"Observations" were made during a trip to France and the Netherlands in 1609, when Overbury was 28, during negotiations for what would be the Twelve Years' Truce during the Dutch revolt against Spanish occupation. Less a travel journal than a series of notes on government, economy, military capacity and society, it is divided into sections on the United Provinces, the "Arch-Dukes Contrey" [the Spanish Netherlands], and "France . . . under Henry 4th," actively compared and contrasted as a "Commonwealthe," a "Province" or colony, and a "Monarchie, one of the most absolute of these parts."
The work, circulated initially in manuscript, was entered into the Stationers' Register in 1616, but was not published until 1626 (STC 18903) and again in 1650 (Wing O609). This manuscript includes material not included in the 1626 printed version
Another manuscript copy is available as Folger MS V.b.221
Twelve other copies of this manuscript exist, but only Stow 279 at the British Library contains all the passages in this copy, specifically "extra" passages on trade, soldiers, and economics in the United Provinces, and a short statement about religion at the Assemblée at Blois [information taken from bookseller's description]
On verso of final leaf, "Tho. Overbury / anno aetat. 28."
Title from leaf 1: Observations uppon the State of the seaventeene Provinces as they stoode Anno D[omi]ni 1609 the Treaty of Peace being then on foote, And first uppon that of the Provynces united
Portions also available as a digital reproduction
Thomas Edward Watson / St. Mary's Lodge, Newport Mon (armorial bookplate)
Loose manuscript note taped to recto of second front endleaf describing the text, its history, and giving details of the life of Sir Thomas Overbury
Also known as
Uniform title: Sir Thomas Overbury his observations in his travailes upon the state of the Xvii. Provinces as they stood anno Dom. 1609
Extended title: Observations uppon the state of the seaventeene provinces as they stoode Anno Domini 1609 the Treaty of Peace being then on foote, and first uppon that of the Provynces united ca. 1609
Alternate titles: Observations upon the state of the seventeen provinces