Leen Helmink Antique Maps

La Moche in Chili

Antique map of Chile - 3 maps/views by van Noort

Olivier van Noort


Amsterdam, 1602


each ca 15 x 23 cms


Copper engraving

Stock number





$ 675


Three items: a bird's eye view and an ethnographic costume view of Mocha Island, and a view of nearby Santa Maria Island.

These are the first prints of these two islands off the coast of Chile, that were frequently visited by early circumnavigators for resupply, because they were safer than the Spanish controlled mainland.

These prints/maps were first published by Cornelis Claesz in Amsterdam in 1602, to accompany Olivier van Noort's account of his three year circumnavigation of 1598-1601). They were engraved by two of the foremost engravers of the day, namely Baptista van Doetecum and Benjamin Wright. Here the imprints are in final state, with numbers added in the lower corners, from Isaak Commelin's 1646 "Begin ende Voortgangh of the VOC".

The imprints of the copperplates are strong and even. The left and right margins are short, as often. There are no other imperfections or restorations, overall condition is excellent.

1. Mocha Island

Title: La Moche in Chile

Signed in the lower right by master engraver Baptista van Doetecum.

Fine map of the Chilean island of Mocha (Isla Mocha) of the coast of central Chile. The island was regularly visited by circumnavigators from the Netherlands and England. Francis Drake, Olivier van Noort, and Joris van Spilbergen used the island to get resupply fresh water and food.

The island was historically inhabited by an indigenous coastal population of Mapuches known as the Lafkenches. When Drake was visiting it during his circumnavigation of the globe he was seriously hurt by hostile Mapuches that inhabited the island.

"On the last of February they passed Cape Desire into the South sea, with thanks to the Almighty for that happy successe. This sea was not so peaceable, but that it entertained them with divers daies stormes, in which they lost their Boat. Their company was now an hundred fortie seven [of the original 248] . On the twelfth of March they lost sight of the Vice-admirall [Hendrick Frederick], whom having in vaine expected they went to the Iland La Mocha, in thirtie eight degrees, in the midst whereof is an high mountaine, cleaving it selfe in the toppe to yeeld waters to the subject valley. Here they bartered Hatchets and Knives for Sheep, Hennes, Maiz, Battalas, and other fruits. They went to the towne which hath some fiftie houses of strawe, long, with one doore, into which they might not be admitted. They gave them drinke called Cici, somewhat sowerish, made of Mays, which the toothlesse old women chew (supposing that the elder the Women are, the better shall their drinke be) and steepe it in water, reserving it for necessary use, and for their drunken feasts, drinking in a misordered order at the sound which one makes with his mouth, according to their Bacchanall mysteries, measuring to each his proportioned measure with unmeasurable disproportion."

(Purchas 1625 brief english summary version of Van Noort's Journal)

2. The inhabitants of Mocha Island

Title: Les habitans de la Mocho

The print depicting the inhabitants of Mocha Island.

"They have many wives which they buy of their Parents, so that the Father of many daughters is the richest man. Their life is loose, scarcely subject to any law. If any kill another, the kinred of the slain revenge it, unlesse some intercessors prevaile to procure a yeerely Cici-festivall in recompence. The Inhabitants of Chili observe like customes. They are clothed above and belowe with garments made of the wooll of large Sheepe with long necks, which they use also to burthens, of which kind they would sell none to the Dutch, but of another fat kind not much unlike ours. This Island is about sixe miles from the Continent."


3. Santa Maria Island

Title: S.Maria

The view of nearby Santa Maria Island (Isla Santa Maria), another small island off the coast of Chile that was popular as a supply base for European circumnavigators. Simon de Cordes, Joris van Spilbergen and Hendrik Brouwer all anchored at the island.

In the foreground, we see the Admiral's Mauritius (A) and the smaller yacht Eendragt (B) chasing the Spanish ship Bien Jesus (C).

