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To the Shores of Chile

The Journal and History of the Brouwer Expedition to Valdivia in 1643

by Mark Meuwese

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list price: $37.95
category: History
published: 2019

To the Shores of Chile presents the remarkable story of an expedition that took place in Latin America during the height of the Dutch Empire. Skillfully translated by Mark Meuwese, this captivating work sheds light on Dutch imperialism and the complicated relationships between Native peoples and European colonizers.

In 1643, the Dutch West India Company launched an expedition to the coast of southern Chile. With plans to set up a permanent outpost that they hoped would generate enormous revenues in gold and weaken the position of their Spanish rivals, a naval squadron of five vessels and six hundred and fifty soldiers, sailors, and craftsmen set sail under the direction of Hendrick Brouwer. In the end, lack of cooperation from the native Mapuche stymied the expedition. However, an account of the enterprise, based on the journals and logbooks, was published in Amsterdam in 1646 to capitalize on the public fascination with dangerous adventures of Europeans in exotic places and to serve as a political pamphlet in support of the renewal of the West India Company’s charter.

To the Shores of Chile makes this account available for the first time in English and sheds light on both Dutch expansionism and the military and diplomatic power of indigenous people in South America. It will be particularly valuable to ethnohistorians, scholars of failed colonies, and those interested in maritime and Dutch colonial history.

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Contributor notes

Mark Meuwese is Professor of History at the University of Winnipeg. He is the author of Brothers in Arms, Partners in Trade: Dutch–Indigenous Alliances in the Atlantic World, 1595–1674 and coeditor of Atlantic Biographies: Individuals and Peoples in the Atlantic World.

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Editorial Reviews

To the Shores of Chile tells the remarkable story of Hendrick Brouwer’s quixotic expedition in 1643 to the coast of southern Chile, where the Dutch hoped to prevail upon the indigenous Mapuche to ally with them against their shared Spanish enemy. Meuwese’s excellent translation, annotations, and introduction bring the most important record of this journey to light—a vivid, important, and amazing piece of history, which deserves to be read widely.”

—Benjamin Schmidt, author of Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe’s Early Modern World

“Hendrick Brouwer’s expedition to Chile in 1643 nearly became a major turning point in Latin American history. If the Dutch West India Company’s attempted alliance with the Mapuche had materialized, Spanish control over the Americas would have come under real threat. Yet an ill-fated voyage, Brouwer’s untimely death, and a series of cultural misunderstandings meant that the ambitious campaign ended in failure. This translation, expertly introduced by Mark Meuwese, brings this momentous yet forgotten campaign back into the limelight.”

—Michiel van Groesen, author of Amsterdam’s Atlantic:

Print Culture and the Making of Dutch Brazil

“The Age of Exploration has been cast as a heroic time, but historians of the period know that for every "successful" colony there were a dozen failures, and for every maverick leader there were a dozen crackpots. More than this, colonial success almost always relied on forging alliances with native peoples, even when violent conquest was in the works. Ethnohistorian Mark Meuwese presents a forgotten journal of a failed colonial enterprise from the 1640s launched from what would soon be another failed colony: Dutch Brazil. Believing blindly that the Mapuche and Huilliche peoples of southern Chile would be natural allies against the Spanish, a cluster of Dutch company men set off on a hare-brained colonization scheme. The colonists' interactions with local inhabitants were a mix of hostility and handshakes until the Dutch revealed—like the Spanish before them—an insatiable desire for gold. The rest is history.”

—Kris Lane, author of Potosí: The Silver City that Changed the World

“Meuwese’s lively and precise translation allows readers to immerse themselves in the unfamiliar world of the militant Dutch expeditionaries and strong Mapuche leaders who struggled to find common ground against the Spanish Empire in South America in the 1640s. This unlikely tale, available in full in English for the first time, provides a unique view of both Dutch maritime expansion and of the intricacies of indigenous politics in this contested region.”

—Susanah Shaw Romney, author of New Netherland Connections: Intimate Networks and Atlantic Ties in Seventeenth-Century America

“The surprising story of a Dutch expedition to Chile in 1643. A successful outcome, along with the planned conquest of Buenos Aires, would have made the Dutch the dominant power in South America. That goal, however, remained out of reach. How high hopes turned into disappointment is shown in this travel account, expertly translated and introduced by Mark Meuwese.”

—Willem Klooster, author of The Dutch Moment: War, Trade, and Settlement in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World

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About the Author

Mark Meuwese

Mark Meuwese is Professor of History at the University of Winnipeg. He is the author of Brothers in Arms, Partners in Trade: Dutch–Indigenous Alliances in the Atlantic World, 1595–1674 and coeditor of Atlantic Biographies: Individuals and Peoples in the Atlantic World.
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