draft for an official answer on Ieyasu’s behalf to a letter from the Governor of Manila.

He was likely living at least part-time in the Philippines for a considerable period of time. In 1602 Melo was paid the sum of one hundred pesos for work on a church for the Japanese community, of which he must have been a prominent or even a leading member. As a pedigreed samurai, he would have automatically been a man of importance. The Manila community of overseas Japanese was mostly made up of poor expatriates who had come to the Philippines as slaves, common sailors, or persecuted Christians.

Smuggling Gunpowder into Manila

In 1618, Melo sent large shipments of essential supplies to Manila, for which he still owed import taxes in 1620. Some large cargo contained 4700 kilograms of saltpeter, used to make gunpowder, while shipments carried other, less dangerous merchandise. Although his expenses seem to have exceeded his income in 1918, he was gambling on a political situation that would allow him to make great profits and pay off his debts the following year.

In the same year, 1618, a contemporary Spanish source describing the situation in the bay of Manila.

“The [Dutch] enemy being in the mouth of the bay in the beginning of November, a Japanese ship came to Ilocos, which is a province of this island of Manila, and was told that the enemy controlled the bay which he would have to enter to come to this City. But he feared nothing as he had a license or patent of his Emperor, which the Dutch respect for its contents and for which they give free passage to all Japanese ships wherever they may be sailing on these seas. And so he continued on his way until he encountered the Dutch who stopped him for two or three days. The Dutch asked him if he was carrying any ammunition, which is what they do not allow. [The Japanese captain] denied he did, even though he was carrying much hidden underneath a great quantity of sacks filled with flour. With this the Dutch let him enter the bay, giving him an insolent message to hand to the Governor of Manila.”

Other records of the time describe a man named Nishi Luis, who brought a cargo of flour, iron, copper, saltpeter, gunpowder, pikes, iron wire and nails to Manila. It is believed this was Luis Melo, traveling under a different identity. His Luis Melo identity was a Christian, with access to the Philippine and Spanish communities. His Nishi Luis identity was fully Japanese, an apostate, allowing him to move freely in Japan.


But Nishi/Melo must have realized that he was taunting the gods: only four years into the future, trade and all other relations between Japan and the Philippines would be suspended for more than two centuries. Luis stopped going to Manila before the Spanish authorities found out that he was no longer a Christian, or had never been a real one.Though he rendered much service towards the survival of the Spanish colony against the very real Dutch enemy (as well as the mostly imaginary Chinese and Japanese enemies), he might very well have ended up in jail or on the gallows for spying.

After this, Nishi Luis moved to Sakai, and seems to have become a renowned tea master. For a year or two, his name still pops up here and there in the sources connected with the Manila trade, with Luis conducting his business by proxy. In February 1620, for example, a Portuguese resident of Nagasaki, Emanoel Rodrigues, arrived in Manila with a cargo of iron, carrying 600 kilograms of nails for the account of Nishi Luis. We also have a list, dated 28 March 1621, for a cargo consisting mostly of food brought to Manila by the same captain, which mentions 30 jars of biscuits for the account of Nishi Luis.

Between 1621 and 1646, there are few records of his life and business. He contributed money to build Honjuji, a temple in Sakai, to which he left all his possessions and where he was buried after he had died in 1646. A five-storied stone grave monument was erected over his grave, showing just how wealthy he was at his death.

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet, and the “Bard of Avon”. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were primarily comedies and histories, and these are regarded as some of the best work ever produced in these genres. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Sometime between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later known as the King’s Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, at age 49, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare’s private life survive, which has stimulated considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, and religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

The Shimabara Rebellion (島原の乱 Shimabara no Ran) was an uprising in southwestern Japan lasting from December 17, 1637, to April 15, 1638, during the Edo period. It largely involved peasants, most of them Catholic Christians. It was one of only a handful of instances of serious unrest during the relatively peaceful period of the Tokugawa shogunate’s rule.

In the wake of the Matsukura clan’s construction of a new castle at Shimabara, taxes were drastically raised, which provoked anger from local peasants and rōnin (samurai without masters). Religious persecution of the local Catholics exacerbated the discontent, which turned into open revolt in 1637. The Tokugawa Shogunate sent a force of over 125,000 troops to suppress the rebels and, after a lengthy siege against the rebels at Hara Castle, defeated them.

In the wake of the rebellion, the Catholic rebel leader Amakusa Shirō was beheaded and the prohibition of Christianity was strictly enforced. Japan’s national seclusion policy was tightened and official persecution of Christianity continued until the 1850s. Following the successful suppression of the rebellion, the daimyo of Shimabara, Matsukura Katsuie, was also beheaded, becoming the one and only daimyo to be beheaded during the Edo period.