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DOI, Digital Objetc Identifier 10.4185/RLCS-2019-1363en | ISSN 1138 - 5820 | RLCS, 74-2019 | Audio-visual explanation of the author |

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How to cite this article in bibliograhies / References

I Rodríguez Cachón, B Valverde (2019): “Two voyages, two ways of recounting the trip round the world: Antonio Pigafetta, Richard Hakluyt and The World Encompassed”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 74, pp. 897 to 915.
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2019-1363en



Two voyages, two ways of recounting the trip round the world: Antonio Pigafetta, Richard Hakluyt and The World Encompassed

Irene Rodríguez Cachón CV Profesor Ayudante Doctor. Departamento de Comunicación y Educación. Universidad Loyola Andalucía, ULA, España. irodriguez@uloyola.es

Beatriz Valverde CV Profesor Ayudante Doctor. Departamento de Comunicación y Educación. Universidad Loyola Andalucía, ULA, España. bvalverde@uloyola.es  

Introduction. This article analyzes the argumentative techniques used in the three main texts narrating the first circumnavigations of the world. On the one hand, the Spanish expedition of Magallanes-Elcano (1519-1521), told by Antonio Pigafetta in Relación del primer viaje alrededor del mundo; on the other hand, the English journey by Francis Drake (1577-1580), described in “The Famous Voyage of Sir Francis Drake” and The World Encompassed by Sir Francis Drake. Methodology and results. The comparative analysis of these texts concludes that in the height of the century of the discoveries these narrators used similar discoursive techniques to give an account of the newly found places to their respective Monarchs and also to the public opinion of the time.

Antonio Pigafetta, Richard Hakluyt, The World Encompassed, travel writing, circumnavigation.

1. Preliminary justification 2. The account of the Spanish journey 1.1. About Relación del primer viaje alrededor del mundo (1536), by Antonio Pigafetta 3. The account of the English journey 3.1. “Sir Francis Drake’s Famous Voyage Round the World”: the first chronicle about Francis Drake’s journey 3.2. The World Encompassed, or the exaltation of Sir Francis Drake as a national hero 4. Final considerations and coda 5. Notes 6. Bibliography

Translation: AJE, American Journal Experts.

 [ Research ]
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1. Preliminary justification

The British television program Cunk on Britain [1], consisting of five episodes that aired on the public broadcaster BBC2, seeks to provide a sarcastic recounting of the history of Great Britain from the Big Bang until Brexit. Conceived of and understood as a mockumentary (or a docu-comedy) recorded in the pseudo-artificial atmosphere of a real historical documentary, it was written by the well-known English satirist and writer Charlie Brooker [2] and stars British actress and comedy writer Diane Morgan. Morgan, under her alter ego of Philomena Cunk, tracks from a humorous point of view Admiral Nelson, the history of the Tudors, the arrival of the potato to Great Britain and Henry VIII’s chronic addiction to weddings, among a wide a variety of other historical, social and cultural issues.

However, Episode 2, which premiered on 10 April, 2018 [3], apparently created some controversy among a part of the audience, especially those of Spanish nationality, and a few days later, El confidencial digital reported the following: “Hundreds of Spaniards outraged over a fake BBC documentary robbing Juan Sebastián Elcano of a milestone” [4]]. The reason, the newspaper alleges, is that the episode “generates confusion and anger by claiming that pirate Drake was the first to ‘circumcise’ (and not ‘circumnavigate’) the globe, rather than the sailor from Getaria”. This refers to the moment at which Philomena Cunk climbs aboard a replica of the Golden Hinde at St. Mary Overie Dock in London, the boat in which Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1580, fifty-eight years after the first trip around the world led by Magellan-Elcano. Although the clear but subtle joke consists of a simple play on words by using ‘circumcise’ instead of ‘circumnavigate’, not all viewers understood this, and criticisms of the broadcaster and its supposed mistake soon appeared on social media [5], with claims that this kind of humor generated confusion among viewers in their approach to and knowledge of historical facts.

This fairly anecdotal, but certainly also provocative, example from television leads us to revisit the intense and extensive historical relationship of rivalry in terms of the exploration of the world between Spain and the United Kingdom. There is constant conflict between feelings of admiration and mutual affection for one another and contradictory feelings, such as fear, pride and the underestimation and delegitimization of the other party. In this sense, when, how, and by whom these expeditions are recounted have always played a key role, and in the 16th century, this was often done in the form of newspapers, books, reports, and travel writing.

With regard to the expedition led by Magellan-Elcano −which was financed by private Spanish capital [6] and culminated in the first journey around the world− it was the Italian chronicler Antonio Pigafetta (c.1480-c.1534) who was responsible for taking the required notes on everything that occurred on the journey. Pigafetta subsequently wrote these notes out by hand in the format of a book or chronicle of the journey, a text first published in French at an unknown date between 1526 and 1536 and later in Italian in 1536. The text that we currently know under the title of The first journey round the world is simply a re-working of all these earlier versions.

In contrast, regarding the English expedition to circumnavigate the globe –which was funded by private investors, and encouraged by the British crown– carried out more than half a century after the Spanish journey, and led by Sir Francis Drake– it was the historian Richard Haklyut (c. 1552-1616) who made the initial attempt to construct the narrative of the journey based on the so-called annotations made by the sailor Francis Pretty, collected in a text published in 1589 called Sir Francis Drake’s Famous Voyage Round the World in the book The Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation. Subsequently, in 1628, a nephew of Drake named after him would expand, refine, and reconfigure the text, publishing it under the title The World Encompassed by Sir Francis Drake.

