Category Archives: England

Antarctic Cuisine: Aerovodka and Gristle

From Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine, by Jason C. Anthony (U. Nebraska Press, 2012), pp. 146-148:

One of the exchange scientists who spent a year on a Soviet base [in Antarctica] was glaciologist Charles Swithinbank. At Novolazarevskaya with the 1963–65 Ninth Soviet Antarctic Expedition, he lived a very different life than he used to in England. As Swithinbank relates in Vodka on Ice, he learned while sailing south on a Soviet ship that his diet would be impoverished in both quality and variety. “Apart from feast days,” he wrote bluntly, “the food was not good.” Cabbage soup (borscht or shchi, depending on the type of cabbage), ragout, and compote (“an insipid rust-colored liquid with a faint taste of boiled apples”) became distressingly familiar. The quality of the beef was quite poor, all gristle and bone. Soviet cattle, he learned, fed on sparse grass.

Although the meat was poor, the butter was excellent. So was the black bread. And those feast days really were exceptional. Swithinbank sobered up after a New Year’s celebration full of black and red caviar, pickled herring, pickled mushrooms, sausage, crabmeat, and more. A May Day feast included roast chicken, crab salad, ham, salmon, smoked salmon and sturgeon caviar, apples, oranges, champagne, brandy, and orange juice stoked with airplane de-icing fluid.

Toasts drunk with de-icing fluid, called “aerovodka” by the Russians, were not restricted to holidays. At Molodezhnaya base, where Swithinbank visited en route to Novolazarevskaya, he noted that there was a more frequent aviator’s tradition: “On landing back at base after a long flight, it was the duty of the navigator to drain a litre of fluid from the aircraft’s de-icing system. Unlike some de-icing fluids, this was pure alcohol (ethanol). Once indoors, it was served to the aircrew and passengers.” One observer of a similar U.S. Antartic Program habit—drinking a rocket fuel known as JATO (jet-fuel assisted take-off)—equated the practice to that of a “warrior culture drinking blood.”

At Novolazarevskaya, the dining room was the community social center. One long table fit them all. Here he spent his year of good company, good science, and terrible food. The cook, Ivan Miximovish Sharikov, had spent over thirteen years in the polar regions as a weather observer. “The oldest, tallest, baldest, and humblest man” on staff, Ivan took on the cook’s role at Novolazerevskaya when no weather job was available. For him, as for all Soviet Antarctic staff, the pay was irresistible, since he earned five times what he might make in Russia. Ivan was not much of a cook, though to be fair he had little to work with—much of the better meat left by the previous year’s crew had gone to rot. Ivan was stuck making borcht, shchi, fish soup with bones, boiled potatoes, and lots of ragout, to Swithinbank’s dismay. Ivan’s ragout, he wrote, consisted “of stewed gristle with chips of bone, generally served with macaroni. Aside from the gristle, far, and bone, the amount of lean meat remaining could be held on a teaspoon.”

Ivan at least made a reliable porridge to swallow with the bread and butter each morning. Occasional treats included caviar, sauerkraut, and cheese. Cucumbers and tomatoes grew in window boxes, and ice cream was made from milk powder and freshly drifted snow. Each Russian expedition member also received a monthly five-hundred-gram chocolate ration but married men saved it for their wives, whom they had left behind for a very long time.

After an end-of-year inventory revealed more than one hundred missing bottles of vodka, champagne, and eau de cologne from Novolazarevskaya’s liquor stock, Ivan the cook confessed. He had a habit of taking walks alone after dinner, but Swithinbank “had assumed that it was to get a breath of fresh air as an antidote to the heat of the kitchen.” The eau de cologne was, for some Russians, an “esteemed substitute” when they ran out of vodka.

When Swithinbank returned to England, he had trouble adjusting back to his old diet. Meat, fish, and cheese made him ill. He eventually found a doctor with a good memory of World War II who diagnosed him with prisoner-of-war syndrome. After a year of high-carb meals garnished with stringy meat, Swithinbank’s body could no longer absorb high-protein English food. “The solution,” he wrote, “was simply to wean me slowly from the Russian diet.”

