Project creator(s)

Textual Afterlives: Generating Editions and Editing Generations of Americana (JCB Digital Catalogue)

The genre fluidity of Mundus novus

Vespucci, Amerigo, Medici, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de', Giocondo, Giovanni

Alberic[us] Vespucci[us] Laure[n]tio Petri Francisci de Medicis salutem ...


  1. The  Paris edition is traditionally considered to be the earliest surviving  version of Vespucci’s report (1503). It was probably translated from the  original Italian manuscript by Giovanni Giocondo of Verona (c. 1445 –  c. 1525), the royal architect to the French king.

    The publication is still clearly marketed as a letter, with  Vespucci’s salutation to his friend Pierfrancesco de’ Medici on the  first page serving as a title. The rest of the page is filled by the  elaborate printer’s device of Felix Baligault and Jehan Lambert, a  combination of separate woodblocks and typography.

    p. 1

Vespucci, Amerigo, Medici, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de', Giocondo, Giovanni

Mundus nouus


  1. Eucharius  Silber in Rome and Johannes Otmar in Augsburg chose a different  marketing strategy for Vespucci’s account. The text is still  recognizable as a letter, with the salutation in a larger font and  separated from the main text block.

    However, the addition of a clearly distinct title – Mundus novus – powerfully shifts the text’s focus to Vespucci’s claim to have  discovered a new continent. Johannes Otmar even separated the title from  the text, creating a captivating half-title page.

    p. 10

Vespucci, Amerigo, Medici, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de'

De ora antarctica per regem Portugallie pridem inuenta


  1. This 1505 Augsburg edition adds additional paratext to the letter, making  it  less ephemeral, more attractive, and more prestigious. This edition is  the first to show New World imagery on the title page: a group of  naked  (dancing) Natives and a scene of five ships with men in Oriental   clothing. The editor of the text, the Alsatian humanist Matthias Ringmann, added an introductory epistle and a poem relating to the  newly  encountered lands as preliminaries. 

    Ringmann also changed the title to  the more learned-sounding “On the Antarctic coast recently  discovered by  the king of Portugal.” Based on the work of Ptolemy and  Virgil, he was convinced that the lands described by Vespucci were located “almost  under the Antarctic pole.”

    The title did not catch on in later editions, but Ringmann’s work had the result of bringing together a group of scholars who decided to update the work of Ptolemy, resulting in the 1507 world map where the fourth continent was named America.

    p. 7

Vespucci, Amerigo, Medici, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de'

Von der neu gefunden Region die wol ein Welt genent mag werden, durch de...


  1. The original manuscript letter (now lost) was written in Italian and subsequently translated into Latin for the first printed editions. Less than two years later, publishers in Basel, Nuremberg and Augsburg popularised the text by providing a German translation (1505). Translations in other languages soon followed: Italian (1505), Czech (1505), Dutch (1509), and French (1517).

    Included in the Mundus novus letter are a number of simple scientific illustrations. One of them represents the spatial relationship of Europe vis-à-vis the new world in the shape of a triangle, whose legs mark their relative locations of the twomcontinents: “da sind wir” (we are here) and “da sind sie” (they are there). This model triangulates the geographical location of the inhabitants of Lisbon compared to those of Brazil, taking into account the shape of the world.

    p. 7

Vespucci, Amerigo, Medici, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de'

Van der nieuwer werelt oft landtscap nieuwelicx gheou[n]de[n] va[n]de[n]...


  1. This   Dutch adaptation of the letter survives in only one copy and was printed by the Antwerp publisher Jan van Doesborch, who built his   success on illustrated romances and other popular genres in the vernacular. Van Doesborch seems to have judged the letter of Vespucci  to  be a perfect fit for his publisher’s list and transformed it into a chapbook. The story is divided into chapters and is illustrated with six woodcuts of mostly naked Natives. The print omits Vespucci’s last  name, and hints that “Alberic, the best pilot in the world”, may have  been an inhabitant of the Low Countries serving the Portuguese king.

    Especially captivating is how Van Doesborch added another layer to the “Vespucci triangle”. The addition of illustrated scenes on the legs   of the triangle changes the drawing’s original geographical meaning  into a cultural one. The 90-degree angle in which the group of noble Europeans touch the naked Americans can be interpreted as symbolizing both cultural differences and encounter.

    p. 1

Vespucci, Amerigo, Springer, Balthasar

Die reyse va[n] Lissebone om te vare[n] na d[at] eyela[n]dt Naguarir in ...


