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La Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem delivered) is a verse epic by the late-Renaissance Italian poet Torquato Tasso (1544–95). Written in the eight-line stanzas common to Italian Renaissance poetry, Tasso’s masterpiece is known for the beauty of its language, profound expressions of emotion, and concern for historical accuracy. The subject of the poem is the First Crusade of 1096–99 and the quest by the Frankish knight Godfrey of Bouillon to liberate the sepulcher of Jesus Christ. Tasso was born in Sorrento, in the Kingdom of Naples, and his interest ...
Historical Books of the Old Testament
This Biblical manuscript contains portions of the Old Testament historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. The volume is incomplete at the beginning and end. The scribe, whose name might have appeared in the missing colophon, is unknown. The copying was done in 1748 (Joshua) and 1749 (Second Kings). There are guide words but no page numbers. Chapters are inconsistently marked. The work is carefully written but appears to have received little use, as indicated by the lack of the fore-edge smudging observed in some other manuscripts in the ...
Geographic Map of Brazil
This map of Brazil was published by Giovanni Battista Albrizzi (1698-1777), a prominent Venetian publisher of books and maps. The notes on the map, in Italian, include various speculative remarks about the people and the geography of the interior of Brazil, then still largely unknown to Europeans. Albrizzi, who inherited his business from his father, was part of a family active in publishing and bookselling in Venice for 150 years. He played an important role in the intellectual life of the city and edited a weekly bulletin, Novelle della Repubblica ...
Map of the Arabian Coast, Red Sea, and Persian Gulf
This map of the coastlines of the Arabian Peninsula and adjacent regions is by the French hydrographer and cartographer Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703−72). Bellin was attached to the French Marine Office for more than 50 years and specialized in producing maritime maps. He also made most of the maps for Histoire générale des voyages: ou, Nouvelle collection de toutes les relations de voyages par mer et par terre, qui ont été publiées jusqu'à présent dans les différentes langues de toutes les nations connues (General history of the voyages, or ...
The Expeditions of Alexander: Made for “Histoire Ancienne” by Mr. Rollin
This map shows the expeditions of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) from the Hellespont, the strait (later called the Dardanelles) that separates Europe from Asia in present-day Turkey, through Turkey, the Levant, Egypt, Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), Persia (Iran), and Afghanistan. Alexander reached as far as the banks of the Hyphasis River (now known as the Beas River) in northern India, where the conqueror’s exhausted armies finally mutinied. Shown are cities that Alexander founded and named “Alexandria” in honor of himself. Two distance scales are given, the ancient measure ...
Countries of the Ottoman Emperor in Asia, Persia, Uzbek Territory, Arabia, and Egypt
This 1740s map shows the possessions of the Ottoman Empire in Asia (including present-day Turkey, Iraq, and the Levant), the Persian Empire (shown to include present-day Iran, Afghanistan, much of Pakistan, and the Caucasus), the country of the Uzbeks, Arabia, and Egypt. The boundaries of these territories are hand colored on this copy. The desert to the south and west of present-day Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates is described as “without water and without habitation.” The pearl-diving region of the southern Persian Gulf is indicated by shading and ...
“Shipwrecked” by Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, and the Description of the Journey Which he Made Through Florida with Panfilo de Narvaez
Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (1490-1560) was second in command of an expedition led by Pánfilo de Narváez (1478-1528) that left Spain in June 1527 with five ships and 600 men with the mission of establishing a colony in “Florida.” The expedition suffered storms, desertions, disease, and other difficulties in the Caribbean. On November 5 and 6, 1528, 80 surviving members of the expedition were shipwrecked on or near Galveston Island, Texas. After living among the local Native Americans for six years, Cabeza de Vaca and three other survivors headed ...
Mister Johann Anderson...Reports on Iceland, Greenland, and the Davis Strait for the Proper Use of the Sciences and Commerce
Johann Anderson (1674-1743) was the son of a whaling ship owner from Hamburg, Germany. He became a lawyer, served in the Hamburg Senate, and was mayor of the city for many years. Anderson systematically gathered the available literature on Iceland, Greenland, and the adjacent seas, as well as gleaned information from sailors and merchants. This book, which he prepared mainly in the 1730s, was published in 1746, after his death. It includes descriptions of the land and peoples of Iceland and Greenland, and covers topics ranging from the herring fishery ...
Guinea Itself, as Well as the Greatest Portion of Nigritia or the Land of the Blacks, the One Called Ethiopia Inferior by Modern Geographers, the Other Southern Ethiopia
This 1743 map shows western Africa from the territory of present-day Gabon in the south to Niger, Mali, and Mauritania in the north. The map was published in Nuremberg, Germany, by the firm of Homännische Erben, meaning the successors of the Nuremberg engraver and publisher Johann Baptist Homann (1663-1724) and his son, Johann Christoph Homann (1703-30). It is based on an earlier work by the great French mapmaker Jean Baptiste d’Anville (1697-1782). The illustration at the lower left depicts an African village. Items such as dress, houses and other ...
The Book of Instruction on Deviant Planes and Simple Planes
This manuscript is a work on practical astronomy and the drawing of the circle of projection and related concepts from spherical trigonometry. It is rich with geometric diagrams, tables of empirical observations, and computations based upon these observations. An interesting feature of the manuscript is the appearance on the margins of the cover, and on several pages in the manuscript, of edifying verses, proverbs, and witty remarks. One reads, for example, “It is strange to find in the world a jaundiced physician, a dim-eyed ophthalmologist, and a blind astronomer.” Most ...