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Filed under England, food, Russia, science, travel, U.K., USSR

Cavaliers vs. Roundheads in the American Colonies

From Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830, by John H. Elliott (Yale U. Press, 2006), Kindle Loc. 2651-71:

The English Civil War and the king’s execution in 1649 raised, not only for Massachusetts but for all the colonies, major questions about the exact nature of their relationship with the mother country. Not only did the Civil War sharply reduce the inflow of capital and immigrants to the colonies, but it also created fundamental problems of allegiance, and posed questions about the exact location of imperial authority that would hover over the Anglo-American relationship until the coming of independence. No comparable challenge would confront the Spanish empire in America until the Napoleonic invasion brought about the collapse of royal authority in Spain in 1808. The transition from Habsburgs to Bourbons in 1700, which brought conflict to the peninsula, provoked only a few passing tremors in the American viceroyalties.

For the colonies, as for the British Isles themselves, the outbreak of the Civil War brought divided loyalties. Virginia remained faithful to the king and the Anglican establishment; Maryland briefly overthrew its government in favour of parliament, and descended between 1645 and 1647 into a period of turbulence graphically known as `the plundering time'; and many New England settlers went home in the 1640s to help establish the New Jerusalem in the mother country and join the parliamentary cause. But the absorption of the English in their own affairs during the 1640s gave the colonies even more scope than they had previously enjoyed to go their own way. Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts made the most of the opportunity to press on with the creation of new settlements and to form a Confederation of the United Colonies of New England for mutual defence. The colonies could not, however, count on being indefinitely left to their own devices. As early as 1643 the Long Parliament set up a committee under the chairmanship of the Earl of Warwick to keep an oversight over colonial affairs.

This committee, although interventionist in the West Indies in response to the activities of the royalists, and supportive of Roger Williams’s attempts to secure an independent charter for Rhode Island, was generally respectful of legitimate authority in the colonies. But its activities raised troubling questions about whether the ultimate power in colonial affairs lay with king or parliament. As early as 1621 Sir George Calvert had claimed that the king’s American possessions were his by right and were therefore not subject to the laws of parliament. This question of the ultimate location of authority became acute after the execution of the king, since several of the colonies – Virginia, Maryland, Antigua, Barbados and Bermuda – proclaimed Charles II as the new monarch on his father’s death. Parliament responded to these unwelcome colonial assertions of loyalty to the Stuarts by passing in 1650 an Act declaring that the colonies, having been `planted at the Cost, and settled by the People, and by Authority of this Nation’, were subject to the laws of the nation in parliament.

When this Act was followed in the succeeding year by the Navigation Act, it must have seemed to the colonies that the Commonwealth represented at least as grave a threat as monarchy to their cherished rights. Parliament’s bark, however, proved fiercer than its bite, and Cromwell turned out to be reluctant to interfere in colonial politics. The colonies therefore reached the Restoration of 1660 relatively unscathed. If anything, they emerged with enhanced confidence in their ability to manage their own affairs as a result of the uncertainties of the Interregnum and the impact of those uncertainties on the authority of royal and proprietary governors.

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Filed under anglosphere, Britain, democracy, England, migration, North America, religion, U.S.

Trial by Jury in the American Colonies

From Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830, by John H. Elliott (Yale U. Press, 2006), Kindle Loc. 2595-2608:

Trial by jury as a fundamental right of Englishmen had been extended to Virginia by the charter of 1606, but Tudor and early Stuart England had seen a trend to limit the use of juries in favour of more summary forms of justice. The resulting uncertainty in the mother country over the use of juries crossed the Atlantic with the settlers. In the Chesapeake colonies, with their thinly scattered population, it was difficult and expensive to assemble a jury, and for much of the seventeenth century juries tended to be dispensed with, even in civil cases. The magistrates of Puritan New England, whose reverence for biblical law exceeded their reverence for the English common law, showed a strong preference for summary justice – a preference not, however, shared by Rhode Island, whose settlers had moved there from the Bay colony in the hope of escaping from the rigours of magisterial justice, and who not unnaturally possessed a special fondness for juries. In the second half of the century, however, as freemen became increasingly resentful of magisterial domination, and as fears grew about threats to liberty under the later Stuarts, juries became an increasingly established feature of public life throughout the New England colonies, to the point that civil juries came to be used far more extensively than they were in England itself.