  1. In   the Journey to Lisbon, Van Doesborch decontextualizes Vespucci even urther, to the point of transforming him into a fictional character or  a  generic European explorer. The publisher merges the journey of his  main  character, Alberic, with the German traveler Balthasar Springer’s  trip  to India, part of the 1505 mission of the Portuguese Francisco de Almeida. The earliest surviving printed account of Springer’s travels dates from 1509.

    This rare edition puzzled a number of nineteenth-century scholars and collectors, who believed for some time that the work actually described an unknown voyage of Vespucci to the East.

    p. 7

The many readings of the Brevísima relación

Eguiguren, Francisco Antonio de, Casas, Bartolomé de las, Ternaux-Compans, Henri

Breuissima relacion de la destruycion de las Indias


  1. At  the end of his life, Las Casas returned to Europe and retired from his  duties as bishop of Chiapas, spending his remaining years writing and securing his legacy. Between 1552 and 1553, he engaged some of Seville’s best printers to print his treatises.

    The Brevísima relación was written ten years before as an eye-witness  account in a legal case to convince the emperor to reform the 1513 Laws of Burgos: to suppress the forced labor and involuntary conversion of the indigenous people. Although his pleas were initially successful and resulted in the New Laws of 1542, they were later watered down due to violent protests by Spanish landowners.

    Since Las Casas wanted a new group of American missionaries to take  the treatises with them, he did not want to wait until he had the  required license. This however allowed his opponents to denounce him to  the Inquisition, resulting in the text being seized and banned.

    p. 7

Casas, Bartolomé de las, Ternaux-Compans, Henri

Seer cort verhael vande destructie van d'Indien


  1. The first re-edition and translation of the Brevísima relación (and three   other treatises) happened in a completely different political setting.   Since 1566, a civil war had broken out in the Low Countries between   Netherlandish protestants who demanded religious freedom and Spanish   governors, who increasingly responded with violence to these demands.  In  1576, a mutiny amongst Spanish troops resulted in the plundering of   several cities in the Low Countries, killing thousands of civilians and   resulting in the open rejection of Spanish authority.

    This anonymously published translation is faithful to the work of Las   Casas. It keeps the original title, and adds only a one-page   introduction from the translator, who avoids openly connecting the   situation in the Indies to the Netherlands.

    p. 9

Casas, Bartolomé de las, Miggrode, Jacques de

Tyrannies et cruautez des Espagnols, perpetrées Indes Occidentales, qu'...


  1. One   year after the Dutch translation, a French translation was made by the   Flemish protestant minister Johannes van Miggrode (1531–1627).  Miggrode  remarks that he was about a third of the way through  translating the  Brevísima into Dutch when he discovered that a Dutch  translation had  just appeared. Consequently, he decided to avoid doing  double work and  produced a French version instead.

    The paratext of this edition clearly aims for a different message.   The title of the work is changed to Tyrannies et cruautez des Espagnols   (“Tyrannies and cruelties of the Spanish”) and further down on the  title  page Miggrode clearly expresses that the work should be seen as a   “warning to the XVII Provinces of the Low Countries.”

    p. 1

Augustus Frederick, Casas, Bartolomé de las

Narratio regionum indicarum per Hispanos quosdam deuastatarum verissima


  1. The   goldsmith-turned-engraver-and-publisher Theodor de Bry (1528–1598)   became a Protestant in 1570 and lived in England and the Low Countries   before settling in Frankfurt in 1588. His firm reached international   acclaim with the production of a multi-volume, multi-lingual series of   lavishly illustrated travel narratives.

    In the last year of his life, De Bry published a Latin edition of Las   Casas, with 17 engravings visualizing the most cruel passages from the   text. Tormented, mutilated and murdered Amerindians are represented as   Christian martyrs. De Bry’s version was published in the context of a   war of images between Protestants and Catholics.

    De Bry’s visualisation of Las Casas has to be read as a warning of   the atrocities that Spaniards could inflict against Protestant nations.

    p. 1

Casas, Bartolomé de las

Le miroir de la tyrannie espagnole perpetree aux Indes Occidentales


  1. The  images of De Bry’s Las Casas were very popular in Protestant Europe    and were even sold without Las Casas’s text, especially in the newly    established Dutch Republic. The Dutch- and French-language editions,    illustrated with engravings based on De Bry, were printed   nineteen times  in the seventeenth century. By using the title The Mirror of the Spanish Tyranny,    the editions emphasized the impact of the images and at the same time    made explicit the reference to the present war between the Dutch and   the  Spanish.

    p. 7

Casas, Bartolomé de las, Casas, Bartolomé de las

Las obras del obispo d. Fray Bartolome de las Casas, o Casaus, obispo qu...


