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56th Annual Meeting
Society for the History of Discoveries
July 8 (Wednesday) – July 11 (Saturday), 2015
London, United Kingdom

Co-hosted by the School of Advanced Study at the University of London

University of London Senate House and Library

Senate House
University of London, Malet St
London WC1E 7HU
UK


InformationAbstracts
Annual Meeting Photos

Abstracts of Papers delivered at
the 56th Annual Meeting of
The Society for the History of Discoveries
London, UK   July 8 – 11, 2015


ARRANGED ALPHABETICALLY BY AUTHOR



Early Admiralty Charts of the Adriatic with Special Regard to the Contribution of Captain W. H. Smyth

Prof. dr. Mirela Altić

The period of the 19th century saw the intensification of the interest in charting of the Adriatic Sea. That interest was facilitated by the role of the Adriatic in the wars with Napoleon. Since the main roles in these hostilities were played by the British, French and Austrian forces, those were the empires that invested considerable efforts in developing the first reliable navigational charts of the Adriatic during the 19th century. First cartographic campaign in Adriatic started soon after establishment of the British Hydrographic Office.  Already in 1800, the first British survey of the Adriatic and the first sheets of Admiralty chart of Adriatic being published in 1801 accordingly.

The hydrographic surveying operations in the Mediterranean were greatly intensified after 1812, when the leading role in the surveying efforts was taken by Captain William Henry Smyth, one of the foremost British hydrographers of the 19th century. Smyth was to coordinate the survey of the Adriatic carried out by the Italian and Austrian surveyors, ensuring the maritime completion, and then proceed with an independent survey from Budva to Parga (Epirus), parts of the Adriatic under Ottoman rule where safe sailing was only possible for ships under the British flag. This international cooperation resulted in the first nautical atlas of Adriatic (Carta di Cabotaggio del Mare Adriatico) published byIstituto Geografico Militare in Milan as well as the first complete series of Admiralty chart published by British Hydrographic Office.  The charts of the Adriatic created under supervision of Captain Smyth were the first detailed and completely reliable charts of the Adriatic and as such played an important role in the subsequent development of maritime affairs. The support in the charting of the Adriatic that the British Admiralty provided to the Austrian Empire was the decisive factor in the successful establishment of their own hydrographic service.

Proposed paper brings new results concerning the British charting of the Adriatic and presents some hitherto unpublished charts created by the officers of British Hydrographic Office like triangulation map of Adriatic, track map of the survey and manuscript costal views.

Biographical sketch:  Dr. Mirela Altić is a chief research fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences in Zagreb, Croatia. She specializes in historical geography and historical cartography of Balkans. At the Department of History, at the University of Zagreb, Dr. Altić holds the rank of full professor and lectures on the history of cartography and historical geography. She is the author of twelve books, numerous scholarly papers and a contributor to The History of Cartography Project. For the academic year 2013–2014 she was awarded the David Woodward Memorial Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Recently, she was awarded the McColl Research Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.


1500: The Year of Eight Distinct World Views

Wesley Brown

Remarkably, there was one time in history, around 1500 AD, when eight very different types of maps were being produced. Although some were contemporary printings of ancient maps, all were being made to represent geographical information for contemporary use and study, not as ancient specimens but as contemporary ways to understand geography. They are 1) Greek and Roman maps, 2) maps of Claudius Ptolemy, 3) classical Islamic Maps, 4) Biblically based European maps, 5) portolan charts, 6) maps of European Renaissance, 7) Chinese maps 8) Asian Indian maps. The presenter will explain each of these forms of maps, their time of use, and show illustrations of original examples from his collection.

Biographical sketch: Wesley Brown has been a collector, student, and author of old maps for thirty years.  He confines his map collecting to two areas (1) the earliest world maps up to the year 1540 and (2) the exploration and settlement of Colorado from the 16th through 20th centuries.  A Denver resident, he co-founded the Rocky Mountain Map Society in 1991 and served as its President for its first seven years. He has served as an advisor involving maps for the Library of Congress and the Denver Public Library.  Wes fell in love with maps using U.S.G.S topographical maps climbing mountains as a teenager. He has since climbed 400 different named peaks in Colorado and is a Field Active member of Alpine Rescue Team. Wes has been employed as an investment banker for more than 34 years specializing in arranging financings and mergers for banks.


Mapping the Middle Ground: Exploratory Surveying as Distributed Cognition

Gary A. Davis

“1798 April 9th Monday a rainy Morning. At 10 Am the Rain ceased we put the Canoe in order. At 1 pm went up the Clear River. I have with me 3 men, and a woman, wife to one of the men, who is to be our Guide. S 35 W ¼ M…”

So begins an entry in David Thompson’s journal recording a trip by canoe from a Northwest Company fur post at the junction of the Clearwater and Red Lake rivers, in what is now northwestern Minnesota, to the Northwest Company’s depot at Grand Portage, on Lake Superior. Thompson had been hired by the Northwest Company nine months earlier for his skills as a practical astronomer and surveyor and the primary purpose of this trip was to collect scientifically-defensible data relevant to the boundary between British Canada and the United States. Thompson’s methods, an adaptation of those used for sea-going navigation, involved dead-reckoning observations of the directions and distances traveled combined with astronomical observations made at important or convenient stopping places. These observations would later be reduced and combined to produce a representation of the route, plotted on a latitude-longitude grid.