Jury service, the holding of local office, voting for, and membership in, an assembly – all this exposed settlers in British America to a considerably wider range of opportunities in the management of their affairs than were available for the creole population of Spanish America. Spaniards found such active popular participation in matters of government and justice both alarming and odd, to judge from the reactions of one of them whose ship ran aground on Bermuda in 1639. `As in England,’ he noted, `authority here is placed in the hands of the humblest and lowest in the Republic, and not entrusted to educated persons having an aptitude for office … The Judges and Governor appoint twelve persons of the Republic and instruct them to consider all matters and documents in the causes that have been heard in their presence, and to give their verdict. These twelve persons then leave the Sessions house and are conducted by one of the other officials to the church and are there left locked in with orders not to be let out until they have decided the cases.’

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Filed under Britain, democracy, England, migration, North America, U.S.

Early ‘Plantations': Settlers, Not Crops

From Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830, by John H. Elliott (Yale U. Press, 2006), Kindle Loc. 292-308:

Effectively, Cortes‘s company was composed of a cross-section of the residents of Cuba, which was deprived of nearly a third of its Spanish population when the expedition set sail. It was therefore well acclimatized to New World conditions, unlike Newport‘s party, which, within six months of arrival, had lost almost half its number to disease.

The fact that the company on board Newport’s ships were styled `planters’ was a clear indication of the purpose of the voyage. For the English in the age of the Tudors and Stuarts, `plantation’ – meaning a planting of people – was synonymous with ‘colony’. This was standard usage in Tudor Ireland, where `colonies’ or `plantations’ were the words employed to designate settlements of English in areas not previously subject to English governmental control. Both words evoked the original coloniae of the Romans – simultaneously farms or landed estates, and bodies of emigrants, particularly veterans, who had left home to `plant’, or settle and cultivate (colere), lands elsewhere. These people were known as `planters’ rather than `colonists’, a term that does not seem to have come into use before the eighteenth century. In 1630, when the British had established a number of New World settlements, an anonymous author would write: `by a colony we mean a society of men drawn out of one state or people, and transplanted into another country.’

The Spanish equivalent of `planter’ was poblador. In 1498, when Luis Roldan rebelled against the government of the Columbus brothers on Hispaniola, he rejected the name of colonos for himself and his fellow settlers of the island, and demanded that they should be known as vecinos or householders, with all the rights accruing to vecinos under Castilian law. A colon was, in the first instance, a labourer who worked land for which he paid rent, and Roldan would have none of this. Subsequent usage upheld his stand. During the period of Habsburg rule Spain’s American territories, unlike those of the English, were not called `colonies’. They were kingdoms in the possession of the Crown of Castile, and they were inhabited, not by colonos, but by conquerors (conquistadores) and their descendants, and by pobladores, or settlers, the name given to all later arrivals.

The English, by contrast, were always `planters’, not `conquerors’. The discrepancy between English and Spanish usage would at first sight suggest fundamentally different approaches to overseas settlement. Sir Thomas Gates and his fellow promoters of the Virginia Company had asked the crown to grant a licence, to make habitation plantation and to deduce a Colonic of sundry of our people’ in `that part of America commonly called Virginia …’ There was no mention here of conquest, whereas the agreement between the Castilian crown and Diego Velazquez in 1518 authorized him to `go to discover and conquer Yucatan and Cozumel’. But the idea of conquest was never far away from the promoters of English colonization in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

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Filed under Caribbean, England, labor, language, Latin America, migration, military, Spain, Virginia

Medieval English and Spanish Colonial Expansion

From Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830, by John H. Elliott (Yale U. Press, 2006), Kindle Loc. 437-457:

Medieval England pursued a policy of aggressive expansion into the non-English areas of the British Isles, warring with its Welsh, Scottish and Irish neighbours and establishing communities of English settlers who would advance English interests and promote English values on alien Celtic soil. The English, therefore, were no strangers to colonization, combining it with attempts at conquest which brought mixed results. Failure against Scotland was balanced by eventual success in Wales, which was formally incorporated in 1536 into the Crown of England, itself now held by a Welsh dynasty. Across the sea the English struggled over the centuries with only limited success to subjugate Gaelic Ireland and `plant’ it with settlers from England. Many of the lands seized by the Normans in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were recovered by the Irish during the fourteenth and fifteenth; and although in 1540 Henry VIII elevated Ireland to the status of a kingdom, English authority remained precarious or non-existent beyond the densely populated and rich agricultural area of the Pale. With the conversion of Henry’s England to Protestantism the effective assertion of this authority over a resolutely Catholic Ireland acquired a new urgency in English eyes. The reign of Elizabeth was to see an intensified planting of new colonies on Irish soil, and, in due course, a new war of conquest. The process of the settlement and subjugation of Ireland by the England of Elizabeth, pursued over several decades, absorbed national energies and resources that might otherwise have been directed more intensively, and at an earlier stage, to the founding of settlements on the other side of the Atlantic.

