Hemisphere Septentrional pour voir plus distinctement les Terres Arctiques

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This is a view of the top half of the world by Guillaume de L’Isle. The “Hemisphere Septentrional” is depicted as well as the then-state of geographic knowledge permitted; but, as one can see, there is some uncertainty as to what exactly were the northern reaches of the North American continent, left quite non-distinct, as well as what the top of Greenland might have looked like, with some greater distinctiveness at the top of Europe.

It is a great map by a great mapmaker, de L’isle, and was printed by the house of Covens and Mortier. We don’t often think of the world in this fashion – looking down from above. But it is instructive to see what the world really looks like from that vantage point and how close we come to touching one another at the top of the world.



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Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississipi

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This is a map, truly, to be reckoned with. It’s a map that was made by a Frenchman by the name of Guillaume de L’Isle and is entitled “Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississippi.” The map was originally made by de L’Isle in approximately 1718. What we have here is a reprint of the map by a French firm Cóvens and Mortier dating to 1730. When it was first made in 1718, this map was a real breakthrough. It charted the course of the Mississippi with an accuracy that had never been seen before. Of course, the Mississippi, uh, the Upper Mississippi and the Lower Mississippi were both, at that time, the province of French explorers and, perhaps equally important, French fur-traders who went up and down the Mississippi as the main “highway” plying their fur trade.

The map is important for other reasons as well. It is the first map ever to name Texas, which appears as “Mission de los Teijas” on the map, but it is that expression that matured to the name of America’s largest state among the forty-eight lower states. It is also distinctive because the territory in the middle called “La Louisiane” is huge. It surrounds all of the Mississippi, plunges down into Florida, presses up against the Carolinas and Virginia, and the overwhelming sense is that the French occupy most of the new North American continent. The British Colonies along the eastern seaboard barely cling on to the seaboard that they occupy, and this would be followed, later, by maps prepared by Englishmen showing the French portion of North America as much reduced and the English Colonies as extending a lot further out into the middle of the country than they do here. In many ways, this map is the father, or mother, of many maps to follow. De L’Isle was highly respected and this work of his would be reflected in maps for many generations to follow.



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Carte De La Partie Meridionale du Royaume de Suede avec une Table des Provinces et des Villes Principales

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This is a map by Guillume de L’Isle, reflecting the Baltic Sea and a variety of the lands surrounding it. To the right of the Baltic are the small republics including Estonia, what was then called Livonia, soon-to-become Lithuania, countries which have as we know from modern history, been shaped and reshaped and re-reshaped as warring parties and empiring nations take them over and dictate new geography. Even today, the Baltic republics are regularly threatened by the existence of a very large Russian neighbor. Above them, across the Gulf of Finland, is Finland itself and then across to the left are depictions of both Norway, in green, and Sweden, in pink. Right in the middle of the Baltic is the island of Gotland, with the city of Visby, well-known because it was from Visby that a great mercantile trading arrangement was created and ran commerce throughout the Baltic region for many, many years. Down to the left we see Denmark, and a portion of what was to become Germany, but which still at the time of this map in 1719, is a series of small duchies and kingdoms not yet gathered together into the great country of Germany. So, this map is dramatically colored and tells a wonderful story of the way in which those lands were arrayed and what their loyalties and national associations were back in the early 18th century.



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Carte des Antilles Françoises et des isles voisines

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This is a map by Guillaume de L’Isle, a famous French cartographer, reflecting most of the Windward Islands, that is the islands of the Caribbean that front the Atlantic Ocean. Most of these islands were, at the time the map was prepared in the early 1700s, were possessions or controlled by France and therefore they are gathered together as a group of the French Antilles. The map being designated Carte des Antilles Françoises et des isles voisines, and the neighboring Isles. Off to the right, we see Barbados, which is an English possession, but virtually all of the others – Martinique, St Lucie, St Vincent, et cetera – are most all of them French at the time. So it’s a single-purpose map, but a nice depiction and a very nice compass rose, and lots of detail for all of those French islands.



For more details, view the catalog record: https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/1936471