ISBN-10:
0822342316
ISBN-13:
9780822342311
Pub. Date:
07/16/2008
Publisher:
Duke University Press Books
Hans Staden's True History: An Account of Cannibal Captivity in Brazil / Edition 1

Hans Staden's True History: An Account of Cannibal Captivity in Brazil / Edition 1

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822342311
Publisher: Duke University Press Books
Publication date: 07/16/2008
Series: Cultures and Practice of Violence Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 742,366
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Neil L. Whitehead is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of Dark Shamans: Kanaimà and the Poetics of Violent Death and the editor of Terror and Violence: Anthropological Approaches (with Andrew Strathern and Pamela Stewart); In Darkness and Secrecy: The Anthropology of Assault Sorcery and Witchcraft in Amazonia (with Robin Wright); Histories and Historicities in Amazonia; and The Discoverie of the Large, Rich and Bewtiful Empire of Guiana by Sir Walter Ralegh. Dark Shamans and In Darkness and Secrecy are both also published by Duke University Press. Michael Harbsmeier is Associate Professor of History at Roskilde University in Roskilde, Denmark. He is the author of two books in German.

Neil L. Whitehead is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of Dark Shamans: Kanaimà and the Poetics of Violent Death and the editor of Terror and Violence: Anthropological Approaches (with Andrew Strathern and Pamela Stewart); In Darkness and Secrecy: The Anthropology of Assault Sorcery and Witchcraft in Amazonia (with Robin Wright); Histories and Historicities in Amazonia; and The Discoverie of the Large, Rich and Bewtiful Empire of Guiana by Sir Walter Ralegh. Dark Shamans and In Darkness and Secrecy are both also published by Duke University Press. Michael Harbsmeier is Associate Professor of History at Roskilde University in Roskilde, Denmark. He is the author of two books in German.

Read an Excerpt

HANS STADEN'S TRUE HISTORY

An Account of Cannibal Captivity in Brazil
By Hans Staden

Duke University Press

Copyright © 2008 Duke University Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8223-4213-7


Chapter One

The True History and Description of a Country Populated by a Wild, Naked, and Savage Man-munching People, situated in the New World, America ...

The true history and description of a country populated by a wild, naked, and savage man-munching people, situated in the New World, America; unknown in Hesse, both before and after the birth of Christ, until two years ago when Hans Staden from Homberg in Hesse came to know of it through his own experiences, and now makes it known in print.

Dedicated to the Serene and Highborn Prince and Lord, Lord Philip, Landgrave of Hesse, Count of Catzenelnbogen, Dietz, Ziegenhain and Nidda, his Gracious Lord.

With a preface by D. Joh.[annes] Dryander, known as Eychmann [Eichmann], Ordinarii Professoris Medici [Full Professor of Medicine] at Marburg.

The table of contents for this little book follows after the prefaces.

Printed at Marburg in the year M.D.LVII. [1557]

TO THE SERENE AND HIGHBORN PRINCE AND LORD, LORD PHILIP, LANDGRAVE OF HESSE, COUNT OF CATZENELNBOGEN, DIETZ, ZIEGENHAIN AND NIDDA ETC., MY GRACIOUS PRINCE AND MASTER.

Mercy and peace in Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Gracious Prince and Lord! In the hundred and seventh Psalm [107: 23-32] the holy King and Prophet David speaks:

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; they saw the deeds of the lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits' end. Then they cried to the lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

Therefore I thank the Almighty Creator of the Heavens, the Earth, and the Sea, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, for the great mercy and pity, wholly unexpectedly and marvelously shown to me by the Holy Trinity when I was captured in the land of Brazil by the savage people called Tuppin Imba [Tupinambas], who eat human flesh and kept me captive for nine months amidst many dangers. [I also thank God] that I now, after long, miserable risk to life and limb, and after several years, have once more returned to your Highness' principality, my most beloved fatherland. I should humbly relate to your Highness my travels and voyages, which I have described as briefly as possible. Thus, your Highness may, whenever it pleases you, have the story of how I with the help of God have traveled across land and sea, read aloud, [in order] to hear about the miraculous events that Almighty God granted to me in my distress. And, lest your Highness were to think that I tell tall tales, I personally offer your Highness a passport to support this report. To God alone be the Glory. I commend myself to your Highness in all humility.

Dated at Wolfhagen, the twentieth of June, Anno Domini [in the year of our Lord] Fifteen Hundred and Fifty-Six. Your Highness's subject by birth, Hans Staden of Homberg in Hesse, presently citizen of Wolfhagen.

DR. DRYANDER WISHES THE HIGHBORN LORD, THE LORD PHILIP COUNT OF NASSAU AND SAARBR\CKEN ETC., HIS GRACIOUS MASTER, GOOD HEALTH AND FORTUNE AND OFFERS HIS SERVICES.