In medieval Spain, the land of the Reconquista, the pattern of combined conquest and colonization was equally well established. The Reconquista was a prolonged struggle over many centuries to free the soil of the Iberian peninsula from Moorish domination. At once a military and a religious enterprise, it was a war for booty, land and vassals, and a crusade to recover for the Christians the vast areas of territory that had been lost to Islam. But it also involved a massive migration of people, as the crown allocated large tracts of land to individual nobles, to the military-religious orders engaged in the process of reconquest, and to city councils, which were given jurisdiction over large hinterlands. Attracted by the new opportunities, artisans and peasants moved southwards in large numbers from northern and central Castile to fill the empty spaces. In Spain, as in the British Isles, the process of conquest and settlement helped to establish forms of behaviour, and create habits of mind, easily transportable to distant parts of the world in the dawning age of European overseas expansion.

The conquest and settlement of Al-Andalus and Ireland were still far from complete when fourteenth-century Europeans embarked on the exploration of the hitherto unexplored waters and islands of the African and eastern Atlantic. Here the Portuguese were the pioneers. It was the combined desire of Portuguese merchants for new markets and of nobles for new estates and vassals that provided the impetus for the first sustained drive for overseas empire in the history of Early Modern Europe. Where the Portuguese pointed the way, others followed. The kings of Castile, in particular, could not afford to let their Portuguese cousins steal a march on them. The Castilian conquest and occupation of the Canary Islands between 1478 and 1493 constituted a direct response by the Crown of Castile to the challenge posed by the spectacular expansion of Portuguese power and wealth.

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“New Spain’s Century of Depression”

From Imperial Spain: 1469-1716, by J. H. Elliott (Penguin, 2002), 2nd ed., Kindle Loc. 4988-5028:

The imperialism of Philip II’s reign had been based on a Spanish-Atlantic economy, in that it was financed out of the resources of America and of a Castile which itself received regular injections of silver from the silver-mines of the New World. During the last decade of the sixteenth century American silver was still reaching Spain in very large quantities, and the port of Seville had an undeniable air of prosperity; but the comforting appearances masked the beginning of a radical change in the structure of the entire Spanish-Atlantic system.

This change was, in part, a direct result of Spain’s war with the Protestant powers of the north. In the first two decades after the outbreak of the Netherlands revolt, the Dutch had continued to trade with the Iberian peninsula. Spain was dependent on northern and eastern Europe for its supplies of grain, timber, and naval stores, a large proportion of which were transported in Dutch vessels. Irked by Spain’s continuing dependence on the Dutch, and anxious to strike a blow at the Dutch economy, Philip II placed an embargo on Dutch ships in Spanish and Portuguese ports in 1585, and again in 1595. The Dutch appreciated as well as Philip II that any interference with their peninsular trade threatened them with disaster. They needed Spanish silver and colonial produce, just as they also needed the salt of Setúbal for their herring industry. Faced with embargoes on their peninsular trade, they therefore reacted in the only possible way, by going direct to the producing areas for the goods they needed – to the Caribbean and Spanish America. From 1594 they were making regular voyages to the Caribbean; in 1599 they seized the salt island of Araya. This intrusion of the Dutch into the Caribbean disrupted the pearl fisheries of Santa Margarita and dislocated the system of maritime communications between Spain’s colonial possessions. For the first time, Spain found itself heavily on the defensive in the western hemisphere, its overseas monopoly threatened by increasingly audacious Dutch and English attacks.

