This Day in History: 1666-04-17

François Valentijn (1666 – 1727) was born on this day.
He was a Dutch minister and naturalist, best known as author of Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën (Old and New East-india). Valentijn worked in the Moluccas 1685-94 and then in East Java 1706-1714. On his return to Holland he wrote Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën (1724-26) a history of the Dutch East India Company and the Far East, a work of five parts published in eight volumes and containing over one thousand engraved illustrations and some of the most accurate maps of the Indies of the time. Comprising geographical, ethnological, and natural history descriptions of the Moluccas it remains a major source for historical studies on the Dutch East Indies and especially for the natural history of the area, much of which was by Rumphius whose work has otherwise been lost. A separate volume on Rumphius’ sea flora and fauna was published in 1758.

Valentijn is honoured in the name of the fish species, Canthigaster valentini.