  1. There   was only one Spanish edition of Las Casas’s work in the seventeenth   century, comprising five of his treatises, and including the Brevísima.   The original titles were changed in three of them, adding “por los   Castellanos” or “los Reyes de Castilla.” In doing this, the edition   emphasized that the term Castilian had to be read in the narrow sense,   and not to to be understood as Spanish.

    It was printed at the request of the vicar general of the diocese of   Barcelona, in the middle of the conflict between the Spanish Crown and   the short lived Catalan Republic (1641-1652). The independent republic   was supported by France and the conflict was part of the broader   Franco-Spanish war (1635–1659). The violent repression of the revolt in   several Catalan towns inspired the regional reinterpretation of Las   Casas work: the Castilians, not the other Spanish regions, were   responsible for the atrocities in the Indies.

    p. 1

Casas, Bartolomé de las, Phillips, John

The tears of the Indians


  1. Las Casas’s work received - yet again - a new title in this new English translation: The Tears of the Indians. The title was possibly inspired by The Teares of Ireland (1642), a work describing the cruelties inflicted on Protestants in Ireland during the Irish Rebellion of 1641.

    The translator John Phillips (1631–1706), a nephew of John Milton,   dedicated the work to Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658), who had become head   of state as the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth (1653). Phillips   hoped that the work would inspire his countrymen to put an end to the   civil war and reunite all Englishmen against their real enemy, the   “Popish” Spaniards.

    The cruelties of the Spaniards in the Indies were also used as a   justification for English claims in the West Indies. It was the divine   mission of the Lord Protector to avenge the tears of the Indians and   chase the Spanish out of the Americas.

    p. 1

Casas, Bartolomé de las

Breve relacion de la destruccion de las Indias occidentales


  1. In the midst of the Latin American wars of independence, Las Casas was re-edited many times and for the first time in the Americas: Bogotá (1813), Puebla (1821), Philadelphia (1821), Guadalajara (1822), and Mexico City (1822). The editor José Servando Teresa de Mier (1765–1827) was a priest and an important supporter of Mexican independence.

    In the Mexican edition’s preliminary discourse, Servando Teresa de Mier proclaimed Las Casas to be the prophet of American liberty and called for a statue of him to be erected as soon as independence was reached. From Mier’s perspective, the Creoles – that is, American-born descendants of Spanish colonists – had become the American Natives, who needed protection from Spanish colonial power.

    p. 1

Marketing and Formatting The History of the Americas

López de Gómara, Francisco

La istoria de las Indias. y Conquista de Mexico


  1. López   de Gómara’s work was published at the end of 1552 by Agustín Millán in   Zaragoza (active from 1551 to 1564). The coat of arms of Charles V   dominates the title page. There is almost no space for the actual  title:  La istoria [!] de las Indias is followed on the next line by “y conquista de Mexico.”

    Published five years after the death of Cortés, there is no mention   of him or the author on the title page. In an unusual introduction,   López de Gómara directly addresses the readers, translators and   publishers, claiming to have a privilege for ten years.

    p. 9

López de Gómara, Francisco

Conquista de Mexico


  1. It   is unclear if the edition of Guillermo de Millis – published only a   couple of months later – was approved by López de Gómara. However,  since  the paragraph mentioning the privilege is omitted here, it seems   unlikely.

    Although clearly inspired by the Zaragoza edition, De Millis   introduced a number of changes to make his edition more appealing.  First  of all, the title page was printed in two colors and in the more  modern  roman typeface (compared to blackletter in the 1552 edition).  Secondly,  De Millis tried to appeal to a Spanish rather than a Habsburg  audience,  by changing the coat of arms to that of Spain and by adding  “Hispania  victrix” in large letters at the top. Lastly, he changed the  title by  dividing the text in two equal parts and enlarged the title to  make it  more engaging.

    p. 7

López de Gómara, Francisco

La conquista de Mexico. 1552


  1. The   answer from Zaragoza to the Medina del Campo imprint was immediate.   Miguel de Suelves (or Zapila), one of Zaragoza’s most prolific printers   and probably a co-investor in the production of the text together with   Millan, issued a new title page for the original 1552 edition, clearly   aimed as an answer and warning to Millis in Medina del Campo.

