Engraving of Sebastian Münster

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This is an engraving of a mapmaker. The mapmaker is the, uh, well-known mapmaker of the 16th century called Sebastian, uh, Münster. We don’t know exactly who engraved this portrait of Münster, but in the course of the rest of the collection, uh, at Villanova University’s Falvey Library there will be many, many wood-cut maps, early maps, famous maps, performed by this, uh, mapmaker. He was, uh, born and lived his life largely in what is now Germany, and, uh, his work was pioneering work, uh, copied by many in the years that followed.



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Map of Europe as queen

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This map is a, uh, creative rendering of the continent of Europe. As you’ll see, it’s been made to look like or conform to the figure of a queen. Uh, it took some work to make all that work out. The Queen’s head is more or less where Spain is, uh, her left shoulder is more or less where France is, her right arm extends down into the water, uh, representing the Italian peninsula. So, Sebastian Munster, the mapmaker, had some fun with this, and as was the case with some other mapmakers engaged in a little bit of, uh, fantasy cartography. This is a good example; she’s, uh, fun to look at.



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Tabula Asiae IIII

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This map is a, uh, a map by Münster from the first half of the 16th Century. It reflects basically the Middle East – that part of the world which is so turbulent and so fraught with conflict, uh, today. In the upper left-hand corner, one sees Cyprus and the eastern part of the Mediterranean. And then moving ashore, you can see where Palestine is, Samaria, Galilee, on up through what we think of today as Israel and the Holy Land, continuing on over to Syria. Moving further to the right, uh, we enter the Arabian Peninsula, and there are some of the tents that were characteristic of, of the day. On over to, on the right-hand most side, are the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and Mesopotamia, referred to here as “Babylonia,” which, of course, was roughly where the famous mythical city of Babylon was located.

Uh, this woodcut was in a style that follows what is known as the Ptolemaic way of portraying maps. Claudius Ptolemy was a geographer in the Second Century of the Common Era operating out of Alexandria in Egypt. And, in his day, not much was known about the whole world, but he made it his business to know a great deal about the then-known world and included what were then very rough longitude and latitude markings. In any event, maps made from his geographic pinpoints – his longitudes and latitudes – uh, were the best maps of the then-period of time and, for a thousand years more, continue to be the best maps – or at least the model of maps. So what we have here is a map that was made in the 16th Century, but follows, uh, the style and the locations of, uh, many of the points of the area that were devised by a, uh, 2nd Century Greek.



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Typus orbis terrarum, ad imitationem universalis Gerhardi Mercatoris

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This map is a marvelous effort to capture what the whole world looked like. Uh, it is after the much larger and, uh, very famous map[1] by Gerard Mercator, uh, and, um, among its many wonderful features are its effort, again, to portray what the New World looks like. It had been, uh, known for roughly seventy years, but, uh, the explorers of the world were still trying to make sense of it. You’ll see at the very very bottom, a large continuous landmass that seems to go on forever, um, it’s one of the many terras incognitae[2] that you will find on older maps, and that large landmass was posited by mapmakers, in part, because there was so much landmass on the northern side of the equator and there was at least some theorizing that without a large landmass on the bottom, the globe was in danger of tipping over, so it was speculated that, of course there had to be a large landmass – and there it is, whether it really is- existed or not. Another interesting feature of this map is the medallion showing Jesus in the upper left-hand corner. Uh, some people think that, uh, this medallion was placed there strategically because, while there was a hope there would be a Northwest Passage above and around, uh, the North American continent, they weren’t quite sure. And so at least one theory here is that Jesus and his medallion were strategically put at that location, so the mapmaker did not have to make a definitive choice.

[1] See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercator_1569_world_map Accessed 23 Mar. 2021.
[2] “When Roman mapmakers drew a land area that no one had yet explored, they often labeled it “Terra Incognita”—that is, “Unknown Territory”—and the term continued to be used for centuries afterward.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terra%20incognita Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.



For more details, view the catalog record: https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/1691561