The presence of northern interlopers in the American seas was a serious danger to the Spanish commercial system; but potentially even more serious was the simultaneous transformation in the character of the American economy. During the 1590s the boom conditions of the preceding decades came to an end. The principal reason for the change of economic climate is to be found in a demographic catastrophe. While the white and the mixed population of the New World had continued to grow, the Indian population of Mexico, scourged by terrible epidemics in 1545–6 and again in 1576–9, had shrunk from some 11,000,000 at the time of the conquest in 1519 to little more than 2,000,000 by the end of the century; and it is probable that a similar fate overtook the native population of Peru. The labour force on which the settlers depended was therefore dramatically reduced. In the absence of any significant technological advance, a contracting labour force meant a contracting economy. The great building projects were abruptly halted; it became increasingly difficult to find labour for the mines, especially as the negroes imported to replace the Indians proved to be vulnerable to the same diseases as those which had wiped out the native population; and the problem of feeding the cities could only be met by a drastic agrarian reorganization, which entailed the creation of vast latifundios where Indian labour could be more effectively exploited than in the dwindling Indian villages.

The century that followed the great Indian epidemic of 1576–9 has been called ‘New Spain’s century of depression’ – a century of economic contraction, during the course of which the New World closed in on itself. During this century it had less to offer Europe: less silver, as it became increasingly expensive to work the mines, and fewer opportunities for the emigrants – the 800 or more men and women who were still arriving in the 1590s in each flota from Seville. At the same time, it also came to require less of Europe – or at least of Spain. European luxury products found themselves competing with the products of the Far East carried to America in the Manila galleon. But much more serious from the point of view of Spain was the establishment in its American possessions of an economy dangerously similar to its own. Mexico had developed a coarse cloth industry, and Peru was now producing grain, wine, and oil. These were exactly the products which had bulked so large in the cargoes from Seville during the preceding decades. In fact, the staple Spanish exports to America were ceasing to be indispensable to the settlers, and in 1597 Spanish merchants found it impossible to dispose of all their goods: the American market, the source of Andalusia’s prosperity, was for the first time overstocked.

From the 1590s, therefore, the economies of Spain and of its American possessions began to move apart, while Dutch and English interlopers were squeezing themselves into a widening gap. It was true that Seville still retained its official monopoly of New World trade, and that Sevillan commerce with America reached an all-time record in 1608, to be followed by a further twelve years in which trade figures, while fluctuating, remained at a high level. But, as an index to national prosperity, the figures are deprived of much of their significance by the fact that the cargoes were increasingly of foreign provenance. The goods which Spain produced were not wanted by America; and the goods that America wanted were not produced by Spain.

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Spanish Fears of Religious Encirclement, 1568–69

From Imperial Spain: 1469-1716, by J. H. Elliott (Penguin, 2002), 2nd ed., Kindle Loc. 4015-4044:

In the Netherlands, in France, the forces of international Protestantism were on the march. That it was an international conspiracy, Philip had no doubt, for each passing year showed more conclusively that the Dutch rebels were not alone. Behind them were the Huguenots, and the Breton seamen who were now waging war on Spanish shipping in the gulf of Gascony, and who were to cut Spain’s maritime communications with Flanders in the winter of 1568–9. Behind them, too, were English privateers like Sir John Hawkins, whose raid into the Spanish Caribbean in 1568 brought Spain and England a step nearer to open war.

Already by 1568 it was clear that the struggle was spreading – spreading in particular to the sea, where the Protestants were at their strongest and where Spain was still weak. The war between Spain and international Protestantism was essentially a naval war, fought in the Bay of Biscay, the English Channel, and even, increasingly, in the hitherto exclusive preserve of the Spanish Atlantic. Spain’s American possessions could no longer be regarded as safe. But for that matter it was questionable whether any part of the King’s dominions was now immune from attack. Indeed, Spain itself was threatened, both by pirate attacks on its coasts, and by armed incursions across its frontier with France.

The acute sensitivity of Philip to the dangers from heresy is suggested by his behaviour in the Principality of Catalonia. The Principality was undoubtedly one of the weaker sections of the Spanish bastions, both because of its exposed position on the French frontier, and because the extent of its privileges made it little amenable to royal control. It was well known that there were Huguenots among the bandit gangs that were constantly passing to and fro across the border, and there was every reason to suspect that heresy had found converts among that steady stream of Frenchmen which had for some years been crossing the Pyrenees into Catalonia in search of work. If heresy were to take root in Catalonia, the position would be extremely grave, since the Principality had all the makings of a second Netherlands: a strong tradition of independence, its own laws and privileges, and a hatred of Castile that was aćcentuated by linguistic and cultural differences. Consequently, as the pressure mounted against the Catalan frontier, the King’s fears grew. The viceroys were instructed to show the greatest vigilance in guarding the frontier, and in 1568 the situation appeared so alarming that severe new measures were decreed: a fresh prohibition on natives of the Crown of Aragon studying abroad; a harsher censorship in Catalonia; and a ban on all teaching by Frenchmen in Catalan schools. Then, in 1569, the Catalans refused to pay the new tax known as the excusado, which had just been authorized by Pius V. Convinced by their refusal that they were on the verge of going over to Protestantism, Philip ordered the Inquisition and the Viceroy to take action, and had the Diputats and a number of nobles arrested.