"From it [Mocha Island] eighteene miles lieth another, called S. Maries, in thirty seven degrees, and fifteene minutes of Southerly latitude. Here they had sight of a Spanish shippe, which they chased and tooke. This ship they said was the Kings, sent with Lard and Meale to Arauco and Conception, where they have warre with the Indians. The Pilot certified them, that it was impossible for them to recover S. Maries, from whence they had chased this shippe to thirtie five degrees, by reason of the Southerly winds. They told them of two shippes of warre waiting for intelligence of their comming in Arica. They hereupon presently determined for Val Paraiso, and so lost their Vice-admirall [Hendrick Frederick] altogether: whom they supposed to have lost that Isle of S. Maries, by the wrong placing thereof in Plancius his Mappe, in thirty eight degrees, whereas it is in thirty seven degrees and fiftene minutes. They themselves had also beene deceived, but for notes of Captaine Melis, the Englishman which they had and followed. They heard also of Simon de Cordes his arrivall there, who by a Spaniard dissembling amity, was invited to land, and so betrayed to the Indians butchery, with twenty three men, beeing mistaken for Spaniards, their heads set upon poles, and in a glorious ostentation shewed to the Spaniards in Conception. The Spaniards made faire semblance of kindnesse, so to have possessed themselves of their two shippes, of which they sent notice to Lima, but the Hollanders mistrusting departed they knew not whither. The Spaniards in Lyma had received intelligence a yeere before their comming of the Hollanders, and of the names of their chiefe men, and provided themselves accordingly.

In Val Paraiso or S. Iago they tooke two shippes, and slew many Indians, but the Spaniards were fled. This Val Paraiso is in three and thirtie degrees of the South latitude, and S. Iago is from it eighteene miles within land, a Towne fertile of Wine much like Claret in tast and colour. There are plenty of Sheepe which they kill onely for their sewet, wherewith they lade whole shippes. The whole Countrey is fruitfull. Here they received letters from Derick Gerritz [Pomp], Captaine of the Flying Hart, one of Verhagens companie, who thinking to trade with the Spaniards there, having but nine sound men in his shippe, was suddenly assaulted, wounded, and imprisoned, where he wrote these miserable lines. His famine proceeded from the missing of S. Maries Hand, upon that wrong placing in the [Plancius] Mappe aforesaid, so that meere famine brought him to these Straits.

In S. lago they had intercepted Letters, which related the occurrents of the warres of Chili, the Indians rebelling against the Spaniards, and forcing Baldivia, the foure and twentieth of November, 1 599. slaying and carrying away captive the Inhabitants. Two hundred Spaniards sent from Lyma did againe there fortifie. The Indians likewise besieged the Citie Imperial, and had now almost famished the Spaniards. These Indians are good and expert souldiers, of which five thousand were in this expedition: three thousand of them Horsemen, skilfull at their Launces, and an hundred Shot, seventie Costlets. All which furniture they had taken from the Spaniards in many victories.

They so hate the Spaniards, that of whomsoever they kil, they plucke out his heart and bite it, and make drinking vessels of their skuls. They use Orations to incourage them to the maintenance of their pristine libertie against the Spanish tyrannie. They have one chiefe Captaine onely in time of Warre. The first choise of him in their first Spanish warre was in this sort: A heavy piece of timber was by all the Competitors carried on their shoulders, which while it wearied the most to beare five or sixe houres, one was found strong enough to endure it foure and twenty together, and thereby attained this Ducall honour.

The Region of Chili, from S. lago to Baldivia, is the most fertile in the world, and of most wholesome ayre, insomuch that few are there sicke ; yea, a sword put up into the scabbard all wet with the dewe,
doth not therewith rust. Fruits, Mays, Hogges, Horses, Kine, Sheepe, Goats, are plentifull and wander in great herds, besides Gold-mines. In the sacke of Baldivia they burned Houses, Temples, Monasteries, and striking off the heads of their Images, cried, Downe goe the gods of the Spaniards. They thrust Gold into their mouthes, and bid them satiate themselves with that for which they had raised such persecutions, and of which they made such unsatiable prosecution."

(Purchas 1625 brief english summary version of Van Noort's Journal)

For context we include below the events of Olivier van Noort's leaving the Straits of Magellan, after convicting vice-admiral Jacob Klaasz van Ilpendam for insubordination and marooning him in the straits. He was never heard of again.

"Having a fair trial, and sufficient time allowed him for his defence, he was condemned to be turned ashore in the straits, with a small supply of provisions, and allowed to shift for himself among the wild beasts and more savage inhabitants, which sentence was accordingly executed, so that he doubtless soon fell a prey either to hunger or the natives, who are implacable enemies to all strangers.

The 28th they passed Cape Deseado, or Desire, into the South Sea, bidding adieu to the many dismal prospects of the Straits of Magellan. Their company, originally 248 men, was now reduced to 147, but was soon still farther lessened by losing company of the Henry Frederick, which never rejoined. Waiting for that ship in vain till the 12th March, they sailed to the island of Mocha on the coast of Chili, in lat. 38° 22' S. and six miles [twenty English] from the continent.

