André Thevet

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André Thevet

André Thevet (* 1516 in Angoulême ; † November 23, 1590 in Paris ) was a French researcher and writer .


At the age of ten he was accepted into the Franciscan convent Angoulêmes. Little or not at all moved by religious feelings, he studied the literature of his time. Thevet made a trip to Italy at the same time as Guillaume Rondelet (1539). On many trips he then fulfilled a wide variety of orders from his patrons and protectors Francis I , the La Rochefoucauld and Guise families .

Harvesting the fruits of a Kashu tree , Thevet's work

In Piacenza he made friends with Cardinal Jean de Lorraine and, with his financial support, made a trip to the Levant from June 1549 . He visited Crete and the Aegean Islands and, from November 1549, spent a good year in Constantinople . There he meets the scientific and political mission of Count Gabriel de Luetz (d'Aramon) . Thévet may also have worked as a spy for the French crown and others during this period. Accompanied by Pierre Gilles until Alexandria , he left Constantinople for Egypt via Rhodes and Athens and then traveled to Palestine . In early May 1552 he left Jerusalem and returned to France via Cyprus, Rhodes and Sicily. On his return, with the help of assistants, he wrote a report on his trip entitled “Cosmographie du Levant” (Lyon, 1554).

In 1555/56 he took part as a pastor (Aumònier) in the expedition of Vice-Admiral Villegagnon to Brazil . The expedition was supposed to reach the French colonization of Brazil, but ended up de facto as a research expedition without far-reaching political consequences. One reaches the bay of Guanabara ( Rio de Janeiro ) on November 10th 1555, Thevet could not disembark sick and was brought back to France with the next ship ten weeks later at the end of January 1556.

He wrote one of the earliest travelogues about Brazil, Les Singularités de la France antarctique (1557). The descriptions contained therein of the Tupinambá Indians, the flora and fauna of Brazil, local minerals, pottery and weapons that André Thevet had collected during the trip have made history (despite some gross mistakes and unbelievable "sensational reports"), among other things he was the first researcher to describe cassava , pineapple , peanut and tobacco (although the first description is disputed here between him and Jean Nicot ), as well as the great macaw , sloth and tapir .

Thevet's superbly illustrated travelogues were a great success. He became confessor (Aumònier) of Catherine de Medici , royal geographer of four French kings and received other posts. He was u. a. responsible for the royal cabinet of curiosities (ethnology and natural history museum) in Fontainebleau .

He becomes a biographer with his work “Les Vrais pourtraits et vies des hommes illustres en huit volumes” .


  • Cosmographie de Levant . 1554
  • Les singularitez de la France antarctique, autrement nommée Amérique, et de plusieurs terres et isles découvertes de nostre tems . 1557
  • La cosmographie universelle d'André Thevet, illustrée de diverses figures des choses plus remarquables veuës par l'auteur . 1575
  • Les Vrais pourtraits et vies des hommes illustres grecz, latins et payens, recueilliz de leurs tableaux, livres, médalles antiques et modern . 1584
  • André Thevet's North America: a Sixteenth Century View. McGill-Queen's University Press , Kingston 1986
  • Singolarità della Francia Antarctica di André Thevet, ed., Note and transl. Giulia Bogliolo Bruna. Diabasis, Reggio Emilia 1997
  • Edward Benson (translator), Roger Schlesinger (ed.): Portraits from the French Renaissance and the Wars of Religion. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park 2010, ISBN 978-1-931112-98-7 .

Individual evidence

  1. According to Frank Lestringant, Sous la leçon des vents: le monde d'André Thevet, cosmographe de la Renaissance , Presse universitaire de Paris-Sorbonne, 2003, p. 3, not 1502 or 1504, as previously assumed, but 1516.
  2. Bodream ou rêve de Bodrum , Jean-Pierre Thiollet , Anagrams ed., 2010, p. 94. ISBN 978-2-35035-279-4

Web links

Commons : André Thevet  - collection of images, videos and audio files