    He kept the Habsburg coat of arms and the blackletter typeface from   1552, but copied the longer title from Millis and introduced red ink to   the title page. Finally, he emphasized that this was the authorised   edition by moving the vague reference to the privilege from the   introduction to the title page.

    p. 5

López de Gómara, Francisco

Historia de Mexico


  1. Less than two years after the first edition in Zaragoza, two different  1554 editions appeared involving no less than four different Antwerp  printers. On the one hand, there was the edition by Joannes Nutius, with  a local privilege. On the other hand, there was the édition partagée of  publishers Joannes Steelsius and Joannes Bellerus, printed by Joannes  de Laet. The latter tried to surpass Nutius’s original edition by  advertising (on the title page) the elaborate geographical index they  had added.

    p. 7

López de Gómara, Francisco

La historia general de las Indias


  1. A typical character of the early Antwerp re-editions of Spanish    bestsellers was the smaller and more economical formats in comparison to the Spanish printers. In the case of Historia general de las Indias the Antwerp editions used 40% less paper, reducing not only material but also labor costs.

    p. 7

Lost in Translation: Exquemelin’s Pirates

Exquemelin, A. O

De Americaensche zee-roovers


  1. When   Exquemelin sailed back from the Caribbean in 1674, he went to the   Netherlands to study medicine. During his time there, he published his   eyewitness account on the heyday of buccaneering, before returning to   the Americas many times as both a surgeon and a buccaneer. The work is   very critical of the behavior of the privateers or buccaneers, and uses   the word zee-roovers (sea robbers) to describe the French and English seamen attacking the Spanish territories.

    The work contains twelve engravings showing the fearless-looking   leaders of the different bands, combined with scenes of violence,   torture and plunder.

    p. 1

Melton, Edward, Broekhuizen, G. v

Eduward Meltons, Engelsch edelmans, zeldzaame en gedenkwaardige zee- en ...


  1. This   curious set of travel narratives was published by Exquemelin’s printer   Van Hoorn under the pseudonym of Edward Melton, who supposedly  travelled  to Egypt, New Netherland, the West Indies and Asia. However,  Melton  seems to have been an invention of the publisher, who used  existing  travel narratives from Johann Michael Wansleben (1677),  Adriaen van der  Donck (1655) and Arnoldus Montanus (1671) to create the  fictional  journey attributed to Melton.

    The account of the West Indies is in part taken from Exquemelin’s De Americaensche Zee-Roovers (1678), and allowed Van Hoorn to reuse some of the impressive plates that were made for this work.

    p. 1

Bonne-Maison, Alonso de, Barrios, Miguel de, Exquemelin, A. O

Piratas de la America


  1. In   1681, Exquemelin’s account was published in a mysterious, Spanish   language edition with the fictitious imprint: Cologne, by Lorenzo   Struickman. The real printer, however, was David de Castro Tartas, a   Portuguese Jew from Amsterdam. Exquemelin was introduced to the   community through the translator of this edition, the Sefardic Alonso  de  Bonne-Maison or Buena-Maison. Both men studied medicine in Leiden  and  shared a house in Amsterdam.

    The plates in this edition are altered versions of the same plates   used by Van Hoorn in 1678, so they must have been borrowed or bought  for  the creation of this work.

    The use of the imprint Cologne, a Catholic city, made it possible to sell the work without suspicion in the Catholic world.

    p. 5

Bonne-Maison, Alonso de, Exquemelin, A. O

Bucaniers of America: or, a true account of the most remarkable assaults...


  1. Exquemelin   had painted an often grim and critical picture of the dealings of the   French and English buccaneers. He was especially critical of Henry   Morgan’s attack on Panama (1669) and accused him of stealing from his   men. In the first English translation, the tone of the account changed   radically: Morgan was transformed from a villain to the central hero of   the story. The printer Crooke got his hands on the original Dutch   plates, who were altered for a second time to create English captions.