It has been argued (e.g. Belyea 1992, 2007; Short 2010) that a significant component of Euro-American discovery in North America can be viewed as cartographic encounters, in which geographical knowledge possessed by Native Americans was translated into forms understandable by Euro-Americans. In cognitive science the concept of distributed cognition, where components of a cognitive task are performed at possibly different times by possibly different individuals or devices, has been used to describe both modern piloting of ships and inter-island navigation by natives of the Caroline Islands (Hutchins 1995). In this paper two exploratory surveys of the Mississippi river headwaters, conducted by David Thompson in1798 and Joseph Nicollet in1836, are modeled as especially effective distributed cognitive systems which transform internal representations of the region’s geography, possessed by local residents, into external representations amendable to scientific mapping. The effectiveness of these surveys was supported by the middle ground (White 1991) created out of interaction between the Ojibwe and the fur trade, and facilitated by mixed-blood individuals as translators and brokers.

Biographical sketch:
Gary A. Davis is a Professor in the Dept. of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering at the University of Minnesota. In addition to research in transportation engineering and traffic safety he has also studied the methods of exploratory surveying used by 18th and 19th century land explorers. Earlier work has been published in Terrae Incognitae and Surveying and Land Information Science.


“Open water up to the Pole …” – Assumptions, Surprises and Discoveries in the Arctic

Imre Demhardt

After the defeat of Napoleon and a hibernation of almost two centuries attempts for the Northeast and Northwest Passages took up again and ushered in the heydays of European discovery expeditions in the Arctic. By touching on all the major islands north of the Arctic Circle (Spitzbergen, Nowaja Semlja, Franz-Josef-Land, New Siberian Islands, Wrangel-Land, Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Greenland) the lecture aims to trace the main events of polar exploration right up to the ever disputed ‘conquest’ of the Pole in 1908/09.

Biographical sketch: Imre Demhardt is the Garrett Chair in the History of Cartography at the University of Texas at Arlington. At age 12 as a Christmas gift he got an old lithographed handatlas packed with tracings of discovering the interiors of the Africa and Asia. This sold him on exploration and he studied Medieval & Modern History (MA 1987) and Geography (MA 1991, Ph.D. 1995). His research interests and numerous publications include overseas explorations from the Enlightenment to the 20th Century.


Mapping the Routesofthe Early Navigatorsof Bass Strait

Greg Eccleston

The first part of the Australian coastline ever known to be charted occurred in 1606 when the Dutchman William Janszoon in the Duyfken (Little Dove) from the Dutch East Indies charted part of the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland.

In recognition of this achievement, Australia’s Dutch community was keen to have its quadricentenary commemorated in 2006 throughout the nation, and to this end each State was encouraged to celebrate the charting of its own coastline with lectures, re-enactments and the like.  As a member of Victoria’s ‘Australia on the Map 1606-2006’ committee, I offered to view the original sources for a map showing the routes of the early navigators of the Victorian coastline.  But it soon became apparent that these navigators, having discovered the existence of Bass Strait (separating the island of Tasmania from mainland Australia) needed to chart the entire strait and its islands and hazards plus the northern coastline of Tasmania, so my project was widened to encompass the whole of Bass Strait.  To obtain all the navigational data I inspected many original documents, including visiting the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office in Taunton, England, and the Archives nationale in Paris.

Beginning with James Cook’s first voyage in 1770 (which only scraped the eastern edge of Bass Strait) I traced the progress of discovery and charting of Bass Strait until 1803, by which time the location of virtually all physical features had been located and traced.  I was supported by the Surveyor-General of Victoria, who provided a highly-skilled cartographer (Rolando Garay, a refugee from the military dictatorship in Chile) to prepare the map, as time permitted while undertaking his official duties.  The resultant map was subsequently awarded the Judges’ Special Prize for Excellence in 2011 by the Public Record Office Victoria with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

Biographical sketch:
Greg Ecclestonis a retired licensed surveyor from Australia.  His life-long interest in maps and exploration was nurtured as a young Boy Scout and developed throughout a career as a survey draughtsman, cadastral, topographical and geodetic surveyor, photogrammetrist and cartographer.  His M.A. was awarded on the basis of a major thesis on the early Australian explorer Major T. L. Mitchell.  Greg is a former president of the Australian Map Circle (now Australian and New Zealand Map Society) and is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.  He was a Scout Leader for 38 years.  He is married (to a long-suffering wife of a map collector), with two children and seven grandchildren.


The map of Piri Reis (1513) and the Iberian cartography of the sixteenth century

Joaquim Alves Gaspar

The map of Piri Reis (1513) is a precious monument of the Turkish and world cartographic heritage. Not because it is the most perfect and accurate exemplar of the Renaissance’s cartography (it is not) or because it depicts the Antarctica with extraterrestrial accuracy (it does not) but because it contains the earliest extant representation of the Americas, illustrating with eloquence the conviction of Columbus about his arrival to the Orient. According to one of the map’s legends the lands shown on its western side were copied from a representation made by Cristopher Columbus himself, which was found in the hands of a sailor who accompanied the admiral on three of his exploration voyages. However extraordinary this claim seems it is confirmed by a careful exam of the map, as well as of the related contemporary sources, and has been supported by several historians who studied the manuscript.

