Second Edition of Nodal's Important Work, Including Teixeira's Suppressed Map of the Straits of Magellan
With Instructions for Navigation within the Americas - Not in the First Edition
Second and first obtainable edition, after the exceedingly rare 1621 first edition, and with additional material on navigation in the Americas by Manuel de Echevelar not found in the first edition. With the important map of the Straits of Magellan by Pedro Teixeira, which had originally been supressed.
The handsome map shows southern Patagonia and the Straits of Magellan separating the continent from the island of Tierra del Fuego. The real innovation of the map, however, is the small Strait of San Vicente to the east, which cuts between Tierra del Fuego and a small island that extends into the right hand border. This strait, discovered by the Dutch in 1616 and more commonly known as the Strait of Le Maire, proved that Tierra del Fuego was an island, not a part of the vast southern continent. More importantly, the strait provided an alternative outlet to the lucrative China trade and made the Spanish ports of western South America potential targets for rival empires. The map is criss-crossed with rhumb lines. The land is dotted with hills and trees.
Instruccion Exacta de las Derrotas y Navegaciones by Echevelar
This second edition includes the navegational instructions (with a separate titlepage) by Manuel de Echevelar, not issued in the original edition. Echevelar was principal pilot of the Royal Armada in 1753. He gives information regarding the routes to Span from various places in Spanish America. Specifically, the following routes are described:
Veracruz to Havana
Barlovento to Puerto Rico
St. Thomas to Cumaná
Puerto Rico to Santo Domingo and Ocoa
Isla Baca via Jamaica
Barlovento to Cartagena
Cartagena to Puerto Velo
Veracruz and Campeche
Veracruz to Panzacola (i.e. Pensacola, Florida)
Cuba to Omoa and Santo Thomas de Castilla in Honduras
Campeche to Havana
Nodal and Le Maire: Navigating Around the Straits of Magellan
This map illustrates one of the most important discoveries in the history of world trade, the discovery of the Strait of Le Maire or, as the Nodal brothers christened it, the Strait of San Vicente. The Nodal expedition was a reconnaissance mission sponsored by King Philip III of Spain in 1619. The purpose was to confirm the recent discoveries of Jacob Le Maire and Willem Schouten of a passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the south of Tierra del Fuego.
The expedition was led by the brothers Bartolomé and Gonzalo García de Nodal, who were accompanied by cosmographer Diego Ramirez de Arrellano, who served as the chief navigator. The expedition departed from Lisbon on September 27, 1618 and by January 22, 1619 the two ships entered the strait discovered by Schouten and Le Maire between Tierra del Fuego and Staten Island. The expedition named the Strait "San Vicente." The pair reconnoitered the region to the south of Tierra del Fuego including the Drake Passage, before returning to Spain on July 7, 1619.
Le Maire and Schouten, sponsored by independent Dutch merchants, had circumnavigated via the new-found strait from 1615 to 1617. The importance of their find lay in the fact that Spain preferred to operate a closed sea policy in the Pacific; they claimed that their ships were the only vessels allowed to ply Pacific waters. Other nations did not agree with this policy, but the difficulty and distance in passing via the Straits of Magellan prevented many from attempting to enter the Pacific.
Additionally, the Straits were claimed as proprietary territory of the Dutch East India Company, which gave them a veritable monopoly over the passage and prevented non-company ships from passing through, even though the waters were seldom if ever patrolled. The new strait provided a legal avenue for ships of all nations to enter the Pacific, a situation feared by the Spanish whose ports on the western side of South America, already proven vulnerable to sacking by the likes of Francis Drake, were again at risk.
The Nodal expedition was meant to provide the Spanish with vital geographic information about the crucial, yet little known, area around the Straits of Magellan. The brothers established the navigability of the passage and found the Diego Ramirez Islands, which remained the most southerly point visited by Europeans until Captain James Cook sailed in the area in 1775.
The voyage is exceptionally well documented and many of the Spanish names around Tierra del Fuego owe their origin to it. In addition, the voyage was unusually well organized and controlled; not a single man was lost and the ships never lost sight of each other - Howgego.
