Category: Exploration

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“All the knowen Seas”; an excerpt from The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation by Richard Hakluyt (the younger) (1589)

In this excerpt from the opening pages of The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation (1589), Richard Hakluyt (the younger) tells how his cousin, Richard Hakluyt (the elder), spurred his interest in geography, why his collection of narratives is important to the development of England, and the many delays he suffered in preparing his volume.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“In wishing him well, he killed him”; excerpt from Relation of Juan Rogel (ca. 1611)

This excerpt, translated from the Spanish, is from the “Relation of Juan Rogel,” the original manuscript of which was lost but can be found paraphrased by Father Juan Sánchez Vaquero (b. 1548) in his unpublished history, Fundación de la Compañía de Jesús en Nueva España, 1571–1580. Father Juan Rogel, a Jesuit priest born in Pamplona, Spain, in 1519, here tells the story of the Virginia Indian Don Luís de Velasco (Paquiquineo), who accompanied the Spanish in 1561 to Spain, Mexico, and Cuba before returning with a mission to the Chesapeake Bay in an area the priests understood to be called Ajacán.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Of such a dish as powdered wife”; an excerpt from The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles by John Smith (1624)

In this excerpt from the fourth book of The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles (1624), John Smith describes events at Jamestown following his own departure in 1609. These included the beginning of the First Anglo-Powhatan War (1609–1614), the Starving Time, and the colony’s rescue by the Sea Venture castaways led by Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Somers.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“The dangerous and dreaded Iland”; an excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight by William Strachey (1625)

In this excerpt from A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight, William Strachey describes the islands of Bermuda, where the irreparably damaged ship Sea Venture, on its way to Jamestown in 1609, landed after a fierce storm. Virginia’s new governor Sir Thomas Gates, Admiral Sir George Somers, and Captain Christopher Newport were all aboard. Addressed to an unknown “Lady,” Strachey’s account is believed to have been important source material for William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest (ca. 1610–1611). Strachey’s account was not published until 1625 but likely circulated years before that.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“The natives are white men”; an excerpt from De Orbe Novo by Peter Martyr d’Anghiera (1530)

In this excerpt from an English translation of De Orbe Novo, originally published posthumously in Latin in 1530, the Italian historian Peter Martyr d’Anghiera tells the story of Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón, under whose partial auspices two ships in search of slaves sailed up the Atlantic coast of North America in July and August of 1521. Martyr’s account helped fuel the so-called Chicora Legend, named for Ayllón’s enslaved Indian. The legend suggested that the area of what today is known as the Chesapeake Bay promised a climate and natural resources equal to the Spanish region of Andalucía. Divided into eight parts, or “decades,” De Orbe Novo provided a comprehensive account of Spanish exploration and conquest. What follows is Book II of the Seventh Decade.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“The people of America crye oute unto us”; an excerpt from Discourse on Western Planting by Richard Hakluyt (the younger) (1584)

In these excerpts from the first three chapters of Discourse on Western Planting, Richard Hakluyt (the younger) argues why England should compete with Spain in colonizing the America. Specifically, he makes the case for converting the Indians to Christianity, and suggests that without colonies, England’s economy is at a disadvantage. The manuscript was originally prepared in 1584 at the request of Sir Walter Raleigh for Queen Elizabeth I and her advisers only. It was not published until the nineteenth century. Some spelling has been modernized.

ENTRY

A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (1588)

A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia, by Thomas Hariot, was the first book about North America to be produced by an Englishman who had actually visited the continent. First published in 1588 and reprinted first by Richard Hakluyt (the younger) and then by Theodor de Bry, Hariot’s report documented his trip to Roanoke Island off the Outer Banks of present-day North Carolina from 1585 to 1586. With its descriptions of the region’s flora and fauna, along with the Native Americans who lived there, A briefe and true report came to be one of the most important texts produced in relation to the beginnings of English settlement in the Americas. The de Bry editions included engravings of images by John White, who had accompanied Hariot and the 600 other colonists. Together, Hariot’s text and White’s images played a crucial role in encouraging English investors to continue their colonial endeavors in the New World, and thus led directly to the beginnings of English settlement in Virginia.

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