Friday, June 13, 2014

A Verifiably Authentic View of the 17th-Century Dutch Settlement at New Amsterdam, Manhattan

Having cause to question the authenticity of the single map purporting to have survived from the period of Dutch settlement on Manhattan in the 2nd-quarter of the 17th Century, as well as two other early maps said to have descended from the same cartographic source, I stumbled upon what may be the single engraved view of the tiny Dutch foothold on Manhattan Island below the line of an eventual Wall Street, whose publishing history makes of it an indubitably authentic iconographic resource

I found it in a Scribd-embedded book on a Brazilian-Portuguese web site, Biblioteca Digital Obras Raras Especiais, where the hosting page, Montanus & Piso: cartografia e iconografia no Brasil -sec.XVI, describes the book, De Nieuwe en Onbekende Weereld, by Arnoldus Montanus, published in Amsterdam in 1671, as one "of the more famous publications," dealing with Dutch aggression in the new world, through their agents, the corporate holders of the West Indies Company.

If famous it may well be, it is a very discreet and relative kind of fame. It points out that what the Dutch were doing on Manhattan before 1650, was insignificant compared even to other settlements in America, such as the 400 English in Boston, or the 4,000 settlers at Jamestown. Seen in the context of the war-like views contained in the book, that range up and down both coasts of Central and South America, Nieuw Amsterdam is indeed only a footnote.

America: frontispiece,

Title page:

De Nieuwe en Onbekende Weereld of Beschryving Van America En 't Zuid-Land, Vervaetende d'Oorsprong der Americaenen en Zuilanders, gedenkwaerdige togten derwaerds, Gelegendheid Der vaste Kusten, Eilanden, Steden, Sterkten, Dorpen, Tempels, Bergen, Fonteinen, Stroomen, Huifen, de natuur san Beeften, Boomen, Planten vreemde Gewaffchen, Gods-dienst en Zeden, Wonderlijke Voorvally, Vereeuwde en Nieuwe Oorloogen: Verciertmet Af-beeldfels na 'tleven in America gemaekt, en befchreeven, Door ARNOLDUS MONTANUS, t-AMSTERDAM; By Jacob Meurs, Boek-verkooper en Plaet-snyder, op de Kaisars-graft, schuin over de Wester-markt, in de stadt Meurs. ANNO 1671. Met Privilegie.

A very loose translation from the Dutch:
A New and Unknown World: The Description of America and the South Country, and American Offspring of Zuidlander' Origin; Plus Maps of the War's Expeditions, with the Fixed Coasts, Islands, Cities, Strengths, Villages, Temples, Mountains, Fountains, Streams, Houses, the Nature of the Beasts, Foreign Plants; the Morals & Manner of Worshiping the Deity; Wonder-filled Valleys; New Wars New Times, and a Life Afterwards, Written by Arnoldus Montanus in Amsterdam, published by Jacob Meurs, Bookmaker on German street, oblique to the Western Market on Meurs Street., 1671. With Privileges

Portrait of Maurice of Nassau (Johann Mauritius van Nassau-Siegen) the leader of the Dutch 17th-century expeditions in Brazil:

The web page describes this period of European colonial aggression in the Americas this way:
In the first half of the 17th century the Dutch invaded large parts of northeastern Brazil. Initially successful, but through blockades by England and France, and organized native resistance, the incursions were declared bankrupt by the West Indies Company, and a settlement with the Portuguese was made, selling the Brazilian possessions back to the Portuguese crown for 4 million cruzeiros.

Under the administration of the Stadholder van Nassau many scientist were brought to the new world. Below you can read 2 facsimiles of first editions of some of the more famous publications.

If the results in Brazil call into question who really won and who lost in the European battle for control of the new world, the same can be said regarding the tiny Dutch settlements on Manhattan and up the Hudson River near Albany, with those in the north wresting a far better rate of return for their efforts. Nominal English control did nothing to upset the economic exploitation of the international West Indies corporation. In fact, James, Duke of York, the underfunded brother of the king of England, headed up his own corporate entity, the Royal Africa Company, which didn't compete with the Dutch so much as conspire in the trans-Atlantic trade, focusing particularly on the lucrative transportation of black slaves to work in America's plantations. That the Dutch manorial system of patroon-ship survived in New York well into the 1840's makes the moral justification for the revolution of 1776 a bit of a laugh.

