1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Oelschläger, Adam
|←Oels||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 20
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OELSCHLÄGER [Olearius], ADAM (1600-1671), German traveller and Orientalist, was born at Aschersleben, near Magdeburg, in 1599 or 1600. After studying at Leipzig he became librarian and court mathematician to Duke Frederick III. of Holstein-Gottorp, and in 1633 he was appointed secretary to the ambassadors Philip Crusius, jurisconsult, and Otto Bruggemann or Brugman, merchant, sent by the duke to Muscovy and Persia in the hope of making arrangements by which his newly-founded city of Friedrichstadt should become the terminus of an overland silk-trade. This embassy started from Gottorp on the 22nd of October 1633, and travelled by Hamburg, Lübeck, Riga, Dorpat (five months' stay), Revel, Narva, Ladoga and Novgorod to Moscow (August 14, 1634). Here they concluded an advantageous treaty with Michael Romanov, and returned forthwith to Gottorp (December 14, 1634-April 7, 1635) to procure the ratification of this arrangement from the duke, before proceeding to Persia. This accomplished, they started afresh from Hamburg on the 22nd of October 1635, arrived at Moscow on the 29th of March 1636; and left Moscow on the 30th of June for Nizhniy Novgorod, whither they had already sent agents (in 1634-1635) to prepare a vessel for their descent of the Volga. Their voyage down the great river and over the Caspian was slow and hindered by accidents, especially by grounding, as near Derbent on the 14th of November 1636; but at last, by way of Shemakha (three months' delay here), Ardebil, Sultanieh and Kasvin, they reached the Persian court at Isfahan (August 3, 1637), and were received by the shah (August 16). Negotiations here were not as successful as at Moscow, and the embassy left Isfahan on the 21st of December 1637, and returned home by Resht, Lenkoran, Astrakhan, Kazan, Moscow, &c. At Revel Oelschläger parted from his colleagues (April 15, 1639) and embarked direct for Lübeck. On his way he had made a chart of the Volga, and partly for this reason the tsar Michael wished to persuade, or compel, him to enter his service. Once back at Gottorp, Oelschläger became librarian to the duke, who also made him keeper of his Cabinet of Curiosities, and induced the tsar to excuse his (promised) return to Moscow. Under his care the Gottorp library and cabinet were greatly enriched in MSS., books, and oriental and other works of art: in 1651 he purchased, for this purpose, the collection of the Dutch scholar and physician, Bernard ten Broecke (“Paludanus” ). He died at Gottorp on the 22nd of February 1671.
It is by his admirable narrative of the Russian and the Persian legation (Beschreibung der muscowitischen und persischen Reise, Schleswig, 1647, and afterwards in several enlarged editions, 1656, &c.) that Oelschläger is best known, though he also published a history of Holstein (Kurtzer Begriff einer holsteinischen Chronic, Schleswig, 1663), a famous catalogue of the Holstein-Gottorp cabinet (1666), and a translation of the Gulistan (Persianisches Rosenthal, Schleswig, 1654), to which was appended a translation of the fables of Lokman. A French version of the Beschreibung was published by Abraham de Wicquefort (Voyages en Moscovie, Tartarie et Perse, par Adam Olearius, Paris, 1656), an English version was made by John Davies of Kidwelly (Travels of the Ambassadors sent by Frederic, Duke of Holstein, to the Great Duke of Muscovy and the King of Persia, London, 1662; 2nd ed., 1669), and a Dutch translation by Dieterius van Wageningen (Beschrijvingh van de nieuwe Parciaensche ofte Orientaelsche Reyse, Utrecht, 1651); an Italian translation of the Russian sections also appeared (Viaggi di Moscovia, Viterbo and Rome, 1658). Paul Flemming the poet and J. A. de Mandelslo, whose travels to the East Indies are usually published with those of Oelschläger, accompanied the embassy. Under Oelschläger's direction the celebrated globe of Gottorp (11 ft. in diameter) and armillary sphere were executed in 1654-1664; the globe was given to Peter the Great of Russia in 1713 by Duke Frederick's grandson, Christian Augustus. Oelschläger's unpublished works include a Lexicon Persicum and several other Persian studies. (C. R. B.)