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The Lost Treasure of Malacca and the Ship of Gold

Malacca is a rich Malaysian city, well located for merchant traffic and the perfect spot to control Asian trade through the strait. Last year Afonso de Albuquerque took the sultanate city of Goa in India and this year he is coming into Malacca with so many ships, it is definite over kill. He is killing every Muslim who resists (probably over 60%). Hindus, Chinese and Burmese are pardoned. Albuquerque loads 60 tons of gold, 200 chests of jewels and other priceless goods onto The Flower of the Sea for the trip home. The ship never handled well under the best of conditions. It handles like a pig now. Somewhere along its journey, a storm comes up and the ship goes to the bottom proving once again that you should NEVER place all your eggs in one basket... especially golden eggs. The treasure remains lost to this day. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
That much gold tends to walk off no matter how trusted one's people are. In 1988 the treasure hunter Tommy Thompson found the wreck of the USS Constitution dubbed "The Ship of Gold" with over $400 million in gold from the California gold rush. His investors claimed he didn't share it with them. Tommy Thompson disappeared for a few years until investigators found him in Boca Raton at a Hilton in January of 2015. The book, "How to Be Invisible" by J.J. Luna was found in his room. [8][9]

The Launching of the Great Michael *

King James the 4th of Scotland ordered a massive ship be built to rival the world's navies and he got the Great Michael, named after the Archangel Michael of the Bible. It's keel was laid down in 1507 at Newhaven and launches this year. It is twice the size of the English ship, the Mary Rose and it could hold the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria inside of it. It is a massive carrack... a fort at sea. It is not large enough to be called a ship-of-the-line. That term will not be used for another 100 years yet. Such massive ships will "hold the line" so to speak. They will be replaced by battleships and eventually fall out of favor when aircraft carriers will prove more useful. [10] [11] [12] [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Ultimately the Great Michael will be a waste of timber. It is quite romantic to think of a such a massive ship sailing the seas but it never handled well, and it was costly to maintain. It was soon leased to France and sold to them in 1514. There is more to ship design that a keel and a few sails. They are realizing that they can't build the new ships in the same old way. The English ship the Mary Rose will sink due to poor design and open gun ports located so low that they let the sea in as they come about.

Here Comes the Holy League

A few years ago, the Warrior Pope Julius the 2nd, joined with France and others to beat up on a weak Republic of Venice who had taken charge of some papal lands. (It's a long story but Venice wasn't horrid about it.) Now the Pope is sick of the King of France and has allied with Venice to kick France out of Italy. They call it "The Holy League". The fight will continue until 1516 when everyone will end up with about the same amount of land as they had before. [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I love the name "The Holy League." It just sounds cool... like they are superheroes. At that time there were no national entities as we think of them today so they made temporary associations called "leagues". The kingdoms were barely kingdoms, and the Holy Roman Empire looked very large on the map but the Emperor's effective control over the area was quite limited. It extended to the point of a spear and evaporated as soon as that spear was withdrawn. In the modern day I've seen maps made of the counties that are colored red and blue depending on if they voted Democrat or Republican and while it seems that one political Party or another SHOULD control that entire area, that doesn't translate into effective control. The map ends up being an implied impotence. It says "Here is where we should have control... so why aren't we controlling it?" ... as if it is another person's job to give us power.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1511, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Flor do Mar. OceanTreasures.org (2009). Retrieved on 1 February 2015. “Since her loss in early 1512 and until nowadays, no effort was spared to try to locate her remains and salvage the immense treasures she was said to be carrying. Speculations, assumptions, theories about her whereabouts has been the never ending subject of numerous salvage groups without giving a clue even almost 500 years later.”
  2. Flor de la Mar (Flor do Mar), 1511. A shipwrecked Portuguese Galleon. ColonialVoyage.com (2015). Retrieved on 1 February 2015. “The ships of the fleet were full of booty taken after the capture of the city, but probably in December 1511 during the return voyage to Goa his ship &lquot;Flor do Mar&rquot; sank during a storm and all the treasures fetched in Malacca were lost.”
  3. The Flor de la Mar: A Treasure Ship Still Awaiting Discovery. Top Secret Writers -- Conspiracy Theory, Strange Stories and Truth (23 August 2012). Retrieved on 1 February 2015. “It was the largest treasure ever assembled by the Portuguese navy, and included 60 tons of gold from the house of the Sultan of Malacca. Supposedly, 200 gem chests were filled with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. [...] Accompanied by four other ships, the Flor set sail for Portugal in November, 1511.”
  4. malacca - definition of malacca. The Free Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 29 January 2015. “The stem of a rattan palm, formerly used for making canes and umbrella handles.”
  5. Afonso de Albuquerque - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 January 2015.
  6. Capture of Malacca (1511) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 January 2015.
  7. Flor de la Mar - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on January 29, 2015.
  8. Tommy Thompson, fugitive treasure hunter, arrested in Florida after 2-year manhunt. CBS News. CBS (Jan 29, 2015). Retrieved on 2 February 2015.
  9. Alex Shrugged notes I saw the report of Tommy Thompson's arrest on the Fox News show: "Happening Now" on 2015-Jan-30 at 11:38 AM. They called it the "greatest lost treasure in American history." I have no idea if that is true but it was estimated to be worth 400 million dollars. He and his girlfriend were hiding in plain sight in Boca Raton, Florida.
  10. Ship of the line - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 January 2015.
  11. Henry Grace à Dieu (Great Harry) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 January 2015.
  12. Michael (Great Michael) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 January 2015.
  13. Rating system of the Royal Navy (Great Ship) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 January 2015.
  14. War of the League of Cambrai - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 January 2015.

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