Insula D. Helenę ..., Linschoten, 1598

Jan Huyghen van Linschoten was a Dutchman who spent just over five years (1583 to 1588) in the employ of the Portuguese in Goa. He visited St. Helena in May 1589, eleven months after the visit of Cavendish. In 1596 Linschoten published a book detailing his travels titled Itinerario: Voyage ofte schipvaert van Jan Huyghen van Linschoten naar Oost ofte Portugaels Indien ... 1579-1592 (published in Amsterdam with Dutch text). Subsequent editions with Dutch text were published in 1604, 1614, 1623, and 1644, an edition with Latin text in 1599, and editions with French text in 1610, 1619, and 1638. An English text edition of the Itinerario was published in London in 1598, entitled Iohn Huighen van Linschoten his Discours of Voyages into ye Easte & West Indies.

The Itinerario has a reasonably detailed description of St. Helena and two plates which are the first published views of the island. The plate titled Insula D. Helenę ... (size 500 × 370 mm) reproduced above is from the 1598 English edition of Linschoten and was engraved by Raygnald Elstrake. The plate shows a view of the northwest side of the island and Chapel [James] Valley. The text (Latin and English) in the centre cartouche states that The island of Saint Helena full of sweet and pleasaunt ayre fruitful ground and fresh water but not inhabited: a good refreshing for those yet come out of East India it lyeth under 16 degrees on the south side of the equinoctiall lyne. The church built in Chapel Valley by the Portuguese in 1571 is shown and Rupert's Valley is indicated as The old watring place. The ships shown at anchor are the five ships of the Portuguese fleet which survived the voyage from Goa (the St. Thomas sank before rounding the Cape) and a privateer (The gallion of Mallacca) which was at anchor when the Portuguese fleet arrived at St. Helena.

This plate was exactly copied from the original plate engraved by Baptista a Doetechum for the editions of the of the Itinerario published in Amsterdam, but which has text on the plate in Latin and Dutch.

British Library shelfmark: C.55.g.7. and 212.d.9. and G.7008. [1598 English edition]
Library of Congress call number: DS411.1 .L735 [1598 English edition]


Last updated: 19 December, 2011


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