This island is remarkable by a high mountain in the middle, which is cloven at the top, and whence a water-course descends into the vale land at its foot. They here bartered knives and hatchets with the natives for sheep, poultry, maize, bartulas [This probably means battatas or potatoes, a native production of Chili], and other fruits. The town consisted of about fifty straw huts, where the Dutch were regaled with a sour kind of drink, called 'cici', made of maiz steeped in water, which is the favourite drink of the Chilese at their feasts.

Polygamy is much practised among these people, who buy as many wives as they can afford to maintain; so that a man who has many daughters, especially if they be handsome, is accounted rich. If one man kill another, he is judged by the relations of the deceased, as they have no laws or magistrates among them, so that the murderer may sometimes buy off his punishment by giving a drinking-bout of cici. Their cloathing is manufactured from the wool of a large kind of sheep, which animal they also employ to carry burdens. They would not sell any of these, but parted freely with another kind, not very different.

From thence they went to the island of St Mary, in lat. 37° S. eighteen miles [ninety-five English] from Mocha, where they fell in with a Spanish ship carrying lard and meal from Conception to Valdivia in Araucania, which they chased and took. The pilot of this ship informed them that they would not be able to return to the island of St Mary, owing to the south wind, and that two Spanish ships of war were waiting for them at Arica. Upon this information they resolved to sail for Valparaiso, and by that means quite lost all chance of being rejoined by the Henry Frederick, which might otherwise have got up with them. Besides, they concluded that the missing ship had failed to find St Mary's isle, owing to its being wrong placed in the map of Plancius, in lat. 38° S. which error they themselves had fallen into, had they not been set right by the observations of Mr Mellish. They were farther confirmed in the resolution of not returning to the island of St Mary, by hearing of the misfortune which had there befallen Simon de Cordes, who was there butchered with twenty-three of his men, after being invited on shore in a friendly manner by the Indians, owing to the treachery of the Spaniards endeavouring to get possession of his two ships, and sending intelligence to Lima and all about the country of the arrival of the Dutch in these seas, with a list of their ships, and the names of all their commanders. For these reasons they proceeded to Valparaiso, where they took two ships and killed some Indians, but all the Spaniards escaped on shore. Valparaiso is in lat. 35° 5' S. And about eighteen miles inland, [100 English miles] is the town of St Jago, abounding in red wine and sheep. They kill these animals merely for the sake of their tallow, with which alone they load many vessels. Here they received letters from the captain of the Flying Hart, one of the squadron under Verhagen, who had been treacherously captured by the Spaniards; owing, as he alleged, to the wrong placement of the island of St Mary in the map, by which he had been misled.

At Valparaiso they intercepted some letters giving an account of the wars in Chili between the Spaniards and the Indians, who it seems were in rebellion, had sacked the town of Valdivia, putting vast numbers of Spaniards to the sword, and carrying off many captives. They burnt the houses and churches, knocking off the heads of the popish images, crying, "Down go the gods of the Spaniards." They then crammed the mouths of these images with gold, bidding them satisfy themselves with that, for the sake of which their votaries had committed so many barbarous massacres of their nation. They afterwards laid close siege to the city of Imperial, and had almost starved the Spanish garrison into a surrender. The valiant Indians who undertook this enterprise were about 5000, of whom 5000 were cavalry, 100 were armed with muskets, and 70 had corslets, all of which were plunder they had taken from the Spaniards. They so mortally hate the Spaniards, that they rip up the breasts of all they overcome, tearing out their hearts with their teeth, and they delight to drink their favourite liquor from a cup made of a Spaniard's skull.

These Indians [the Araucans] are for the most part very stout, and skilful soldiers, and commit the management of all their military affairs to the direction of one supreme general, whose orders are implicitly obeyed. Their method of election to this high dignity is very singular; for he who carries a certain log of wood on his shoulders the longest, and with the smallest appearance of weariness, is saluted general by the army. In this trial several carried the log four, five, and six hours; but at length one carried it twenty-four hours on end, and this person was now general. The whole of Chili, from St Jago to Valdivia, is one of the most fertile and most delightful countries in the world. It abounds in all kinds of cattle and fruit, has many rich gold mines, and its climate is so sweet and salubrious as to exclude the use of medicine, being health and life in itself.

