Van Linschoten

Initially the ships from the Dutch provinces of Holland and Zeeland imported spices and other oriental goods from Portugal. But when this country was occupied in 1580 by the Spanish, this was, due to the Dutch 80-year independence war against Spain, impossible. Dutch ships harbored in Portuguese ports were repeatedly confiscated by the Spanish. The Dutch were forced to acquire these products directly from the East. The problem was how to find the right route. In order to find out, Jan Huygen van Linschoten sailed on a Portuguese vessel to the Indies. Once returned to his hometown Enkhuizen, he wrote and published two books in which he revealed his findings: " Reisgheschrift van de Navigatien der Portugaloysers in Orienten " (1595) ( Travel document of the navigation of the Portuguese to the Orient ) and " Itinerario, voyage ofte schipvaert van J.H. van Linschoten naar Oost ofte Portugaels Indien" (1596) (Itinerary of the voyage by ship from J.H. van Linschoten to the East or the Portuguese Indies ).

Jan Huygen van Linschoten lived since 1579 as a merchant in Spain and from 1583-1598 as secretary from the Portuguese archbishop in Goa. There he succeeded  with the help of Dirck Gerritszoon Pomp, nicknamed "Dirck China " to retrieve the secret sail instructions, with the help of which the Portuguese ships sailed there from harbor to harbor. Pomp, a Hollander, also in the service of the Portuguese, went to sea in 1584 aboard the Portuguese vessel "Santa Cruz". The ship was richly laden with merchandise and had sailed by way of the trade-settlement in Goa, India, to Macao in China and from there to Japan. He arrived in Nagasaki in 1585, perhaps the first Hollander to set foot on Japanese soil. Dirck gave oral information to Jan van Linschoten. 

He wrote: "so stretches the coast [from Japan] again to the north, recedes after that inward, northwest ward, to which Coast those from Japan trade with the Nation which is called Cooray, from which I have good, comprehensive and true information, as well as from the navigation to this Country, from the pilots, who investigated the situation there and sailed there."

In the Itinerary , which was published one year later, at page 37 we will find the following extract:

"A little above Japan, on 34 and 35 degrees, not far from the coast of China, is another big island, called Insula de Core, from which until now, there is no certainty concerning size, people, nor what trade there is."

Later at page 70 he writes more about it:

"From this corner from the bay of Nanquin 20 miles southeast onwards, there lay several islands with at the end, of which, to know, on the east side lies a very big and high island [This Island is] by many people inhabited, as well as on foot as on horseback. [sic!] These Islands are called by the Portuguese as Ylhas de Core, or the Islands of Core, but the islands, as previously described, is called Chausien, has from one side to the northwest a small indentation. There's also a small island in the mouth, which is the harbor, but has little deepness, here the lord of the country has his residency. From this main Island off, 25 miles southeast onward, lays the island of Goto, one of the islands of Iapon, which lies at the corner of the indentation from the bay of Nancquin off, east to north seaward on, 60 miles or little more." (Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, Reys-Gheschrift van de Navigatien der Portugaloysers in Orienten enz. [1595], bl. 70). [The original text can be interpreted in several ways, so the text is given in a literal translation]

The Flanders-born theologist Petrus Plancius, whose original name was Pieter Platvoet ( Peter Flatfoot ) Published in 1592 an atlas under the title: Nova et exacta terrarum Tabula geographica and hydrographica ( New and exact geographical and nautical maps). In this we find not yet any of the data van Linschoten obtained. Plancius is considered to be a useful amateur.

Skippers stayed away from the coast of Korea, the Portuguese, the English and Dutch have had several encounters with the Koreans. We would have known more about this if the journals of the ships sailing to Japan had survived the ages. The hostile attitude and the forceful actions of the Korean coastguard, were reported when the Dutch ship "de Hond" in 1622 sailed accidentally  into the waters of Korea. Accordingly we can read:   Immediately the ship was attacked, by not less than 36 war-junks, who shelled de Hond with 'bassen, roers, boogen ende ontalrijcke hasegaijen' (cannons, firelocks, bows and numerous wooden lances). So all the skippers received a sail order to avoid the coast of Korea.

It's interesting to know that Koreans themselves depict Korea also as an "almost" island, with one mountain connecting Korea to the mainland. The two rivers (the Yalu and the Tumen)  flowing from that mountain (Mount Peaktu), were drawn that wide that the drawings of the early Western maps were in concordance with the image the Koreans themselves had of their country.

koreanmap.jpg (66273 bytes) Although this is an 18th century map, one can clearly see that it is easy to imagine that from this image one can create a verbal description, which can be interpreted as an island. This becomes important later on, since the emphasis is on Western maps of Korea I would like to refer interested readers about Korean maps to the article by Ledyard.

eamc164.jpg (63479 bytes)Choson paldo chi tu. (76cm x 52.5cm) 

Van Linschoten made the first description, however there were other contacts with Portugal as well, as we will see in the next paragraphs.

Ortelius and Texeira.

Ludovico (Luís) Texeiro came from a family which was for some generations busy as cartographers. At least we know that two portolans of the Atlantic (1525 -1528) were from his father Pero Fernadez.The first mentioning of Luís was found when he was examined by the royal chief cartographer Pedro Nunez (1492 - 1577). In 1596 he received a patent to make maps and navigation instruments for the royal fleet. All in all there are 15 known maps from the hand of Luís Texeira. He did pioneering work with the cartography of the Azores and in 1575 was in Brazil, neither his birthdate nor death are known.