The King’s vigorous action against the Catalan authorities is an indication of his deep anxiety about the course of events. As he himself later realized, the action was unwarranted; there was no breath of heresy among the Catalan governing class. But the situation seemed sufficiently dangerous to make action essential. The Protestant peril was growing hourly, and it was growing at a moment when the danger from Islam seemed also to be mounting to a climax. For Catalonia was not the only region of Spain where revolt and heresy threatened. On Christmas night of that terrible year 1568 – the year of the danger in Catalonia, of the cutting of the sea-route through the Bay of Biscay, and of the arrest and death of Philip’s son and heir, Don Carlos, a band of Morisco outlaws lead by a certain Farax Abenfarax broke into the city of Granada, bringing with them the news that the Alpujarras had risen in revolt. Although the rebels failed to seize the city, their incursion signalized the outbreak of rebellion throughout the kingdom of Granada. Spain, which had surrounded itself with such strong defences against the advance of Protestantism, now found itself endangered from within; and the threat came not, as was expected, from the Protestants, but from its old enemies, the Moors.

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Sultanate of Ternate as a Colony

From The Spice Islands Voyage: The Quest for Alfred Wallace, the Man Who Shared Darwin’s Discovery of Evolution, by Tim Severin (Carroll & Graf, 1997), pp. 183-185:

The volcanic island of Ternate, where Wallace first stepped ashore in January 1858, was at that time nominally ruled by an eccentric one-eyed Sultan. An octogenarian, he liked to be addressed by his full title of Tadjoel Moelki Amiroedin Iskandar Kaulaini Sjah Peotra Mohamad Djin. He was the twenty-third Sultan, and traced his authority back to the ruler of Ternate who had been on the throne when the English adventurer Francis Drake came there in 1579 looking for the fabled Spice Islands. Drake had found what he was seeking, because Ternate and the small islands to the south were then the main source of cloves, a spice which cost more than its weight in gold when brought to Europe. The Sultan of Ternate – with his equally autocratic neighbour the Sultan of Tidore, who ruled another little volcano island a mile away – controlled virtually the entire world’s supply of the spice, and a good proportion of the nutmeg and mace as well, because these spices happened to grow in domains which paid them tribute. In fact the suzerainty of Ternate and Tidore extended, in theory at least, as far as Waigeo, where nearly three centuries later Wallace found the natives still obliged to send a tribute of feathers from Birds of Paradise to decorate the turbans of the Sultans and their clusters of courtiers.

In Drake’s day the Sultan of Ternate had been a splendidly barbaric figure, wearing a cloth-of-gold skirt, thick gold rings braided into his hair, a heavy gold chain around his neck, and his fingers adorned with a glittering array of diamonds, rubies and emeralds. By the time Wallace arrived, the effective power of the Sultan had been eroded by more than two centuries of bullying by larger nations who coveted the spice trade. In the mid-nineteenth century Sultan Mohamad Djin was frail and very forgetful, living on a Dutch pension as a doddering semi-recluse who spent his days in his shabby and dusty palace surrounded by his wives, a brood of 125 children and grandchildren, the princes of the blood and their families, courtiers, servants and slaves. Most of them were poverty-stricken. A memory of the glamour remained, however. The Sultan himself would emerge from his palace, the kedaton, for state occasions or to call on the Dutch authorities in the town. These appearances were like mannequins come to life from a museum, and greatly enjoyed by the Sultan’s citizens who continued to ascribe semi-divine powers to their overlord. The Sultan and his court would sally forth dressed in a magpie collection of costumes which had been acquired piecemeal from earlier colonial contacts, or had been copied and recopied over the intervening centuries by local tailors. They donned Portuguese doublets of velvet, Spanish silk jackets, embroidered waistcoats and blouses, parti-coloured leggings and Dutch broadcloth coats. Their exotic headgear and weapons ranged from Spanish morions and halberds to swashbuckling velvet hats with drooping plumes and antique rapiers set with jewels. The pièce de résistance was the state carriage, which had been given to an earlier Sultan by the Dutch and was a period piece. It was so badly in need of repair that, to climb aboard it, the elderly Sultan had to mount a portable ladder. Safely ensconced, he was then pulled forward in his rickety conveyance by 16 palace servants harnessed instead of horses, who towed him slowly along to the Dutch Residency a few hundred metres distant.

