AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE MAP. Marc Lescarbot’s ‘Histoire de la Nouvelle France’ was issued in several editions. A fundamental work on the history of New France indeed it is the first published history of the French settlements in America.
‘Marc Lescarbot, a Protestant lawyer, spent over a year in America as part of the expedition that founded Port Royal in Nova Scotia … Lescarbot, disenchanted with French life, arrived at the new colony of Port Royal in the summer of 1606. He immediately became one of the leaders and at one point, when Champlain was away exploring with Poutrincourt, was left in charge of the fledgling colony. Upon their return, he put on a play on 14 November 1606, the first in North America, to welcome them home … Lescarbot remained at Port Royal until September 1607 when, having lost his privilege, de Monts and the entire party abandoned the colony. Lescarbot was never to return to North America’ (Burden).
The book was published to encourage French settlement of the New World and included accounts of French voyages in America further south such as the voyages of Verrazano, Ribaut and Laudonnière to Florida. To illustrate the work three copper plate maps were produced. The most important is that of New France. ‘This is the FIRST DETAILED MAP DEVOTED TO CANADA and by far the most accurate available at the time. Pre-dating the more familiar Champlain map by three years …’ (Burden).
This very rare map of the present-day Carolinas did not appear in the early editions of Lescarbot’s. It was first published in the 1612 issue. It records the Huguenot inspired voyages which were commanded by Jean Ribaut and René Laudonière between 1562 and 1565. ‘The latitudinal positions of coastal place names are more accurate, being almost 1 degree further south than on the Jodocus Hondius of 1606, in almost exactly their true positions. ‘La Caroline’ is incorrectly shown on the north bank of the River May (St. John’s River), and Charlefort is named at Port Royal. The Montagne de Palassi are described as bearing gold, silver and copper.’ The large lake to the northwest follows that of Hondius where he moved it from central Florida north so that the R.de May (St. John’s River) now flows in a south-easterly direction The cartography is drawn from the Cornelis Claesz wall map c.1602. Provenance: private English collection. Borba de Moraes (1958) vol. 1, pp. 406-7; Burden 163 & refer 148; Church (1907) no. 356; Cumming (1938) pp. 476-92; Cumming (1962) no. 30 pp. 17-18; Cumming, Skelton & Quinn (1972) pp. 154-71, 181-92; Lowery (1912) no. 102; Morison (1972) pp. 34-101; Schwartz & Ehrenberg (1980) pp. 64-7.