Venice: Giordano Ziletti, 1577. Two volumes. ,518,; ,365 leaves. Contemporary vellum, manuscript title on spines. Front joint of first volume cracked, other joints worn. Early bookplate on front pastedowns. Internally remarkably clean. A beautiful copy. Item #WRCAM29071
Lopes de Castanheda is considered one of the definitive chroniclers of Portuguese activity in Asia. With the majority of the narrative focused on Persia, Arabia, China, and Molucca, this work is enhanced by the inclusion of details regarding the Portuguese exploration of Brazil. That Book One of the present work was first translated into French by Nicolas de Grouchy, Montaigne's instructor at the Collège de Guyenne, shows that it had a least a partial impact on Montaigne's understanding of the New World, shedding some light on some of the source material for his numerous ESSAYS.
Most of the HISTORIA... is devoted to the great Portuguese thrust into Asia in the early 16th century, chronicling their epic expansion to India, the East Indies, and China between 1497 and 1525. Castanheda himself spent some two decades in the Portuguese colonies in the East, and so was well equipped to write this account. It is one of the primary sources for the early Portuguese trading empire, a model that the British were beginning to emulate at the time of publication. Penrose says of the author: "...He wrote an impartial book of outspoken sincerity which was the fruit of years of residence in the East." However, this work is equally important for its American content, being the first to describe in detail the voyage of Cabral and his discovery of Brazil in 1500, while on his way out to the East Indies. Cabral's landing is the first recorded there, recounted in chapters 29-31 of the present work.
The present work was translated from the author's HISTORIA DO DESCOBRIMENTO E CONQUISTA DA INDIA PELOS PORTUGUEZES, published between 1551 and 1561. It was translated by Alfonso Ulloa, translator of Fernando Columbus' biography of his father, Christopher Columbus. A beautiful set. SABIN 11389. EUROPEAN AMERICANA 577/29. EUROPE INFORMED, pp.55-58. Lach, ASIA IN THE MAKING OF EUROPE I, Book 1, pp.187-88. SABIN 11387 (another ed). BORBA DE MORAES, pp.142-43. STREIT IV:972. JCB (3)I:265.