They entered the bay of Guasco [Perhaps Huasco in lat. 28°27' S. or it may possibly have been Guacho, in 25°50' S] on the 1st April, where they remained till the 7th. The 11th they came into a large bay, named Moro Gorch, in lat. 18° 30' S. ten miles from which is Moro Moreno, from which the shore runs to Arica, and all this coast, up to the hill of St Francis, is very much subject to south winds, though the adjoining seas have the winds variable and uncertain. On the 20th the whole air was darkened by an Arenal which is a cloud of dust, and so thick that one cannot see a stone's throw. These are raised by the wind from the adjoining shore, and are very common in these parts.

The 25th they were within view of the famous city of Lima in Peru. At this time they learnt the value of the treasure of which the Spaniards had deprived them, in the ships they took on the coast of Chili. Nicholas Peterson, the captain of one of these prizes, acquainted Van Noort that he had been informed by a negro of a great quantity of gold having been on board the ship, as he believed to the amount of three tons, having helped to carry a great part of it on board. On this information the admiral closely examined the Spanish pilot, who at first denied all knowledge of any gold; but another negro having corroborated the information, with some farther circumstances, the pilot at last owned that they had on board fifty-two chests, each containing four arobas of gold, and besides these 500 bars of the same metal, weighing from eight to ten and twelve pounds each; all of which, together with what private stock belonged to any of the company, the captain had ordered to be thrown overboard in the night, when first chased, amounting in the whole to about 10,200 pounds weight of gold; and, from its fineness, worth about two million pieces of eight, or Spanish silver dollars. Upon this the admiral ordered the ship and all the prisoners to be searched, but there was only found a single pound of gold dust, tied up in a rag, in the breeches pocket of the Spanish pilot. The prisoners owned that all this gold was brought from the island of St Mary, from mines discovered only three years before; and that there were not more than three or four Spaniards on that island, and about 200 Indians, only armed with bows and arrows."

(Kerr after van Noort)

After a few days the mutinous Henrick Frederick also appeared in this bay. Van Noort asked Claesz to come on board his ship and explain his strange conduct. The vice-admiral refused to obey. He was taken prisoner, and brought before a court-martial. We do not know the real grounds for the strange conduct of Claesz. He might have known that discipline in those days meant something brutally severe; and yet he disobeyed his admiral's positive orders, and when he was brought before the court-martial he could not or would not defend himself. He was found guilty, and he was condemned to be put on shore. He was given some bread and some wine, and when the fleet sailed away he was left behind all alone. There was of course a chance that another ship would pick him up. A few weeks before other Dutch ships had been in the strait. But this chance was a very small one, and the sailors of Van Noort knew it. They said a prayer for the soul of their former captain who was condemned to die a miserable death far away from home. Yet no one objected to this punishment. Navigation to the Indies in the sixteenth century was as dangerous as war, and insubordination could not be tolerated, not even when the man who refused to obey orders was one of the original investors of the expedition and second in command.

On the twenty-ninth of February Van Noort reached the Pacific. The last mile from the strait into the open sea took him four weeks. He now sailed northward along the coast of South America. Two weeks later, during a storm, the Henrick Frederick disappeared. Such an occurrence had been foreseen. Van Noort had told his captains to meet him near the island of Santa Maria in case they should become separated from him during the night or in a fog. Therefore he did not worry about the fate of the ship, but sailed for the coast of Chile.

After a short visit and a meeting with some natives, who told him that they hated the Spaniards and welcomed the Hollanders as their defenders against the Spanish oppressors, Van Noort reached the island of Santa Maria. In the distance he saw a ship. Of course he thought that this must be his own lost vessel waiting for him; but when he came near, the strange ship hoisted her sails and fled. It was a Spaniard called the Buen Jesus. The Dutch admiral could not allow this ship to escape. It might have warned the Spanish admiral in Lima, and then Van Noort would have been obliged to fight the entire Spanish Pacific fleet. The Eendracht was ordered to catch the Buen Jesus. This she did, for the Dutch ships could sail faster than the Spanish ones, though they were smaller. Van Noort had done wisely. The Spaniard was one of a large fleet detailed to watch the arrival of the Dutch vessels. The year before another Dutch fleet had reached the Pacific. It suffered a defeat at the hands of the Spaniards. This had served as a warning. The Hollanders did not have the reputation of giving up an enterprise when once they had started upon it, and the Spanish fleet was kept cruising in the southern part of the Pacific to destroy whatever Dutch ships might try to enter the private domains of Spain.

