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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 925 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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VARTHEMA (BARTHEMA, VERTOMANNUS, &C.), LUDOVICO DI, of Bologna (fl. 1502–1510), Italian traveller and writer. He was perhaps a soldier before beginning his distant journeys, which he undertook apparently from a passion for adventure, novelty and the fame which (then especially) attended successful exploration. He left Europe near the end of 1502; early in 1503 he reached Alexandria and ascended the Nile to Cairo. From Egypt he sailed to Beirut and thence travelled to Tripoli, Aleppo and Damascus, where he managed to get himself enrolled, under the name of Yunas (Jonah), in the Mameluke garrison—doubtless after adopting Islam. From Damascus he made the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina as one of the Mameluke escort of the Hajj caravan (April–June 1503); he describes the sacred cities of Islam and the chief pilgrim sites and ceremonies with remarkable accuracy, almost all his details being confirmed by later writers. With the view of reaching India, he embarked at Jidda, the port of Mecca, and sailed down the Red Sea and through the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb to Aden, where he was arrested and imprisoned as a Christian spy. He gained his liberty—after imprisonment both at Aden and Radaa—through the partiality of one of the sultanas of Yemen, made an extensive tour in south-west Arabia (visiting Sana, &c.), and took ship at Aden for the Persian Gulf and India. On the way he touched at Zaila 925 Varthema's work (Itinerario de Ludouico de Varthema Bolognese was first published in Italian at Rome in 1510 (ad instatia de Lodouico de Henricis da Corneto Vicetino). Other Italian editions appeared at Rome, 1517, at Venice, 1518, 1535, 1563, 1589, &c., at Milan, 1519, 1523, 1525, &c. Latin translations appeared at Milan, 1511 (by Archangelus Madrignanus) ; and at Nuremberg, 1610 (Frankfort, 1611) ; as well as in the Novus Orbis of Simon Grynaeus (Basel, 1532). German versions came out at Augsburg, 1515 (Strassburg, 1516) ; at Strassburg, by Michael Herr, in his New Welt, from Grynaeus, 1534; at Leipzig, by Hieronymus Megiserus, 1610 (and 1615), &c. A Spanish translation was issued at Seville, 1520 (from the Latin), and a French at Lyons, 1556. Dutch versions were printed at Antwerp, 1563 (from Grynaeus), at Utrecht, 1615 (from the Leipzig German of 161o), and again at Utrecht, 1655. The first English translation was of 1576–1577 (in Richard Eden's History of Travayle); an extract from Varthema was inserted in Samuel Purchas's Pilgrimage (London, 1625–1626) ; and in 1863 appeared the Hakluyt Society edition by J. W. Jones and G. P. Badger (Travels of Ludovico di Varthema, London). (C. R. B.)

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