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"How Great The Enterprise, How Glorious The Deed": Seventeenth-Century Dutch Circumnavigations As Useful Myths

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the heroic "myths" that early seventeenth-century Dutch print created around several circumnavigators. Fifteenth-century Dutch were introduced to world and possibility of circumnavigation through the Itinerarius. The authors of the travel accounts have not consciously been attempting to create a sort of national myth, but the prefatory material that accompanied certainly contributed to the glorification of the Dutch overseas voyages. While van Noort and Spilbergen, followed the known route from the Atlantic into the Pacific, Schouten and Le Maire followed a new course. Once the passage around South America had been made, the myth of Terra Australis was dashed. The travel accounts of the voyages of circumnavigation substituted some long-held myths about Spanish power for new ones in which Dutch heroes replaced their Spanish counterparts as the world preeminent mariners. The myth was more useful because its creation helped in the destruction of the myth of Spanish power.

Keywords: circumnavigation; Dutch; Le Maire; myths; Schouten; Spilbergen; van Noort



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