From that moment Van Noort's voyage and his ships in the Pacific were as safe as a man smoking a pipe in a powder-magazine. They might be destroyed at any moment. As a best means of defense, the Hollanders decided to make a great show of strength. They did not wait for the assistance of the Henrick Frederick, but sailed at once to Valparaiso, took several Spanish ships anchored in the roads, and burned all of the others except one, which was added to the Dutch fleet. From the captain of the Buen Jesus Van Noort had heard that a number of Hollanders were imprisoned in the castle of Valparaiso. He sent ashore, asking for information, and he received letters from a Dutchman, asking for help.

Van Noort, however, was too weak to attack the town, but he thought that something might be done in this case through kindness. So he set all the crew of the Buen Jesus except the mate free, and him he kept as an hostage, and sent the men to the Spanish commander with his compliments. Thereupon he continued his voyage, but was careful to stay away from Lima, where he knew there were three large Spanish vessels waiting for him. Instead of that, he made for the Cape of San Francisco, where he hoped to capture the Peruvian silver fleet. Quite accidentally, however, he discovered that he was about to run into another trap. Some Negro slaves who had been on board the Buen Jesus, and who were now with Van Noort, spread the rumor that more than fifty thousand pounds of gold which had been on the Buen Jesus had been thrown overboard just before the Hollanders captured the vessel. The mate of the ship was still on the Mauritius, and he was asked if this was true. He denied it, but he denied it in such a fashion that it was hard to believe him. Therefore he was tortured. Not very much, but just enough to make him desirous of telling the truth. He then told that the gold had actually been on board the Buen Jesus; and since he was once confessing, he volunteered further information, and now told Van Noort that the captain of the Buen Jesus and he had arranged to warn the Spanish fleet to await the Hollanders near Cape San Francisco and to attack them there while the Hollanders were watching the coast of Peru for the Peruvian silver fleet. No further information was wanted, and the Spaniard was released. He might have taken this episode as a warning to be on his good behavior. Thus far he had been well treated. He slept and took his meals in Van Noort's own cabin. But soon afterward he tried to start a mutiny among the Negro slaves who had served with him on the Spanish man-of-war. Without further trial he was then thrown overboard.

The expedition against the silver fleet, however, had to be given up. It would have been too dangerous. It became necessary to leave the eastern part of the Pacific and to cross to the Indies as fast as possible.

(Van Loon)

Olivier van Noort (1558-1627)

The voyage of Olivier van Noort (1598-1601)

The financing of Van Noort's fleet was a Northern Netherlands venture. Merchants from Amsterdam and Rotterdam worked together in the Magellan Company. The fleet consisted of two ships and two yachts. The innkeeper Olivier van Noort (1558/59-1627), who hailed from Utrecht and lived in Rotterdam, was appointed admiral of the 'Mauritius'. The 'Hendrick Frederick' was put under the command of Vice-Admiral Jacob Claesz van Ilpendam; the yacht de Hoop sailed under Jacob Jansz Huydecooper; and the yacht de Eendracht was under Pieter Esaiasz de Lint. The chief merchant was Lambert Biesman. Further, the role of the English pilot Melis should not go unmentioned. Having been along on Cavendish's voyage around the world, he was able to provide Van Noort with much practical information. In total, the fleet sailed with 240 men on board.

In light of Prince Maurits' 'letter of commission' to Van Noort, there is no doubt about the purpose of the expedition. With his four ships, Van Noort was supposed to sail through the Strait of Magellan and then capture a Spanish silver ship on the west co South America. He would then use the booty to buy spices and trade goods in the East Indies. Ultimately, the ships would return the Netherlands by the Cape route, thereby completing the voyag around the world. In this way, the investments to be made by the company were minimal, whereas the expected profits were enormOUS. This plan clearly demonstrates that the company took the voyage of Thomas Cavendish as its model and deviated from the plans that the other Dutch companies had in mind when fitting out fleets for the East Indies at that time. In practice, however, things turned out differ ently than the Magellan Company had expected.

A delay of the Amsterdam contingent meant that Van Noort could not set sail with his fleet until 13 September 1598. The voyage headed south along the northwest coast of Africa and the Canary Islands in the direction of the Gulf of Guinea, by then a route that was not unknown to the Dutch. They stopped at Ilha do Principe to take on fresh supplies. There, the Portuguese gave Van Noort a hostile reception. One of the fatalities was the experienced pilot Melis; his loss was a severe blow to the expedition. At the end of December, the ships set course for Brazil, reaching it in just over a month at 22° S. There, the Portuguese had built strong fortifications, particularly around Rio de Janeiro. Thus, the Dutch, who were suffering from scurvy and a shortage of water, had no chance to land and take on fresh supplies. Coasting slowly southward, Van Noort realized that it would be hard to get through Magellan Strait before winter set in. Therefore, in March he decided not to sail any farther south. Instead, he would sail to the east and spend the winter on St. Helena. This attempt failed, however; he could not find the island and had to return to the coast of Brazil. For the time being, they were able to revictualize on the uninhabited island of S. Clara. There, since 'de Eendracht' was already leaking, they distributed its cargo over the other three ships and put the torch to the yacht.