Based on these texts published after the culmination of both journeys −Pigafetta’s approximately fifteen years later, Haklyut’s nine years later, and The World Encompassed almost thirty years later− this text seeks to analyze and discover how these chroniclers or rapporteurs each configured their discourse on the trip around the world (based, of course, on their own interests), how they communicated what they had seen, both to the crown and to their countrymen, and how their chronicles and information participated in the testimony and transmission of the events that occurred throughout the great journey around the world.

2. The account of the Spanish journey

The Spanish account of the first trip around the world, captained by Magellan-Elcano and told subsequently by Antonio Pigafetta, is not set as “a rigid textual structure in the style of a geographic narration [7] but, rather, as the Royal Instruction understood that because no one knew where they were going, it was requested that the chronicler detail everything they saw, making it far from a mere report” (Vera, 2013: 116). In this sense, although Pigafetta’s text shares some of the characteristics of an official report (the format of a testimony of a process, direct statements to the King, comparisons with what is known, the obtainment of a pardon, etc.), it also contains many marked topics specific to accounts of travel or travel books [8]. Additionally, the text contains ingredients of ethnographic writing tinged with the ancient classical narratives of Greek and Roman maritime expeditions on the Mediterranean Sea.

A widespread idea in the century of the discoveries was the notion that when putting onto paper all of the new things that occurred or were seen on a trip, expedition, or journey, they had to be connected in some way with what was already known. This is what Columbus understood as “observing new lands with old eyes” (Tuninetti, 2011). However, this did not entail altering the previous personal experience, convictions, or thoughts of the person doing the writing. Nonetheless, this fact has resulted in the unfortunate belief that many of these accounts of travel, voyages, or expeditions sought only to “Europeanize what was different, where the indigenous is trapped by a classical beauty specific to European tradition and culture” (Sanfuentes, 2009: 194). Even so, Pigafetta’s writing, although collaborationist with the royal shipping company that brought him aboard, is not fully perceived as that of a “navigator/colonizer who suppresses the colonized” (Vera, 2013: 117), which allows it some discursive freedom and a certain dispassionate perspective.

Thus, the account of the Spanish journey around the world is configured based on the causal personal characteristics and conditions of an author who, not being Spanish and having only an administrative role, wished to portray himself as a protagonist or eye witness. This position, also often exaggerated and with particular emphasis of the episode with the Patagonians, does not coincide much with his role in the expedition, which was of a mere administrative scribe. Another very different perspective is displayed in the English-language account, as will be described in detail in the relevant section.

1.1. About The first journey round the world (1536) by Antonio Pigafetta

Few biographical details are known about Antonio Pigafetta –a “gentilhombre vicentino”, as he describes himself on the cover of his book about the first journey around the world (Pigafetta, 2012: 185)– who was born in Venice, Italy, to a well-to-do family and became a Knight of the Order de San Juan. He received a high-quality education in the Renaissance style, highlighting geography, astronomy, and cartography. Not much more is known about him until 1518, when he arrives in Barcelona and then travels to Seville to enlist as a volunteer in the expedition being prepared there by Fernando de Magellan with the idea of finding a western passage to the Maluku Islands. Probably sturdily built and in very good health, he was one of only 18 of the 265 original crew members who set sail from Spain to survive the massive journey, led at its end by Juan Sebastián Elcano.


Image 1: Manuscript in French from Antonio Pigafetta’s notes on the first journey
round the world of Magellan-Elcano (c. 1525). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
Yale University (USA) (sign. MS 351, fol. 3r) [© CC BY-SA 4.0]

The book that we know today as Relación del primer viaje alrededor del mundo (in original Italian, Relazioni in torno al primo viaggio di circumnavigazione) by Antonio Pigafetta is not an immediate, original work created by the author over the course of the trip but rather a subsequent narrative reworking expanded in later years based on notes taken during the crossing. Upon his return, Pigafetta presented a copy of his manuscript to Carlos I in Valladolid in 1524. This copy, now lost, was used as a source to provide news of the trip around the world to Pope Adrian VI, a text that was also lost during the looting of Rome in 1527. In subsequent years, Pigafetta would do the same in other European courts, such as Portugal or France, introducing other copies, reproductions, or versions of his text.

From among this variety of reproductions and reworkings, four manuscripts are currently preserved with different texts derived from the notes in Pigafetta’s original logbook (Cachey, 2007, XLVI): a manuscript in Italian held at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan (sign. L.103 sup.), three manuscripts in French at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (sign. MS 5650 and sign. MS fr.24224), and one at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University (sign. MS 351). The oldest is most likely the Italian text, dated between 1524 and 1525, only three years after Pigafetta’s return to Spain, with the French copies being somewhat later. It should be noted that all of the first versions printed in Spanish that we know of come from the Italian manuscript, which is most closely aligned in its primordial sensus of the original text.

Regarding the copies preserved from the period, the first edition of the text was published in French (Le voyage et navigation faict par les Espaignolzes isles de Mollucques, des isles quilz ont trouvé audict voyage, des roys d’icelles, de leur gouvernement et manière de vivre, avez plusieurs autres choses) between 1526 and 1536 and is basically a new simplified summary of the Italian text commissioned by Queen Regent María Luisa of Savoy, the mother of Francis I of France (Arriba, 2004, 57). Based on the French text, another Italian edition was published in 1536 as part of a compilation of travel writings (Il viaggo fatto dagli Spagnoli atorno al mondo), and in 1550, another Italian version was published in a collection on travel by the Italian geographer Ramusio, Navigazioni e viaggi, which includes direct testimonies by some of the explorers of the era. The work would ultimately become known in English through Richard Eden’s Decades of the New World (1555).

