In both Biscay and Guipuzkoa, men and women were enamoured of decorating their clothes and wearing a profusion of luxurious complements unseen in the rest of the kingdom and censured by the strict rules laid down by the Catholic monarchy which forbade excessive spending on luxuries.

The council of Mutriku made a formal petition reflecting the custom handed down from fathers to sons, and the queen agreed to lift the veto for the people of the province of Guipuzkoa, as long as they promised to abide by the norms when they travelled out of the province. Three weeks later, the same agreement was reached for the neighbours resident in the County of Biscay.

Emperor´s letter

The Emperor replied immediately.

Document number 43 is one of the most recent finds from Laurgain. King Carlos ordered Juan Sebastián to Valladolid and he also made it known that he had begun dealings to free the men in Cape Verde which Juan Sebastián had asked of him.

Before the judge

A letter from the Emperor to his aunt Margarita of Austria, sent at the end of October, still exists, in which the king's total satisfaction on the success of the Victoria is patent. Despite the success, the captain of the Victoria was still obliged to testify before a judge.

Pressure of Portugal

The Emperor granted the Portuguese ambassador, Sylveira, a hearing when he arrived in Valladolid with a mission to demand compensation because the Spanish had broken their promise to not cross the boundaries drawn by Portugal. The King of Portugal insisted that the intruders be punished.


According to document number 46, diplomatic pressure exercised by the Portuguese had succeeded in getting the Emperor to convene the kingdom's Council of Justice, to decide whether or not to punish Juan Sebastián. The council voted unanimously against disciplining Elkano.

Rejected petitions

Nevertheless, it appears that the captain's problems were far from over. In document number 47 we can see how Juan Sebastián made a series of petitions to the Emperor, all of which were rejected.

This might have had something to do with the presence in the court at Valladolid of the chronicler of the expedition, the Italian Antonio Pigafetta. This fact is corroborated in Pigafetta's payslip.

The reward. 500 ducats

The following year things improved for Captain Elkano. In January 1523 the Emperor assigned him a salary of 500 ducats a year, some 250,000€ at today's rate. However, the small print said that, in order to receive this amount, the new Spice Contracting House in A Coruña would have to generate enough profit to cover the expense.

The reward. The pardon

A delicate problem was worrying Juan Sebastián - the crime he had committed years before by selling his ship to foreign buyers. Document number 49 gives the King's pardon for this crime from the past. Obviously the King was not about to forego the captain's services.

A rich man?

The cloves shipped on the Victoria brought around 8 million maravedis, or 10 million euros. This was a fabulous sum for the work of one ship, but the expedition all told had not made a profit.

Juan Sebastián's payslip, document number 50, should that he was paid over 600,000 maravedis, or 800,000€. His life changed.

Coat of arms

Juan Sebastián was also granted permission to wear a coat of arms to celebrate his feat. It features an image of the world, with the words "You were the first to circle me."

He was not the only member of the crew to receive a shield certifying the first circumnavigation of the earth; three more were granted, to the barber Fernando de Bustamante among others.

Juan Sebastián was now 37 years old and enjoyed a comfortable economic position and an apparently intense social life. His wardrobe testifies to this, filled as it was with over fifty garments, including many made from velvet, satin and silver, and even a hat from France.