The objective of the present paper is to situate the map of Piri Reis in the context of the European cartography of the sixteenth century from which, according to its author, the geographical information was compiled. To achieve such a goal a cartometric approach was adopted consisting in analyzing the geometry of the map and comparing the results with the typical geometries of the contemporary charts. Two specific cartometric tools were used: the interpolation of the geographical grid of meridians and parallels implicit in the representation, from which the cartographical model adopted for the different regions could be identified and a gross estimate of its accuracy could be made; and the assessment of the latitude accuracy of the map, from which finer conclusions about the cartographic standards and navigational accuracy could be drawn.

The results of this quantitative analysis, complemented with the available qualitative information, have permitted to better situate the map in the context of the contemporary cartography, to identify possible sources Piri Reis might have used in its construction and to have a sounder and more detailed idea about its navigational accuracy. Contradicting previous research, it was concluded that the Piri Reis’s map is not a latitude chart: the equator and the tropics are not represented, and the length of the degree of latitude implicit in the representation is identical to the one found in the 2 portolan charts of the fifteenth century representing Western Europe. Furthermore the old thesis that this was the most accurate representation of the world made in the sixteenth century is not confirmed. On the contrary, if some difference can be found between this map and the Portuguese and Italian sources from which it was probably compiled, it is in the sense of a poorer detail and precision.

Biographical sketch:
Dr. Joaquim Alves Gaspar is a Captain of the Portuguese Navy (retired), specialist in marine navigation and hydrographic sciences, and holds a PhD by the New University of Lisbon, with a dissertation about the cartometric analysis and modeling of early nautical charts. He is now working as a researcher in the Interuniversity Centre for the History of Sciences and Technology (CIUHCT) of the University of Lisbon, Portugal. He is the author of two text books on theoretical Cartography and has published several articles in international peer-reviewed journals, on the geometry and construction of early nautical charts. The most recent articles, written with Henrique Leitão, were about the history and method of construction of the Mercator projection (1569): ‘Squaring the Circle: How Mercator Constructed His Projection in 1569’. Imago Mundi, Vol. 66, Part I: 1-24; and ‘Globes, Rhumb Tables, and the Pre-History of the Mercator Projection’, Imago Mundi, Vol. 66, Part 2: 180-195.


The 1847-8 debate on the slope of the Jordan: Robinson, Petermann, and Molyneux

Prof. Haim Goren and Dr. Bruno Schelhaas

The 1848 volume of the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society includes three consecutive papers, which reveal a short but vivid debate concerning the slope of the river Jordan, between its two important lakes, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The geographical and topographical discussion was between the American Biblical scholar Edward Robinson, and August Petermann, the German cartographer who was in these years working in London. The solution came from the report of the British naval Lieutenant, Thomas Howard Molyneux, who succeeded writing his report of his adventurous sail on the Jordan, before dying from its aftereffects.

The debate was part of an international investigation to establish the exact levels within that part of the Syrian-African Rift, which started with the 1837 publication of the fact that the Dead Sea is 'considerably lower than the ocean' [JRGS 7 (1837), p. 456]. Following different measurements of temperatures of boiling water and barometric analysis, the British officer J.F.A. Symonds, R.E., conducted a trigonometric measurement of big parts of Palestine, including taking base-lines between the Mediterranean coast to both lakes. His mistake, being exact as for the level of the Dead Sea, but giving only 50 % of the actual depression to the Sea of Galilee, led to the scientific debate.

This paper presents a small, but highly important detail of 19th century scientific study of the Holy Land and reconstructing of its Biblical Geography. We aim at presenting it as an example for international research and academic cooperation, for data-transfer and its concentration in one place, London, and by one organization, the RGS.

Biographical sketch: Prof. Haim Goren, a historical-geographer at the Tel-Hai Academic College, Upper Galilee, Israel; main fields of interest: Holy Land pilgrim's and traveler's literature, European activity in Ottoman Palestine and the Near East, and history of the modern scientific study of these regions, currently concentrating on historical-geography and cartography. Author of Dead Sea Level: Science, Exploration and Imperial Interests in the Near East (Tauris Historical Geography Series, 6), London 2011.

Biographical sketch: Dr. Bruno Schelhaas, geographer and historian, is head of the Archive for Geography of the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography in Leipzig. Main fields of interest: History of Geography, History of Cartography, Palestine Research, German History.


Scientific Expertise and the Evolution of Speculative Financing of North American Exploration and Settlement

Prof. Brent Lane

Between 1540 and 1620, European efforts to settle eastern North America progressed slowly from efforts such as the failed colonies by the French at Charlesbourg Royal and the English at Roanoke to the eventual success of the Spanish at St. Augustine and the English at Jamestown Virginia. Over the same period emerging scientific fields- including chemistry, botany, biology, cartography, and ethnography – were evolving as distinct separate disciplines from their progenitor cosmology and alchemy origins.

