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The Seventeenth Century


Sixteenth Century

Seventeenth Century

Some Eighteenth Century Historians

Alexander von Humboldt

Revolution & Independence

Rediscovering Mexican Antiquity

Emergence of Mexico




map of new spainA Map of New Spain from the 1630's

Laet, Joannis de, 1593-1649.
Novvs orbis, seu Descriptionis Indiae Occidentalis, libri XVIII. . . . Novis tabulis geographicis et variis animantium, plantarum fructuumque iconibus illustrati.
Leyden: Elzevir, 1633.  Calf. Cardinal Richelieu's copy, gold-stamped with his arms.

The Dutch geographer de Laet's book, published by the great house of Elzevir, contained fourteen maps of the Americas engraved by Hessel Gerritz.

blaeu grand atlas

Central America in the mid Seventeenth Century

Willem Janssoon Blaeu, 1571-1638, "Yucatan et Guatemala," from Joan Blaeu, 1596-1673, comp., Le grand atlas, ou, Cosmographie blaeviane: en laquelle est exactement descritte la terre, la mer et le ciel; v.12. Amerique.
Amsterdam: Chez Jean Blaeu, 1667. Contemporary vellum, gold-stamped.
Kendall Collection.

Blaeu’s Grand Atlas has two maps including 17th-century Mexico, a more detailed one concentrating on the central areas and the Pacific coast, and this one, covering a wider area, including the Caribbean coastline and Vera Cruz.  The twelve volumes of maps in this atlas, published by Blaeu's son in various editions with accompanying text in different major languages, cover the whole known world and constitute the single most important Renaissance map series in Thomas Cooper Library. The beautiful hand-colored copperplates of the Blaeu atlas are nearly all reprintings of maps originally engraved and issued by the elder Blaeu in the 1630's and 1640's.

port acapulco

A Depiction of Mexico City from the 1670's

Montanus, Arnoldus, 1625?-1683.
De Nieuwe en onbekende weereld
of Beschryving van America en 't zuid-land,vervaetende d'oorsprong der Americaenen en zuid-landers, gedenkwaerdige togten derwaerds, gelegendheid der vaste kusten, eilanden, steden, sterkten, dorpen, tempels, bergen, fonteinen, stroomen, huisen, de natuur van beesten, boomen, planten en vreemde gewasschen, Gods-dienst en zeden, wonderlijke voorvallen, vereeuwde en oor/oogen . . .
Amsterdam: Meurs, 1671. Large paper.  Contemporary calf. Alfred Chapin Rogers Collection.

Montanus's description of the Americas (which was immediately pirated for English translation by John Ogilby) also includes a double-page engraving of Port Acapulco.

ameri descrip

A British Traveler through Mexico in the mid-17th century

Gage, Thomas, 1603?-1656.
A new survey of the West-India's: or, The English American his travail by sea and land; containing a journal of three thousand and three hundred miles within the main land of America. Wherein is set forth his voyage from Spain to St. John de Ulhua;  and from thence to Xalappa, to Tlaxcalla, the City of Angels, and forward to Mexico. Second ed.
London: Printed by E. Cotes, and sold by J. Sweeting, 1655. Contemporary paneled calf.  William R. Bailey Collection.

From an English catholic family and educated in Spain, Thomas Gage initially went to Mexico in 1625 as a Dominican missionary. In 1636, he left his parish and the order and traveled independently throughout the region, before returning to London in 1639, rejecting the Roman church, and becoming a warm supporter of Parliament during the English Civil War. His account of his travels, first published in 1648, with its description of the wealth and vulnerability of Spanish America, led to a British naval expedition, which failed to capture Hispaniola, but successfully seized control of Jamaica.


A Jesuit in Mexico and Peru in the early 17th century

Victoria, Pedro Gobeo de, 1560?-1630?; Bissel, Johannes, 1601-1682, transl. Joannis Bisselii, è societate Jesu, Argonauticon Americanorum, sive, Historiæ periculorum Petri de Victoria, ac sociorum eius, libri XV. 
Monachii: formis Lucæ Straubii, sumptibus Ioannis Wagneri bibliopolæ, 1647.  Contemporary pigskin over wood.

Gobeo's account, Naufragio y peregrinacion de Pedro Gobeo de Vitoria, natural de Sevilla, was first published in Spanish in Seville in 1610.

indian emperour

Montezuma on the British Stage

Dryden, John, 1631-1700.
The Indian emperour, or the, Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards. 
London: Herringman, at the Sign of the Blue Anchor, 1681.
Calf spine, marbled boards.

Montezuma's story, as a heroic leader doomed by the clash between opposing civilizations, resonated with Britons in the post-Civil War Restoration period, in which their own monarch had been executed by the victorious Parliamentary forces. This play by the first English Poet Laureate, John Dryden, was first performed in 1665, and first printed the following year.

middle part of america

Dampier: A British Expedition in the Age of the Buccaneers

Dampier, William, 1652-1715.
A new voyage round the world. Describing particularly, the isthmus of America, several coasts and islands in the West Indies, the isles of Cape Verd, the passage by Terra del Fuego, the South Sea coasts of Chili, Peru, and Mexico;
. . .
Second ed.
London: James Knapton, 1697. Modern cloth.

In the seventeenth-century, the wealth of Spanish America attracted the attention not only of rival governments but also of free-lance buccaneers. Dampier's account of his voyages in 1679-1691 (which took him right round the world) narrate a quasi-scientific story of geographic discovery, but the voyage was motivated and financed by piracy, and it was the chance of intercepting the Spanish galleons bringing bullion from the Philippines that took him both to the Pacific coast of Mexico and subsequently (by way of Africa) to the Far East.


Dampier in Dutch Translation

Dampier, William, 1652-1715; Sewel, Willem, 1654-1720, transl. Nieuwe reystogt rondom de werreld, waarrin omstandiglyk beschreeven worden de land-engte van Amerika, verscheydene kusten en eylanden in Westindie, de eylanden van Kabo Verde, de doortogt van de Straat Le Maire na de Zuydzee, de kusten van Chili, Peru, Mexiko. . .
Gravenhage: A. de Hondt, 1698-1700. Modem half calf.

This Dutch translation indicates the interest among rival European maritime powers in Spanish America in the late seventeenth-century, when Spain itself was politically weak.

anti-spanish outrage

Popular British Opinion in the late 17th Century

Casas, Bartolomé 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, in the destruction of above Forty Millions of people. . . . Illustrated with cuts.
London: Printed by J. Darby for D. Brown, 1699. Contemporary panelled calf.

This little volume, a translation into English from a French condensation of several different older works by Bartolomé de las Casas, indicates the curious mixture in British attitudes of anti-Spanish outrage (in the illustration) and of entrepreneurial ambition (in its appendix "The Art of Travelling, fhewing how a Man may difpofe his Travels to the beft advantage.).


mexico map

An Account of Dampier's Return to Mexico

Funnell, William. A voyage round the world. Containing an account of Captain Dampier's expedition into the South-seas in the ship St. George, in the years 1703 and 1704 . . . together with the author's voyage from Amapalla on the west coast of Mexico, to East India.
London: W. Botham, for J. Knapton, 1707.  Contemporary calf. 

Funnell, who describes himself as mate but was apparently only the steward, sailed on Dampier's third major voyage, when Dampier attacked but failed to capture the Manila galleon, and had to abandon his expedition.  The map shown here depicts a section of the American coast where buccaneers could land and raid both Spanish and Indian settlements, which they lurked in wait for richer prey.


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This page updated May 12, 2008
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