Hans Staden, who now commits this book and story to print, asked me whether I would first take a look at his work and written stories, correct them, and wherever necessary, improve them [before publication]. I have complied with his request for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have known the author's father (who was born and raised in the same town as I, namely, Wetter) for about fifty years, and I have always known him-both in his hometown, and in Homberg, in Hesse, where he now lives-as an upright, pious, and brave man, who is also versed in the liberal arts. And since the proverb says that the apple always tastes of the tree, one can expect Hans Staden, the son of this honorable man, to resemble his father in virtue and piety.

Furthermore, I approach the labor of revising this book with all the more joy and satisfaction, because I gladly deal with matters that have to do with mathematics, such as cosmography-that is the description and measuring of countries, towns, and routes of travel-of which much will be presented in this book, in various ways. I happily delve into such matters when I sense that the events are related and disclosed in truth and honesty. I have no doubt that the aforementioned Hans Staden has thoroughly and conscientiously written and reported his story and travels from his own experience, and not from the accounts of others. He has no false cause and he is led neither by ambition nor worldly renown; on the contrary, he seeks only to praise the glory of God and express thankfulness for his salvation. His chief purpose in bringing this story to light of day is to enable everyone to see how mercifully God, our Lord, against all hope delivered this man, Hans Staden, from so many dangers, when he faithfully called upon Him, and restored him from the ferocity of the savage people to his beloved fatherland in Hesse. Every day and hour, for nine months, he expected to be killed without mercy and eaten.

He says that he very much wants to be thankful to the Lord for this unspeakable mercy, and make the blessings shown to him known to everyone, as far as his humble capabilities allow him, in order to praise God. Carrying out this good deed, the course of events caused him to relate all things that happened during his travels, in his 9 years abroad.

And since he relates this in a simple manner, without decorative or fancy words and arguments, this makes me believe that his intent is genuine and sincere. Also, he could never gain any advantage from lying instead of telling the truth.

In addition, he comes from this country, as do his parents, and he does not wander around from place to place like the gypsies, vagabonds, or liars. Hence, he would have to reckon with the possible arrival of other travelers who have been on the islands and could give him the lie [expose him as a liar].

A particularly strong piece of evidence that his intent and the descriptions in this story are sincere is that he states the time and place of his encounter in the country of the savages with Heliodorus, son of the learned and well-known Eoban of Hesse, who went abroad long ago to seek his fortune, and was thought by us to be dead. According to Hans Staden, Heliodorus saw how he was pitifully captured and led away.

This same Heliodorus, I say, may return sooner or later-and everyone hopes that this will happen. If Hans Staden's story is false and fabricated, he will be able to put him to shame and denounce him as a worthless good-for-nothing.

I will for now leave these weighty arguments and conjectures, which bolster and support Hans Staden's integrity, and briefly mention why it is that accounts of this type generally receive so little credit and applause.

First of all, vagabonds with their ludicrous lies and reports of false and imagined things have brought matters to such a pass that honest and upright people returning from foreign countries are now hardly ever believed and the saying goes: he who wants to lie should lie about things afar. For no one wants to go there, but prefers to believe what he hears rather than making the effort to experience it for himself.

Yet nothing is gained by mutilating the truth for the sake of lies. One has to note that many matters appear incredible to the ordinary man, yet when they are presented to knowledgeable persons who assess them, they are found to be the known and proved facts that they really are.

This can be illustrated by one or 2 examples from astronomy. We who live in Germany or neighboring countries know by long-established experience the duration of winter and summer, as well as [the length] of the two other seasons, autumn and spring. Likewise, we know how long the longest and shortest days and nights in summer and winter last.

When it is then reported that there are places in this world where the sun does not set for half a year, and that among these people the longest day and the longest night each last six months or half a year; furthermore, that in certain places the quatuor tempora, that is, the four seasons, are duplicated, and two winters and two summers succeed each other in the course of the same year.

And likewise, that the sun and the stars, even the smallest star in the heavens, regardless how small they appear to us, are greater than the entire Earth, and are innumerable.

Now when the ordinary man hears such things, he utterly scorns them and considers them incredible and impossible. Yet these natural phenomena have been presented by astronomers in such a manner that the experts do not doubt them.

So, just because the crowd considers these things to be false, it does not follow that this is then the way it has to be. The science of astronomy would stand low indeed, if it could not demonstrate and show how the heavenly bodies work, and on a firm basis foretell the solar and lunar eclipses to the very day and hour. These eclipses have, indeed, been foretold hundreds of years in advance, and experience has found these [predictions] to be correct. Well, some will say: Who has been in the sky and has observed and measured these things? The answer is: Because the day-to-day experiences concur with the demonstrations, one has to consider them just as certain as the fact that 2 and 3 make 5. Proceeding from the established facts and scientific demonstrations, one can measure and calculate how far it is to the moon up in the sky, and onwards to all planets, all the way to the stars in the sky; yes, [one can] also [calculate] the diameter and size of the sun, the moon, and other heavenly bodies. With the aid of geometry and astronomy, that is the observation of the sky, one can even calculate the distance, circumference, breadth, and length of the Earth itself. Yet all these matters are hidden to the ordinary man and are considered to be impossible. The ignorance of the ordinary man is excusable, for he has not studied much Philosophia. But it is both a shame and also dangerous that highly respected and very learned persons should doubt matters that have been established as being true, since the ordinary man looks up to them and thus has his delusions confirmed and says: If these things were true, so and so would not have disputed them. That means ... and so forth.

