The Dieppe and Dauphin Maps
and the earlier Portuguese discovery of Australia.
The work and book of Brigadier Lawrence Fitzgerald O.B.E.
Before we embark on the interesting subject of the Dieppe, Dauphin, Vallard maps and Java La Grande I should remind my visitors of just how important navigation maps were in the European world of 500 years ago.
It was the "Age of Exploration" a historic time of maritime expansion, of empire building, of ruthless exploitation and greed. It was an age of conquest, trade, navies and more greed.
The rulers of Europe wanted wealth; whatever it took. The pathways to wealth were on the sea and those who held the navigation maps that showed those pathways held the keys to unimagined riches.
So it was that in those days (up until the 19th century) the information contained in maps such as the Dieppe and Dauphin maps was often priceless, was top secret, was government property, was as jealously guarded as the plans to nuclear weapons or interplanetary space travel might be guarded today. For this reason various nations and their captains contrived ways of concealing the information contained within their maps, maps in code so to speak, cracking the secret code of those ancient maps  was the genius of Lawrence Fitzgerald.
The Dieppe and Dauphin Maps

Whilst it was Portugal's Prince Henry "The Navigator" who was responsible for the early Portuguese domination of the maritime trade routes to Asia: and whilst the Portuguese were the first European nation to explore and map the Asian regions very few Portuguese maps from those days survive due to a terrible fire which destroyed that country's great map storage archives. Most of what we have available today are either copies of copies of the Portuguese maps,  or copies of original maps stolen by spies or defectors working for the French. Had these fellows (I assume they were men but maybe there were enterprising female spies/double agents in those days too) been caught, their punishment would have been a very unpleasant form of death. One assumes that they took the risk involved in stealing maps for large sums of money and a nice villa in the south of France.
These copies of maps are now known as the Dieppe Maps, after the map school in the town of that name, and the Dauphin Maps after a series of copies of the Dieppe Maps made for the French Dauphin. Also there is the Vallard map which is essentially the same map as the Dieppe and Dauphin maps.
The Dauphin Maps are elaborately decorated, not for any scientific or geographical reason but for decorative reasons to make the maps more interesting to his Royal Highness the Prince Dauphin: an important thing to remember further down the track as these decorations are often used to discredit the accuracy of the Dauphin maps.
I am not knowing the history of the old maps named the Vallard Maps but they are essentially the same as the Dieppe and Dauphin maps.
The Stradbroke Island Galleon and Java La Grande
The Dieppe maps are a set of maps produced in Dieppe, France in the 16th century, thought to provide clues towards the Portuguese exploration of Australia’s east coast two hundred years before Captain Cook and even earlier than the first confirmed sighting of Australia by Jansz in his 1606 expedition along the eastern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The maps show part of what might be Queensland, and name the land mass “Java a Grande "

Peter Trickett's book

A 16th century maritime map in a Los Angeles library vault proves that Portuguese explorers, not British or Dutch, were the first Europeans to discover Australia, says a new book which details the secret discovery of Australia.

The book “Beyond Capricorn” says the map, which accurately marks geographical sites along Australia’s east coast in Portuguese, proves that Portuguese seafarer Christopher de Mendonca lead a fleet of four ships into Botany Bay in 1522 — almost 250 years before Captain James Cook.

Australian author Peter Trickett said that when he enlarged the small map he could recognise all the headlands and bays in Botany Bay in Sydney — the site where Cook claimed Australia for Britain in 1770.

[Trickett’s theory is based on] the Vallard Atlas, a collection of 15 hand drawn maps completed no later than 1545 in France. The maps represented the known world at the time. Two of the maps called “Terra Java” had a striking similarity to Australia’s east coast except at one point the coastline jutted out at right angles for 1,500 km (932 miles).

CThe Project Gutenberg EBook of The First Discovery of Australia and New Guinea, by George Collingridge

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: The First Discovery of Australia and New Guinea
      Being The Narrative of Portuguese and Spanish Discoveries
             in the Australasian Regions, between the Years 1492-1606,
             with Descriptions of their Old Charts.

Author: George Collingridge

Release Date: November 7, 2005 [EBook #17022]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

First published 1906


"Olba a Sunda tao larga que huma banda
Esconde para o Sul difficultuoso."

