Itinerarium Germaniae, Galliae; Angliae; Italiae | A Journey into England

With the outbreak of European peace in 1648, British gentlefolk set out in large numbers on what has become known as the Grand Tour—a several-month to years-long journey to France, Germany, over the Alps into Italy, and sometimes as far as Greece. The travel provided opportunities to further their education, see the surviving wonders of antiquity and the Renaissance, and refine their continental affectations through interactions with polite company. A stimulus to venture forth was Coryat’s Crudities (1611), a popular narrative of the five-month tour taken by a notable jester in Prince Charles’s household.

Paul Hentzner, a Silesian lawyer, provided an account of arguably the earliest Grand Tour. His travels in the 1590s with his pupil included a visit to England. Itinerarium Germaniae, Galliae; Angliae; Italiae (1612) provides an outsider’s impression of Elizabethan England. He started out from Wroclaw in May 1596 and in the summer of 1598, he landed at Rye. Hentzner marveled that King’s College Chapel in Cambridge “may justly claim a place among the most beautiful buildings in the world.” At Oxford, “Every Student of considerable standing has a key to the College Library.” His stops also included the royal residences at Nonsuch, Hampton Court, and Windsor Castle. 

Viewing the many sights in London and environs, Hentzner noted that the chamber of Parliament is made of wood “said to have that occult quality, that all poisonous animals are driven away by it;” that the Queen’s bed in Whitehall is “ingeneously composed of woods of different colours;” and that there is a place “which serves for the baiting of Bulls and Bears, they are fastened behind, and then worried by great English bulldogs.” He brought letters to be delivered to Queen Elizabeth. Hentzner’s description of the Queen at Greenwich Palace is famous: “in the Sixty-fifth Year of Her Age, as we were told, very majestic; her Face oblong, fair, but wrinkled; her Eyes small, yet black and pleasant; her Nose a little hooked; her Lips narrow; and her Teeth black; …her Hands were small, her Fingers long, and her Stature neither tall nor low.”

The description of England from Itinerarium and its translation into English by Richard Bentley comprise A Journey into England by Paul Hentzner. Horace Walpole edited the volume, 220 copies of which were published by Strawberry Hill Press in 1757. The present copies are first editions of Itinerarium and its English translation.

Chrzanowski 1612h *

Chrzanowski 1757h *

Title List

1479–1550 | 1551–1580 | 1583–1608 | 1609–1675