These concurrent developments converged as the sponsors and investors of European exploration and settlement endeavors, made skeptical by repeated failures, sought increasing assurances that the schemes of promoters were sound and their results verifiable. The demand for “scientific expertise” to mollify investor wariness was especially pronounced in the wake of the spectacularly unsuccessful Frobisher expeditions of 1576-78 in which the financial losses to the English crown and numerous individual English “adventurer” investors resulting from inaccurate metallurgical assaying of gold “ores” created a poisonous environment for speculative investment in New World settlement promoters.

One such promoter, Sir Walter Raleigh, sought to counter investor skepticism through an emphasis on scientific expertise as an integral component of exploration and colonization. His 1584-90 Roanoke Colony expeditions emphasized the inclusion of recognized scientific and technical experts and the performance of credible research. A previously unknown manuscript recently discovered by Mr. Lane provides the first description of the investment proposition Raleigh offered prospective investors in his Roanoke venture. Combining analysis of that document with other recent archaeological and cartographic discoveries related to the Roanoke Colony and other contemporaneous efforts, Mr. Lane will describe how a growing reliance on private investors to support exploration and settlement elevated the role of scientific expertise to a necessity.

Biographical sketch:
Brent Lane is a professor of Heritage Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he also directs an economic strategy research center at the Kenan Institute, part of the UNC School of Business. Brent works with several national and international organizations on the importance of natural and cultural heritage in conservation, education and the economy. Beyond the academy his professional life bridges venture capital, research and entrepreneurial development. He brings these perspectives together in his scholarly research to understand how the forces of commerce, science and finance combine to support exploration and discovery. Brent has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina, and a Master’s degree in Science Policy from the George Washington University, as well as undergraduate degrees in both physical and social sciences.


The Maritime Exploration of Vancouver Island

Michael Layland

Vancouver Island is the largest island on the Pacific coast of the Americas. Of comparable area are Denmark, Taiwan, Sicily, Switzerland, and Costa Rica. Located on the last temperate coastline to be explored by Europeans, its recorded history is relatively short if compared to European or Asian counterparts. That history, however, is no less complex and interesting. Intriguing clues, rumours, and salt-encrusted yarns remain as well, extending the saga of the island’s discovery and exploration deep into pre-history.

The proposed presentation will open with Hui Shen and other early Asiatic voyagers; Francis Drake’s discovery of Nuova Albion, and Juan de Fuca’s report of finding a navigable passage connecting the Pacific with the Atlantic. In the 1770’s came the first reliably recorded visits by Juan Pérez, James Cook, and the French Count de la Pérouse. Cook’s landfall and brief call into Friendly Cove, on the island’s west coast, triggered a group of explorer/traders seeking sources of sea otter pelts to sell in China.

Between 1789 and ’91, further Spanish explorers out of San Blas in Mexico, concerned by a perceived threat to their Manila treasure galleons, established a base, San Miguel de Nuca, at Cook’s Friendly Cove, and from there, explored into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Gulf of Georgia. Two simultaneous charting missions seeking the western portal to the Northwest Passage soon followed: that of the Spaniard Dionisio Alcalá Galiano, and the Royal Navy’s George Vancouver. Together, they revealed the fact of insularity and shared their charting data. To commemorate their collaboration, they called it “The Island of Quadra and Vancouver” – but, sadly, the Spanish element was soon dropped.

After a 50-year hiatus, attention returned to the island when the Hudson’s Bay Company established a new fur-trading post and farm at its southern tip, called Fort Victoria. After the international boundary was agreed in 1846, the British Government proclaimed the new Colony of Vancouver Island. Ships of the Royal Navy charted local harbours and gradually came to use Victoria’s neighbouring Esquimalt Harbour as their main base on the eastern Pacific. Following the Fraser River gold rush of 1858, London proclaimed a second Colony on the coast, that of British Columbia.

The Royal Navy then deployed George Henry Richards on a 6-year hydrographic charting mission to Vancouver Island and the adjacent coastline, initially in HMS Plumper, later replaced by HMS Hecate and continued in a locally chartered paddle-wheeler HMS Beaver, by Daniel Pender. By the time they finished, 1870, few coasts in the world were charted as thoroughly and accurately. Richards’s charting of the coasts of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, 75 charts in total, was considered sufficient for navigational purposes until the turn of the century.

No further British hydrographic vessels operated on the station until HMS Egeria in 1898. By which time, advances in surveying and navigation technology, combined with the advent of in-board engines for ship’s boats, enabled the acquisition of a far denser and more accurate array of soundings, and the charts revised.

Biographical sketch: Michael Layland was born and educated in England and trained as an officer and a mapmaker in the Royal Engineers, serving for seven years.  He then worked on civilian survey projects in Peru, Chile, Colombia, Central America, Nigeria, Mexico, and North and West Africa. He has lived in British Columbia for some 30 years, for the last 20 in Victoria.  Michael serves as a past-president of the Friends of the BC Archives, is a former president of the Victoria Historical Society, and is on the committee of the Historical Map Society of BC.  He is also a member of the International Map Collectors’ Society and the Society for the History of Discoveries.  In 1998 he led a post-conference field trip to Nootka (Cook’s Friendly Cove) in connection with the SHD annual conference held in Vancouver.Several of his articles on cartographic history appeared in The Map Collector and Mercator’s World. He contributed eight entries in The Oxford Companion to World Exploration. He has collected and researched old maps of the Pacific Northwest region, many of which are included in his award-winning book on the cartographic history of Vancouver Island: The land of Heart’s Delight, published to TouchWood Editions, 2013, and he is currently working on its prequel, relating the exploration history of the island.