Given this broad range of texts, it is important to note that any modern approach to Pigafetta’s text and its contents must consider this glut of subsequent reworkings and contributions, which, in one way or another, whether consciously or unconsciously, left their mark on it. The text that we know today as Relación del primer viaje alrededor del mundo is a text that has been frequently condensed, expanded, amended, and also translated, which implies accepting all of the variations assumed by any translation, as meanings can vary significantly between languages.

In the same vein, it is also important to recognize, on one hand, the knowledge about the world provided by these later modifications and additions, as well as their vision of the events or situations recounted, and, on the other hand, their ability in particular to help us distinguish between the true, the credible, and the fictitious throughout the account. Here, as with any text of its time, the boundaries between the fantastical, influenced by the extensive medieval literary tradition of travel writing, and the real, described in the manner of an account of travel, remain blurry in the 16th century.
The fact of recounting a journey refers to both the experience of what the journey entails and the account of how it is told, whether as rhetorical expression –conveying information– or pragmatic utility. Recounting a journey covers “a range of more or less voluntarist practices of leaving ‘home’ to go some ‘other’ place [...] for the purpose of gain – material, spiritual, scientific. It involves obtaining knowledge and/or having an ‘experience’ (exciting, edifying, pleasurable, estranging, broadening)” (Clifford, 1997, 66). However, despite the long tradition since antiquity, and consolidated in its medieval form, of how to recount a journey (from Chaucer’s Caterbury Tales to Marco Polo’s Livres des merveilles du monde, to name two well-known examples), the discovery of America and subsequent feat of the first trip around the world by Magellan-Elcano have caused this account, installed many times in the mirabilia, to lose its metaphorical and excessively imaginary character. Thus, the interest lies in a rhetoric and discourse that is more real and chronicle-like in nature –in relation to the account and the representation of time and space− with more informative and explanatory characteristics.

Additionally, and as stated by Añón (2014, 16-17), with this descriptive turn in accounts of travel in the early Modern Age, “at least three more dimensions are added as constituents of accounts of travel: the construction of an itinerary, the organization of a chronology that organizes the story of displacement and the (constituent) constant presence of digression”, not to mention all of the contextual aspects of the account itself, which involves both the reader and the author and which in the 16th century is also in constant expansion and evolution” (Chartier, 2002).

Pigafetta constructs his account continuously from a chronological point of view but without a pre-established internal order regarding the issues and events that arise; he describes the ceremony and etiquette of the wedding of the daughter of a king ([15 de diciembre de 1521] Casamiento de la hija del rey de Tadore con el hermano del rey de Bachian (Pigafetta, 2012: 299)), como inmediatamente después, sin aviso alguno, pasa a relatar que “este mismo día pusimos en los navíos velas nuevas, sobre las que pintamos la cruz de Santiago de Galicia: Este es el signo de nuestra buena ventura” (Pigafetta, 2012: 300). He once again changes the subject of the account and describes the alliance established with the King of Bachian, then changes the subject again with a description of the bird of paradise, followed immediately by a description of a king being sodomized before a battle (Pigafetta, 2012: 301). He ends the story of that day by quickly changing the subject to describe a water leak from the Trinidad, which is abandoned in the Malukus definitively on 19 December 1521. In this way, and the above serves as example, the discursive order is generated by the events of the journey, but the author is not at all removed from what is occurring and on many occasions is included as another character and protagonist in his narrative thread, not only as the chronicler or narrator:

[25 marzo 1521] El lunes santo, 25 de marzo, día de Nuetra Señora, corrí un grandísimo peligro (Pigafetta, 2012: 231).

[29 marzo 1521] Cuando pisamos tierra, el rey elevó las manos al cielo y se volvió hacia nosotros dos, que hicimos otro tanto, así como todos los que nos seguían. Me cogió después el rey de la mano, y uno delos principales hizo lo mismo con mi camarada. […]. Nos sirvieron de inmediato un plato de cane de cerdo, con un gran cántaro de vino (Pigafetta, 2012: 233-234).

[9 abril 1521] Pigafetta lleva los regalos al rey. Después que se fueron los isleños, el capitán me envió a tierra con otro para llevar los regalos destinados al rey (Pigafetta, 2012: 245).

This means that Pigafetta’s experience as a traveler is “the source of ethnographic authority, which allows him to establish himself as the guarantor of the truth” (Urdapilleta Muñoz, 2015: 174), as is the case in other similar texts, such as Christopher Columbus’ Diario de navegación (1492-1493) or the Segunda carta de relación (1520-1522) by Hernán Cortés.

Throughout the account, it is also worth noting that Pigafetta is little surprised by all of the new things he sees and tries to not be shocked by the outrageous customs he observes: cannibalistic tribes, gigantic beings, extraordinary adornments, beautiful women and lurid funeral ceremonies, such as those described below:

[13 diciembre 1520] Los hombres y las mujeres son bien constituidos, y conformados como nosotros. Algunas veces comen carne humana, pero solamente la de sus enemigos, lo que no ejecutan por deseo ni por gusto, sino por una costumbre (Pigafetta, 2012: 199).

[22 abril 1521] Las demás mujeres están sentadas alrededor de la pieza con un aire triste, y una de ellas con un cuchillo corta poco a poco los cabellos del muerto. Otra que ha sido la esposa principal (porque aunque un hombre pueda tener tantas mujeres como le plazca, una sola es la principal) se tiende sobre él de tal manera que tiene su boca, sus manos y sus pies, sobre la boca, las manos y los pies del muerto. En tanto que la primera corta los cabellos, ésta llora, cantando cuando se detiene la primera (Pigafetta, 2012: 254).