Whoever wrote the blog posting Montanus & Piso: cartografia e iconografia no Brasil -sec.XVI, doesn't appear to have read the same book as I did---or at least, looked at the same pictures that I did, since I don't read Dutch. The tone seems to be one of praise for the West Indies Company for their diligence in bringing over professionals from Holland---artists, scientists, surveyors and engineers; while the home front was manned by cartographers and editors---who created a Brazilian history that would otherwise be lost. (And as a New Yorker I know just how that feels.) At the same time, there seems to be an under-appreciation for the meaning behind just what is being depicted in this 'cartografia' and 'iconografia.'

[Google translation from the Portuguese]

In the last quarter of the sixteenth century and the first half of the century following, the Dutch began to attack the Portuguese colonies, especially in Pernambuco and Bahia. Their first foray was the invasion of Bahia between 1624 and 1625, but were expelled by the command of don Fradique de Toledo Osorio, Marquis of Vilhanueva of Valduesa. Then the Dutch occupied Pernambuco between 1630 and 1654, when they were opposed by the Luso-Brazilian troops. The expansion of Dutch rule came to the North, at Maranhão, and to the south at Sergipe. They also invaded the colonies of Angola and São Tomé, on the African continent, with the purpose of bringing hand labor for the sugar plantations in northeastern Brazil.

The Cartography and iconography from this period, was due to upcoming artists (like Frans Post and Albert Eckhout), scientists (such as Georg Willhelm, and Floor Marcgrave,) cartographers and engineers (Pierre Gondreville, Bastiaanszoon Golijath, Cornelius Hendrik van Berchem, Tobias Commersteijn, Pieter van Bueren, Sicke de Groot, Sems Andrea Drewisch, David van Orliens,) and architect (Pieter Post), who accompanied Maurice of Nassau (Johann Mauritius van Nassau-Siegen) in Brazil. Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, editors and renowned cartographers depicted the Dutch period in Brazil, men such as Joan Blaeu, Henricus Hondius, Visscher Nicolaes, Pierre Mortier, etc. On the same theme were published notable works of historical-geographical nature with abundant iconographic and cartographic documentation authored by Barlaeus Gaspar, J, Laet, Arnoldus Montanus, F. Plante and Pieter van der Aa and other due to coming artists ( Frans Post and Albert Eckhout), scientists ( and Georg Willhelm Floor Marcgrave right ) cartographers and engineers (Pierre Gondreville, Bastiaanszoon Golijath, Cornelis Hendrik van Berchem, Tobias Commersteijn, Pieter van Bueren, Sicke de Groot, Sems, Andrea Drewisch, David van Orliens,) and architect (Pieter Post), that accompanied Maurice of Nassau (Johann Mauritius van Nassau-Siegen) in Brazil. Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, editors and renowned cartographers depicted the Dutch period in Brazil, as Joan Blaeu, Henricus Hondius, Visscher Nicolaes, etc. Pierre Mortier. On the same theme were published notable works of historical-geographical nature with abundant iconographic and cartographic documentation authoring Barlaeus Gaspar, J, Laet, Arnoldus Montanus (left) , F. Plante and Pieter van der Aa and others.

Of the two major categories existing in the imagery, one consists of highly advanced efforts at folded-map making for the era, which have been preserved exceptionally well compared to the informative views of fortified towns and harbors that were engraved on the pages along with the text. As such, they represent some attempt at telling the truth on the part of the corporation. Even though the Dutch were supposedly warring with their rival usurpers, the Portuguese, I can't locate even a minor attempt at telling that narrative in the pictures. All the fascination, ney fixation, is on the indigenous natives and their antics, who, but for a few monster Albino exceptions, are a uniform dusky shade from the Carolinas to the coast of Chile---suggesting centuries of interbreeding with imported African bloodstock, or a mental lumping together of the aborigines with the forced emigrants.

An over-arching theme, evident whether the narrative is telling a good story or bad, is one of licentious sexual charisma or threat. The men are always magnificently muscled, while the women are nubile and naughty; eighty percent of the time they are buck-ass naked. This is as true in Virginia, which has four seasons, as Guyana, which has only one. Exotic flora and fauna add a creepy note, which only enhances the suggestive risk, and when women throw a shawl over one shoulder it just heightens the facts of life. That this volume played an adults-only erotic function as some kind of acceptable pornography within the Middle Reformed Dutch Church shows just how much Christians can compartmentalize after they have been saved. Like saying "I read Playboy magazine for the articles, here they could proffer, "I only bought it for the maps!"

