Book Review-‘Le Grand Routier’ de Pierre Garcie dit Ferrande: Instructions pour naviguer sur les mers du Ponant à la fin du Moyen Âge’ by M. Bochaca and L. Moal Renne

By Michael Jones, published October 2020


Most modern Anglophone readers who are familiar with Le Grand Routier probably owe their knowledge to the ground-breaking work of Eva G. R. Taylor, The Haven Finder’s Art: A history of navigation from Odysseus to Captain Cook (London, 1956). In it Pierre Garcie dit Ferrande from Saint-Gilles-sur-Vie (now Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie), a small port on the Vendée coast of western France, situated very roughly in the middle of the maritime regions that he described at the end of the fifteenth century, provides the earliest surviving detailed guide to the coasts and ports of the Atlantic seaboard from Portugal to Flanders (the mers du Ponant, northern seas, as opposed to the Mediterranean) based on intimate personal knowledge acquired by his career as a sailor and ship’s captain. Paying particular attention to the Channel, he also includes full details on the coast of southern England from Thanet round to the Lizard, and then up into the Irish sea beyond the Dee estuary and Morecambe Bay to the Mull of Galloway and even as far as Kintyre, together with information on the eastern and southern coasts of Ireland…

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Filed under: Atlantic | English Channel | Early Modern
Subjects include: Miscellaneous

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