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.
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.
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, uh, 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, uh, 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, uh, 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, uh, kingdoms not yet gathered together into the great country of Germany. So, this, uh, 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.