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de Ulúa, Mexico, c. 1570; financial documents of the Drake-Norris attack upon Spain and Portugal, 1589; and much other unpublished material, will, I believe, make this biography of interest to historians and scholars of the Elizabethan period.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.