Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Munk, Jans

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MUNK, Jans, Danish navigator, b. in Elsinore in 1589; d. in the Arctic ocean, 23 June, 1628. He followed his father's calling, that of a pilot, and had acquired great reputation, making yearly voyages from Denmark and Norway to the northern shores of America when King Christian IV., in 1619, sent him to find the northwestern route to the Indies, whose existence the recent discoveries of Hudson and Baffin were supposed to prove beyond doubt. Sailing from Elsinore, on 16 May, 1619, with two ships and 64 men, Munk sighted Cape Farewell on 20 June, and penetrated Davis strait, advancing as far north as 69°. Returning southward when the ice-fields began to make navigation dangerous, he entered Chesterfield inlet, in New Wales, which he named Munk's Vinterhavn. He had given new names to Hudson and Baffin bay, caliing the former Mare Christianeum, and the latter Mare Novum. On his charts Davis strait is designated as Fretum Christianeum, and all the fiords and islets of the southern coast of Greenland bear Latin names. Cold and famine gradually lessened the number of the explorers, and in the spring of 1620 Munk and two of his crew were the only survivors. Their situation was desperate, yet they managed to repair the smaller ship, and taking as provisions the frozen bodies of their dead comrades, they made sail, and after sixty days sighted again the coast of Norway, on 20 Sept., 1620. The adventures of Munk excited universal interest. Subscription-lists were circulated and the money for a second expedition was soon raised. Munk set out again in March, 1621, advanced as far as 75° north latitude, and said, on his return to Elsinore in June, 1623, that he had seen, farther north, an open sea, which the icebergs, and especially the want of provisions, prevented his reaching. This assertion was then discredited, but cannot now be denied. Munk afterward resumed his trade, made voyages from Denmark to North America, and died at sea during a third expedition to the arctic regions. He published the narrative of his first expedition under the title “Efterretuing af navigationen og reisen til den Nye Danmark af Styrmand Hans Munk” (Copenhagen, 1623; enlarged ed., 1627). This work enjoyed great reputation for more than a century, and was translated into German (Frankfort, 1650); Dutch (Amsterdam, 1678); French (1680); English (London, 1685), and other languages.