Although Pigafetta is aware of the immense diversity he encounters throughout the trip, it is surprising how often he does not show any value judgment in the face of so much novelty: animals that at the time would have been strange, such as penguins, seals, or sea lions; large men who go around naked; eccentricities of all sorts; lavish ceremonies; exotic foods; and countless situations and items that would have been new and amazing for a European of his day. In a style that is often very similar to that of a modern reporter, he seeks to understand and use logic regarding the new things and largely attempts to limit himself to rigorously describing the otherness he encounters (Luzzana, 1992: 292). However, on a few occasions, he does allow himself to make some evaluative comments regarding what he perceives, a positive or negative judgement that is constructed based on how the expedition is received, welcomed, or perceived by the people and places they visit. If the reception is warm or affectionate, then the place is described as beautiful and pleasant, as, for example, with the description of the Island of Palaoan in the Mariana Islands:

[18 marzo 1521] El capitán, viéndoles tan pacíficos, hizo que les diese de comer y les ofreció al mismo tiempo algunos bonetes rojos, espejitos, cascabeles, bocacíes, algunas joyas de marfil y otras bagatelas semejantes. Los isleños, encantados con la cortesía del capitán, le dieron pescado, un vaso lleno de vino de palmera, que ellos llaman urraca, bananas de más de un palmo de largo, otras más pequeñas y más sabrosas y un cocotero (Pigafetta, 2012: 228).

However, if the reception or impression is not as friendly as expected, then the description and comments about the place or its people are very different; they are ugly, wild, living in a place that is inhospitable and without value, as, for example, in the description of an island within the Malukus that they attempt to approach and where they are not entirely well received:

[10 enero 1522] Los indígenas de esta isla son salvajes, más parecidos a bestias que a hombres, son antropófagos, y van desnudos, con un trocito de corteza de árbol tapándoles las partes sexuales; pero cuando van a combatir se cubren el pecho, la espalda y los costados con pieles de búfalo […]. Llevan los cabellos recogidos sobre la cabeza por medio de una peineta de caña con largos dientes […] moda de que nos reímos mucho. En una palabra, son los hombres más feos que encontramos durante todo nuestro viaje (Pigafetta, 2012: 313).

Thus, although this first Spanish circumnavigation was not conceived of at its outset as a naturalistic trip, much less a poetic or bucolic one, the discursive procedures Pigafetta selects and uses in his text very much approach the model of impartiality and objectivity indispensable to modern and contemporary chroniclers’ accounts. In contrast, as will be analyzed in the following section, the tale of the English journey around the world is completely different.

3. The account of the English journey

In a comparative analysis of the ways in which the first two journeys of circumnavigation of the Earth – the Spanish and English expeditions – were communicated to the world, one of the first facts of note is the date of publication of the two texts. As mentioned previously, Pigafetta’s book was first published in French between 1526 and 1536, nearly fifteen years after the completion of the journey. The circumstances surrounding the communication to the world of the same journey by Francis Drake between 1577 and 1580 are not very different. It is paradoxical that an event of this magnitude – the first time an Englishman managed to go around the world – with such a major impact on the popular imagination of the era (Nievergelt, 2009: 54) appeared only later in two main accounts of the journey. The first of these consists of a brief narration attributed to Francis Pretty, one of the gentlemen-at-arms who completed the crossing alongside Drake, titled Sir Francis Drake’s Famous Voyage Round the World. That account was later rewritten by the English author, translator, and historian Richard Hakluyt for inclusion in his book The Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation: Made by Sea or Over Land to the Most Remote and Farthest Distant Quarters of the Earth at Any Time within the Compasse of These 1500 Years, published in London in 1589.


Image 2: Printed copy ofThe Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries
of the English Nation
de Richard Hakluyt (1589) [© CC BY-SA 4.0].

It was not until 1628 that a second narrative appeared of the voyage of Francis Drake, based mainly on the notes of the chaplain who accompanied the English expedition, Francis Fletcher. The account in question was revised and published under the supervision of the nephew and namesake of the English navigator under the title The World Encompassed by Sir Francis Drake. In addition to these two texts, other full or partial narrations of the circumnavigation exist, which have enabled subsequent critics to contrast the story first offered by Hakluyt and that which was later presented in The World Encompassed. Of note among these texts is the manuscript based on the notes by Francis Fletcher – the incomplete text of which, preserved at the British Museum, casts a different light on the events narrated in The World Encompassed, as we will see below – and the account by John Cook, one of the sailors on the Elizabeth, a ship commanded by John Winter that accompanied the Golden Hinde. However, as stated by Quinn (1984: 34), the text by Hakluyt and subsequently completed in The World Encompassed has been the main authoritative source with regard to public narration of Drake’s circumnavigation.

As stated by Nievergelt (2009: 53-54), references to Drake’s circumnavigation in the textual terrain of the era are not very numerous. Nicholas Breton, in A Discourse in commendation of the valiant as vertuous minded Gentleman, Maister Frauncis Drake, with a reioysing of his happy aduentures(Londres, 1581), includes little more than praise for the English navigator in vague and general terms. The same is true of the work by Henry Robarts, A most friendly farewell giuen by a welwiller to the right worshipful Sir Frauncis Drake Knight (Londres, 1585). In this case, Robarts’ text focuses on Drake’s journeys to the Caribbean and offers little information regarding the circumnavigation. There is also a short poem in modern Latin by William Gager, “In laudem fortissimi viri domini Francisci Draconis” (written between 1586 and 1588), and a text – somewhat later, in 1596 – in the style of an epic with Drake as its protagonist, Commendatory Lamentation on the Death of Drake by Charles Fitzgeffrey.