They resumed the journey south on 21 June, setting course for 'Porto Desire' (named after Cavendish's flagship) at the mouth of the Deseado River, which they reached on 20 September 1599. Van Noort stayed in this sheltered harbor (47°40'S) for six weeks. There, the ships were repaired and the supplies were replenished with large amounts of salted seal and penguin meat. The skipper of de Hoop died in October. His post was taken by Pieter de Lint, and the ship was renamed 'de Eendracht'.

The crew raised anchor on 29 October and set course for the Strait of Magellan. The three ships arrived there on 4 November, but Van Noort was unable to enter the strait till four weeks later. Confronted with very changeable winds and strong currents, it took 116 days to reach the exit to the Pacific Ocean. In fact, it took Van Noort longer than any of his predecessors to pass through the strait. The passage took Magellan 38 days, only 16 for Drake to pass, and 49 for Cavendish to reach the Pacific. Halfway through, the ships encountered - entirely to their surprise – 'het Geloof', commanded by Sebald de Weert, one of the members of Mahu's squadron who had stayed on there. Because of the shortage of men and provisions, De Weert had decided not to continue the voyage but to head home instead. Another incident occurred during the passage through the Strait of Magellan. On the inhospitable coast, Van Noort put Vice-Admiral Jacob Claesz off the ship for disobedience.

Shortly after reaching the Pacific Ocean on 29 February 1600, the ships were separated in a heavy storm. Van Noort never set eyes on the 'Hendrick Frederick' again (The ship reached the Moluccas in a desolate condition and was bought by the king of Ternate, This did not become known in Holland until two years after Van Noort's return). Thus, the plan set forth by the Magellan Company had to be carried out by the two remaining ships, the Mauritius and de Eendracht, and only 90 men. This was an impossible mission. By then, the Spaniards were already well aware that the Dutch had arrived, so there was no chance of launching a surprise attack. The Dutch were only able to capture a single ship, the 'Bon Jesus', and it did not even have a valuable cargo on board. In May 1600, Van Noort was forced to start the crossing to the Philippines. At Guam, one of the Ladrone Islands, he made a brief provisioning stop. Then, he resumed the voyage to the Philippines.

On 14 December, outside Manila Bay, he was engaged in heavy battle with two heavily armed ships of the Spanish governor Antonio de Morga. Van Noort had one ship, the 'Mauritius', and just 53 men. But he succeeded in sinking the Spanish admiralty ship, with hundreds of soldiers on board. De 'Eendracht' was not so fortunate. That ship, which had only 25 men on board before the battle, was overrun by the Spanish vice-admiralty ship and towed into Manila's harbour.

After this sea battle, Van Noort sailed the Mauritius to Borneo, where he could repair his ship and stock up on food on the northwest coast in the Bay of Brunei. From there, he wanted to sail to Bantam to buy a cargo of spices. The prevailing monsoon put an end to that plan, though, and Van Noort set sail for home via the Strait of Bali. Without any notable events, the Mauritius arrived in Rotterdam at the end of August. As the commander succinctly described his three-year voyage, 'Den 12 Augusteij 1598 ben ick uijt roetterdam gevaren met vijer schepen ende ben daer den ghanssen cloet des eertboedem om geseijelt en ben wederom gearvert den 28 augustel an. 1601. Olivier van Noort' [The 12th of August 1598 I sailed out of Rotterdam with four ships and I sailed the whole earth round and was back again the 28th of August 1601. Olivier van Noort].

Olivier van Noort's voyage around the world did not bring any financial gain to the stockholders of the Magellan Company. On the contrary, of the four ships and nearly 250 men they sent out on the expedition, only one ship returned, carrying about 45 men. The cost of the venture was by no means covered by the sale of the spices they had purchased in the East Indies. While the expedition was no great success from an economic standpoint, it was historically significant: Van Noort was the first Dutchman to have commanded a ship that successfully completed a voyage around the world.

