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Terra Incognita: Early Accounts


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Summario de la generale historia de l' Indie Occidentali cauato da libri scritti dal Signor Don Pietro Martyre del Consiglio delle Indie della Maesta de l'imparadore, et da molte altre particulari relationi
Venegia: [Aurelio Pincio,] 1534
Staden, Hans, c. 1525 - c. 1576
Warhafftige Historia vnnd beschreibung einer Landschafft der Wilden / Nacketen / Grimmigen Menschfresser Leuthen / in der Newen Welt America gelegen vor vnd nach Christi geburt im Land zu Hessen vnbekant / biss auff dise ij. Nechts vergangene ja …
[Colophon:] Gedruckt zu Franckfurdt am Mayn durch Weygandt Han / in der Schnurgassen zum Krug. [1557]

This is Hans Staden's account of his captivity among the Tupinamba from 1547 until 1555.
Woodcut Woodcut
The De Bry Collection of "Great and Small Voyages"

Encouraged by Richard Hakluyt, whom he met in 1587 while traveling in England, Theodor de Bry, a German engraver and publisher, began his own collection of voyage narratives in 1590. The engraved illustrations are taken from a series of water-color paintings executed by John White. Issued in parts, the work was originally published in Latin, German, English and French. However after the publication of Part I only the Latin and German editions were continued. Parts I through VI were published during de Bry's lifetime. After his death in 1598, the work was carried on by his sons, Johann Theodor and Johann Israel, who published Parts VII - VIII in 1599 and Part IX in 1602. Johann revived the series in 1619 -1620 by publishing Parts X and XI. Upon Johann Theodor's death in 1623, Mathew Merian, his son-in-law, published Part XII in 1624 and Part XIII in 1634.
Part 1, plate 1
Part 1, plate 1
Part 1, plate 3
Part 1, plate 3
Part 2, plate 25
Part 2, plate 25
Part 2, plate 26
Part 2, plate 26

Part 2, plate 41
Part 5, plate 1
Part 5, plate 1
Part 5, plate 10
Part 5, plate 10
Part 5, plate 2
Part 5, plate 2
Part 5, plate 20
Part 5, plate 20
Part 5, plate 14
Part 5, plate 14
Raleigh, Walter, Sir, 1552?-1618
The Discoverie of the Large, Rich, and Bevvtifvl Empyre of Gviana, With a relation of the great Golden Citie of Manoa (which the Spanyards call El Dorado) And of the Prouinces of Emeria, Arromaia, Amapaia, and other Countries, with their riuers, adioyning
London: Robert Robinson, 1596

Adventurer, historian and poet, Walter Raleigh rose to the favor of Queen Elizabeth, from whom he received a patent to claim land in the New World in her name. He gave the name "Virginia" to the coastal area north of Florida that he explored. His attempts at colonization were unsuccessful but it was Raleigh who introduced the New World commodities of tobacco and potatoes to Europe. In 1595 Raleigh lost the Queen's favor and was banished from her presence for four years. It was then that he set sail for Guiana and explored the coast of Trinidad and the River Orinoco. Displayed here is the first edition of his account of the expedition.
Click here to see a page from this work, annotated in an unknown hand.

Cloppenburg, Jan Evertszoon
Le Miroir de la Cruelle, & horrible tyrannie espagnole perpetree au Pays Bas, par le Tyran Duc de Albe, & aultres Comandeurs de par le roy Philippe le deuxiesme. On a adjoinct la deuxiesme partie de les tyrannies commises aux Indes Occidentales par les Espagnols. Nouvellement exorne avec taille douce en cuyvre
Tot Amsterdam Ghedruckt by Ian Ever'tss Cloppenburg, op't Water tegen over de Koor Beurs in vergulden Bijbel, 1620
Bound with Casas, Bartolome de las. Le Miroir de la Tyrannie
Thumbnail image from Le Miroir de la Cruelle Thumbnail showing image from Le Miroir de la Cruelle
Casas, Bartolome de las, 1474-1566
An account of the first voyages and discoveries made by the Spaniards in America. Containing the most exact relation hitherto publish'd, of their unparallel'd cruelties on the Indians ... By Don Bartholomew de las Casas, bishop of Chiapa ... Illustrated with cuts. To which is added, The art of travelling
London, Printed by J. Darby for D. Brown at the Black Swan and Bible without Temple-Bar, J. Harris at the Harrow in Little Britain, and Andr. Bell at the Cross-Keys and Bible in Cornhil. 1699
Casas, Bartolome De Las, 1475-1566
Popery Truly Display'd in its Bloody Colours: Or, a Faithful Narrative of the Horrid and Unexampled Massacres, Butcheries, and all manner of Cruelties, that Hell and Malice could invent, committed by the Popish Spanish Party of the Inhabitants of West-India …
London: R. Hewson, 1689
Bartolomé de las Casas was a Spanish missionary and historian often referred to as "the defender of the Indians." He came to the Americas in 1502 and participated in several military campaigns to suppress the indigenous population. He was rewarded with large grants of land that included Native American slaves. At this point he considered the natives infidels and as a priest sought to convert them to Christianity. It was not until 1514 that Casas determined to devote his life to the defense of the Native Americans. In 1515 he returned to Spain to request Ferdinand's intercession in the legal and political corruption taking place in both the New and Old Worlds. He continued writing and speaking out on the conditions he witnessed for the rest of his life. In describing what he had witnessed in the West Indies Las Casas wrote, "… My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write …"

Exquelmelin, A. O. (Alexandre Olivier)
Bucaniers of America: Or, a true Account of the Most remarkable Assaults Committed of late years upon the Coasts of The West-Indies, by the Bucaniers of Jamaica and Tortuga, Both English and French. Where are contained more especially, The unparallel'd Exploits of Sir Henry Morgan, our English Jamaican Hero, who sack's Puerto Velo, burnt Panama, &c. …
London: William Crooke, 1684

This second English edition of Exquemelin's Bucaniers contains an account of Captain Bartholomew Sharp's bloody march across the Isthmus of Panama in 1680 and his later raids along South America's western coast. What differentiates this account from others is the mention of the seizing of a "derrotero," or a set of Spanish navigational charts for the Pacific coastal region of South America. Navigational information at the time was highly secretive, greatly prized and could only be obtained by theft. It was standard practice for the Spaniards to issue charts to ship captains at their embarkation and to collect them at the conclusion of the voyage. That Sharp recognized the value of this set of charts during his taking of the ship, Rosario, reveals a man of shrewd intellect. The English translation of the derrotero was made by William Hack. Sharp presented the charts to King Charles II, thus securing a pardon for his crimes and a commission as captain in the Navy. Shown here is a portrait of a bucanier known only as "Roche Brasiliano" because of his long residence in the country of Brazil.

Bucanier Bucanier
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