Among these texts, the work considered to be of greatest importance in terms of the exaltation of the character of France Drake is The Voyage of the Wandering Knight, a translation of a French book published in 1581 by a merchant about whom only his name is known: William Goodyear (Nievergelt, 2008: 55). This work, dedicated to “the Right worshipfull Sir Frauncis Drake, Knight”, serves to introduce the English mariner through an allegory, as if he is a stranger who comes to be knighted after his innate nobility of spirit is tested. In it, the role of Drake “resonates with echoes of a wider quest for a new social identity and self-definition on the part of the merchant-adventurers he represents” (Nievergelt, 2008: 59). Considering all these texts, it can be said that most of the scant reliable accounts of Drake’s circumnavigation have only endured through reedited and secondary references (García Redondo and Varela, 2013: 443).

The successful return by Drake and some of his men to Plymouth aboard the Golden Hinde, as well as the details of the account of his journey, have always been shrouded in secrecy, full of rumors and even false reports. In the words of Fuller (2008: 40), “Drake’s honor was public and national; it was granted with one hand, while the documents of his voyage, with their specific information, were collected and retained with the other”.

If we compare it, for example, to the text by Pigafetta, several factors may help explain this lack of communication to the public of the success achieved: on the one hand, the political and diplomatic tensions between Spain and England, with attacks on Spanish ships carried out by Drake’s expedition – in this sense, it is revealing that Hakluyt indicates at the beginning of the account that the journey by Drake had Alexandria as its supposed destination. Related to this, the English navigator’s controversial reputation did not make him as likely a candidate for a national hero as, for example, Juan Sebastián Elcano. A third possible cause of this secrecy, and one that is noted by both Kelsey (1998: 211-215) and Bawlf (2003), is that this was perhaps part of a strategy by the British crown to maintain the confidentiality of the route traveled by Drake, emulating the policy of cartographic discretion that was so successful for the Spanish crown.

The England of Queen Elizabeth I as of her coronation in 1558 was characterized by intrigue, intense violence, war, and pronounced economic weakness, particularly striking when compared with the rest of the monarchies of the continent. It was during her reign that expeditions to distant lands were first outfitted, mainly with private resources, but with permission, or at least tacit consent, from her government (Vaux, 1854: II). The Queen chose and encouraged her best captains, including John Hawkins, Francis Drake, and Thomas Cavendish – who would later repeat Drake’s feat between 1586 and 1588. They became staunch enemies of the all-powerful European monarchies of the era, always involved in activities of dubious legitimacy against the interests of foreign crowns (Dudley, 2013: 58).

3.1. Sir Francis Drake’s Famous Voyage Round the World: The first chronicle of the journey by Francis Drak

The publication of the account known as Sir Francis Drake’s Famous Voyage Round the World, supposedly based on notes by Francis Pretty and included in The Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation by Richard Hakluyt, was not exempt from complications and a certain amount of mystery. In his pioneering essay on this subject, Kerr (1940: 283-284) sought to shed some light on the topic because, although Richard Hakluyt indicates at the end of his “Address to the Favourable Reader” that he nearly did not include these notes – explaining that another, more detailed account was already underway – Petty’s text can be found in forty of the forty-seven remaining copies of Hakluyt’s book. The Famous Voyage is basically a fourteen-thousand-word account that Hakluyt includes on pages 643 and 644 of his book, after its printing but prior to its release on the market (Quinn, 1984: 34).

There is no clear evidence regarding the original text that served as the basis for “The Famous Voyage” (Quinn, 1984: 35). It is a chronicle-style narrative written by a single author in which several voices are intermingled: third-person singular when the narrator speaks about Drake and first-person plural throughout the rest of the text. In this sense, Hakluyt, a cleric accustomed to explaining theological or moral concepts in an accessible way in sermons, possessed sufficient skill to turn loose raw data into a coherent narrative to make known the journey by Drake. His text about the first English circumnavigation of the world clearly follows some of the basic points of his thinking as a tireless defender of the English colonizing adventure.

Among the various arguments used by Hakluyt in this text to tout the benefits of overseas companies, of note is the explanation provided with regard to the Spanish Empire and the papal limitation established in 1493 by Alexander VI in the papal bull Inter Caetera [9] and subsequently confirmed in 1506 by Julius II with the bull Ea quae pro bono pacis (which ratified the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494) regarding the possibility of English colonization of the Septentrional hemisphere:

... this voyadge will be a greate bridle to the Indies of the Kinge of Spain […] the lymites of the Kinge of Spaines domynions in the West Indies be nothinge so large as ys generally ymagined and surmised, neither those partes which he holdthe be of any such forces as ys falsly geven out by the popishe [Roman Catholic] clergye and others his fautors, to terrifie the princes of the relligion and to abuse and blynde them (Hakluyt et al., 1877: 3- 4).

The English intervention was also justified from a moral point of view:

... the Spaniards have executed moste outrageous and more then Turkishe cruelties in all the West Indies, whereby they are everywhere there become moste odious unto them whoe woulde joyne with us or any other moste willingly to shake of their moste intollerable yoke […] (Hakluyt et al., 1877: 4).

The conclusion of Hakluyt’s previous argument is strengthened because of the following:

... the Queene of Englands title to all the West Indies, or at the leaste to as moche as is from Florida to the circle articke, is more lawfull and righte then the Spaniardes, or any other Christian Princes (Hakluyt et al., 1877: 5).