He had intensive contacts with the mapmakers in Holland, amongst others Jodocus Hondius, Lucas Jansz. Wagenaar and Joannes von Deutecom. He was already in touch with Ortelius since 1582. Their first mutual work was a map of the main island of the Azores, Terceira. For one or the other reason this map was issued as a single map and not in the Theatrum.

With a letter dated at February 2, 1592 Texeira sent to Ortelius "dos piesas de las descriptiones de la China y del Japan." Ortelius had asked for these maps in a previous letter, which has not been found. At the same time he promised a map of Brazil, but only the map of Japan and Korea was used for the Theatrum since 1595. The resources of Texeira are probably based on the work of Jesuits, but, unless new documents show up, we will never know for sure.

region.jpg (76708 bytes)Ortelius made this map and gave it the title Iaponia Insulae Descriptio. The map is the first reasonably accurate and recognizable European depiction of Japan and was to remain the standard for more than half a century. Little was known of this mythical and remote island. Korea is shown as an island on the following map and even less was known about it. We will call this shape, the long upside down cone: the Teixeira type. This map has three decorative ships and two cartouches, one with the title and one with the distance scale.

The example of Ortelius was followed quite some while and the Texeira type can be seen on all the maps of the beginning of the 17th century.

NataliusMeteliusKoln1596.jpg (490636 bytes)Natalius Metellus (1520 - 1597) Iaponica Regnum in: Giovanni Botero: Theatrum..., 1596 Cologne. Giovanne Botero's work was first published in Rome (Delle Relationi Uiversali) in the second edition, which was published in many languages, contained a description of the most important kingdoms of the world. For the German edition the, under a Latin name working, Frenchman Jean Matal, added the example in the Theatrum of Ortelius, whom he knew personally. His map is the earliest known copy of the Ortelius map, which was published only one year earlier.

Jodocus Hondius

But also another Dutch cartographer Jodocus Hondius shows Korea in 1606 in the same way as Ortelius. Mercator's heirs sold the copperplates by auction in Leiden in 1604. Jodocus Hondius probably bought the copperplates of Mercator's Atlas and Ptolemy's Geographica in a private transaction before this auction. He used them to publish a reissue of the Ptolemy's Geographica in 1605 and a new enlarged edition of the Atlas in 1606. Hondius shows clearly that Mercator's Atlas was an unfinished work. He was the one who had finally made a complete Atlas of it. JodocusHondiusAmsterdam1606.jpg (636798 bytes)Several atlases were made and when Hondius died in 1612, his heirs continued his work. For 25 years after the publication of the first Mercator Hondius atlas the firms of the Hondius-Janssonius cartel were able to profit from their monopoly in the atlas field. Therefore there were no new developments since there were no competitors. This map shows the map of Hondius in 1606.


eamc130.jpg (149843 bytes)Another example of this type is this map by John Speed. The cartouche says: A newe mape of Tartary, augmented by John Speede and are to be sold in Popshead Alley by George Humble. Anno 1626 (40cm x 51cm). Speed was one of the few English cartographers who produced maps and a famous atlas.


eamc127.jpg (102360 bytes)Another curious example is the map shown to the left. The curious thing about this map is that it shows Korea as an island, and combining elements of Barbuda's map of China and Texeira's map of Japan (both published earlier by Ortelius). Amongst the decorative features a sea monster, deer on the North American coast, Dutch and Japanese ships, and a Chinese wind-blown land- vehicle can be seen. A scene in a panel on the right shows an ancient Japanese torturing technique. [crucifixion of Christians]

JodocusHondiusAsiaAmsterdam1623.jpg (672025 bytes)Jodocus Hondius d.J. (1594 -1629) Asiae Nova dexriptio Auctore Jodoco Hondio from: Hondius, Gerardi Mercatoris Atlas Sive Cosmographicae ...., Amsterdam 1623. After the death of Jodocus Hondius, the by Mercator based Atlas, was re-published. The Jodocus Hondio Asia map comes in fact from Henricus elder brother Jodocus d.J. This is also a Texeira type:


eamc128.jpg (139121 bytes)Also the following map has the same design. The cartouche bears the following text: The Kingdom of China, newly augmented by I.S. [John Speede], 1626. Are to be sold in Popshead Alley by G. Humble. (42.5cm x 52.5cm) ( 128)

Some manuscripts however survived and are worth mentioning because of their remarkable shapes of Korea.

GirolamoDeAngelisManuscript1621.jpg (787593 bytes)The Italian Jesuit Giralamo de Angelis was the first missionary to go up north. He was the first European to set foot on Ezo (Hokkaido). After the second trip he became a victim of the purge of the Christians and was burnt on the stake in 1623 in Ezo. On the map he describes his trip and shows a remarkable shape of Korea.

anonymous.jpg (217023 bytes)The Dutch continued to discover the lands which shows this Anonymous Dutch map  in a manuscript with the discoveries of Mathijs Quast and Abel Tasman in 1639. Amsterdam 17th century, the discoveries were shown in red while the coastline was colored in blue.


IsaacDeGraafManuscript17thCentury.jpg (406425 bytes)Also the manuscript of Isaac de Graaf, 17th century shows these discoveries. Since this type of map never made it to the official mapmakers, we can only describe it as peculiar.


To part 4: Willem Jansz. Blaeu.

Back to index