Spanish geographic knowledge management and secrecy
The brothers subsequently published their report of the expedition, which was intended to be accompanied by a map created by Diego Ramirez de Arellano. This map was prepared with the assistance of Pedro Teixeira, a royal cosmographer of King Philip III and, after 1621, Philip IV. However, after publication, it is believed that the map was suppressed, such that most examples of the original edition of the book do not include the map.
Only fragments are known of Teixeira's life, although it is evident that he enjoyed royal favor and was respected as a cosmographer. Born in Lisbon ca. 1595 (d. 1662), Teixeira hailed from a family of cosmographers. His father, Luis, (active 1564-1613) was a royal cosmographer as well. Pedro's brother, Joao, was also a royal cosmographer before siding with Portuguese nationalists during the revolt begun in 1640.
Pedro was a royal cosmographer by 1620, when he began work on this map. Other surviving works include a manuscript atlas of Spain's principal ports, which has three copies of an accompanying written description. In Spanish archives are manuscript maps of the Basque regions and Navarra, and a map of Portugal was completed and displayed at the Royal Palace in Madrid in the 1630s. It was printed posthumously. He became a knight of the Order of Christ in 1632. In the early 1640s, Pedro surveyed for the Crown during the revolts in Portugal and Catalonia. In 1656, he drew a large map of Madrid that was printed in Antwerp and hung in the principal palaces of the Spanish empire in Europe.
The full title of this map is:
Reconocimiento De Los Estrechos de Magallanes y San Vicente Mandado hacer por S.M. en el Real Consejo de Yndias: partieron de Lisboa en 27 de Setiembre de 1618, y llegaron de buelta a San Lucar a 9 de Iulio de 1619. Cabo de dos Caravelas Bartolome Garcia de Nodal y Capitan Gonçalo de Nodal. Cosmographo Diego Ramirez, Piloto Juan Manco. Dispuesto. Por Don Pedro Teixeira Ealbernas, Cosmographo du S. M.
Why might Spain want to suppress Teixeira's map, especially when it trumpeted new discoveries and re-situated the strait as their own? Spain wished to limit the number and nationality of vessels who entered the Pacific Ocean. However, their naval capacity did not allow for constant monitoring of the Straits of Magellan and Cape Horn. Instead, they preferred to constrict the spread of geographic and navigational information that might help a merchant or state to mount a Pacific voyage.
This limiting of geographic knowledge was part of a larger strategy of censoring and controlling the circulation of sensitive information about their far-flung empire. Information brought back from Spanish voyages was locked in the Casa de la Contratación, founded in 1503 to regulate commerce and navigation with overseas possessions. The piloto mayor, head of the Casa, was charged with updating the master chart of the world, the padrón real, and with dispensing and collecting charts used by pilots on Spanish vessels.
While it is true that the padrón real was kept in a chest locked with three keys, it is more accurate to characterize the geographic knowledge collected by the Casa as closely monitored, not truly clandestine. Pilots sometimes did not return charts and word of mouth spread certain geographic discoveries. Additionally, the Crown allowed some publications that were thought to augment the reputation of the Spanish Empire. Cosmographers at the Casa pioneered the genre of the navigational manual, for example.
During the reign of Phillip III (r. 1598-1621) in particular, cosmographers like Teixeira were encouraged to publish their works, although such publications had to undergo a careful vetting process. It is likely that the Nodal voyage account, and its accompanying map, was subject to such vetting. However, after publication in 1621, and perhaps due to the change in monarch, it was decided that the map shared too much valuable information and it seems to have been removed from almost every surviving copy of the book. Offered here is the second printing of the book (dated variously to 1766 or 1769), when Spain again sought to advertise their geographic prowess, with a reduced and re-engraved version of the map which is dated 1769.
The 1621 first edition of Nodal was described by Sabin in the 1860s as "one of the rarest books of its class."
According to the Hill catalog, "Copies [of the first edition of 1621] of the Relacion... containing the map are so rare that it is believed to have been suppressed in accordance with the official Spanish policy of secrecy."
This second edition, which includes the additional valuable work by Echevelar describing sea routes in America, and a nice version of Teixeira's map, can reasonably be called the first obtainable edition.
The Art Bulletin 96, no. 1 (2014): 50-69. Portuondo, Maria M. Secret Science: Spanish Cosmography and the New World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.