Upon examining the account of The Famous Voyage in light of the arguments put forward by Hakluyt in favor of the English colonization of the New World, one perceives a similar inspiration. The story encourages other navigators and mariners (and sponsors) to follow in the footsteps of Drake (Fuller, 2007: 38) in the name of God and in the name of their Queen and their homeland. In his account of the journey, there are many occasions on which the various dangers faced by Drake’s men are described: headwinds, violent storms, lack of safe port where to stock up, dangerous rocks and unfriendly inhabitants. However, despite the material and human losses, it is suggested throughout the narrative that God is on the side of the courageous English sailors as they continue their journey. Trust in God’s mercy and the protection of God save them, for example, from what seemed certain death in navigating through the Maluku Islands. The Crown also contends that, in the name of God, missionaries must be sent to these lands to evangelize and “civilize” the numerous tribes encountered on the journey who are ignorant of true religion, such as the wild natives who perform human sacrifices in North America. The text by Pigafetta suggests this as well, although certainly in a more veiled form.

In this regard, one of the most striking episodes in Hakluyt’s account is the highly questionable discovery of what Drake calls Nova Albion, on the coast of what is now Northern California (Kelsey, 2012: 86):

At our departure hence our General set up a monument of our being there, as also of her Majesty’s right and title to the same; namely a plate, nailed upon a fair great post, whereupon was engraved her Majesty’s name, the day and year of our arrival there, with the free giuing up of the province and people into her Majesty’s hand, together with her Highness’ picture and arms, in a piece of six pence of current English money, under the plate, whereunder was also written the name of our General (Hakluyt, Beazley, Raymond & Payne, 1907: 219).

Like Pigafetta, who tiptoes around issues as important as the revolt of the Concepción, for example, and makes no mention of Juan Sebastián Elcano throughout his entire account, Hakluyt pursues a kind of discourse that allows to celebrate the journey as a national achievement, even if that also entails hiding or glossing over episodes of confrontation between some members of the expedition, such as the trial and subsequent execution of Thomas Doughty. In this way, “Drake’s concern for the voyage, the queen’s expectations, and the honor of his country overcame his “private affection” for Doughty, and so “it was concluded” (a notable passive) that he be punished appropriately” (Fuller, 2007: 49).

Through the character of Drake, the narrating voice makes clear his opinion on the possibility of getting ahead in society through one’s own efforts. We should not forget that Drake represents the merchant class, an incipient new bourgeoisie seeking a new and superior social status within Elizabethan society (Nievergelt, 2008: 59). Leaving aside all of the controversial and adverse considerations that have always marked and represented the character of Drake, he is clearly recognized as a humble but self-made man who departs from England as an adventurer/merchant/corsair and who, on his return, is knighted by the Queen of England herself. He achieves this honor, unprecedented for someone lacking pedigree or status, after testing – as they say in the chronicles of the era – his innate spirit of nobility (Nievergelt, 2009: 53). Hakluyt’s account contains numerous occasions on which the economically favorable results of their activities are described, in terms of both trade and piracy, with attacks carried out on Spanish and Portuguese vessels during the voyage.

A second and no less important objective of Hakluyt’s narrative construction is that the text may serve to advance an anti-Spain propaganda campaign. References to the Spanish (and to a lesser extent the Portuguese) in the account are numerous, particularly regarding lootings of Spanish ships and positions in the Pacific. Through these, the image of Spaniards that is conveyed is summarized in a series of negative qualities, including laziness (in the episode in which thirteen silver bars are stolen from a sleeping Spaniard (Hakluy et al., 1907: 219) or cowardice (in several episodes, the Spaniards are unable to face Drake’s men or simply flee before they arrive). Meanwhile, the Spaniards – and the Portuguese – are described as cruel in their treatment of the natives of the newly conquered lands, such as the inhabitants of the island of Mocha in what is now Chile:

Where we found people, whom the cruel and extreme dealings of the Spaniards have forced, for their own safety and liberty, to flee from the main, and to fortify themselves in this island (Hakluy et al., 1907: 208).

It can be said that Hakluyt’s narrative regarding the first English circumnavigation of the globe is constructed as an exercise in manipulating an account with the ultimate goal of celebrating national glories. Hakluyt’s ultimate aim was always for England to join in conquering uncharted territories in the newly discovered lands as well as to bolster maritime trade as a solution to the country’s problems of overpopulation and unemployment.

The World Encompassed, or the exaltation of Sir Francis Drake as a national hero

As Parry states,

The Famous Voyage Round the World proved to be the turning point of Drake’s career. By means of this voyage he graduated, one might say, from slightly disreputable though successful slaver and pirate to famous privateer-explorer. He was to become a widely […] respected admiral and ultimately a folk hero and a national legend (1984: 3).

However, few specific facts regarding Drake’s specific personality or actions can be found in Hakluyt’s account. In general, as in the text by Pigafetta, the account focuses more on the trip than on the man directing it; biographical details appear only when they are relevant to the actions narrated. In this sense, Hakluyt follows the objective stated in the title of his own work, which is to narrate the “navigations, voiages and discoveries” (Quinn, 1984: 43-44).

With regard to what is narrated in The World Encompassed (1628), it pursues objectives similar to those of Hakluyt. Again, this second story includes constant references to God’s will regarding the success of the trip, despite its setbacks, as well as the important need to evangelize the natives they encounter (Drake, Vaz, Cliffe, Silva, Pretty, Cooke, Vaux & Fletcher, 1854: 53; 124; 129). Additionally, it emphasizes that the journey is for the greater glory of the country (Drake et al., 1854: 7) and it argues in favor of England’s right to establish colonies in the new lands (Drake et al., 1854: 108-109), contrary to what was established between the Spaniards and the Portuguese in the aforementioned Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) [10].


Image 3: The World Encompassed, 1635 edition. Library of Congress,
Washington D.C. (USA) [© CC BY-SA 4.0].

