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Detailed plan of the harbor of Santiago (S. Iacob) in the Cape Verde Islands, showing Sir Francis Drake's attack in 1585, based upon Baptista Boazio's engraved view of Santiago and later published by De Bry in his Grand Voyages, based upon originals obtained by Boazio from Drake.

Following his circumnavigation, in 1585, Drake under took a raid of the Spanish holdings in the West Indies in 1585-1586, which showed that the Spaniards were almost as poorly prepared for defense on their Atlantic coasts as on the Pacific.

Drake's fleet of seven large ships and 22 smaller vessels sailed from Plymouth on September 14, 1585, stopping at Bayonne and Vigo on the northwest coast of Spain (Oct. 1-11), before reaching Santiago in the Cape Verde Islands on November 17, 1585. Finding no gold, Drake orded the town plundered and burned, and on November 29, 1585, his fleet set sail across the Atlantic.

On New Year's Day, 1586, they reached Santo Domingo, which was captured and plundered, and a 25,000 ducat ransom extorted. On February 9th Cartagena was captured, and was occupied until March 26th. Here again the town was plundered, and a ransom of 110,000 ducats was collected. Thence they sailed north across the Caribbean to the coast of Florida, where St. Augustine was captured and destroyed (May 28-30). Drake reached England again on July 22nd, when he sailed into Portsmouth.

Baptista Boazio, an Italian artist resident in London, made engravings of the attacks on Santiago, Santo Domingo, Cartagena, and St. Augustine. He must have obtained drawings from a participant, perhaps from Drake himself. In each case these are the first published views or plans of the respective localities.

Theodor De Bry Biography

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 were 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 focused 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.

Matthaus Merian Biography

Mathaus Merian (1593-1650) was the father of engraver Matthäus the Younger, and of the painter, engraver, and naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian. He was born in Basel, Switzerland and trained in engraving in Zurich. After a time in Nancy, Paris and Strasbourg, he settled in Frankfurt. While there, he worked for Johann Theodor de Bry, the publisher and son of the travel writer. In 1617, he married Maria Magdalena de Bry, Johann Theodor’s daughter. In 1623, Merian took over the de Bry publishing house upon the death of his father-in-law. Merian’s best known works are detailed town views which, due to their accuracy and artistry, form a valuable record of European urban life in the first half of the sixteenth century