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Interesting set of images depicting the Island of Goree, specifically highlighting the Fort Vermandois, also known as Saint Michael, as it was in the early 18th century. The top portion of the image offers a panoramic view of the coastline from a northeast direction, showcasing the fort's strategic position overlooking the sea. Ships can be seen navigating the surrounding waters, indicating the island's role as a navigational point and its maritime significance.

Below the coastal view is a meticulously drawn map labeled "A Plan of the Island Goeree in Nigritiae." It includes a key with alphabetical references to various parts of the fortifications and other significant features of the island. The map shows the rugged topography of the island, with a detailed portrayal of the fort's layout, suggesting its complex military architecture designed for defense purposes. This includes placements for cannons, defensive walls, and structures within the fort. The cartography indicates the island's limited size but strategic importance, nestled in the channel between the "Occidental Ocean" and the "Atlantic Sea."

 Fort Vermandois on Goree Island, often associated with the Fort d'Estrées,  was a focal point in the Atlantic slave trade, operated by various colonial powers, including the Portuguese, Dutch, British, and French, from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Its strategic location off the coast of Senegal made it a key holding for these powers to control the trade routes and to hold, process, and transport enslaved Africans. The fort itself underwent multiple reconstructions and ownership changes over the centuries, each power leaving its mark on its architecture and infrastructure. The military importance of the fort is evident from its robust construction, aimed at defending the interests of the controlling power against rival colonial forces and potential local resistance. The fort's use extended beyond its military function as it also served administrative and residential purposes for the colonial officers and traders who lived there.  

In the first part of the 18th century, the Island of Goree was a significant site due to its position off the coast of West Africa. It was a pivotal center for the Atlantic slave trade. European powers, such as the Dutch, British, and French, contested the control of the island due to its value in trade routes and as a location for the transshipment of enslaved people from the African interior to the Americas. The fortifications depicted in the image reflect the island's militarization, a necessity for protecting the economic interests of the colonial powers that held it during different periods. The island's history during this time is marked by these struggles for control and the tragic role it played in the history of the transatlantic slave trade.

The Churchills’ voyage collection

The Churchill brothers, Awnsham (1658-1728) and John (ca. 1663-ca. 1714), were publishers in London who catered to an affluent clientele, and they were from a prominent family themselves. A distant relative was John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough. Two of their older brothers, Joshua and William, served as Members of Parliament. Awnsham also was elected an MP for Dorcester in the first years of the eighteenth century.

In 1704, they released the first edition of one of their most successful works, A collection of voyages and travels: some now first printed from original manuscripts, others now first published in English. The collection consisted of four volumes of voyages and travel accounts derived from primary sources in English, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and German, a feat not seen since Hakluyt’s work over a century earlier.

The Churchill brothers are perhaps best-known today as the publisher of the works of John Locke. Awnsham supported religious tolerance and moderation for nonconformists, stances that would have appealed to Locke. Locke is supposed to have written the introductory discourse which opens the voyage collection.

These views appeared in the 1732 expanded edition, which extended the collection to six volumes. Barbot’s Description of the Coasts of North and South Guinea featured in the fifth volume. A further edition of eight volumes was issued in 1752.

The collection was widely respected and considered one of the most prestigious examples of the genre in the eighteenth century. The maps and illustrations from the collection are relatively scarce on the market, especially given how important the publication was when it debuted.

Johannes Kip Biography

Johannes Kip (1653-1722) was a topographical engraver. Born in the Netherlands, he had immigrated to England by 1690. His most famous work are the engravings of country houses in Britannia Illustrata (1707), which he produced with Leonard Knyff. He also contributed to the 1732 expanded edition of the Churchill brothers voyage collection.