Sea of the West: The Imagined Sea in the Heart of North America

Donald McGurk

From 1700 to 1780 some maps of North America depicted an inland sea of enormous proportion. The origin of this geography and its unique history is often unknown, even to the most avid map enthusiast. This presentation will follow this cartographic myth’s story in five stages 1. Its possible roots as a vision of the unknown, provided through early explorations of North America, 2. Its possible existence provided, from information (both real and imagined) obtained from Native Americans, 3. Its documentation and claims of plagiarism, 4. The revisions of its uncertain geographies based on even more dubious explorations, and 5. Its geographic death knell, struck by Captain Cook and his unveiling of the ultimate truth.

Biographical sketch: Don McGuirk is a retired pediatrician, map collector and independent researcher living in Denver, Colorado. He has authored the electronic book Mer de l’Ouest, the Last Great Cartographic Myth. His particular interest in mythical geographies has spanned now well over two decades.


Some Considerations on the Origin of the Portolan Chart

Gregory C. McIntosh

The origin of the portolan chart is shrouded in mystery. Historians of cartography have long struggled with vexing questions about who, how, when, and from where these modern-looking charts came. In contrast to the contemporaneous and unrealistic mappaemundi, the medieval portolan charts, which have been called the “first true maps,” have been acclaimed for their unaccountable accuracy. This presentation suggests, however, that precision and accuracy, two related but distinctive aspects of measurement, have sometimes been confounded with each other. Portolan charts may not be as astonishingly accurate has scholars have assumed.

Likewise, the difference between the directions and locations on portolan charts and the “true” directions and locations has been frequently commented upon, with the implication that the portolan charts are in “error,” to be explained by magnetic declination. This presentation suggests that any apparent discrepancy between the portolan chart directions and locations and the “true” directions and locations is a misapprehension because portolans charts and latitude charts are constructed from two different measurement systems – one based upon geomagnetism and the other based upon astronomy.

With the increasing use of the magnetic compass in the 13th century, merchants could more confidently sail out of sight of land and sail year-round regardless of cloud cover that obscures sun and stars. When a ship left the intended course by tacking into the wind or because of weather, with the greater number of precise sailing directions afforded by use of the magnetic compass, a ship could recover the course of pelagic (open-sea) sailings between major ports in the Mediterranean. The return to the course was determined by solving the triangle, that is, the Pythagorean theorem. The possibility is considered that the precursor to the portolan chart did not start out as a map but as a piece of scrap parchment for calculating the sides of triangles for recovering the course. The stylistic coastlines, derived from the portolani books (coastal navigation books), would have subsequently been added to this framework of repeatedly drawn lines of pelagic courses and triangles to become the first recognizable portolan chart. This reverses the order of composition implied in the landmark work of Jonathan Lanman in 1987. The composition process may have occurred in Pisa, the dominant Italian maritime state of the 13th century. Following the defeat of Pisa by Genoa in the Battle of Meloria in 1284 and the destruction of Porto Pisano a few years later, portolan chart making spread to Genoa, Venice, and Palma.

Biographical sketch: Gregory C. McIntosh is a retired aerospace engineer (Hughes Aircraft, McDonnell-Douglas, Boeing Aircraft) and is currently lecturing at Piri Reis University in Istanbul. His research work and publications are primarily on the early sixteenth century cartography of the New World. He is a past council member of the Society for the History of Discoveries, past vice-president of the California Map Society, and his memberships have included the International Map Collectors Society, the Texas Map Society, the Washington Map Society, and the International Society for the History of Cartography. He has written four books, contributed chapters to seven others, and has made numerous conference presentations. His journal articles have appeared in Terrae Incognitae, Imago Mundi, Mercator’s World, Cartographica Helvetica, American Neptune, and The Portolan. His most recent book is The Vesconte Maggiolo World Map of 1504 in Fano, Italy (2013).


The end of Iberian dominance in Asia and the Americas: the role of the Dutch

Frederik Muller, MD PhD.

Though there was a role for England and France in the discovery of the Americas and the sea routes to Asia, this was basically done by Spain and Portugal. After an initial phase of gradual reconnaissance of the Atlantic coast of Africa these two countries led the discovery, the conquest and the settlement of European trade centres and colonists in those regions say between 1490 and 1590.

There was interference of English pirates before that date and French Huguenot intents at colonization in Florida and Brazil, but it was the Portuguese who established a virtual monopoly of trade and traffic South (Africa) and East (Asia) and it was the Spaniards who discovered, conquered and established settlements in the Americas, South and North.

In the second half of the XVI century a new kind of society developed in the Low Countries, liberating itself in an 80 years’ war (1568-1648) from Imperial Spain and Catholicism and embracing the new Calvinist religion. 150 years before other European Countries shredded their ancient regimes, the Netherlands shaped themselves in a bourgeois society, with an extensive middle class, strong, local democracy and extensive maritime and foreign trade relationships, especially with the Baltic. Individual efforts were soon merged into an international company, the East India Company, financed by individual and institutional (the cities) shareholders.