Anti-Spanish propaganda also appears frequently in this account (Drake et al., 1854: 61; 97; 99; 102) and in terms very similar to those offered by Hakluyt. However, what differs to a greater extent between the two texts is the objective of elevating Francis Drake to a national hero, an aim fully realized in this second account as with its very title: The World Encompassed by Sir Francis Drake. Offered now at last to Public view, both for the honor of the Actor, but especially for the stirring up of heroic Spirits, to benefit their Country, and eternalize their Names by like noble attempts.The title and subtitle of the work, extremely enlightening with regard to the objectives it seeks to communicate, aim not only to encourage Englishmen of heroic spirit to follow in Drake’s footsteps on behalf of the country but also to glorify the protagonist of the account (i.e., Francis Drake) so that he might be remembered in history as a true national hero. Another small yet important detail to keep in mind in the sub-title is the use of the phrase “at last”, which suggests the difficulties in publishing the account, for the same reasons explained previously in relation to the last-minute inclusion of The Famous Voyage in Hakluyt’s book.

The World Encompassed is a first-person account, told clearly and directly, of the trip in its entirety. The text is much longer than Hakluyt’s, almost three times as long (Quinn, 1984: 41). Its cover states that it is a work “collected out of the Notes of Master Francis Fletcher Preacher in this employment, and compared with divers others Notes that went in the same Voyage”. As stated by Quinn (1984: 37; 39), there is no doubt that the diary by Captain Fletcher was used extensively to construct this narrative of the journey, “but Fletcher purified of any adverse comments on Drake”. In fact, in comparing Fletcher’s diary (dated 1577) with The World Encompassed, different points of view can be observed regarding the character of Drake. The latter omitted or deliberately modified passages that could harm the idealized construction of Drake as a hero (Vaux, 1854: XXI). Mentions of Drake are always made in eulogistic terms, “rare and thrice worthy Captain” (Drake et al., 1854: 5), and his bravery is palpable in passages such as the following:

Our General […] was neuer wont to relye onely on other mens care, how trusty or skilfull soeuer they might seeme to be; but always contemning danger, and refusing no toyle, he was wont himselfe to be one, whosoeuer was a second, at every turne, where courage, skill, or industry, was to be imployed; neither would hee at this time intrust the discouery of these dangers to anothers paines, but rather to his owne experience in searching out and sounding of them (Drake et al., 1854: 43).

In the face of the setbacks experienced on the trip, such as the loss of the Swan, he is always in good spirits and has faith in a fast recovery (Drake et al., 1854: 42). He shows off his intelligence when he decides to go on land to start a fire so that the smoke might guide the lost ship (Drake et al., 1854: 44); his leadership among his men, “as his use was at all times in all other things belonging to the relieuing of your wants, and the maintenance of our goood estate” (Drake et al., 1854: 58), and his skill as a captain, “if our generall had not been both expert in such affaires, able to judge, and giue present direction in the danger thereof, and had not valiantly thrust himselfe into the dance against these monsters, there had not one of our men, that there were landed, escaped with life” (Drake et al., 1854: 59).

He also displays his virtues as a human being when, for example, he chooses to save the life of one of his men over getting revenge on the natives – in this case, the Patagonians – who wounded him (Drake et al., 1854: 60). However, the height of his characterization occurs in the episode of the trial and subsequent sentencing to death of Thomas Doughty (Drake et al., 1854: 62-70), an event also recounted in The Famous Voyage. The story, in this case much lengthier than in Hakluyt’s text, is characterized not by neutrality but rather the contrary. This episode is used to highlight all of the virtues of Drake, who at all times is shown as affable in his dealings with Doughty before, during and after his conviction, something that is striking in the case of an execution for treason. The narrative manipulation of this episode is apparent, particularly when compared with the excerpts from Fletcher’s diary or John Cook’s narrative, where the image presented of Drake is drastically different from this version suggesting his innocence (Vaux, 1854: XXXVII).

Thus, in the configuration of Drake as a national hero, his character is glorified, but the other fundamental pillar is the narration of the journey itself, regarding which the first paragraph is quite revealing:

Ever since Almighty God commanded Adam to subdue the earth, there have not wanted in ages some heroicall spirits which, in obedience to that high mandate, either from manifest reason alluring them, or by secret instinct inforcing them thereunto, have expended their wealth, imployed their times, and aduentured their persons, to finde out the true circuit thereof (Drake et al., 1854: 5).

Although this beginning suggests that the purpose of Drake’s journey was only to circumnavigate the globe, at present there is no documentary evidence that irrefutably proves this. Documentation exists from the era that confirms that Drake initially sought only to explore Patagonia and the coast of contemporary Chile (Quinn, 1984: 42; Bicheno, 2012: 132; Kelsey, 1998: 77-78); similarly, Magellan sought only to discover a western route to the Malukus – thereby avoiding the eastern routes of the Portuguese – and return to Spain the same way. 
The epic and bombastic tone of The World Encompassed generally continues throughout the whole account; Drake’s exploits are compared with those of the Argonauts in their quest to find the Golden Fleece (Drake et al., 1854: 6), and the dangers he faces are likened to biblical episodes: “no traveller hath felt, neither hath there ever beene such a tempest (that any records make mention of), so violent and of such continuance since Noahs flood” (Drake et al., 1854: 87). In this sense, as stated by García Redondo and Varela (2013: 458), it must be taken into account that most of the stories about Francis Drake that we know today were deliberately edited and prepared before being published. In this process, first-hand testimonies were embellished with details from other accounts, the darker aspects were softened as in an epic poem and patriotic acts occurred with exaggerated frequency.