The real power in Ternate when Wallace arrived was not even the Dutch Resident but the chief merchant, Mr Duivenboden. He was of Dutch family but born in Ternate, and had been educated in England. Locally known as the ‘King of Ternate’, he was extremely rich, owned half the town as well as more than 100 slaves, and operated a large fleet of trading ships. His authority with the Sultan and the local rajahs was considerable, and he was very good to Wallace who, with his help, was able to rent a run-down house on the outskirts of the town and fix it up well enough to serve as his base of operations. He kept this house for three years, returning there regularly from his excursions to the outer islands. Back in his Ternate house, he would prepare and pack his specimens for shipment to Europe, write letters to his family and to friends like Bates, and begin preparations for the next sortie into the lesser-known fringes of the Moluccas.

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Wordcatcher Tales: Jerkinhead, Shreadhead

Koko Head Avenue Tudoresque, Honolulu
I’ve finally found a couple of wonderful names for those squashed ends on gable roofs that can be found on some of the Honolulu Tudor–French Norman Cottages I’ve been documenting for the WikiProject National Register of Historic Places.
Tudor-revival cottage on Kiele Avenue at Coconut Avenue
The most fetchingly archaic-sounding terms are jerkinheads or shreadheads. More prosaic (but “hipper”) names for them are clipped gables, hipped gables, half-hips or barn-hips.
Tudor-revival cottages, Waikiki
As the Wikipedia hip roof article notes, a half-hip is a hip roof on top of a gable roof, while a gablet roof is a gable on top of a hip roof, like the roof type known as irimoya in Japanese.
Side view, Hawaii Shingon Mission, Honolulu
Irimoya roofs can be seen on a lot of the newer homes built in upper Manoa Valley, whose residents are nowadays far more likely to be of East Asian than European descent.
Home with East Asian design motifs, incl. irimoya roof

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Asian Roles in New Spain

My favorite article in the latest issue of Journal of World History (on Project MUSE) is by Edward R. Slack Jr. on “The Chinos in New Spain: A Corrective Lens for a Distorted Image.” Here are a few excerpts (footnotes and references omitted).

Spanish galleons transported Asian goods and travelers from Manila to colonial Mexico primarily through the port of Acapulco. During the two and a half centuries of contact between the Philippines and the Viceroyalty of New Spain, a minimum of 40,000 to 60,000 Asian immigrants would set foot in the “City of Kings,” while a figure double that amount (100,000) would be within the bounds of probability. From Acapulco they would gradually disperse to the far corners of the viceroyalty, from Loreto in Baja California to Mérida in Yucatan…. The majority, however, would eventually settle in two distinct zones: on the west coast in the districts of Guerrero, Jalisco, and Michoacán, and in the large, ethnically diverse municipalities of Mexico City and Puebla in the central valleys and the eastern port of Veracruz. The two zones were transversed by the most heavily traveled arteries that connected Acapulco to Mexico City (known colloquially as el camino de China) in the west; Veracruz with Puebla and Mexico City in the east; and several arterials linking the capital with Puerto Vallarta in the west and Guanajuato in the northwest.