Within a period of about 30 years the Dutch would take over control of trade in Asia from the Portuguese and settle in “their” Brazil. They would regularly stop a Spanish fleet at sea or even in their own harbours and empty them of their valuable contents.

Apart from the characteristics of society as described, I will show that a variety of conditions have to be met for such a historical shift in power and that these all have to be met together. The challenging country first has to appropriate the knowledge of the challenged country (that is analysing and spying). The collected information has to be worked out among others in new maps, navigational practices and routines at sea. New routes must be explored and developed, and the challenged country must be molested at sea and attacked in its terrestrial power network (fortresses; trade pacts).

In the case of the Dutch, Jan Huygen van Linschoten (1562-1611) is the spy. JH goes as a boy to Sevilla and then Lisbon, learns the languages, sails with a new bishop to Goa and spends 5 years in the centre of Portuguese Asia. He interviews sailors from the Far east when in  Goa; copies their rutters, translates their books (Orta, 1584) and quotes Portuguese and Spanish printed sources extensively in  his own Itinerario (1594) (Camoens; Orta; Diego Affoso; Rodrigues de Lagos, Peter Martyr; Licenciado Enciso, Oviedo, Acosta and de Lery. His map of the Americas is a virtual copy of the manuscript map of Bartolomeu Lasso (1584). His book is full ofinformation on both Asia and the Americas that it is used for over 100 years by North European sailors.

In cartography the central role is for Petrus Plancius (1552-1622), the Flemish protestant minister who fled Antwerp in 1585 with many compatriots after it fell to catholic Spain. His wall map of the world (1592), though based on the Mercator wall map of 1567, is the first to integrate and show all or most of the Portuguese and Spanish discoveries opening up the new era of Dutch dominance in cartography, especially marine cartography. (The map will be shown and analysed.). Publishers such as Cornelis Claeszoon in Amsterdam made printing of maps possible and facilitated distribution.

Ready to go now, the Dutch explored ways to reach the Indies. Avoiding Portuguese and Spanish control was preferred. Three expeditions are sent to discover a Northeastern route, well known for the terrible hibernation at Nova Zembla by Willem Barentszoon and his crew in 1596/1597. The Northwestern route was also explored in 1609 (Henry Hudson), and so was a route avoiding Spanish control of Magellan’s Straits (Cordes en Mahu 1598). This led eventually to the discovery of Cape Horn in 1616 by Schouten and le Maire. (Shown during the presentation will be the strategic map of avoiding routes and some details of Barentszoon hibernation)

But the best route for the Portuguese, Cabo Boa Esperanza, was first taken by de Cornelis de Houtman (1595-1597) with three ships and immediately afterwards by van Neck (1598-1599) with 8 ships. This mission yielded 400 %. Not much later the Dutch settled in Bantam at Java, conquered Amboina and Ternate (spices), and thereafter Malacca (1611).  From Java the Dutch discovered Australia (1616). Circumnavigations followed (van Noordt 1601) and Spilbergen (1614) mainly meant to harass Spain.

The presentation does not aim at glorifying the role of the Dutch in world politics but to emphasize that various conditions have to be fulfilled at the same time to accomplish success, conditions that 70 years later were met by the English.

Biographical sketch:  Frederik Muller, MD PhD. of Bergum, Holland, is an antiquarian bookseller and free-lance researcher.  .


To the Islands and the Coasts: Itineraries in the Mediterranean Sea

Richard Pflederer

The emerging interest in oceanic voyaging by the Iberian powers in the mid-fifteenth century notwithstanding, ongoing refinements in the European knowledge of the islands and coastlines of the European home waters continued briskly during the century. Numerous cartographers and navigators, mostly Italian and Catalan, contributed to the body of navigational knowledge this period. Grazioso Benincasa of Ancona and Michael of Rhodes, based in Venice, were among the leading figures in the compiling of sailing knowledge, not only of the Med Sea, but even on the Atlantic coast of Europe and Africa. Benincasa’s career is unusual in that he spent almost two decades at sea as captain of a merchant ship before beginning his shore-based life as a cartographer. Michael of Rhodes was a mariner who did not, as far as we know, produce charts, but he did enjoy a remarkable career which was documented in a manuscript book he authored which included detailed sailing instructions as well as a record of his life at sea. This paper presents an overview of their lives and nautical output, explaining them in context with the age in which they worked.

Biographical sketch:  Richard Pflederer is the author of Finding their Way at Sea, a general-audience study of portolan charts, as well as eight reference books, focusing on these charts. He won the Caird Fellowship of the National Maritime Museum in 2005 and has conducted other long term research projects while resident at the British Library and the Bodleian Library. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and now shares his time between Williamsburg, Virginia and Montepulciano, Tuscany.


