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The De Bry Collection of Voyages (1590-1634): Early America reconsidered

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image of Journal of Early Modern History

The De Bry collection of voyages, published in Frankfurt and Oppenheim between 1590 and 1634, has traditionally been regarded as dispensing a Protestant iconography of the New World. But for the analysis of the translated travel accounts in the collection, too long considered of secondary importance to the monumental copper engravings, a fundamentally different interpretation of the editors' objectives is in order. This article studies the Latin and German versions of the narratives, which offer a mosaic of variations disclosing a careful editorial strategy. While the German volumes were aimed at a predominantly Protestant readership, their Latin counterparts were adjusted to meet the demands of Catholic customers and humanists wary of religious polemic. Hence the first comprehensive set of images of early America reached readers across the Old World, regardless of their confessional allegiance. Commercial motives rather than the desire to spread a Protestant iconography determined the collection's representations.

Affiliations: 1: University of Amsterdam


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