For the most part, the chinos disembarked at Acapulco as sailors, slaves, and servants. Over the longue durée of Mexican-Asian cultural exchange, the largest contingent of Asians arrived as sailors on the galleons and smaller vessels (capitanas, pataches, and almirantes) that annually plied the long and perilous return voyage from Manila. The seamen were primarily Filipinos, Chinese mestizos (known in Manila as mestizos de Sangley), or ethnic Chinese from the fortified port of Cavite near Manila that served as the primary shipyard for Spaniards in the archipelago. In 1565, the first chino sailors from the islands of Cebu and Bohol arrived in Acapulco aboard Friar Andrés de Urdaneta’s trailblazing galleon, the San Pedro. During the late sixteenth century Iberian sailors constituted the majority of crewmen, but by the early 1600s Asians had surpassed them, accounting for 60–80 percent of the mariners from that time forward. A historical snapshot of galleon seafarers in the mid eighteenth century comes from a crew manifest of La Santissima Trinidad. In 1760, this vessel was manned by 370 sailors, consisting of 30 officers (Europeans or Mexican criollos), 40 artillerymen (27 chinos), 120 sailors (109 chinos), 100 “Spanish” cabin boys (96 chinos), and 80 “plain” cabin boys (78 chinos). In sum, 84 percent (310) of the crew were born and raised in Spain’s Asian colony, with 68 percent (250) hailing from the port of Cavite alone….

Along the Pacific coast, chino sojourners tended to congregate in the cities and pueblos of Acapulco, Coyuca, San Miguel, Zacatula, Tex pan, Zihuatenejo, Atoya, Navidad, and Colima. With the arrival of more ships from Manila, the number of sailors who either had no desire to return to the Philippines or were brought over as slaves married local Indian and mixed-race women increased. Consequently, a sizable population of chinos and their descendants made these cities and pueblos a popular destination for fellow Asians. Both freemen and slaves farmed rice (brought from the Philippines), corn, and cotton; tended cacao and coconut palm trees; fished in the seas and rivers; and transported people and goods to various ports along the coastline. Those who followed the royal highways to towns farther inland worked as muleteers or in the silver mines, haciendas, obrajes (textile workshops), or sugar mills….

Slaves and servants constituted the second largest group of Asian immigrants during the colonial era. Manila quickly became an important entrepôt for the commerce in human flesh during the first century of Spanish rule. The greater part were transported by Portuguese vessels from colonies and trading ports in Africa, India, the Malay peninsula, Japan, and China, although Chinese junks and Malay prahus also shipped large quantities to Manila. Non-Filipino slaves that fetched the highest price were from Timor, Ternate, Makassar, Burma, Ceylon, and India, because “the men are industrious and obliging, and many are good musicians; the women excellent seamstresses, cooks, and preparers of conserves, and are neat and clean in service.”…

The incorporation of Asian immigrants into the armed forces of New Spain represents another fascinating fragment of the chino mosaic from the colonial era. Similar to restrictions placed on other castas in Mexico, there were numerous prohibitions against Asians carrying weapons or riding horses….

The legion of similar antiweapons ordnances from the 1550s onward notwithstanding, from at least the 1590s free chinos not only were granted permission to carry weapons, but gradually incorporated into both the salaried companies of Españoles as well as local militias, especially those cities and towns along the Pacific coast. In several documents from the years 1591 and 1597, an “Indio Chino” from the silver mining town of Zultepec named Juan Alonzo, who earned his livelihood from buying and selling mules, was granted a license to ride a horse with a saddle and bridle and to carry a sword. A key determinant in this matter was his racial classification as a chino, since indios (unless they were elites) were forbidden such privileges….

Among the scores of Asian peoples that were widely defined as chinos, in the early decades of the 1600s Japanese converts were held in high esteem by Spaniards in the Philippines and New Spain for their bravery and loyalty. In 1603 and 1639 when Chinese residents in the Parián of Manila revolted against their Iberian overlords, Japanese swordsmen distinguished themselves in combat. Without their assistance, Sangleyes would surely have made the Philippines a colony of the Middle Kingdom. Thousands of Japanese converts, traders, and ronin made the Philippines their home prior to the closing of Cipango to Iberians in the 1630s. They lived in a suburb of Manila called Dilao, with a population estimated at 3,000 by 1624.

Thus it is not surprising that samurai converts were considered a more privileged subgroup of chinos in New Spain….

It is unclear exactly when chino militias were established on the west coast of New Spain. It is evident, however, that prior to 1729 Asian paramilitary units were routinely patrolling the regions adjacent to Acapulco. Tiburcio Anzalde, “captain of one of the militias of chinos and mulatos in the district of Atoya,” discussed the duties and obligations of militiamen in a 1746 document: repeated trips to Acapulco to deliver mail and other correspondences; to clear the roads (of bandits) while on patrol; and, most importantly, their heroic role in resisting the English pirate George Anson‘s invasion at the port of Zihuatenejo in 1741.

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