Publishers quickly seized upon this achievement to spread the news far and wide. Van Noort's neighbor in Rotterdam was the publisher Jan van Waesberghe. Eager to satisfy the initial wave of curiosity, he had an Extract of Kort Verhael, a summary of the travel account, on the market in a matter of weeks.12 This was intended to give the public a taste of what was to come: the extensive Beschryvinghe vande Voyagie om den geheelen Werelt Cloot, gedaen door Olivier van Noort, a book that Van Waesberghe was preparing in cooperation with Cornelis Claesz. The help of the Amsterdam publisher, with his extensive experience in producing books of this kind, was more than welcome. The most complete edition was finally published in 1602. In that same year, Cornelis Claesz also published editions in German and French. The text of the journal was not written by Van Noort. The author was most likely Daniel van Padberg, who sailed as midshipman on board of the 'Mauritius'.

The small maps that were included in the journal are of little importance; after all, Van Noort's assignment was not to collect geographical information. Therefore, the engravers Baptista van Doetecum and Benjamin Wright copied or combined older maps. The 92-page journal was illustrated with 25 plates; these were composed partly from sketches that Van Noort brought home and partly from the descriptions in the journal. Thanks to the elaborate annotations, the journal could also be read as a kind of picture book. Actually, Cornelis Claesz listed these prints in his sales catalogue as a separate series, together with a special wall map in four sheets commemorating Van Noort's voyage.


The circumnavigation of the globe. Biesman’s second voyage

While Biesman and his cousin Jacob may have been shunned by the successors of the Compagnie Van Verre, a Rotterdam brewer, tavern keeper, and adventurer named Olivier van Noort, organizer of the Magellansche Compagnie, was searching from among a very slim list of Dutch mariners experienced in the East. Lambert and Jacob had exactly the credentials he sought. Van Noort’s plan was to circumnavigate the globe by sailing west through the Strait of Magellan, following the track of Drake and Cavendish to the Indies, there to trade for spices. To that end, he also recruited the English navigator Thomas Melis (or Mellish), who had safely led both Drake and Cavendish on their remarkable –and profitable –ventures. Melis, now a full captain, would accept a reduction in rank in order to sail as opperpiloot for Van Noort.

Van Noort obtained the necessary permission from the States-General and his request for letters-of-marque from [Stadtholder] Prince Maurice was honoured:

‘We, Maurice, Prince of Orange, have fitted out these vessels which we are sending to the coasts of Asia, Africa, America and the East Indies to negotiate treaties and to trade with the inhabitants of these regions. But as we have been informed that the Spanish and the Portuguese are hostile to the subjects of our provinces, and are interfering with their navigation and trade in these waters, contrary to all natural rights of cities and nations, we hereby give explicit orders to go to these islands, to resist, to make war, and to strike as many blows as possible against said Spanish and Portuguese.’

The Prince signed the warrant on 28 June 1598. Investors in Rotterdam furnished two ships, The Mauritius (very possibly Van Noort's personal ship), named for Prince Maurice, and a 50-ton yacht, the Eendracht (Harmony or Unity [or Concord]). The other investors, in Amsterdam, bought and equipped two additional ships, the 350-ton Hendrik Frederik (named for the Stadtholder’s brother) and the 50-ton yacht Hoop (Hope). The company elected van Noort the General or Admiraal of the enterprise, with the Mauritius. his flagship (Huigen Jansz. van Troyen, master). Vice-Admiraal Jakob Claesz. van Ilpendam was aboard the Hendrik Frederik (Arend Klaesz. Kalkbuis or Callebuys, master). Jakob Jansz. Huidekoper was captain of the Hoop and Pieter Esaiasz. de Lint was captain of the Eendracht.

(Swart biography of Lambert Biesman)

Van Noort circumnavigates the world

Olivier van Noort was born in 1558 in Utrecht. He left Rotterdam on 2 July 1598 with four ships and a plan to attack Spanish possessions in the Pacific Ocean and to trade with Asia and the Spice Islands. It is said that his ships were a low quality, especially for the time period, and the crew was unruly.

Oliver van Noort was the first Hollander to sail around the world 1598-1601. He was the fourth navigator to succeed in this dangerous enterprise after Magellan (1519-1522), Drake, and Cavendish before him.

The hero of this memorable Dutch voyage we know almost nothing. He was a modest man, and except for a few lines of personal introduction which appear in the printed story of his voyage, which was published in Rotterdam, his home town, in the year 1620, in which he tells us that he had made many trips to different parts of the world, his life to us is much of a mystery. He was not very educated, but had learned quite a bit through the common schools.