Gustaaf Willem Baron van Imhoff, Governor General of the Dutch East India Company
This engraving depicts Gustaaf Willem Baron van Imhoff (1705-50), who served as governor general of the Dutch East India Company from 1743 to 1750. Imhoff began working for the company in 1725, and held important posts in both Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) and the Dutch East Indies. He attempted to institute some progressive policies in the East Indies, such as establishing a school, post office, hospital, and newspaper. The engraving is from the collections of the KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies in Leiden.
A Chart of the Coast of Arabia, the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, Drawn from the Chart of the Eastern Ocean
This English map is a reprinting, with slight changes, of an earlier French map published in 1740 by order of Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux, Count de Maurepas (1701-81), secretary of state under King Louis XV. The map was drawn from an earlier chart of the Eastern Ocean, “improv’d from particular surveys and regulated by astronomical observations.” This English edition of the de Maurepas map has a different title cartouche. The “Remarks” section at the lower right gives abbreviations for physical features on the map, and notes: “ A Stroke under ye Name ...
Map of the Coast of Arabia, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf
This 1740 map is by the French cartographer and hydrographer Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703-72). It was published by order of Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux, Count de Maurepas (1701-81), secretary of state under King Louis XV. The map focuses exclusively on the coastlines, and provides no detail about the interior of the Arabian Peninsula. It shows pearl banks along the coast from Bahrain to Julfar. Qatar is noted (“Katara”), but the peninsula that it occupies is not accurately drawn. Kuwait is not shown, but the island of “Peleche” is indicated. The Red Sea is ...
Glorifications of the Prophetic Traditions
This manuscript, written by Ibrāhim bin Mustafā in 1744, is a copy of a work in Arabic by the Afghan scholar Al-Baghawi (1043-1122), written sometime between 1116 and 1122 (510-516 A.H.). It is a summary, in seven chapters, of seven collections of traditions about Muhammad, arranged according to their veracity. The manuscript is from the Bašagić Collection of Islamic Manuscripts in the University Library of Bratislava, Slovakia, which was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997. Safvet beg Bašagić (1870-1934) was a Bosnian scholar, poet ...
Itinerary Book Kept During the Journey to East India, from October 18, 1746 to June 20, 1749
From 1746 to 1749, the Swedish rigged brig Götha Lejon sailed on a mercantile mission to Canton. Several accounts of what transpired have survived. This handwritten journal, compiled by Carl Johan Gethe, recounts the long journey to and from Canton and relates Gethe’s impressions of Cadiz, Canton, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Java. The journal includes astute observations of daily life, descriptions of local customs and the great variety of forms of the Chinese language, and reflections on the journey itself, as well as an enthralling account of the ...
Description of a Trip to Canton 1746-1749
From 1746 to 1749, the Swedish rigged brig Götha Lejon sailed on a mercantile mission to Canton. Several accounts of what transpired have survived. This handwritten journal has been attributed to Carl Fredrik von Schantz (1727-92). Another account of the mission of Götha Lejon was compiled by Carl Johan Gethe (1728-65).
The Unique Explanation of the Secrets
This manuscript contains a work in Garshuni (Arabic language written in Syriac script) on the sacraments. At the beginning of the manuscript, the work is called The Unique Explanation of the Secrets (i.e., the sacraments), but in the colophon the book is called The Treasure House of the Secrets. The manuscript was copied by Stephen (Isṭifānūs), a monk of the St. Antony Monastery. The colophon mentions the date of completing the manuscript as the 11th day of Tammuz (July), 1740. The work has numerous marginal annotations, also in Garshuni.
The Actor Sanogawa Ichimatsu in the Role of Shakkyō Dancer
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This print depicts popular Kabuki actor Sanogawa Ichimatsu performing the lion ...
Customs of the Tribes in Taiwan
This album of twelve paintings is a record of the land and people of the island of Taiwan more than a hundred years ago. The surfaces of the paintings are somewhat rough and unfinished, but they show people farming, hunting, and going about their everyday lives and are thus an important resource for the study of the history of Taiwan. The album contains a preface in English by Arthur William Hummel (1884-1975), an American missionary to China and Sinologist who from 1928 to 1954 was the first head of the ...
Spirit of the Laws
Published in 1748, condemned by the Catholic Church in 1751, Montesquieu's masterpiece, De l'Esprit des lois (Spirit of the laws) marked a turning point in the European Age of Enlightenment. It announced the new critical understanding of acquired knowledge that was also reflected in Buffon's Histoire naturelle (Natural history) and Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie (Encyclopedia). The depth of the analysis and the skill of presentation resulted in Montesquieu’s work having considerable influence on political thought in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is divided ...
The Voyage of the Sieur Le Maire, to the Canary Islands, Cape-Verde, Senegal, and Gambia
This 1745 book is an English translation of a work by Jacques-Joseph Le Maire that was first published in 1695 and recounted a voyage to West Africa and the Atlantic islands off the coast of Africa. Le Maire, a physician in the service of the Compagnie d'Afrique, describes the inhabitants, customs, and places that he visited. Le Maire’s work remains an important source for the study of 17th-century West Africa, interactions between Africans and Europeans, and aspects of the transatlantic slave trade.