The subtitle of Mr. Wright’s book provides a clue to its character. This is an adventure story, or a collection of adventure stories; a straightforward narrative of the principal episodes of European discovery and conquest overseas in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The treatment is conventional, and so are the conclusions which the author reaches about the discoverers’ motives: acquisitiveness, religious zeal, and the hope of fame. The best chapters are those which deal, not with the early discoveries, but with the efforts of the northern Protestants to break into the Iberian monopoly. Few scholars know more about Elizabethan England than Mr. Wright. He is less certain about Spain and Portugal. From the vast literature on the subject, he has had (perforce) to rely on a relatively small selection of books, all or nearly all in English translation, and some of them are now a little old-fashioned. Arthur Helps and Salvador de Madariaga, for example, are cited as authorities on Cortés, Oliveira Martins on Prince Henry of Portugal, Prestage on the Portuguese explorers in general. The recent and admirable works of Magalhães Godinho are not mentioned. John Hemming’s excellent account of the conquest of Peru presumably appeared too late to be consulted, as did Lawrence Wroth’s book on Verrazzano, whose important voyage is not mentioned at all. Where original sources are cited, the editions used are not always the best; the 1896 Hakluyt Society edition of Azurara’s Chronicle of Guinea, for example, has been superseded by Μ. Bourdon’s much better version of 1960; the Gheerbrand edition of Garcilaso’s Commentaries, by that of Harold Livermore. Inevitably, in a brief general book on a big and complex subject, there are some outright mistakes. Columbus did not become a “grandee of Spain” (p. 78); he sailed on his fourth voyage in 1502, not 1505 (p. 80), and died in 1506 (p. 81). Pigafetta did not publish his account of the Magellan voyage (p. 138). An encomienda was not an “apportionment of land” (p. 168). There are some odd phrases relating to nautical matters, as where Dias (p. 58) is made to “run close-hauled before the wind.” But these are relatively minor matters, in a book clearly not intended for specialists. In capturing the general spirit of his topic, Mr. Wright has a sure touch. The book is smoothly written and handsomely produced. It is an elegant introduction to an exciting story.
Book Review| August 01 1971
Gold, Glory, and the Gospel. The Adventurous Lives and Times of the Renaissance Explorers
Gold, Glory, and the Gospel. The Adventurous Lives and Times of the Renaissance Explorers. By Wright, Louis B..
Atheneum. . Pp.
362. Cloth. $10.00.
Hispanic American Historical Review (1971) 51 (3): 511–512.
J. H. Parry; Gold, Glory, and the Gospel. The Adventurous Lives and Times of the Renaissance Explorers. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 August 1971; 51 (3): 511–512. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-51.3.511
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