Most likely he learned navigation through being a mate or captain of a small schooner. In the year 1595, Oliver van Noort was the owner and innkeeper of the “Double White Keys,” an ale-house in the town of Rotterdam.

Van Noort had put away some money and was able to raise enough money from his customers to found a trading company. With his trading company he was able to petition the province of Holland to assist him with an expedition to Spanish South America and the spice islands of the Moluccas.

To make this important enterprise successful, the Dutch States General were asked to give Van Noort and his trading company freedom of export and import for at least six voyages, and to present it with ten cannon and twelve thousand pounds of gunpowder. In the winter of 1597 his request was granted. He received four guns, 6,000 pounds of bullets, 12,000 pounds of gunpowder, and a special grant which relieved him of the customary export tax for two voyages. This demand for cannon, gunpowder, and bullets gives us the impression that the expedition expected to meet with serious trouble in Spanish territories and in the East Indies, as Drake and Cavendish before him.

Van Noort left the port of Rotterdam in on July 2nd 1598 with four ships. Van Noort commanded the Mauritius. The crew’s first stop was Plymouth where Van Noort picked up a British sailor refered to as "Captain Melis" who had sailed around the world with Cavendish in 1588. Six of van Noort's sailors deserted and could not be found again.

The first part of the trip was along the coast of Africa and then the fleet made their way to the Portuguese island Principe to attain fresh water and food.
Here the Hollanders encountered an ambush by the Portuguese which cost them 3 lives, including Olivier van Noort’s brother and the Captain Melis whom they were depending on to guide them through the Strait of Magellan. In retaliation Admiral van Noort followed a nearby river into the interior of the Portuguese colony and burned down all the plantations and houses he could find.

By February the fleet reached Rio de Janeiro, another Portuguese town. The reception here was more cordial, but the Portuguese still ended up becoming hostile. Van Noort left the area not receiving fresh provisions.

The expedition hit a snag with several of the men falling ill due to lack of food and poor hygiene. After multiple attempts to find a safe place to land and being driven away by the Portuguese, Van Noort found a little island named St. Clara. It was here he was able to build a fort and nurse many of his men back to health.

Van Noort sailed through the Magellan Strait, and captured a number of ships (Spanish and otherwise) in the Pacific. He lost two ships on the way due to a storm.

In November and December 1600, he established a berth for his two remaining sailboats, Mauritius and Eendracht, in the surroundings of Corregidor Island at Manila Bay in the Philippines.

From there he engaged in what were perceived by the Spanish as pirate activities, targeting the sailing route to and from Manila. This situation was ended after the naval combat of Fortune Island on December 14, 1600. The Spanish lost their flagship, the galleon San Antonio (its wreck would be found in 1992 and yield a treasure in porcelain and gold pieces) but the Spanish captured the Dutch Eendracht, making van Noort’s position intenable and forcing him to retire from the Philippines.

Van Noort returned to Rotterdam via what would become the Dutch East Indies and the Cape of Good Hope on 26 August 1601 with his last ship, the Mauritius, and 45 of originally 248 men. The venture barely broke even, but was the inspiration for more such expeditions. The united Dutch East India Company was formed a few months later.

(Van Loon)

A Letter from Olivier Van Noort, Circumnavigator: Pertaining to the First Dutch Voyage around the World, 1598-1601

The English expression "that beats the Dutch" is believed to have originated in the seventeenth century, when in matters of commerce and navigation the Dutch were well-nigh unbeatable, and to surpass them became an achievement bordering on the incredible.

Because of the prominence of the Netherlands in Europe's commercial expansion in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, the James Ford Bell Collection is acquiring a significant body of materials pertaining to the formation and development of the Dutch commercial empire, and offers here the reproduction and translation of a unique document in the history of Dutch overseas trade.

If such names as Van Noort, Houtman, Usselinx, and Stuyvesant are less familiar to us than their English contemporaries, their exploits as sailors, merchants, and colonists were no less magnificent or important in their time. Through the efforts of such men as these the Dutch made themselves the foremost seafaring nation of Europe in the first half of the seventeenth century.

Olivier Van Noort ranks among the founders of the Dutch East Indian Empire, and the letter he wrote in September 1601 is considered a cornerstone to the subsequent books, pamphlets, and manuscripts relating to the Dutch East Indies in the Bell Collection. In asking Professor Broek to bring the letter into the English language and to enlarge upon the events which prompted Van Noort to write it, we hope to call attention to a significant voyage at the beginning of an era of major importance in the history of East Indian commerce.

(Parker, former curator of the James Ford Bell Collection)