Paraiba (Brazil)

by Isaac Commelin

A Dutch intermezzo in Brazil


Date of first edition: 1656

Date of this map: ca. 1656

Dimensions (not including margins): 27 x 35,5 cm

Dimensions (including margins): 31,5 x 37,6 cm

Condition: excellent. Sharp copper engraving printed on strong paper.

Condition rating: A

From: Histoire e la vie et actes memorables de Frederic Henry de Nassau…, published by Jodocus Janssonius

Item number:
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Paraiba by Commelin

The current city Joao Passoa (named after the former president of the state assassinated in Recife in 1930) had been founded on August 5, 1585 under the name of Nossa Senhora das Neves [1]. This place (the center of the map) always had the status of a city because it was founded under the umbrella of the Fazenda Real numa Capitania Real Coroa da Portuguesa. After Spain and Portugal were united under the same crown, the city was in 1588 renamed as Filipeia the Nossa Senhora das Neves, to King Philip II.

This map shows the Paraiba region [2]. The Portuguese fortifications are unable to repulse the attack of the Dutch fleet managed by Jan Cornelisz Lichthart [3]. During the short Dutch domination of Brazil, between 1634 and 1654, this town was called Frederikstadt, after the governor Frederick Henry of Orange-Nassau, Prince of Orange. This picture from 1652 is taken  from the study on the Prince by Isaac Commelin.

It is a mirror (and thus incorrect) image of the engraving made by Jodocus Janssonius in 1651, which accurately reflect the geographic reality. Jodocus Janssonius was the son of Johannes Janssonius.

[1] Maria-in-the-Snow, the saint of the day.

[2] The name Paraiba is still in force for the Brazilian State.

[3] He was an admiral in the service of the WIC and mainly worked as a pirate of Spanish and Portuguese vessels.