The Great South Sea: English Voyages and Encounters, 1570-1750

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Yale University Press, 1997 - History - 320 pages
From the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, English buccaneers, privateers, and naval expeditions sought fame and fortune in the distant reaches of the South Sea. Beginning with the voyage of Francis Drake in the 1570s and continuing through that of George Anson in the 1740s, a series of predatory English adventurers pursued Spanish treasure, and for a few the dream of riches came true. For most, the voyages ended in disappointment, and sometimes death. This engrossing book investigates these maritime adventures and how they were described in popular accounts of the time--accounts that affected English consciousness and perceptions of the wider world and that influenced the planning and nature of the later great voyages of James Cook and others.

Glyndwr Williams, a leading expert on the exploration of the Pacific Ocean, draws on printed accounts of South Sea voyages as well as unpublished records--buccaneer journals, expedition papers, and government documents from public and private archives. For English seamen preying on Spanish trade and treasure, the South Sea was limited to the waters lapping the shores of Chile, Peru, and Mexico. But the vision was wider for others, Williams reveals. Cartographers at home in England, untrammeled by the constraints and dangers of actual voyaging, produced speculative maps with a vast Terra Australis Incognita, with fabulous Islands of Solomon, and with a promised short passage from Atlantic to Pacific. Satirical and utopian writers from Joseph Hall to Jonathan Swift found ample space in the wide ocean for their fictional travelers. And contemporary published voyage accounts--marvelous, though not necessarily reliable--further blurred the line between real and imaginary, contributing to the alluring, exotic image of the South Sea that took root in English folk memory and long outlasted the age of the buccaneers.
 

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THE GREAT SOUTH SEA: English Voyages and Encounters, 1570-1750

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An intriguing and elegant history of European adventures, real and otherwise, in the South Seas during the 16th to 18th centuries, from Williams (History/Univ. of London). For all his references and ... Read full review

Contents

Drake and his Successors
13
Geographical Enigmas and Literary Utopias
48
They Were Not Come Out to Go upon
76
I Speak as to the Compass of my
106
The Cruising Voyages of Dampier and Rogers
133
The Founding
161
Castaways
175
Voyages Real
190
Ansons Circumnavigation
214
Widening Horizons
251
Bibliography
274
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