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Hakluyt’s Promise

Hakluyt’s Promise: An Elizabethan's Obsession for an English America

Peter C. Mancall
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Hakluyt’s Promise
    Book Description:

    Richard Hakluyt the younger, a contemporary of William Shakespeare, advocated the creation of English colonies in the New World at a time when the advantages of this idea were far from self-evident. This book describes in detail the life and times of Hakluyt, a trained minister who became an editor of travel accounts.Hakluyt's Promisedemonstrates his prominent role in the establishment of English America as well as his interests in English opportunities in the East Indies. The volume presents nearly 50 illustrations-many unpublished since the sixteenth century-and offers a fresh view of Hakluyt's milieu and the central concerns of the Elizabethan age.

    Though he never traveled farther than Paris, young Hakluyt spent much of the 1580s recording information about the western hemisphere and became an international authority on overseas exploration. The book traces his rise to prominence as a source of information and inspiration for England's policy makers, including the queen, and his advocacy for colonies in Roanoke and Jamestown. Hakluyt's thought was shaped by debates that stretched across Europe, and his interests ranged just as widely, encompassing such topics as peaceful coexistence with Native Americans, the New World as a Protestant Holy Land, and in, his later life, trade with the Spice Islands.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13527-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. A Note on the Text
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 London, c. 1592: Woodson’s Tusk
    (pp. 1-7)

    When Richard Hakluyt was forty years old, he sat one day in his study in London with a walrus tusk in his hands. The year was 1591 or 1592. Hakluyt’s friend Alexander Woodson had sent the foot-and-half-long tusk to Hakluyt from his home in Bristol, about one hundred miles west of London. Though Hakluyt neglected to mention its origin, the tusk came from the North Atlantic, quite possibly from Iceland, a frozen wasteland surrounded by dangerous beasts. Woodson, a physician and mathematician, thought that the tusk could be ground down and used in medicines for his patients. He believed that...

  5. CHAPTER 2 London, 1568: The Visit
    (pp. 8-24)

    When he was sixteen, Richard Hakluyt went to visit his older cousin, also named Richard Hakluyt, who was then living at the Middle Temple in London. (For the rest of this book I will refer to the cousin as the lawyer.) The year was 1568, and Hakluyt, the son of a member of the Skinners’ Guild in London, was one of forty scholarship students at Westminster School, which was then lodged in an ancient monastery. The Middle Temple, marked simply as “The Temple” on contemporary maps, was one of the Inns of Court, a place where young men dreamed and...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Oxford, c. 1571: Rumors
    (pp. 25-39)

    Hakluyt arrived at Christ Church near the end of 1570. He had been elected as a queen’s scholar following his years at Westminster School. For much of the 1570s, he left little obvious impression on the historical record. From 1571 to 1577 Hakluyt was a student, one of the many whose existence made Oxford (and Cambridge) a focal point of English learning. Like countless others, he had arrived in the university town eager to receive the accumulated wisdom of his teachers.

    If Hakluyt wrote any letters during these formative years, none have survived the centuries since he first navigated Oxford’s...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Oxford, 1577: The Ice
    (pp. 40-71)

    On May 14, 1577, the twenty-five-year-old Richard Hakluyt joined the faculty at Christ Church. For the next three years he remained in Oxford, probably supporting himself as a tutor at the college, where he spent much of his time reading works of geography.¹ At Christ Church and elsewhere he had access to small collections of books that revealed an entire world beyond the one he could see for himself. These books promised, as their titles often claimed, to tell readers the ‘‘truth’’ about a specific subject, a common rhetorical strategy in an ever-crowded book market. Some of these texts told...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Oxford, c. 1580: Passages
    (pp. 72-101)

    Sometime between 1577 and 1580 Richard Hakluyt became an ordained priest. He remained at Oxford and in December 1580 joined the Theologi of Christ Church, a group of twenty scholars who planned a life in the ministry. But despite this clerical commitment, Hakluyt’s interests, at least as they can be judged from his writings, lay in geography, not theology. What commanded his attention by the end of the decade was the possibility of overseas exploration and settlement. That task might have been a sacred pursuit to some who wanted nothing more than to convert pagans into Protestants or prevent the...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Paris, 1583: The Devouring Sea
    (pp. 102-127)

