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The publications of the Hakluyt Society (founded in 1846) made available edited (and sometimes translated) early accounts of exploration. The first series, which ran from 1847 to 1899, consists of 100 books containing published or previously unpublished works by authors from Christopher Columbus to Sir Francis Drake, and covering voyages to the New World, to China and Japan, to Russia and to Africa and India. Leo Africanus (c. 1494-c. 1554) was an Arab diplomat captured by Spanish corsairs in 1518 and taken to Rome. He was later released by Pope Leo X and enjoyed papal patronage until he left Rome in 1527. This work describes the region of north Africa known as the Maghreb and was considered the most authoritative account of the cultures, religions and politics of this region until the start of European exploration in the nineteenth century. Volume 1 contains a general description of north Africa.