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Memorable Embassies: the secret history of Arnoldus Montanus' Gedenkwaerdige Gesantschappen

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This article throws new light on the first extensive Dutch account of Japan, Gedenkwaerdige Gesantschappen . . . aan de Kaisaren van Japan (Amsterdam 1669) by Arnoldus Montanus. After an exploration of the author's life and work, his book on Japan is set in its original environment of the publishing world of seventeenth century Holland, more especially among the works on world geography published by Jacob van Meurs. Next, through an analysis of the contents of the Gedenkwaerdige Gesantschappen, the author of this article shows that, apart from printed materials, Montanus used four different unpublished manuscripts on Japan written by employees of the Dutch East India Company. These manuscripts seem to have been sold to Montanus or Van Meurs during the decade before the publication of the Gedenkwaerdige Gesantschappen. Summarizing recent research on the early history of the relationship between the Dutch East India Company and Japan, Montanus' book is then given its place in the political context of that relationship.


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