In May 1517, Luigi of Aragon, one of the most wealthy, cultivated and well-connected of Italian cardinals, left Italy for a leisurely tour through Germany, Switzerland, the Low Countries and France, which lasted until January 1518. Too grand to keep a record of his own movements, he was well-served by his chaplain and amanuensis, Antonio de Beatis, who day by day kept a steadily enthusiastic record of the scenes they passed amongst. The range of de Beatis's interests was quite remarkably wide. His descriptions of individuals, landscapes, towns, of whole regions and the characters and customs of their inhabitants, of churches, palaces, relics and works of art provide one of the clearest impressions we have of the physical quality of life in north-western Europe in the Renaissance. This range owes something to the company he kept. Without the Cardinal he would not have had the organs played in the churches they visited, would not have watched Raphael's tapestries being woven in Brussels or met Leonardo da Vinci at Amboise. But it owes still more to the traditions which by 1517 suggested not only what a curious traveller should look at but the way in which he might organise his impressions, and express them in writing. For this reason most of the editor's Introduction is devoted to providing a pioneering account of the evolution of the Renaissance travel journal. Though the Italian text published in the German edition of Ludwig Pastor in 1905 has been frequently quoted by political, social and art historians, the Journal has not previously been translated into English.
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