CAMOËNS.--Os Lusiadas.


I. In Quest of the Spice Islands
II. Voyages to the Spice Islands and Discovery of Papua
III. The Spice Islands in Ribero's Map
IV. Villalobos' Expedition and Further Discoveries in Papua
V. The First Map of New Guinea
VI. Jave-la-Grande, The First Map of Australia
VII. Pierre Desceliers' Map
VIII. Desliens' Map
IX. Mendana and Sarmiento Discover the Solomons
X. Mendana in Search of the Solomon Islands. An Early Map of the Solomons
XI. Queiroz's Voyage. A Spanish Map of the Bay of St. Philip and St. James, in Espiritu-Santo Island (New Hebrides)
XII. Torres' Discoveries


1. Prince Henry the Navigator
2. Statue of Prince Henry
3. Portuguese Fleet
4. Magellan
5. The Victoria
6. The Trinidad in a Squall
7. Flying Fish (From an Old Map)
8. Sebastian del Cano
9. Scene in the Spice Islands
10. Tidor Volcano, seen from Ternate
11. The Cassowary
12. Spanish Ships
13. Nutmegs and Cloves, from an Old Chart
14. Banda Volcano
15. Diego do Couto's Pig
16. Malay Press
17. Spanish Ships
18. Guinea Fowl
19. Scene in New Guinea
20. Spanish Caravels
21. The Great Albuquerque
22. Bamboos
23. Guanaco
24. Marco Polo
25. Ant Hills
26. Mendana's Fleet
27. Crescent-shaped canoes
28. Scene in the Solomon Islands
29. Tinacula Volcano, from Santa Cruz
30. Queiroz's Fleet
31. An Atoll Reef
32. Type of Island Woman
33. War Drums
34. Scene in the Solomon Islands


1. Portuguese Hemisphere
2. Spanish Hemisphere
3. Timor, from an Old Chart
4. Australia and Jave-la-Grande compared
5. Santa Ysabel Island
6. Guadalcanal Island
7. Santa Cruz Island
8. The Earliest Map of the Solomon Islands
9. Queiroz's Track
10. Tierra Australia del Espiritu Santo
11. New Hebrides
12. The Big Bay of Santo
13. New Holland
14. Torres' Track


1. The Earliest Drawing of a Wallaby
2. The Spice Islands, from Ribero's Official Map of the World
3. Nova Guinea--The First Map of New Guinea
4. Jave-la-Grande--The First Map of Australia
5. Don Diego de Prado's Map of the Bay of St Philip and St James in Espiritu Santo
6. Don Diego de Prado's Map of the Islands at the South-east end of New Guinea
7. Pierre Desceliers' Map of Australia
8. Desliens' Map of Australia
9. Moresby's Map of the Islands at the South-east end of New Guinea
10. The Great Bay of St Lawrence
11. Bay of St Peter of Arlanza


Of the many books which have been published on subjects relating to Australia and Australian History, I am not aware of any, since my late friend, Mr. R. H. Major's introduction to his valuable work, "Early Voyages to Terra Australis," which has attempted a systematic investigation into the earliest discoveries of the great Southern Island-Continent, and the first faint indications of knowledge that such a land existed. Mr. Major's work was published in 1859, at a time when the materials for such an enquiry were much smaller than at present. The means of reproducing and distributing copies of the many ancient maps which are scattered among the various libraries of Europe were then very imperfect, and the science of Comparative Cartography, of which the importance is now well recognised, was in its infancy. For these reasons his discussion, useful though it still is, cannot be regarded as abreast of modern opportunities. It is, indeed, after the lapse of more than a third of a century, somewhat out of date. Having, therefore, been led to give close attention during several years to the whole subject, I have thought the time ripe for the present work.

The distance from the great centres and stores of knowledge at which I have been compelled to labour will excuse to the candid critic the errors which will no doubt be discovered; yet I feel some confidence that these will prove to be omissions rather than positive mistakes. No pains have been spared in investigating the full body of documents now available.

