Spanish imperial goals in the sixteenth century reached beyond America across the Pacific Ocean. By claiming and partially occupying the eastern and western fringes of the Pacific, the Habsburgs hoped that the ocean would become a Spanish lake, a mare clausum, to be used and exploited by Spain alone. They almost succeeded. After occupying the Philippines, a flurry of chimerical schemes were hatched for the conquest of China and, after 1580, when the crowns of Spain and Portugal were united for a time, the elusive Spice Islands fell within Spain’s sphere of influence. But the Dutch and English put an end to the great Pacific scheme.

The peoples of the Pacific fringes came under scrutiny and a number of ethnographical studies examined their political, economic, and social institutions. The volume under review is important because it served as a principal source for Portuguese accounts of the Moluccas. In typical sixteenth and seventeenth fashion, writers on the Moluccas, and present day Indonesia, Ternate and Tidore in particular, cribbed shamelessly from it. The text, discovered originally by Fr. Georg Schurhammer in the Archive of the Indies, Seville, in 1928, has no title, but internal and external evidence incline the editor to accept Antonio Galvão as the author, whose Tratado dos descobrimentos (Lisbon, 1563), is a classic account of Iberian activity in Asia. Over half of the text’s fifty chapters deal with the peoples of the Moluccas, i.e., present day Indonesia, Temate, and Tidore. Such topics as geography, agriculture, flora and fauna, religion, social structure, war, and epidemics are examined in detail by the author and elucidated by the editor’s enlightening notes. Chapters 39 to 50 are concerned with Portuguese rule in the Spice Islands.

The Portuguese text is given with a back-to-back English translation, thus permitting ready reference to the original. The English translation is good but in spots the phraseology is awkward. But this is to be expected. The translator’s native language is Dutch. And even so one wishes that the modern American undergraduate could write as clearly and accurately. A critical apparatus accompanies the Portuguese text. A fine set of notes, full but not cumbersome maps, and a useful glossary of Portuguese and Malay words are at the back. Jacobs has done a thorough job of editing and translating a text of major importance for the history of Indonesia and the Moluccas and for the early history of Iberian activity in Southeast Asia.