Fine map illustrating the discovery of the Straits of Le Maire, as discovered in January 1616 by Le Maire and Schouten.
The map is the first printed map to detail the strait, showing the Magellan Strait and, further south, the route of Schouten and Le Maire which opened up an alternate to the Spice Islands, circumventing the VOC trade monopoly on the route to the East Indies via the Magellan Strait.
In June 1615, Jacob Le Maire (circa 1585–1616) and Willem Corneliszoon Schouten (circa 1567–1625) set out in two ships, the Eendracht and the Hoorn, from Texel, in search of a new route to the Spice Islands, in order to circumvent the trade monopoly of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC). They sailed south of the Strait of Magellan and on January 24, 1616, discovered a new passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans: a strait about 20 miles wide between Tierra del Fuego and what they called Staten Land (Isla de los Estados, Argentina), which would become the Le Maire Strait. Several days later, Le Maire and Schouten became the first Europeans to round the extreme southern point of South America, which they named Cape Horn in honor of Schouten’s birthplace, the city of Hoorn.
This map of Le Maire Strait is from the French edition of Schouten’s journal of the voyage, Journal ou description du merveilleux voyage de Guillaume Schovten, hollandois natif de Hoorn, fait en années 1615, 1616 & 1617 (Journal or description of the marvelous voyage of Willem Schouten, a Dutch native of Hoorn, made in the years 1615, 1616, and 1617), published in Amsterdam.
Despite discovering a new route, their expedition was not very successful. When they arrived in Batavia, their story was not believed and their remaining vessel, the Eendracht, was confiscated along with its cargo.