Though unable to examine personally some manuscripts of interest and value, I believe I can truly say that I have read every book and examined every map of real importance to the question which has been produced in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch. I have corresponded also largely during the past four years with many of the most eminent members of the Geographical Societies of London, Paris, Madrid, Lisbon, Rome, Amsterdam and Neuchatel. To these gentlemen I am deeply indebted for searches which they have made for me in the libraries and museums within their reach, for much information readily and kindly afforded, and for the interest and sympathy which they had at all times manifested in my labours. My thanks are due also to the gentlemen in charge of the Sydney Free Public Library who kindly enriched their collection with many rare, and very useful volumes of permanent importance which I was unable to procure myself, and who aided my researches by every means in their power.

I cannot hope that in a subject so vast and interesting, I shall be found to have said the last word, yet I trust that my book may prove to be of value, both in itself, and as directing the attention of others to a field which should be mainly explored by residents of Australia. Such as it is, I now send it forth, with the natural solicitude of a parent, and commend it to the indulgence of the reader, and the kindly justice of the critic.

Hornsby Junction,
July, 1895.

The Dieppe Maps
Jave La Grande's east coast is shown below from Nicholas Vallard's atlas, 1547. This is part of an 1856 copy of one of the Dieppe Maps held by the National Library of Australia.The Dieppe maps are a series of world maps produced in Dieppe, France, in the 1540s, 1550s and 1560s. They are large hand-produced maps, commissioned for wealthy and royal patrons, including Henry II of France and Henry VIII of England. The Dieppe school of cartographers included Pierre Desceliers, Johne Rotz, Guillaume Le Testu and Nicholas Desliens.

Because many of the inscriptions on the Dieppe maps are written in French, Portuguese or Gallicised Portuguese, modern historians generally accept that the Dieppe school of mapmakers were often working from Portuguese sources that no longer exist. There seems to be convincing evidence that Portuguese cartographers were bribed for information of the latest discoveries, despite the official Portuguese Politica de sigilio (policy of silence). An example of this is the Cantino map of 1502 (not a Dieppe school map) which clearly shows evidence of second hand Portuguese sources.

A common feature of most of the Dieppe world maps ( Vallard 1547, Desceliers 1550) are the compass roses and navigational rhumb lines, suggestive of a sea-chart. However, they are best understood as works of art, clearly intended to be spread out on a table, and containing information on the latest discoveries, side by side with mythological references and illustrations. For example, the Desceliers 1550 map carries descriptions of early French attempts to colonise Canada, the conquests of Peru by the Spanish and the Portuguese sea-trade among the Spice Islands. On the same map can be found descriptions of legendary Cathay, king Prester John in Ethiopia, and the race of Amazons in Russia. [2] Other Dieppe maps also carry fictitious features such as the Marco Polo inspired Zanzibar/Îles des Geanz. (Vallard 1547, Rotz 1542 and Dauphin c1536-42). As with other maps made before the seventeenth century, the Dieppe maps show no knowledge of longitude. While latitude could be marked in degrees as observed by astrolabe or quadrant, easting could only be given in distance. Mercator's projection first appeared in 1568-9, a development too late to influence the Dieppe cartographers .

The Dieppe Maps and the Theory of Portuguese discovery of Australia

Theory of Portuguese discovery of Australia
The Dieppe maps are thought by some to provide clues towards the Portuguese exploration of Australia's coasts in the 1520s. Most of the Dieppe maps show a land mass entitled "Jave La Grande", between what is now Indonesia and Antarctica. As the Portuguese were active in Southeast Asia from 1511, and in Timor from 1516, “Jave La Grande” is a result  Dieppe mapmakers who were working from Portuguese charts of Australia's coastline. Although the Dieppe maps are not specifically concerned with Australia, discussion about them in contemporary Australia is generally confined to this “Jave la Grande” feature.

The first writer to put these maps forward as evidence of Portuguese discovery of Australia was Alexander Dalrymple in 1786, in a short note to his Memoir Concerning the Chagos and Adjacent Islands. Dalrymple was intrigued enough to publish 200 copies of the Dauphin map.

A number of other writers have contributed to the debate about the “Jave La Grande” landmass that appears on the Dieppe maps. These include;

R.H.Major, in 1859, then Keeper of Maps in the British Museum, who wrote Early Voyages to Terra Australis, arguing “Java La Grande” was Australia’s west and east coastline.

