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Robert Dudley's Monumental Map of Japan and Korea. The Most Important Map of the "Sea of Korea."

Fine example of the first state of Robert Dudley's rare map of Japan and Korea, first published in 1646.

This is the larger of two maps of Japan created by Dudley for his Dell' Arcano del Mare. This larger version includes Korea and a portion of the Chinese coast. Loosely based on the Ortelius map of 1595, but with important changes and additions garnered from the files of the Dutch East India Company, making it in essence an entirely new mapping.

Walter points out that the chart was unique; that Dudley "did not find a single direct imitator for his new type," although it was later further developed by Jansson. This is significant as Walter demonstrates that, unlike Dudley's other chart of Japan, there "are astounding similarities here to manuscript maps prepared for the Dutch East India Company."

Despite its more accurate mapping, Dudley's improvements went largely unnoticed except for a few changes included by Jansson some years later. As noted by Walter:

Dudley leans on the example of the Ortelius/Texeira type, but develops it in light of additional information that was available to him. He takes into account not only the numerous published accounts of Missionaries but also unpublished Dutch charts, such as those used by Quast and Tasman in 1636 on their search for the legendary Gols and Silver Islands. . . .

This sea chart appeared in Robert Dudley's Dell'Arcano del Mare, one of the rarest and most highly sought after sea atlases of the 17th Century. Robert Dudley, an Englishman, produced this equisite work while living in Florence. Dudley, who was believed to have received some of his information directly from Sir Francis Drake, labored for decades before finally releasing the first edition of this work when he was 73 years old. Dudley's atlas is of the utmost importance, being the first Sea Atlas published by and Englishman and the first Sea Atlas to treat the entire world (not just Europe). It is also the first atlas to utilize the Mercator Projection on a uniform basis and included significant advances in "Great Circle" navigation (shortest circle around the Globe). Its inclusion of winds and currents was also a monumental first. Completed in Manuscript form in 1636, it is among the most important works in the history of European Cartography.

Robert Dudley (1574 - 1649) was the illegitimate son of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. In 1594, Dudley led an expedition to the West Indies, of which he wrote an account. In 1605 ,he tried unsuccessfully to establish his legitimacy in court. After that he left England and converted to Catholicism, taking up residence in Florence where he served the Grand Dukes of Tuscany in their efforts to rid the Mediterranean of Piracy. There he worked as a noted shipbuilder and designed and published Dell'Arcano del Mare, the first maritime atlas to cover the whole world. He was also a skilled navigator, mathematician and engineer. In Italy, he styled himself Earl of Warwick and Leicester, as well as Duke of Northumberland. He was a friend of Sir Francis Drake and relative of Thomas Cavendish, both of whom corresponded with Dudley and likely supplied some of the information for his Atlas.

Sea of Korea

This is one of the very first maps - and certainly the largest and best of the early maps -  to name the Sea of Korea. In Dudley's map the body of water is called "Mare di Corai". This was a toponymic tradition that gained popularity at the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century, especially in France and the United Kingdom, but it is much more rarely found in 17th-century maps like the Dudley chart. This, combined with the maps unusual insular treatment of the Korean peninsula, renders this an absolute cornerstone map for Korea collectors.

Korea as an island

The sequence of events and maps that led California to be portrayed as an island are much clearer than another famous peninsula-turned-island, Korea. Korea is briefly mentioned in the thirteenth century by Marco Polo as Cauli (Kauli), but otherwise Korea was not described again for European audiences until the late-sixteenth century.

As with Japan and China, most of the earliest bits of information about Korea came from the Jesuits sending letters sent back from East Asia. However, the Jesuits were not actually stationed in Korea; they could only glean impressions from Chinese and Japanese sources. For example, Father Luis Frois wrote of Korea in the context of a war with Japan in 1578. Frois explained that Korea was separated from Japan by a sliver of sea. It had previously been understood to be an island, he explained, but was now known to be a peninsula. However, why Korea was thought to be an island, by who, and how it was found to be a peninsula was not shared with Frois’ curious readers back in Europe.

The first known European to visit Korea was also a Jesuit, Father Gregorio des Cespedes. He accompanied Japanese troops during another war with Korea in 1592. The territory did not agree with Cespedes, who found it bitingly cold. He did not mention anything about the Korean peoples or their geography.

Travel writers, those who actually traveled and those who were more drawn to the armchair voyage, also wrote about Korea. Jan Huygen van Linschoten spent several years in Goa, India, where he had access to Spanish and Portuguese sources. In his Itinerario, first published in German and English in 1598, he suggests Korea is a large island called Core. Richard Hakluyt read the Jesuit letters, which were republished in sets of annual letters. In the second edition of his Principal Navigations (1599), Hakluyt included the information from Frois and Cespedes, scant as it was.

Given the relative dearth of source material, it is not surprising that early maps by Münster, Mercator and Ortelius omitted Korea entirely. The first map to show Korea was Orbis Terrarum Typus de Integro Multis in Locis Emendatus by Petrus Plancius (1594). It included “Corea” as a long, skinny peninsula barely attached to the northeast corner of China. Edward Wright, in the map accompanying Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations, adopted a similar depiction of Korea, as did other mapmakers from the 1590s onward.