    Sometime around September 20, 1583, Richard Hakluyt left London bound for Paris. He had a difficult journey across the English Channel. “We came in so high a sea,” Hakluyt’s traveling companion Sir Edward Stafford wrote from Boulogne on September 29, “that I, my wife and all my folks were so sea-beaten that we were half dead.” The party had to stay in Boulogne resting themselves and their horses until they finally felt ready to make the journey to Paris, which they reached on October 7. Hakluyt was then thirty-one years old, entering a European entrepōt more cosmopolitan and far larger...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Paris and London, 1584: The Grammar of Colonization
    (pp. 128-155)

    In the beginning of January 1584, Hakluyt was finally ready to go to North America. Still stationed in Paris with the English ambassador, he told Walsingham that it was imperative that the English pursue colonization immediately before the initiative would “waxe colde and fall to the ground.” Walsingham had already asked Hakluyt if he could manage the journey. Now, after the deaths of Gilbert and Parmenius, the time had come. “Your honor made a motion heretofore unto me, whether I could be contented to goe myself in the action,” Hakluyt wrote back. “I am most willinge to goe now.” He...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Paris and London, 1584 to 1589: Cabinets and Curiosities
    (pp. 156-194)

    Sometime in mid-to late 1580s, Hakluyt visited two cabinets of curiosity in England. They belonged to men named Richard Garth and Walter Cope. Garth’s cabinet and virtually all information about him have long since disappeared. Cope, a member of the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries, also left scant trace in the historical record even though he was a close friend of the chronicler and surveyor John Stow. But he had frequent visitors to his house, including a German named Thomas Platter who traveled to London in 1599 and left a detailed inventory of the things that Cope had accumulated during his...

  12. CHAPTER 9 London, 1590 to 1600: Truth and Lies
    (pp. 195-235)

    In the spring of 1590, about five months after thePrincipall Navigationshad appeared in print in London, the inhabitants of Roanoke became international celebrities across Europe. Their newfound fame had little to do with the fact that Manteo and Wanchese had recently lived with Sir Walter Ralegh. Instead, their acclaim came from an astonishing publishing event: the decision of the Frankfurt publisher J. Wechel to print four separate versions of the Flemish engraver Theodor de Bry’s edition of Thomas Harriot’s report on Roanoke. The text of the English version had in fact appeared as a separate small book in...

  13. CHAPTER 10 London, 1609: Virginia Richly Valued
    (pp. 236-272)

    On January 23, 1609, John Chamberlain, an inveterate letter writer who spent his time gathering news at St. Paul’s, informed Dudley Carleton (who would become ambassador to Venice the next year) that a pinnace from an East Indian expedition had arrived at Dartmouth carrying one hundred tons of cloves. Another ship had also arrived there from Virginia ‘‘with some petty commodities and hope of more, as divers sorts of woode for wainscot and other uses, sope ashes, some pitch and tarre, certain unknowne kindes of herbs for dieng’’ that might turn out to be cochineal.¹

    By year’s end the arrival...

  14. CHAPTER 11 Wetheringsett and London, 1614: The Malayan Dialogues
    (pp. 273-302)

    In 1614, Samuel Purchas published the second edition of his collection of travel narratives. Unlike Hakluyt, Purchas tended to rewrite the accounts that came into his possession, weaving them into a narrative that reflected his clerical bearing. He had published the first edition only the year before. But that volume had sold so quickly that he feared a “second impression” would appear before he could add the new material he had gathered, particularly pertaining to Europe. He considered the possibility of simply producing new pages, but they were so numerous that ‘‘it would have seemed a loose bundle of shreds...

  15. A Note on Method and Sources
    (pp. 303-316)
  16. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 317-318)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 319-364)
  18. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 365-366)
  19. Index
    (pp. 367-378)