359 Some sort of genital adornment or body modification in Brazil.

363. The daily routine, with breadfruit and hammock.

Clear homosexual attraction on display through a tatted chieftain's touching a succumbing Schoutsmeister's Pieter. The old, "...want a massage?" trick. Should you fail to get the picture, Miss Thing minces right past the action, while holding her "spear" aloft.

The Grecian Overlay Bacchanalian procession. Did they have actual tambourines in the indigenous southern areas of the United States in the 17th century? A narrative goes with this one, but I can't get one word of the archaic Dutch to translate. It has something to do with a Spaniard named Rodrigo de Mendoza, "de vlagge voerde, toe-gerust om aen" and maybe the "Streat[s of] Magellantes" and "sant Vincent." Here the full-frontal male nudity is totally gratuitous and the animals have been anthropomorphised to provide intellectual meaning.

Op kosten der Oost-Indische Maetschappy in 't Vereenigde Nederland ging Spilbergen met seven schepen zeil achtsten van den Oogstmaend des jaers sestien honderd en veertien. Aen d'uithoek raektehy met by Portugeesen handgemein; verooverde een scheepje; en fette sijn kings voort in if  Doch storm door langwylige verstrooy of vloot


Uht-ohh! Another homo alert. The boys in the band are playing boogie in the background, while the guys up front trade their hats. All kinds of obvious symbolism is going on elsewhere in the picture.

More Greek-God bleed-through, when the Moose lies down with the fawn, and the eagle rides the stallion. Don't you wish you could read Dutch right now?

Virginia gals down Richmond way. Even when wearing a duster, the one has to break at the hip and flounce it open suggestively, while the other girl wearing her sacramental boar-goddess wrap looks like she can barely walk. Does she have a trout or a lingum in her hand?

More Virginia devil worship, with a nod to Pallas Athena, and lots of busy activity in the congregation.

The Royal cortege hits the meat market, all aflutter---"Pick me! Pick me!" In the back, boys who like to wrestle, and boys who like to watch.

Tippling in a torch-lite scene, with an entwining snake to indicate it ain't non-alcoholic punch they're draining. And that's not a John the Baptist in the River Jordan beyond, and if you still don't get it, when a smiling man makes eye contact with you from between the broad strides of another man's legs, it means the same thing as today, four-hundred years later.

Oh joy! Sex with dead llamas! Why else the hunt on the mountainside? And those llamas look tired, but happy!

"Why can't we all just get along," in California. This is what it would look like if a bunch of guys with rifles invading the Bohemianian Grove on Awards Night.


Trying to be dignified by using the proper Latin name for something that looks just like Aunt Mary and Uncle Fred. Did a scientist draw this from observation of real life?

The Albino monster I was telling you about... "Fiddle..dee..dee! If one more of you men mentions the word 'war', I have half a mind not to go to the Wilcox's bar-b-que tomorrow!"

Just make up your own story with this one, OK?

My absolute favorite! Not quite sure what's going on, but surely it foreshadowing of the ovens at Treblinka and Stanley Kubrick's Satyricon, with Tony Curtis and Kurt Douglas. If the reportage was slightly exaggerated to terrify for political purposes a populous who had no way of knowing otherwise, do you think George Bush might have done the same with the Taliban? We need our thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, and we get cranky if we don't get it feed to us.

O.K. Let's get serious. This is New Mexico, believe it or not, where the goat was not the Yaqui shaman's first choice for evil symbol. The 'goat as evil God' is an especially troublesome Western thought, beginning in Classical times, but then rolling over successfully into the Christian Church. I've never asked a Jew how he or  she feel about it, but I doubt very much it carries much weight in those camps that have things like the Black Hand...or the evil eye...or arson for hire. God must work through the agency of His creation, and some people are just, like, well---chosen. That the Jews were victimized by the mass hysteria of a spiritual blood-libel, which was politically motivated, is terribly sad, but not nearly as sad as the genocide and the racial extinguishment of whole groups of native peoples in America with no one left to tell the story. I don't want to try and image what's going on in the shadowy darkness in the foreground of this image, while the Dutch courtiers prance and preen about, so that we may bear witness to their bearing witness, or as they say in AA, "qualify" to tell the story. This was passed off as a motivating political truth in 1670, which is the exact equivalent of the official version the government passed off following September 11th, 2001, and if you want to continue to believe that story, it is your right---but baby, trust me---in four hundred years that's going to look just like this looks to us today. Remember I told you so.


