1st Edition

English Travellers to Venice 1450 –1600

Edited By Michael G. Brennan Copyright 2022
    514 Pages 33 Color & 55 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    514 Pages 33 Color & 55 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    English Travellers to Venice 1450 –1600 contains 35 separate accounts (with 27 colour and 45 black and white illustrations) of the experiences of a wide range of English travellers to Venice. These accounts, drawn from contemporary manuscript and printed sources, provide vivid impressions of the challenges and hardships endured by visitors to the city and of the complexities of Anglo-Venetian relations during the pre- and post-Reformation periods. They also communicate these travellers’ sense of wonder at the city’s grandeur and artistic treasures and their enduring fascination with Venice’s republican government, political structures and Mediterranean possessions. These travellers include pilgrims, scholars, religious exiles, ambassadors, English courtiers and noblemen, eccentric and renegade characters, seafarers and an undercover intelligence gatherer during the late 1580s for Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s ‘spymaster’.

    This volume’s introduction assesses elements of Anglo-Venetian contacts between 1450 and 1600 and examines some specific topics, such as: the leading role of Venetian naval experts in attempts in 1545 to salvage Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose; a first-hand account by an English visitor’s servant of the disastrous and lethal 1575–7 outbreak of the plague at Venice; and, during the build-up to the Spanish Armada, the impressive international reach of the Venetian intelligence service which enabled the doge and Council to remain well informed about both Spanish and English plans. In addition to the colour plates, illustrating the brilliant artistic achievements of Venetian art by Bellini, Carpaccio, Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto, the volume includes a selection of engravings of Venetian life from the renowned collections of Giacomo Franco. A wide range of illustrations is also included from important early maps of Venice, by Erhard Reuwich for Bernard von Breydenbach’s Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam (1486), Hartmann Schedel’s Liber chronicarum (1493), Jacopo de’ Barbari’s aerial view of Venice (1500) and the stunning map of Venice in Civitates orbis terrarum (1572–1617) by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg. Perhaps most remarkable is that many of the locations, buildings, religious objects and artistic treasures described in this volume may still be seen today by visitors to this unique Italian city, renowned for centuries as ‘La Serenissima’.


    1. Early Modern Anglo-Venetian Contacts

    2. English Travellers to Venice 14501548

    3. English Travellers to Venice 15481600

    4. Giacomo Franco’s Engravings of Venice

    5. Maps of Venice



    1. c.1454 ‘The Physician’s Handbook’ of Richard ‘Esty’ or Richard ‘of Lincoln’

    2. 1458/1462 The ‘Itineraries’ of William Wey

    3. 1458 and 1460 John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester

    4. c.mid-1460s–c. early 1470s Sir Edmund Wighton

    5. c.1492/9397 Thomas Linacre

    6. c.1498/1500 Informacon for pylgrymes unto the holy londe

    7. 1506 Sir Richard Guildford’s chaplain, Thomas Larke

    8. c.151114 The Pylgrymage of Master Robert Langton

    9. 1513 Sir Thomas Newport and Sir Thomas Sheffield

    10. 1517 Sir Richard Torkington

    11. c.1521–c.1526, 15326 Reginald Pole

    12. c.1520s1550 Edmund (Sigismund) Harvell

    13. 1527 Thomas Wyatt and Sir John Russell

    14. c.153842 Andrew Bo(o)rde

    15. 1545 The sinking of the Mary Rose and Venetian salvage attempts

    16. 1545/48 The Historie of Italie by William Thomas

    17. 1548/1550 and 1554/55 Sir Thomas Hoby and the Protestant English community at Venice and Padua

    18. 155056 Peter Vannes (Pietro Vanni of Lucca), English Ambassador to Venice

    19. 1552 Roger Ascham

    20. 1564 Richard Smith’s account of Sir Edward Unton’s visit to Venice

    21. 1570 and 1589 Henry Cavendish

    22. 15734 Philip Sidney at Venice, with Griffin Madox, Harry Whyte, John Fisher, Thomas Coningsby, Lodowick Bryskett and Edward Lord Windsor

    23. 15756 Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford

    24. 1575/77 Sir John North and his servant Hugh Lochard

    25. c.1575 Sir Henry Unton

    26. 1580 James Crichton

    27. 1581 Arthur Throckmorton

    28. 1581 Laurence Aldersey

    29. 1587/88 Stephen Powle

    30. Venetian intelligence about the Spanish Armada in 1588

    31. 1588 Edward Webbe (1553/54after 1592)

    32. 1591 Sir Henry Wotton

    33. 15935, 1596, 1597 Fynes Moryson

    34. 1595 Henry Piers

    35. English attitudes to Venice by 1600

    APPENDIX: Venetian Locations, Institutions and Ceremonies


    Michael G. Brennan is Professor of Renaissance Studies at the School of English, University of Leeds. The Hakluyt Society has previously published two of his other books: The Travel Diary of Robert Bargrave Levant Merchant 1647–1656 (1999) and The Origins of the Grand Tour. The Travels of Robert Montagu, Lord Mandeville (1649–1654), William Hammond (1655–1658), Banaster Maynard (1660–1663) (2004). Both books contain accounts of Venice in the seventeenth century which prompted the compilation of this volume dedicated to earlier accounts of travellers to Venice and Anglo-Venetian relations between 1450 and 1600. He has also served as a series editor and council member of the Hakluyt Society. His other books and articles focus on the extensive sixteenth- and seventeenth-century writings of the Sidney family of Penshurst and, in the twentieth century, the works of Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell.