The Representations of the Overseas World in the De Bry Collection of Voyages (1590-1634)
Michiel van Groesen
Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2012 [pbk, 1st ed. 2008]
The De Bry collection of voyages, published between 1590 and 1634, is one of the most monumental publications of early modern Europe. It comprises 27 folio-volumes, published simultaneously in Latin and German, and contains nearly 600 large-scale copper engravings of European voyages to America, Africa, and Asia. In this book I argue that the De Bry family manipulated some of Europe’s best known travel accounts for their collection in order to reach different readerships: The Latin version was aimed at Catholic readers and humanists, the German edition at Protestant readers in Northern Europe. The book dismisses the notion that the De Bry collection was intended as Calvinist propaganda. This argument is supported by the biography of the De Brys and their publishing firm, the changes they made to the texts and images of original travel accounts, an analysis of the collection’s entry on the Index Librorum Expurgatorum in Spain and Portugal, and an identification of Protestants and Catholics who purchased the collection. The final chapter traces the impact the volumes had in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.