A Cornerstone of Travel Literature
German Linschoten with De Bry's Sensational Engravings of the East
Important Maps of the East Indies, Goa, and Mozambique
The 1613 second German edition, after the first German of 1598. Linschoten, a celebrated Dutch traveler and writer, went out to Goa in India from 1583 to 1589, and later took part in Willem Barents's first and second voyages into the Kara Sea, in 1594 and 1595. The present account relates to Linschoten's account of travel in the East Indies from 1583-1592, being a translation of selections of his famous Itinerario, voyage ofte schipvaert, van Ian Huygen van Linschoten naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien, first printed Amsterdam, 1596. The first translation into German was issued by the De Brys in 1598. They then issued a version in Latin in 1599.
The work is particularly esteemed for the suite of sensational engraved plates by the De Brys, which have become iconic for their representations of native peoples. Theodor de Bry was inspired by Richard Hakluyt to produce his own now famous collection of travel writings, perhaps the greatest ever assembled, which took many decades to complete. De Bry's two sons, Johan Theodor (1561-1623) and Johan Israel de Bry (ca. 1561-1609), continued the work started by their father, designating the present volume, based on part of Linschoten's Itinerario, as Volume 2 of their Historia India Orientalis or Small Voyages series (the brothers retrospectively numbered as Vol. 1 their 1598 publication on the Congo by Eduardo Lopez and Filippo Pigafetta). This new series represented the first independent enterprise by the De Bry brothers.
Michiel van Groesen has made a detailed study of the De Brys sensational visual interpretations for Linschoten's travel account, making the argument that the publication represents the genesis of the popular travel genre:
The character of the 'Itinerario' however was not fully respected by the De Brys. They firstly clarified Linschoten's sometimes rather specialised account. Secondly, they 'popularised' the 'Itinerario' by adding illustrations of a spectacular nature. These engravings and the accompanying prose were not always based on the original text and occasionally completely changed Linschoten's image of the natives. Both types of modification suggest the collection of the De Brys was aimed at a large and wide readership. The 'emblematic format' of the collection in an era in which emblem books were extremely popular also points in this direction. Within the genre of travel literature, these intentions make the De Bry collection a pioneering publication. - Michiel van Groesen, A First Popularisation of Travel Literature: On Methods and Intentions of the De Bry Travel Collection.
Ernst van den Boogaart has also exhaustively researched the De Bry illustrations of Linschoten, singling out the De Bry's Linschoten for a study of the themes of heathendom and civility across Asian societies as seen through European eyes bent on conquest and colonization. A review of his work will repay the enthusiast and advanced antiquarian alike with an even greater appreciation for this impressive visual accomplishment:
Linschoten's Itinerario offered a general account of Asia in a single publication and was in its way a synthetic work, which definitely contributed to the fact that it was precisely this book that inaugurated the new India Orientalis series... There are two reasons for selecting this volume of the series to study the treatment of the themes of heathendom and civility. The first is that the De Bry brothers considerably enlarged the number of illustrations in the Itinerario and drastically modified the sequence of the series... The De Bry brothers designed and engraved the plates of their Linschoten themselves... The prints offered a method for the systematic comparison of aspects of civility in four Asian societies: China, Goa, Balagatte east of Goa, and Malabar. The texts provided the data, while the prints supplied the classificatory concepts required for ordering the data. The comparison led to the insight that the societies could be arranged in an Asian hierarchy of civility with well-administered, prosperous and powerful China at the top, followed by rich but dissolute and weak Portuguese Goa, relatively poor Balagatte where devotees violated the law of nature at the behest of the Brahmans, and finally Malabar as the example of a deeply corrupted, poor and weak society. - Van den Boogaart, "Heathendom and civility in the Historia Indiae Orientalis: the adaptation by Johan Theodor and Johan Israel de Bry of the edifying series of plates from Linschoten's Itinerario," pages 74-75.
Boies Penrose has pointed out the importance of Linschoten's exploits to inspiring the Dutch in their overseas endeavors, eventually leading to the Dutch East India Company, chartered in 1602:
England was not to be alone in her attempt to wrest the position of Mistress of the Eastern Seas from Portugal...the Dutchman Linschoten extolled the trade to the Hollanders, who, having lately overthrown the rule of Spain, were ready for overseas enterprise. The career of Jan Huyghen van Linschoten (1563-1611) was not as spectacular as that of Ralph Fitch, but his writings were even more useful and famous. As a young man he had gone out from Lisbon to Goa in 1583 - one of the first of his nation to do so, and for six years he lived (though apparently a Proestant) as a dependent of the Archbishop of Goa. During this time he never went far from the Portuguese capital, but his avaricious thirst for knowledge enabled him to get detailed information of land and sea as far afield as the Spice Islands and China, while his keen insight made him realize the growing rottenness of Portugal's power. It was natural, therefore, that when Linschoten returned to Holland he devoted himself to persuading his countrymen to send expeditions to the East - Boies Penrose, Travel and Discovery in the Renaissance, 1420-1620, page 201.
In all the discussion of the engraved plates, one should not lose sight of the three maps that also contribute to the overall value of this book.
Nova Tabula Insularum Iavae, Sumatrae, Borneonis et Aliarum Mallaccam...
This large and impressive map is one of the first widely available maps to illustrate the Java Sea, Sumatra, and parts of Borneo and Malaya, as well as Singapore. This map points to the establishment of the Dutch East India Company in 1602.
Insulae et Arcis Mocambique Deschriptio ad fines Melinde Sitae Ebano Puris...
A view of Melinde harbor on the island of Mozambique, published by Theodor De Bry and based upon a map of the title which appeared in Linschoten's Itinerario.
The view shows the fortifications of the city, with numerous ships flying the Portuguese standard at anchor in the protected harbor. The map is finely engraved and decorated with a large compass rose, the Portuguese coat of arms, and title cartouche with the title in both Latin and Dutch.
The island of Mozambique was an important trade center in Portuguese Mombasa in the second half of the 16th Century, on the route from Portugal to India. In 1542, Joao Velho, an agent for the King of Portugal, wrote a series of letters describing his 4 year stay on the island, where he lived in a fortified tower with a white slave woman. He was one of the principal overseers of the Portuguese King's stores of cloth and beads, which were used to trade for gold and ivory mined in the interior regions. The Portuguese factor was one of the principal points of trade with Muslim controlled Sofala, where goods from the interior were traded with the Europeans.
Among other things, Vehlo gives an account of certain corrupt captains who were then actively stealing from the King, setting up their own side businesses, using the King's stores, and murdering local traders to escape their debts. The map depicts Vehlo's tower, along with the church and other structures, and provides a nice thematic depiction of the island and port, which were then being visited by more than 500 ships per year.
Aihae Cidade De Goa Metropolitana Da Iniae Partes Orientais Que Esta En 15 Graos… [cartouche:] Goa Indiae Orientalis Metropolis & Emporij longe...
A highly detailed birdseye view of the city and harbor of Goa. Embellished with 3 cartouches, title banner, compass rose and at least 30 sailing ships and other water craft, elephants, etc. Goa was the Portuguese trade center for many years.
Engraved bookplate of John Jay Paul, of Watertown, Florida.
Early-20th-century bookseller label of Henry Stevens, Son & Stiles.
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.