Sir Francis Drake: A Pictorial Biography by Hans P. Kraus
This presentation of the life of Sir Francis Drake in manuscripts,
engraved portraits and views, maps, medals, and books, is intended
to show him as he appeared to his contemporaries , both
his own countrymen and his Spanish antagonists. Most of the documentation
is from his own lifetime, the balance being from the period shortly
after his death when some of the most detailed narratives of his
campaigns and raids appeared. All this material is from the author's
own collection, assembled over a period of many years and reflecting
his keen interest in the almost incredibly adventurous life of
this warrior, who dominated the world's seas for about twenty years
as no single person has ever done before or after.
The age of Drake was indeed the most exciting period of English
history, whose leading theme was the struggle against the colossal
Spanish empire. Travel, exploration, and the beginnings of English
overseas settlement, in Virginia, also make this era a decisive
one in world history.
The narrative connecting the illustrations (The Pictorial Biography,
pp. 35-179) is intended as a guide giving the necessary background
information. It is, of course, impossible to show all the events
of Drake's life in primary source materials from any single collection,
as many unique documents are in various public institutions, mainly
in England and Spain. Nevertheless, what is present here is entirely
sufficient to illustrate his life and exploits. Furthermore, the
presence of original documents, such as those from the Medina Sidonia
archives; the plans for new fortifications at San Juan de Ulúa,
Mexico, c. 1570; financial documents of the Drake-Norris attack
upon Spain and Portugal, 1589; and much other unpublished material,
will, I believe, make this biography of interest to historians
and scholars of the Elizabethan period. It is an entirely new and
original approach to the life and times of Drake.
In reading these original sources one can veritably feel the
pulse of living history.
My grateful thanks are due to Commander D. W. Waters, Curator
of Navigation and Astronomy at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
(England), and Dr. Richard Boulind who wrote the introduction,
itself a great and important study of Drake and his times, to John
S. Kebabian who assisted untiringly in the work of assembling and
describing my collection, to Lotte Labus for her devoted editorial
assistance, and finally to my old friend, Hellmut Lehmann-Haupt,
whose masterly hand and great feeling for fine book design is amply
evident in these pages.
H. P. K.