Making a big deal of Brazilian cannibalistic practices: I thought you were supposed to eat what you kill. I can trace a record of some American evangelical missionaries in the Philippines who were still claiming to be stomping out cannibalistic practices in that schizoid country as late as 1985


O.K. everybody, I'm really going for the antithesis now! The art work is very good here. I know some short guys who carry exactly this sort of challenging energy. Always with something to prove---ready to pounce on you if you let them, which they do just fine. But who's the protagonist here? If a guy looks like he's about to stick his tail up your ass, don't you have the right to practice preventative retaliation?


I mean some people just seem to worship death. That's what we were told 19 Muslims were like after 9/11.  Palestinians were also willing to strap bombs around their toddler's stomachs, and then push them to waddle into bagel stores, where they could get a kick in on the dominant economic power in their region. Aching to be martyrs, just like Japanese dive bombers from World War 2: "Tora! Tora! Tora! Kamikaz! Poppy-san!" And where else have I heard that before? Oh, yes---ca. A.D. 74.


Fear is a great motivator going forward, when the intellectual discernment necessary to play even a low-level game in today's reality, requires that you split your consciousness right down the middle into two separate compartments, called what is necessary and what is not. What you know better, and pretend you don't. However, if you no longer care to go forward;  speaking in Castenadaian terms---you are ready to begin the  Dance of  your Death, with whatever partners, at whatever tempo you find on the dial, life can take on the  kind of sacred light and color typified by a high-grossing Stephen Spielberg movie. Instead of the nightmare in which you find yourself onstage in front of an audience unable to remember a single one of your lines, you suddenly realize you've been rehearsing this part all of you life. And that you are a really, really major star in the scheme of things.

I have never had that feeling, where you feel that somehow you're inside of a movie, more strongly than I did yesterday morning as I read a Wikipedia entry about a man named Jacques Cortelyou.

Cortelyou (ca 1625 - 1693) was an influential early citizen of New Amsterdam (later New York City) who was Surveyor General of the early Dutch colony. Cortelyou's main accomplishment was the so-called Cortelyou Survey, the first map of New York City, commonly called the Castello Plan after the location in a Tuscan palace where it was rediscovered centuries later.

Cortelyou arrived in Nieuw Amsterdam from Utrecht, Holland, where he had been born to French Huguenot parents. Cortelyou had studied mathematics and land-surveying, and served first in Nieuw Amsterdam as tutor to the children of Cornelis van Werckhoven, to whom the Dutch West India Company had granted a tract of land called New Utrecht.[1] Cortelyou was subsequently appointed Surveyor General of the province of Nieuw Netherlands, and in 1660 made his famous map of Nieuw Amsterdam. Cortelyou also founded two subsequent settlements himself, New Utrecht on Long Island. In 1660 he designed Bergen Square site of the first town within the present borders of the state of New Jersey to receive a municipal charter.[2]

The town of Bergen was located on the bluff "on the west side of the North River in Pavonia," the present location of Bayonne, Jersey City,Hoboken and Weehawken.[3] Cortelyou and his associates had a financial interest in the outcome of the new settlement: they had purchased some "12,000 morgens at Aquackanonk on the Passaic, purchased by himself and associates of the Indians."[4] There is some debate about the origin of the Bergen name, which happens to be the name of one of the earliest settlers of New Amsterdam.[5] (The Bergen and Cortelyou families subsequently intermarried several times, indicating some degree of familiarity.) [6] In any case, the year 1660 was the first time the word "Bergen" was used to describe the new settlement. [7] Sadly, the original map of the Bergen settlement by Cortelyou, as well as the list of patentees, have been lost to history.

Cortelyou was active in Nieuw Amsterdam and later in New York. He was a real estate speculator, and served in many public offices.[8] As the Surveyor General of the city, Cortelyou worked under Governor Peter Stuyvesant. His most well-known accomplishment was his map of early lower Manhattan, executed in 1660, and known as the Castello Plan. Cortelyou was also instrumental in helping to erect the wall, originally fortified against attacks by Native Americans, from which Wall Street derives its name.

Cortelyou's early plan of New York City was known as the Castello Plan because it was later rediscovered at the Villa di Castello near Florence, Italy, in 1900. The map had been bound within an atlas that was sold to a member of the Medici family.








1671, America,

Introduction: An Extract Written by Jacob Meurs, and a Letter by Johan De Witt and Herb. van Beaumont

America is by de Oude onbekend geweeft

De Maandelykse Nederlandische Mercurius (1778)

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