Matteo Ricci and the Atlantic Islands of Zuane Pizzigano

Marguerite Ragnow

In 1602, Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci published a new world map at the court of the Wanli emperor of China.  Only six of these maps are extant and one resides at the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota.  As it happens, the 1424 nautical chart attributed to Zuane Pizzigano, on which appear for the first time two large islands in the western Atlantic, Antilia and Satanazes or Devil’s Island, also resides at the Bell Library in the original manuscript. It is by sheer happenstance, therefore, that grad student Josh Marcotte and I discovered that Pizzigano’s Devil’s Island appears on the Ricci map, in roughly the same place as on the original.  Likewise, it also occurs on the world map of Joken Nishikawa (1708). Both of these “Asian” maps were created by or heavily influenced by Europeans.  Ricci scholars have identified three European maps to date that served as his models, however their work was based primarily on examination of later iterations of the map and not the 1602 printing, and Atlantic islands were not mentioned.  No work in English has been published concerning the 1708 map of Joken Nishikawa. This paper looks at the transmission of this island on maps created in Asia, attempting to trace its history and interpretation within the context of both European and Asian cartography. It aims to achieve a better understanding of both the Ricci and Pizzigano maps and their effect on early modern cartography in Asia.

Biographical sketch:  Dr. Marguerite Ragnow is the curator of the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota.  A member of the graduate faculties of Early Modern Studies, History, and Medieval Studies, she also is a co-founder of the Mellon-funded Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World at the U of M.  She is the immediate past editor of Terrae Incognitae, the journal of the Society of the History of Discoveries, and also is the co-editor of several volumes related to medieval and early modern religion, most recently Religious Conflict and Accommodation in the Early Modern World, with William D. Phillips, Jr. (2011).


New Light on Raleigh, the Gilberts, and Other Elizabethans:  “Colleagues of the Fellowship for the Discovery of the Northwest Passage”

Charles Sullivan, Ph.D.

The subject of this paper is a little-known Elizabethan organization, the “Colleagues of the Fellowship for the Discovery of the Northwest Passage,”whose members supported the continuing search for a direct sea route to Asia. They persisted despite the general loss of interest in such fanciful projects, as the colonization of North America became a reality in the 1580s.

Who were these persistent “Colleagues”? One historian of the period hasimplied that they were impractical theorists, whose enthusiasm was “put to the test by the maritime skills of Frobisher and Davis.” But now we find that both Frobisher and Davis were actually members of the “Colleagues,” who had been organized by Adrian Gilbert after the untimely death of his brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1583. Our new source of information is a membership list of this organization, originally attached to the royal license issued to Adrian on 6 February 1584, somehow lost or overlooked since then, and recently located at the National Archives (U.K.).

In addition to Adrian Gilbert, the 45 “Colleagues” included experienced navigators such as Sir Francis Drake, John Hawkins, Martin Frobisher, and John Davis; important courtiers such as the Earl of Leicester, Sir Francis Walsingham, and Walter Raleigh; other enthusiastic supporters such as the Earl of Oxford, Sir Philip Sidney, and Michael Lok; several politicians and merchants from London; and various “west country” friends and relations of the Gilberts, Raleighs, and Drakes. Though many of them may have had future profits in mind, they are not listed as individual “adventurers” or investors with specific amounts of capital to contribute. They seem to have functioned more like a group of collaborators in organizing and promoting Davis’s three voyages (1585-87) and other efforts.

Walter Raleigh, not yet knighted but already established as a leading favorite of Queen Elizabeth, is perhaps the most surprising name on this list. In 1584 he was about to launch the so-called “Roanoke voyages” to America, with his own royal license and considerable authority to plant English colonies as he saw fit. Apparently he assumed a leadership role in Adrian Gilbert’s project as well. The “Colleagues” list and other primary sources suggest that Raleigh viewed discovery of the “Passage” as a long-term effort with prospects of eventual success. The project would have to include some deserving and trustworthy representatives of the younger generation, so Gilbert and Raleigh turned to those they knew best.

For instance, among the more obscure “Colleagues” on the 1584 list is Francis Penkvill, distantly related to the Gilberts. Tracing him, we find that his 17th century descendants created another organization with a similar name. The newer “Colleagues” helped to maintain belief in the “Northwest Passage” and encouraged navigators such as Henry Hudson and James Cook to search for it, despite the continuing lack of proof of its existence.

ORIGINALITY OF CONTENTS – This paper makes use of a primary source (in the National Archives, UK) that has evidently been overlooked by historians before now. It consists of an attachment to a multi-page license issued in 1584 by Queen Elizabeth I—a list of the 45 members of an organization known as the “Colleagues of the Fellowship for the Discovery of the Northwest Passage,” which included leading English navigators and their supporters. This newly-located document fills a gap among other primary sources previously compiled by David Beers Quinn (1909-2002) a fellow of SHD, suggesting that there was considerable continuity of effort between earlier and later Elizabethans in hopes that a navigable waterway to Asia could be “discovered, known, and frequented.”

The quotation in the Abstract is from E. E. Rich, “The Road to Cathay and the Hudson’s Bay Company,” Polar Record 15 (1970), p. 453.

Biographical sketch:  Charles Sullivan studied history, psychology and literature at Swarthmore College. Later he earned a Ph.D. in organizational psychology from New York University, and held various teaching and administrative posts at Georgetown and other institutions. In recent years he has resumed the study of history, doing research at Oxford and elsewhere on Cabot, Drake and the Tudor age of discovery. He is a member of the Society for the History of Discoveries and a collector of 16th century maps, contributing book reviews to Terrae Incognitae and Maplines.