Finally, the exaltation of Drake’s feat of circumnavigation would not be complete without a comparison to that of Magellan-Elcano. It cannot be denied that the first circumnavigation of the globe was performed by the Spanish expedition; however, the author of The World Encompassed states that Drake was the first navigator to successfully lead a trip around the world and takes the opportunity to add that the English expedition was far more successful:

And therefore that valiant enterprise, accompanied with happy successe, which that right rare and thrice worthy Captaine, Francis Drake, atcheiued, in first turning up a furrow about the whole world, doth not onely ouermatch the ancient Argonautes, but also outreacheth in many respects, that noble Mariner Magellanus, and by farre surpasseth his crowned victory. But hereof let posterity judge (Drake et al., 1854: 6).

Just as Hakluyt’s account was edited and prepared with the idea that Drake’s adventure would support their arguments about the role England should play on the global stage, the story of the circumnavigation in The World Encompassed modifies the account that is communicated to the public to make Drake into a national figure to emulate.

4. Final considerations and coda

In light of the above, it can be said that even though these three accounts are configured with very particular and differing objectives and interests, they present similar persuasive arguments and apellative resources in providing news of their respective journeys to both the Crown and the rest of the world.

If from an Aristotelian point of view, ethos, pathos, and logos are the modes of proof available to all orators or writers, it is certain that Pigafetta, Hakluyt, and the author of The World Encompassed shape and construct their discourses taking into account the issues, biases, interests, and aspirations of their time. The arguments presented by the three texts related to ethos, i.e., those concerning the issuer of discourse and the appeal to the honesty and authority of the writer, consist of Pigafetta inserting himself into the text as another character, Hakluyt providing direct testimony from a sailor participating in the journey, and The World Encompassed being based on the journal of the chaplain on board – all three being full members of the expeditions. With regard to pathos, which concerns the emotional appeal to the audience of discourse, the three stories extol the significance and importance of these massive journeys for their respective countries based on the notion that what truly alters public behavior is not the facts themselves but rather the emotion conveyed in their retelling and the influence they subsequently exert. Finally, logos, which involves the logical reasoning of discourse, is achieved in the three texts through the solid evidence and concrete examples of situations or adventures experienced during the journey: from tribes who sought useful things, such as a glass or plate, and readily traded large gold nuggets to the Spaniards in exchange for these items, as detailed in the Spanish accounts, to the discovery of the new fruits and trees described in the stories of the English.

Ultimately, the Spanish and English shared similar political and commercial interests and employed equivalent discursive and rhetorical resources to communicate their countries’ achievements to the world.

5. Notes

[1] All episodes of this television program can be accessed freely through the BBC2 website (Cunk on Britain, https://bbc.in/2VcmcYQ [accessed 02/02/2019]).

[2] Among others, Charlie Brooker is known for being the creator of the well-known British TV series Black Mirror, whose first two seasons aired on BBC4 and whose following two seasons aired on the online video streaming service Netflix.

[3] The full second episode, including the clip titled “Life on board Sir Francis Drake’s ship”, can be seen in its entirety on the BBC2 website (Cunk on Britain, Episode 2, https://bbc.in/2XgNpv3 [accessed 02/02/2019]).

[4] The full article can be found in El Confidencial digital, 20 April 2018, https://bit.ly/2XgY219 [accessed 02/02/2019].

[5] Some comments that can be seen on the program’s public profile on Facebook are as follows: “Dear BBC. The first travel around the world is the one made by Fernando de Magallanes and Juan Sebastián Elcano, Spanish. I invite you to study a little bit more about Spanish history, you will be amazed”. “You are liars, the first person to sail around the world was the Spanish sailor Juán Sebastián Elcano, Drake was simply a thief and a low-pitched pirate, as well as a coward”. “Drake was a pirate at the service of the queen of England. He was not the first to circumnavigate the globe, was Juan Sebastian Elcano from Spain, Drake was the first English man to do it, is a big difference”. “I’m sorry Philomena, you've shown us the second ship to go around the world. The first was Nao Victoria (1519-1522), on the Magallanes-Elcano expedition” (@CunkOnBritain, [Facebook post] https://bit.ly/2GFfN5c, accessed 02/02/2019).

[6] It must be considered that in accordance with “the usual practice of the Crown of Castile, the trip was funded with private capital – primarily from Sevillian bankers – and was necessary to promise investors a significant share in the benefits: one fifth of the earnings obtained by any commercial transaction, for a period of ten years, and government of the conquered Islands” (Fernández-Armesto, 2012: 290).

[7] A geographic account is a type of official report that includes questions aimed at relaying what was seen and heard by the chronicler. This type of text characteristically represents the new space discovered in the greatest detail, attempting to set aside any subjective evaluation.

[8] In this article, the terms “chronicle” and “travel book” are used interchangeably to refer to the totality of texts, reports, chronicles, and literary works based on a journey or expedition in any part of the world. Although it is not the aim of this article, it is important to also consider the variety of formats and thematic heterogeneity that these terms also include: chronicles of the Indies, letters, texts of conquest, natural or moral histories, initiation stories, ships’ logs, tales of pilgrimages, shipwrecks, etc.

[9] This papal bull, written at the request of the Catholic monarchs, defined the meridian West of which everything that had been discovered and was yet to be discovered belonged to the Spanish Crown.

[10] The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) divided areas of navigation in the Atlantic between Spain and Portugal. This line – or anti-meridian of Tordesillas – stood 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, but it considered that the planet had only one ocean, not two.

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How to cite this article in bibliographies / References

I Rodríguez Cachón, B Valverde (2019): “Two voyages, two ways of recounting the trip round the world: Antonio Pigafetta, Richard Hakluyt and The World Encompassed”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 74, pp. 897 to 915.
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2019-1363en

Paper received on 2 September. Acepted on 10 April.
Published on 14 May.