George Collingridge wrote The Discovery of Australia in 1895  and reproduced a number of the “Jave La Grande” sections of several Dieppe maps for English speaking audiences. He also argued “Jave La Grande” was substantially Australia’s coastline.

In 1977, lawyer Kenneth McIntyre wrote The Secret Discovery of Australia. Portuguese ventures 200 years before Captain Cook. This book achieved widespread publicity in Australia. It remains the best known of the books attempting to prove that Jave La Grande is Australia. McIntyre attributed discrepancies in “Java la Grande” to the difficulties of accurately recording positions without a reliable method of determining longitude, and the techniques used to convert maps to different projections.

Roger Herve, former Keeper of Maps at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris argued that "Jave La Grande" showed evidence of Portuguese and Spanish discoveries of Australia and New Zealand between 1521 and 1528. Chance Discoveries of Australia and New Zealand by Portuguese and Spanish Navigators between 1521 and 1528 was first published in English in 1983.
In 1982,Helen Wallis, then Curator of Maps at the British Library, suggested that the French 1529 voyage to Sumatra of Jean Parmentier and his brother may have collected information that found its way onto the Dieppe Maps. While admitting the evidence for this was circumstantial, she suggested that perhaps a Dieppe cartographer such as Jean Rotz may have accompanied the expedition. [13]
In 1984, Brigadier Lawrence Fitzgerald wrote "Java La Grande".  In this book he compared the coastlines of “Jave la Grande” as shown on the Dauphin (1536-42) and Desceliers (1550) maps with the modern Australian coastline, arguing the Dieppe mapmakers had incorrectly assembled Portuguese charts. He also suggested some of the illustrations on “Jave la Grande” may relate to Australia.

In 1421, The Year China Discovered the World, published in 2002, English writer Gavin Menzies suggested the “Jave La Grande” landform of the Dieppe maps relates to discoveries of Chinese explorer Zheng He and his admirals. Menzies suggested the Dieppe mapmakers worked from Portuguese charts of Australia, which were in turn copied from Chinese sources.
In 2007, journalist Peter Trickett’s book Beyond Capricorn was published. This stated that an assembly error had been made by cartographers working on the Vallard Atlas of 1547, and that if part of it (see 1856 copy above right) was rotated 90 degrees, it became an accurate map of the Australian coasts, and New Zealand's north island. He also suggested some of the illustrations and embellishments on “Jave La Grande” may relate to Australia. Some media publicity at the time of the book's release incorrectly suggested the Vallard map is not well known.

To the left is the "Queensland" section of the Vallard Map, below is an enlargement of the S.E. Queensland section of the Vallard map which clearly shows various island groups including Fraser, Moreton and Stradbroke Islands.
In the 19th century a number of eminent people, including Mathew Flinders and Lawrence Hargrave, wrote about the possibility of the Spanish or Portuguese finding the east coast of Australia before Captain Cook. Probably the most well known and comprehensive book is  "The First Discovery of Australia and New Guinea.  Being The Narrative of Portuguese and Spanish Discoveries." By George Collingridge. The downloading of the "e'" version of his complete book is available free from the Gutenberg Project, including all maps, illustrations etc. See below for details and links
Historian George Collingridge
Lawrence Hargrave, (1850 - 1915)
Another famous Australian who was certain that the Spanish found the east copast of Australia before Cook was  Lawrence Hargrave   ( yes its his face on the $10 note). He very much fell out of favour as a result of his views on the Spanish discovery of AUstralia,  in the early 20th century, a time when Australia was extremely British
The highly decorative copy of the Vallard map above has to be inverted to make sense of the coastline but the 1547 Vallard map clearly shows the coast of Queensland including Stradbroke and Morton Islands and Morton Bay (see insert). The fact that the map has to be inverted shows that the copyist did not have access to critical map data such as compass alignment, just a (stolen?)copy of the unknown original map.
Java a Grande
Java a Grande
Java a Grande
Outline showing sections of the Dauphin and Descelliers Maps
Same sections of the Dauphin and Descelliers maps after Brigadier Fitzgerald has re-arranged them
The Portuguese Archives, which could solve this problem entirely were destroyed by fire after a massive earthquake in the mid 18th century