English Maritime Exploration of the New World Under Henry VIII

Lydia Towns

During the reign of Henry VIII there were three English attempts at maritime exploration of the New World and searches for western trade routes to Cathay.  These three attempts were not simple ventures done my fishermen in search of better fishing, they were organized with the intent of exploration and were sponsored by Henry VIII.  These three ventures are the ventures made by John Rastell, John Rut, and Richard Hore.  While the voyages of Rastell and Hore have been deemed failures, they do present an interesting look at the attitude toward maritime exploration in Tudor England and the early motivations for exploration of the New World.  Rut’s voyage was the first full north-to-south coasting of the eastern seaboard of North America and presents several interesting questions, such as how this voyage, which took him into the Spanish colonies, affected international relations.  More importantly, for this paper, is the issue of why this voyage did not receive public attention at the time.  Unlike the previous English voyages across the Atlantic, Rut brought back news of a land ripe with game, perfect for colonization and full of promise, yet North America continued to be seen as a frozen tundra fit only for fishing.  Thus this paper will consider why Rut did not immediately inspire further exploratory expeditions. These three voyages were held up by such maritime historians as Kenneth Andrews and David B. Quinn as important aspects of English maritime history, yet they have been all but ignored by recent historiography.  This paper will explore these three voyages, discuss their importance at the time of their commissioning and the legacies they left behind in an England not quite ready to lay claim to Atlantic exploration but venturing ever closer to the idea of finding a Northwest Passage and the idea of colonizing the New World.  To give context to this discussion this paper will also discuss, on a limited scale, the impact William Hawkins’ trips to Brazil had on the Spanish attitude towards English ventures to the New World colonies and the impact they had on English merchants.
 
To do this, and due to the lack of supplementary material in secondary sources, this paper relies heavily on original research using such primary documents as Hakluyt’s correspondences and Principal Navigations, Spanish documents related to English activity in the New World during the early sixteenth century, the correspondences of those who helped fund the voyages, and the Calendar of State Papers, just to name a few. In addition to this, much of what is known of Hore’s voyage comes from a court case against one of the gentlemen who participated in the voyage.  As a result of this, much of what is known of this voyage comes from the documents of the Vice-Admiralty Court, making this source a key part in the research for this paper.

Biographical sketch: Lydia Towns is a PhD student in the Transatlantic history program at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her interests are in English maritime history, specifically early exploration of the New World and activity of privateers during the sixteenth century. She recently presented a paper titled “English Privateers and the Transatlantic Slave Trade” at the 15th Annual Graduate Student Conference on Transatlantic History, the paper is currently under review for publication. In addition to her studies, Lydia serves as the club secretary for the Transatlantic History Student Organization, which is sponsored by the PhD program for the purpose of furthering transatlantic studies.  Lydia chairs the Speaker Series sponsored by THSO. She received her Master’s Degree at Dallas Baptist University where she served as the founding president of their chapter of Phi Alpha Theta. During her time at DBU she presented and published her paper entitled “Faithfulness in the Face of Persecution.”


Twice Mapped: The Duplication of Islands as a Byproduct of Mapping Discoveries, 1500-1550

Chet Van Duzer

Mapping newly discovered lands in the early modern period was a difficult process. When knowledge of a region was incomplete, it was difficult to realize that information from different sources was conflicting or overlapping. One result of this failure to recognize that two different sources were describing the same feature is that the feature could appear twice on the same map or globe. Some of the most striking instances of this double mapping involve islands.

In this paper I will discuss maps and globes from the first half of the sixteenth century on which the difficulty of mapping discoveries and reconciling sources is illustrated through the duplication of islands. The maps and globes I will discuss include Martin Waldseemüller’s world map of 1507, the Jagiellonian and Lenox globes of c. 1510, Johann Schöner’s globe of 1515, Martin Waldseemüller’s Carta marina of 1516, the Harleian map of c. 1542-44, and Pierre Desceliers’s world map of 1550. In each case I will discuss the sources the cartographers used that led to the confusion, and I believe that the paper will offer valuable case studies in how cartographers worked to map newly discovered regions.  The presentation will be abundantly illustrated with high-quality images of the maps and globes discussed.

Biographical sketch:
Chet Van Duzer has published extensively on medieval and Renaissance maps in journals such as Imago Mundi, Terrae Incognitae and Word & Image. He is also the author of Johann Schöner’s Globe of 1515: Transcription and Study, the first detailed analysis of one of the earliest surviving terrestrial globes that includes the New World; and (with John Hessler) Seeing the World Anew: The Radical Vision of Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 & 1516 World Maps. His book Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps was published last year by the British Library, and this year the Library of Congress published a study of Christopher Columbus’s Book of Privileges which he co-authored with John Hessler and Daniel De Simone. His current book projects are a study of Henricus Martellus’s world map of c. 1491 at Yale University, and the commentary for a facsimile of the 1550 manuscript world map by Pierre Desceliers, which will be published by the British Library in 2015.

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