Martin Frobisher's third (1578) voyage to Baffin island was the consequence of flawed logic and excessive optimism on the part of the adventurers of the ephemeral 'Company of Cathay'. Their original intention - to find a north-western route to the Far East - had been largely forgotten following the imagined discovery of gold - and silver-bearing ore in Meta Incognita (the Unknown Limits), as Elizabeth I had named the forbidding and icy landscape which Frobisher and seventeen mariners had first sighted two years earlier. This was to be the English nation's first experience of a 'gold-rush', and if many refused to be swayed by the promise of an empire to rival that of Spain, others, including the Queen herself and many of her Privy Councillors, allowed their cupidity to override all caution. As the likelihood of future profits was downgraded in successive assays of the mineral samples, the adventurers accepted that a much larger expedition would be required to extract sufficient ore to provide an adequate return upon monies already spent. The result - a fleet of fifteen ships, crewed by almost five hundred men - remains the largest fleet ever to have visited Baffin Island. Their travails in arctic seas, near-comic failures of navigation and the backbreaking task of mining the largest possible amount of mineral ore in the time allowed by the brief arctic summer, were recorded in an unsurpassed body of eyewitness reports, all of which, for the first time, have been assembled in a single volume. Supplemented by extremely detailed and opprobrious (though substantially accurate) accusations regarding Frobisher's role in this enterprise by his ex-partner, the merchant Michael Lok, these records provide a graphic, poignant and often humorous picture of a voyage which foreshadowed the glorious failures of a later age of English empire-building.
Routledge is pleased to be the publisher for the Hakluyt Society.
The Hakluyt Society has for its object the advancement of knowledge and education, particularly in relation to the understanding of world history. The society publishes scholarly editions of primary sources on the 'Voyages and Travels' undertaken by individuals from many parts of the globe. These address the geography, ethnology and natural history of the regions visited, covering all continents and every period over the last two thousand years. Such texts, many previously available only in manuscript or in unedited publications in languages other than English, are the essential records of the stages of inter-continental and inter-cultural encounter.
Established in 1846, the Society has to date published over 350 volumes. All editions are in English. Although a substantial number of the Society's past editions relate to British ventures, with documentary sources in English, the majority concern non-British enterprises and are based on texts in languages other than English. Material originally written in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French or Dutch has regularly appeared, material in Russian, Greek, Latin, Ethiopic, Chinese, Persian or Arabic occasionally.
All editions contain an introduction and scholarly annotation, giving both the general reader and the student a degree of assistance in understanding the material and providing guidance on the relevance of the episodes described, within the context of global development and world history. Volumes are often generously furnished with maps and contemporary illustrations.
Information about the Society may be obtained from the Administrative Assistant at the following address:
Hakluyt Society, c/o Map Library, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DG, UK