Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Richard Hakluyt, regarded as the first professor of modern geography at Oxford, made a point of getting to know the “chiefest Captains at sea, the greatest merchants, and the best Mariners of our nation.” As a boy, he watched ships come to port from distant places, and early lessons in geography made him eager to learn more. Studies at Oxford and a five-year period in Paris increased his resolve to collect and study the scattered records of English maritime discovery. The result of his interest was Hakluyt’s Voyages, an invaluable sourcebook for those who wish to study the age of discovery and to determine the place of England within it. This work is an anthology of accounts of the explorations and travels of British adventurers up to the author’s own time. The accounts are bold and vigorous and usually include only the main events of each journey. Many are written by those who made the voyages.
Published by Hakluyt in refutation of a French accusation that the English were insular and spiritless, the book is of value in several capacities. It faithfully describes many sixteenth century exploratory journeys, it is an index to the temper of Elizabethan England, and it reflects the enthusiasm for travel literature that was so prevalent at the time of its original publication. Hakluyt may have begun his tome as a piece of propaganda, but it soon became more than that. The second edition grew to three volumes issued over as many years....
(The entire section is 1784 words.)
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