The same applies to St. Augustine and Lactantius Firmianus, the two holy scholars well versed in both theology and in the liberal arts. They doubt and refute the existence of the antipodes, that is humans, who stand at the other side of the earth, down below us, walking with their feet directed towards us, and their heads and bodies hanging down towards the skies, without falling off.

Though this sounds strange, the ruling opinion among the scholars is nonetheless that it is true and it cannot be otherwise, regardless of how vehemently the said holy and learned authors have denied it. For it has to be certain and true that those who live ex diametro per centrum terrœ [at diametrical points from the center of earth] are Antipodes. It is vera propositio [a true proposition]. Omne versus coelum vergens, ubicunque locorum, sursum est. [Everything which points towards the sky is upright, wherever it may be located.]

Nor is it necessary to travel downwards unto the New World to seek the antipodes, for they are also here in the upper half of the globe. For if one calculates and compares the uttermost country of the West, namely, Cape Finisterre in Spain, with the East where India lies, these most distant peoples and inhabitants of earth are almost a kind of antipodes.

Certain pious theologians want to infer from this that the plea of the mother of the sons of Zebedee has been fulfilled. She entreated the Lord Jesus that one of her sons might sit at his right hand, and the other at his left. This, they say, has been fulfilled since S. Jacob [St. James] supposedly lies buried at Compostel [Santiago de Compostela], where he is held in honor, not far a fine terrœ [from the end of the Earth], the place which is called the Dark Star [Finisterre]. The other apostle [St. John] rests in India towards the rising sun. The antipodes have, therefore, long been present, and although the New World of America had not been discovered on the lower hemisphere in the days of St. Augustine, the antipodes were nevertheless present in this manner. Other theologians, in particular Nicholas Lyra (who is otherwise regarded as an excellent man), have insisted that the globe swims half immersed in water. The one half that we inhabit projects above the waters, but the lower half beneath us is totally immersed in the water of the sea and is therefore uninhabitable.

But all of this is contrary to the science of Cosmographia and the many voyages of the Spaniards and the Portuguese have now shown it to be otherwise. The Earth is inhabited everywhere, even the Torrid Zone, for which our forefathers and all writers of old would not allow. Our daily spices, sugar, pearls, and similar commodities are brought to us from these countries. I have taken pains to explain this paradox of the antipodes and the measurement of the heavens in order to support my argument. There are many other matters that could be brought forward, if I wanted to bore you with my long writings.

Yet many similar arguments may be read in the book written by the worthy and learned Magister Casparus Goldtworm, your Highness's diligent superintendent and chaplain at Weilburg. The book is divided into six parts and treats miracles, wonders, and paradoxes of former and present times, and it is due to be printed shortly. I hereby refer the benevolent reader who desires further instruction and understanding to this work and to many others dealing with such matters, such as his [book] Libri Galeotti, de rebus vulgo incredibilibus etc.

This should suffice to prove the point that matters, which seem strange and unusual to the ordinary man, do not necessarily immediately have to be all lies. In this account, for instance, the people on the island all walk around naked; they have no domestic beasts for food, and none of the things, which are common to us for the sustenance of the body, such as clothes, beds, horses, pigs, or cows; not even wine or beer, etc. They have to maintain and help themselves in their own manner.

To bring this preface to an end, I will also briefly state the reasons that led Hans Staden to put [the account of] his two voyages and travels into print. Many might take affront of this [publication], thinking that the writer desired fame or wanted to make a great name for himself. I have heard otherwise from him and I am certain that his intent is very different, which can also here and there be inferred from the account.

For he has experienced such misery and suffered such adversity, which constantly placed his life in peril, and he had no hope that he would be freed and would return to his home. Yet God, in whom he always trusted and called upon, did not only release him from the hands of his enemies but was also moved by his faithful prayers to show the godless people that the righteous and true God was still ever-present, mighty, and powerful. It is well known that the faithful through their prayers should not set limitations on God concerning the goal, the bounds, or the time; but since it pleased God to work his wonders before the godless savages through Hans Staden, I would not be able to make any objection to it.

(Continues...)



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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction xv

The True History and Description of a Country Populated by a Wild, Naked, and Savage Man-munching People, situated in the New World, America . . . / Hans Staden 1

Appendix 147

Notes 151

Bibliography 181

Index 197

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