Interestingly, the map that accompanied Linschoten’s Itinerario, by Arnold Floris van Langren, shows Korea as a large, round island. However, no other mapmaker is known to have followed this example. Another early island depiction that was widely adopted was that of Luis Teixeira in the 1595 edition of Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. The long, thin island was used by several cartographers, including Jodocus Hondius, in the seventeenth century. Blaeu also used the Teixeira model before creating a new Korea in later maps that looked like a bat hanging from China, separated from the mainland by the thinnest of waterways.

Confusion over island vs. peninsula continued across seventeenth-century maps. For example, John Speed includes three separate versions of Korea across four maps in his A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World (1626). It is shown on the Teixeira island model, as a thin peninsula, and as a blunt island. These various hypotheses as to the shape of Korea continued to coexist for decades.

Finally, in the 1650s, Father Martino Martini gathered more information and created a new map of Korea. In China from 1642 to 1651, Martini spent a good deal of time with Chinese maps and their makers. Thus, he created new maps showing Korea as a thicker, nearly rectangular peninsula in Bellum Tartaricum (1654) and the Atlas Sinensis (1655).

Also in the 1650s, a Dutch sailor named Hendrick Hamel was shipwrecked on Jeju, an island near southern Korea. Hamel and his fellow survivors would spend thirteen years in Korea, escaping to Nagasaki in 1666. He wrote about the ordeal in a journal that was published in 1668. Although it lacked maps, the ample descriptions confirmed that Korea gave a detailed, first-hand view of Korean geography and culture.

Nevertheless, several maps were published in the early eighteenth-century showing Korea as an island. The island myth, which most likely stemmed from a misreading of Japanese and Chinese maps by early Jesuits, proved to be quite entrenched. Only in 1735 did Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville produce a map with a roughly accurate outline of the peninsula and a relatively detailed interior.

Condition Description
Two sheets joined as one, as issued. Original folds flattened. In all a very attractive, clean example, with wide margins.
Cortazzi, H. fig.66; Walter, L. pl.54, pp.42-43; Imago Mundi XXIII, pp.29-58.
Robert Dudley Biography

Robert Dudley (1574-1649) is one of the most intriguing historical figures of the late Elizabethan period. His father, also named Robert and the first Earl of Leicester, was a favorite of Elizabeth I’s. The Earl was a supporter of exploratory expeditions and backed Francis Drake on his circumnavigation (1577-1580) and Martin Frobisher on his 1576 voyage to find the Northwest Passage. Robert the Younger was the illegitimate son of the Earl and Lady Douglas Sheffield, born in 1574.

Dudley attended Christ Church, Oxford, starting in 1587. A year later, at only 14, Dudley stood by his father at Tilbury, witnessing Queen Elizabeth’s famous speech in preparation for resisting the Spanish Armada. His father died in September that year, giving Robert a sizeable inheritance. In 1594, Dudley led an expedition to Guiana, where some of his men explored up the Orinoco River in search of gold.  In 1596, Dudley joined an expedition against Cadiz.

All these experiences left Dudley in favor, and he thought the time was right to establish his legitimacy. In court proceedings from 1603 to 1605, Dudley fought for his right to his father’s titles, but the Star Chamber ruled against him and he had to left England for self-exile in Italy. He settled in Florence, where he designed and built ships and advised Ferdinand I, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

While in Florence, Dudley also compiled all his sailing notes and thoughts on navigation (and those of others including, purportedly, Francis Drake, with whom he sailed in 1596, and Thomas Cavendish, to whom he was related by marriage) into a work called Arcano del Mare, or The Secret of the Sea. He finished the manuscript of the work in 1636 and published the work himself, at age 73, a decade later in 1646-7.

Dudley’s Arcano del Mare (Mystery of the Sea) is one of the most important atlases ever produced and one of the most complex. It is the first sea-atlas of the whole world; the first with all the charts constructed using Mercator's new projection, as corrected by Edward Wright; the first to give magnetic declination; the first to give prevailing winds and currents; the first to expound the advantages of Great Circle Sailing; and the first sea-atlas to be compiled by an Englishman, albeit abroad in Italy. Dudley broke completely with the contemporary style of charts. He showed lines of latitude and longitude and omitted all compass lines. In doing so, his purpose was more intellectual than practical: techniques for determining longitude at sea were not refined until more than two centuries later. The maps are by English and other pilots and it is generally accepted that the work was both scientific and accurate for the time. Dudley used the original charts of Henry Hudson, and for the Pacific Coast of America used Cavendish's observations. When the first edition appeared, Dudley was seventy-three years old. The Arcano del Mare was a monumental and totally original task, the charts, representations of instruments and diagrams all engraved on huge quantities of copper over many years with an exactitude incorporating the minutest detail and printed on the best possible paper.

Antonio Francesco Lucini, the engraver, was born in Florence c. 1610. Before being employed by Sir Robert Dudley, he had already published engraved views of Florence and scenes of the Turkish Wars. Lucini put the stamp of his personality on the finished work as well as did the author; the delicacy and strength of the engraving, the embellishments of the lettering alla cancellaresca, make it a true example of Italian Baroque art. In a printed introductory leaf found in one copy in the British Library, Lucini states that he worked on the plates in seclusion for twelve years in an obscure Tuscan village, using up to no less than 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg) of copper. According to the engraver, the Arcano del Mare took forty years to prepare and twelve to execute.