Saturday, November 28, 2009

Enrique first Malay to sail round the world, not Azahar Mansor

In 1999, Perlis-born mariner Dato' Azahar Mansor went on record as the first Malaysian to sail round the world. Is that so? Actually, Azahar's feat was almost 500 years late!

Historical records point out that a Malay slave who had been forcibly baptised Henrich (Hispanicised as "Enrique") by his Portuguese captors was the first Malay to sail round the world. In 1511, Enrique was acquired by Ferdinand Magellan who had sailed to Malacca through the Cape of Good Hope. Needing an interpreter, Magellan bought Enrique and took him back to Europe. Thereafter, the Portugese explorer (he became a Spanish citizen later) took his Malay interpreter with him on his cirumnavigation round the world from 1519-1521.

Italian historian Antonio Pigafetta who recorded Magellan's travels stated that Enrique was mentioned by Magellan in his last will. Official documents of the La Casa de Contatacion (The Trading House) of Spain of the 16th century that trained sailors and navigators also recorded Enrique's trip with Magellan.

On March 16, 1521, Magellan arrived at Homonhon island in the Philippines. Gines de Mafra, a Spanish member of Magellan's crew wrote in his log that: "He [Magellan] told his men he was in the land he desired, and sent a man named Heredia, who was the ship's clerk, ashore with an Indian they had taken, so he said, because he was known to speak Malay, the language spoken in the Malay archipelago."

On April 27, 1521, Magellan sailed into Mactan and a battle with the natives resulted in his death and many of his crew. In his will, Magellan had provided that upon his death, Enrique shall be freed. The remaining masters of the fleet refused to release Enrique, but on May 1, 1521, he escaped. In the eyes of Spanish historians, Enrique is recognised as the first Malay to sail round the world.


Vicente Calibo de Jesus said...

The idea Magellan's slave, Enrique, had rounded the globe has so beguiled many writers and historians.

One notion is he was Cebuano so when the fleet reached Cebu he became first to circumnavigate.

The other hypothesis is he was Malay, from Malacca or Sumatra or even the Moluccas, and after May 1, 1521 he somehow was able to hop unto a sailing ship and reached his hometown ahead of Victoria, the nao of Magellan’s Armada that made it to Seville on Sept. 6, 1522.

The slave’s name is "Henrich" in Antonio Pigafetta's account (Page 89, R.A. Skelton English edition of the French Nancy-Libri-Phillipps-Beinecke-Yale codex, click,M1).

"Henrique" is most likely his baptismal name; it's Portuguese spelling.

Pigafetta states Henrich was Sumatran. The episode is in Theodore J. Cachey's edition of Pigafetta, Page 34,,M1.

Magellan, in his Last Will and Testament signed August 24, 1519 at Seville, states Enrique was a native of Malacca, click, go to 4th paragraph on Page 321.

Carlos Quirino claimed Enrique could not have been understood if he spoke Malay at Mazaua. Thus, he must have spoken Cebuano. Therefore he was born at Cebu: Therefore, when he reached Cebu, he had circumnavigated the globe.

There are several flaws here. Malay was spoken widely in Southeast Asia. In Language and Language-in-Education Planning in the Pacific Basin by Robert B. Kaplan, Richard B. Baldauf, Ricard B. Baldauf Jr., the authors who are linguistics experts state “Malay was lingua franca of the region for perhaps a thousand years…”, click

Gines de Mafra was explicit in saying the slave was pressed into service "because he was known to speak Malay, the language common to those parts." Click

What happened to Henrich after the Cebu massacre?

Quirino gives a date of Enrique's death as 1563. Enrique got married and raised a family. Enrique died in his seventies just before colonizer Legazpi arrived in Cebu. All these are fiction.

What really happened to Enrique after May 1? Here are what contemporary accounts say:

1. In the extant French manuscript called Nancy-Libri-Beinecke-Yale codex, Antonio Pigafetta writes that massacre survivor João Serrão, who was pleading with his comrades to save him from the Cebuanos, said all who went to the banquet were massacred except Henrique. Click,M1.

2. Martin Fernandez de Navarette, from official records of the Casa de Contratación de Las Indias, lists “Henrique, de Malaca” as one of 27 men killed in the May 1 massacre. Go to Page 66 of

3. Sebastian de Puerta, survivor of Loaisa expedition (1523-1535), narrated February 1528 to men of the Saavedra expedition (1527-1529) that “eight of Magellan’s men survived the massacre and had been sold as slaves to Chinese merchants in exchange for a fixed quantity of iron or copper.” See;cc=philamer;q1=Sebastian%20de%20Puerta;rgn=full%20text;idno=adn6882.0001.001;didno=adn6882.0001.001;view=image;seq=207;page=root;size=s;frm=frameset

There's no document to support the notion he had gone back to either Sumatra or Malacca from Cebu. To say he went back to either is pure fabrication.



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