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Rare early map of Bahia de Todos Santos, showing "Cidade do Salvador" near the top and a detailed treatment of the coastline, islands, rivers and bays, with east at the top.

The plan depicts the taking of Salvador and the neighoring regions by the Dutch in 1624. As noted by Johannes Keuning (Imago Mundi, Vol. 6, (1949), pp. 48-66):

The first great enterprise of the West India Company was the dispatching of a fleet of 26 ships in Dec. 1623 under the control of the admiral, Jacob Willekens and the vice-admiral Pieter Pietersz. Heyn. The intention was the conquest of San Salvador, at the Bahia de todos os Santos. This intention was completely attained in five days. Of this memorable act an engraving appeared in the same year. It is a picture of the Bahia de todos os Santos in Brasil and a view of the town S. Salvador, situated on the top of the mount on the bay; in the bay lies the whole Dutch fleet. The inscription reads: 't Amsterdam by Claes J. Visscher en Hessel Gerritsz. Underneath is a text in three columns: "Beschryvinghe Van't in-nemen van de Stadt Salvador in Brasil, door den E. Admirael lacob Willekes" by Hessel Gerritsz derived from an original report by the admiral himself.

The Portugese settled Salvador in the mid-16th Century and the City quickly rose to become the capital of the region and the most important sea port and financial center in the region. The town was sacked and taken as part of a Dutch invasion in 1624, before being retaken by the Portugese the following year. The Dutch again attacked Salvador in 1627. Following this attack, Gerritsz prepared several new maps and illustrations of the invasion.

The map would seem to depict approximately 26 ships in the harbor, strongly suggesting that this is either the map referenced above Kuening's article or an early derivative thereof.

Hessel Gerritsz Biography

Hessel Gerritsz (1581-1632) was a noted Dutch mapmaker, engraver, and publisher who was also the official hydrographer of the Dutch East India Company. Gerritsz was born in Assum. His first exposure to mapmaking was as an apprentice to Willem Janszoon Blaeu, beginning in 1607. In 1610, Gerritsz began his own publishing business.

Gerritsz’s reputation grew quickly. In 1617, upon the recommendation of Petrus Plancius, Gerritsz was named as the cartographer to the Dutch East India Company (VOC). This meant that Gerritsz had access to the geographical information gathered by VOC navigators, but he could also still sell his own maps to the public. He reviewed the journals of the VOC, then prepared and corrected charts for their ships. In this post, Gerritsz created the first maps to include many new geographic features in the Indian and Pacific Oceans; these included some of the first European encounters with the coast of Australia.