L'Amiral de France. Et par occasion, de celuy des autres nations, tant vieiles que nouuelles. Henri Lancelot-Voisin de LA POPELINIERE.
L'Amiral de France. Et par occasion, de celuy des autres nations, tant vieiles que nouuelles.
L'Amiral de France. Et par occasion, de celuy des autres nations, tant vieiles que nouuelles.
L'Amiral de France. Et par occasion, de celuy des autres nations, tant vieiles que nouuelles.

L'Amiral de France. Et par occasion, de celuy des autres nations…
L'Amiral de France. Et par occasion, de celuy des autres nations, tant vieiles que nouuelles.

Paris: chez Thomas Perier, 1584.

Tall octavo, title-page vignette, with the 10 pp. index and 2 pp. errata, early owner's marks including neat library stamp to title-page; an excellent and very attractive tall copy in eighteenth-century sprinkled calf, flat spine gilt with crimson morocco label.

French efforts to colonise the unknown southern land

Rare sixteenth-century proposal for French voyaging, advocating the founding of a colony in the unknown - "australe" - land. The work was written during the period, as Frank Lestringant has argued, that French cosmographers had decided to leave the northern confines of the New World to the ambitions of the English; instead 'the myth of a southern continent would in France nourish, for another generation and beyond, dreams of empire and revenge' (Mapping the Renaissance World, p. 118). Voisin de la Popelinière (1541-1608) was a speculative geographer known for his interest in the "incogneu" world, and particularly for his proposal that the French should not just explore these regions, but colonise them.

Rare sixteenth-century proposal for French voyaging, advocating the founding of a colony in the unknown - "australe" - land. The work was written during the period, as Frank Lestringant has argued, that French cosmographers had decided to leave the northern confines of the New World to the ambitions of the English; instead 'the myth of a southern continent would in France nourish, for another generation and beyond, dreams of empire and revenge' (Mapping the Renaissance World, p. 118). Voisin de la Popelinière (1541-1608) was a speculative geographer known for his interest in the "incogneu" world, and particularly for his proposal that the French should not just explore these regions, but colonise them.

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La Popèliniere's utopian project for French expansion in the then only vaguely theorised unknown worlds of the southern hemisphere marks him out as a significant and very early precursor not only to Gonneville (1663), but as one of the foundation writers of the long French interest in the region that would culminate in the voyages of Bougainville and his successors. Even more extraordinarily, he is thought to have mounted the first genuine attempt to found just such a colony, sailing from La Rochelle in May 1589 with three tiny ships. John Dunmore writes that they 'got no further than Cap Blanc in West Africa, where dissensions and dispondency made him abandon the expedition and return to France. The captains of the two other ships, Richardiere and Trepagne, decided to continue to South America, but only succeeded in reaching the coast of Brazil. A century and a half was to elapse before another attempt was made.' (French Explorers in the Pacific, I, p. 196) Despite its inglorious end, it thus remains possible that he was the first French explorer to search for the Terre Australe, a good 75 years before Gonneville even propounded such an idea.

In 1582 he had published a book called Les Trois Mondes which distinguished between the so-called three worlds of Renaissance geography, the 'vieil', the 'neuf', and the 'incogneu'; he discussed ancient and modern discoveries, concluding with a petition to the French government to colonise the australe lands, having shown that the Americas were too politically fraught to allow French expansion there. Colonisation, he argued, would provide an answer to the grave religious, political and economic crisis in France.

In 1584, he returned to the fray with this work, L'Amiral de France. Taking the even more direct form of a petition for French naval expansion, he propounded his belief that France must undertake a colonising expedition, simply because 'Terres infinies belles & riches sont encor a desconurir.' Virtue, he concludes gloriously, lies in action, not in idle books, and L'Amiral de France finishes with his endorsement for an actual expedition.

Provenance: Gaspard Froment, professor of law c. 1610-1645 at the University of Valence in the south of France, with his ownership inscription at head of title; with the later (c. 1850) stamp of the Jesuit house at Lyon, not far from Valence (our thanks to Nicolas Barker for identifying this provenance).

Not in Brunet; not in Graesse; Polak, 5311. There is very little published on the early speculations of this important geographer and explorer, but see Charles de Ronciere, 'La Première expedition française vers la continent austral,' in Histoire de la marine française (Richelien, 1923, pp. 258-61). There is also an excellent introduction to his thought in the recent scholarly edition of Les Trois Mondes de La Popelinière (Geneva, Librairie Droz, 1997).

Price (AUD): $45,000.00  other currencies Ref: #4504971