Fine early engraving of Sir Francis Drake's raid on St. Augustine, which includes the earliest obtainable city plan of any city within the United States, published in Frankfurt, by Matthias Merian, as part of the continuation of De Bry's Grand Voyages.
Important early view of St. Augustine, showing the raid of Sir Francis Drake during his famous West Indian voyage of 1586. The image appeared in the 8th Part of De Bry's Grand Voyages, and is based upon Baptista Boazio's 1588 plan of St. Augustine. The plan is the earliest obtainable map of any city within the United States and is preceded only by two earlier (and unobtainable) Boazio plans of St. Augustine.
Drake's raid on St. Augustine occurred during the Anglo-Spanish War. Drake and his raiding party captured the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine, followin a brief skirmish. This was part of Francis Drake's Great Expedition and was the last engagement on the Spanish main before Drake headed north for the Roanoke Colony. The expedition also forced the Spanish to abandon any settlements and forts in present-day South Carolina.
Drake had been indirectly commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I to lead an expedition to attack the Spanish New World in a kind of preemptive strike. Drake struck first at Santiago in November 1585, then across the Atlantic in Santo Domingo, which Drake captured in January 1586. He next attacked Cartagena in February 1586.
Drake then turned north, with designs on raiding another Spanish settlement, before visiting Virginia. On May 27, 1586, a small fort was spotted on the shore, with a small inlet close by. This was the location of St Augustine, the most northerly town in Spain's New World Empire, and the oldest permanent colonial settlement in North America. Drake knew of the place and was also aware of the fact that the Spanish under Pedro Menéndez de Avilés had ordered all of the French Huguenot colonists that had tried to settle in the area executed. Drake decided on one final opportunity to raid and plunder, and a chance to avenge his fellow Protestants, which resulted in the capture and razing of St. Augustine.
Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) was a prominent Flemish engraver and publisher best known for his engravings of the New World. Born in Liege, de Bry hailed from the portion of Flanders then controlled by Spain. The de Brys were a family of jewelers and engravers, and young Theodor was trained in those artisanal trades.
As a Lutheran, however, his life and livelihood was threatened when the Spanish Inquisition cracked down on non-Catholics. De Bry was banished and his goods seized in 1570. He fled to Strasbourg, where he studied under the Huguenot engraver Etienne Delaune. He also traveled to Antwerp, London, and Frankfurt, where he settled with his family.
In 1590, de Bry began to publish his Les Grands Voyages, which would eventually stretch to thirty volumes released by de Bry and his two sons. The volumes contained not only important engraved images of the New World, the first many had seen of the geographic novelties, but also several important maps. He also published a collection focus on India Orientalis. Les Grands Voyages was published in German, Latin, French, and English, extending de Bry’s fame and his view of the New World.