Carl Friedrich Philip Von Martius’s Daring Explorations In Brazil

Men undertake explorations and great journeys for many reasons.  Some expeditions–such as those undertaken by Denham, Burton, Burckhardt, and others like them–are primarily focused on expanding geographical knowledge, commercial information, and ethnographic data.  Others, such as those of Humboldt, Rondon, Lewis and Clark, and von Barth, are more interested in the collection of scientific information about the natural world.  The Brazilian explorations of Carl Friedrich von Martius falls into the latter category.

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John Lewis Burckhardt’s Travels And Explorations In Nubia

J.L. Burckhardt’s intensity and determination clearly show in this engraving.

In a previous article we have sketched the life of John Lewis Burckhardt.  He was born in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1784 of a prominent family.  At the age of 16 his father moved the family to Leipzig; and four years after this they moved again to  Göttingen.  His family was staunchly opposed to the new Napoleonic government that had taken power in France, so he moved to London in July 1806 to seek employment prospects there.  At some point, and possibly influenced by the daring men he had contact with there, he decided on a career in exploration.

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The Boar And The Wolf Of Sant’ Antonio

I will turn again to Biondo Flavio’s geographical compendium of Italy called Italia Illustrata, which was published in 1453.  Flavio traveled all over the Italian peninsula and recorded historical information, anecdota, and local customs of the Italian countryside in the late medieval period.  During his tour of Tuscany, he found himself in the region near the city of Petriolo.  Here there was a remote monastery dedicated to Sant’ Angelo named the Eremo di Sant’ Antonio in Val d’Aspra.  Flavio describes the place as being at the top of an irregular road threading through forested hills.  It was also an austere place, not lavish at all in its construction (ut ad parum sumptuose et minus laute aedificatum te conferas monasterium).

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John Lewis Burckhardt’s Pioneering Explorations And Travels In Arabia

Before Sir Richard Burton, there was John Lewis Burckhardt.  Like many of the great names featured in these pages, he is little known today; but he sacrificed his life in the cause of discovery, and acquired a knowledge of the Arabic language and Islamic customs that has been surpassed by very few–if any–Westerners.  Had he lived longer, his achievements would likely have gotten the recognition that they deserved from posterity.

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The Incredible Life And Explorations Of John Ledyard

Of all the explorers and travelers I have written about, few are as fascinating and as little-known today as the American adventurer John Ledyard.  He lived from 1751 to 1789, during the seminal years of American history; and his travels across the globe (especially in Russia and Siberia) mark him out as a man who deserves far more recognition than he has received from posterity.  In fact, as I was researching his life in preparation for this article, I could hardly believe that his name had sunk into such undeserved oblivion.  Let us give him his due now.

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