Sunday, June 11, 2006

Speculum Orientalis

I think it's probably fair to describe Dutchman Joris van Spilbergen (1557-1621) as a pirate first and an explorer second. He had already sailed to Africa and the Indes at the beginning of the 17th century, but he is arguably best remembered for the world voyage he undertook between 1614 and 1618.

He was commissioned by the Dutch East India Company (so I guess it was more a case of state sponsored terrorism than true piracy) to better chart the route around South America through the Strait of Magellan, rescue Jacob Le Mayre - another Dutch explorer who significantly contributed to the data in the above maps - and proceed to the Moluccas in the East Indies to establish a Company office.

The snippets of information around online suggest that it was primarily a war fleet that sailed from Holland and attacked Portuguese and Spanish ships and settlements up and down the coasts of South America before proceeding across to the East Indies and the north Pacific. The attacks against Spanish interests continued in the Philippines and East Indies. Presumably the Dutch government (who also sponsored the mission) hoped to undermine the commercial interest of the Spanish and Portuguese and help the Dutch East India Company gain an advantage. If you click on the last map above you can vaguely make out the routes taken by both von Spilbergen and Le Mayre. The inset map shows newly discovered areas of New Guinea.

Although there is mention of some maps being adapted from those made by Theodore de Bry, the majority of illustrations seem to have been produced de novo, including new information obtained from the voyages of our Dutch pirates.

1 comment :

Bozo Faust said...

It's interesting how the pacific coast of the Americas extends west rather than north. Was that for the convenience of the map maker? ... or a confusion of navigation ? Anyway, keep them comming ... i made the map my picture of the day.

Incidentally my real blog is not at blogspot but rather at fastblogit.

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