    The demand for the work called for a second edition three months   later that included two additional chapters on the English buccaneers   Cook and Sharp.

    p. 1

Frontignières, Jean de, Exquemelin, A. O

Histoire des avanturiers qui se sont signalez dans les Indes


  1. Exquemelin   returned to France in 1684 and met vice-admiral d’Éstrées whom he   impressed with his stories. The vice-admiral asked his protegé Thomas  de  Frontignières to polish the French manuscript and the work was   published in 1686 for the first time in its original language. It   contained new pirate biographies (Daniel Montbars and Alexandre   Bras-de-Fer), but also incorporated elaborate descriptions on natural   history.

    All illustrations for this edition were new and focused no longer on   the fearful side of the pirates, but rather on geographical and   biological descriptions. Here we find for the first time the famous   image of the buccaneer in his hunting outfit, illustrations of turtle   hunting at night, and the manatee, to which Exquemelin devoted a  special  study.

    p. 7

Montauban, Ringrose, Basil, Exquemelin, A. O, Raveneau de Lussan

Historie der boecaniers, of vrybuyters van America


  1. More   than 20 years after the original publication of Exquemelin’s work, it   was published again in Dutch and in Amsterdam, by the son of the   original printer Van Hoorn. The 1700 edition however looks nothing like   the original. It is a translation of the 1699 English edition  published  by Newborough.

    Exquemelin’s account is only one of the  stories. It also contains  accounts by Basil Ringrose (1st pub. London,  1685), Raveneau de Lussan  (1st pub. Paris, 1689) and Montauban (1st pub.  Amsterdam, 1698). Gone  is the word zee-roovers (sea robbers), gone are the scenes of destruction and cruelty, to be replaced by more heroic depictions.

    p. 1

Gender and the Politics of Authorship: The Case of the Peruvian Letters

Grafigny, La Marche-Courmont, Ignace Hugary de, Ashmore, Francis

Letters of a Peruvian princess


  1. Despite the immediate success, the unique ending on the novel was not universally appreciated. Zilia neither chose her Peruvian lover Aza nor her European savior Déterville, and, in addition, did not accept the primacy of European values by converting to Christianity.

    This resulted in a number of male rewriting or additions to the – at this point – still officially anonymous Lettres, giving them a more conventional ending. Ignace Hugary de Lamarche-Courmont published Letters of Aza, or of a Peruvian, Conclusion of the Peruvian Letters (1748). These 35 letters from the perspective of the male protagonist end with the promise of marriage, in this way creating a more traditional ending that redefined. Many later editions include the additional Letters of Aza, as if they belong to the original work.

    p. 1

Grafigny, Deodati, La Marche-Courmont, Ignace Hugary de, Mascarenhas, Godim, Azevedo Silva e Brito

Lettres d'une Péruvienne


  1. Guiseppe   Deodati de Tovazzi (born in Turin 1694) gave Italian lessons in Paris   and was known for his discussions with Voltaire on the whether Italian   or French was the most perfect language. His Italian translation of the  Lettres (1759)  appeared a year after Graffigny’s death and was  published multiple  times, both in Italian and in bilingual  (Italian/French) editions. It  aimed to be a teaching aid for those who  wanted to practice Italian.

    In a French language 1782 edition, Deodati is even identified as the author of the Lettres. There are however more problems with this edition, since the printer mentioned on the title page died in 1775.

    p. 3

La Marche-Courmont, Ignace Hugary de, Romero Masegosa y Cancelada, Maria, Saudier, Luis Alberto, Grafigny

Cartas de una peruana


  1. Maria Romero Masegosa y Cancelada is known only for the Spanish translation and serious alteration of Graffigny’s Lettres.   She added numerous moralising notes, suppressed critical passages on   religion, softens the original negative judgement on the Spanish   colonisation and even adds one letter at the end.

    In this letter, Zilia does decide to convert to Catholicism and   justifies the conquest of Peru by stressing how it improved the   wellbeing of the local inhabitants.

    p. 7

Grafigny, La Marche-Courmont, Ignace Hugary de



  1. After   the initial success of the first edition of the novel, Graffigny’s  name  appeared in the privilege of the second edition (1752). But even  if she  was not named explicitly on the title page, reviewers identified  her as  the author from the very beginning.

    The absence of Graffigny as the official author therefore has to been   seen as an expression of expected female modesty. Only after   Graffigny’s death did her name feature prominently on the title page of  a  good number of the editions. Since 1762, some even added a portrait  and  a biography.

    p. 1

Raynal's work(s)-in-progress

Stedman's visions of Surinam


Project Creator(s)

  • The John Carter Brown Library