Slide #313

TITLE: Universalior Cogniti Orbis Tabula, Ex recentibus confecta observationibus.

DATE: 1508

AUTHOR: Johannes Ruysch

DESCRIPTION: This enlarged map of the known world constructed from recent discoveries, engraved on copper, is one of the earliest printed maps showing the discoveries in the new world. The oldest printed maps showing America (as opposed to one-of-a-kind "manuscript" or hand-drawn maps) are the world maps of Giovanni Matteo Contarini (Slide #311), the one produced by Martin Waldseemüller (Slide 312) and this map by Ruysch. While Contarini's and Waldseemüller's maps, printed as individual sheets, have fallen victim to the ravages of time, and only a single copy of each is known to have survived, a number of copies of Ruysch's map, which was printed as a plate in an atlas, are preserved today. While the map is found in some copies of the 1507 edition of Ptolemy's Geographia, in such cases it is not mentioned on the title-page and it is therefore probable that it was bound into the volume at a later date (the title page of the 1508 edition does announce the new world map; while the Harvard College Library has an original copy of the map, which shows no evidence of having been bound). This map represents the first "modern" variant of a map of the world in an edition of Ptolemy's Geographia (Cosmographia). The fan-shaped conical projection, belonging to the first Ptolemaic projection (Slide #119 ) suggests that the map may have been taken from Contarini; however, the geographical details indicate a number of differences between the two.

It first appeared as an addition to the issue of Ptolemy's Geographia, originally published at Rome in 1508, together with a commentary written by an Italian monk named Marcus Beneventanus, under the title of Orbis nouo descriptio. The treatise by Beneventanus is absolutely predicated upon the mappamundi of Ruysch. This must be noted, as it constrains us to limit our interpretation of the geographical configurations and legends to the map itself. Marcus adds nothing whatever as regards facts and data; instead, his treatise is less complete, considering that he fails to mention either Cuba or the continental land which the map exhibits between Newfoundland and South America. It is even doubtful whether the Celestinian monk, or any of the parties engaged in the publication of the Ptolemy of 1507-1508, had ever personal intercourse with Ruysch. Otherwise we would certainly find in the elaborate description which Marcus Beneventanus gives of the transatlantic discoveries of the Spaniards and Portuguese, some statement or name which should have been omitted in the map. The few personal details given by the commentator and by Thomas Aucuparius in the preface were most probably conveyed by a letter accompanying the map when it was sent in manuscript from Germany to Rome, as Harrisse believes if Ruysch had supervised the engraving in person, the probability is that the nomenclature would have been entirely in Latin, or according to its original Portuguese form, instead of being so frequently Italianized, as is seen in the pronoun do, everywhere written de, and in the words Terra secca, C. Glaciato and Capo formoso, which certainly indicate a translation of Portuguese names, made not by a German, but by an Italian, without being errors of the engraver.

Excepting these excerpts, the Orbis nova descriptio of Marcus Beneventanus only contains an exhibition of learning, which is now quite worthless, but which was perhaps necessary, at that time, as an introduction for the new world to her older sisters: Asia, Europe, and Africa. It is at any rate a remarkable fact that Beneventanus, every time he deigns to descend from his pedestal of learning, communicates a fact of great importance to the history of geographical discovery. He thus incidentally informs us that the author of this map, which from a geographical point of view marks an epoch in cartography more distinctly than any other that has ever been published in print, had joined in a voyage from England to America. We also learn that Beneventanus had been personally acquainted with "Columbus Nepos". By this name he probably designates either the illegitimate son of Columbus, Ferdinand, who sojourned in Europe till his nineteenth year (1509), or rather the brother of Columbus, Bartholomew, who seems to have been an eminent cartographer. For there is an annotation on a copy of: Paesi nouvamente retrovaetc., Vicentia 1507, at the library Magliabechi, stating that Bartholomew, when visiting Rome in 1505, wrote, for a canon of the church of San Giovanni di Laterano, a narrative of the first voyage across the ocean, to which a map of the new discoveries was appended. The canon presented the map to Alessandro Zorzi. We here probably have a notice respecting the same map, which Marcus Beneventanus had seen with "Columbus Nepos," and which appears to have been partly copied by Ruysch, whose map consequently may be regarded as a direct illustration of the ideas prevailing in the family of Columbus as to the distribution of the continents and oceans of the globe.

Besides the fact that Ruysch was a German, little is known of his career. Beneventanus, writing in his commentary on the map for the Ptolemy edition of 1508 says: "Johannes Ruysch of Germany, in my judgment a most exact geographer, and a most painstaking one in delineating the globe, to whose aid in this little work I am indebted, has told me that he sailed from the South of England, and penetrated as far as the fifty-third degree of north latitude, and on that parallel he sailed west toward the shores of the East, bearing a little northward and observed many islands."

He is believed to have been with John Cabot on his famous voyage of 1497 and yet his map makes no direct mention of the Cabots. Cape Race, which appeared on La Cosa's map as Cavo de Ynglaterra, on Ruysch's map is called C. De Portogesi. There are other indications that Ruysch made use of Portuguese charts in making his map. The names on the coast of Venezuela are quite different from those on the La Cosa map. He adopts the Portuguese name, Terra Sancte Crucis [Land of the Holy Cross] for South America instead of Tierra del Brazil, the name used by the Spaniards. In his representation of India as a triangular peninsula, between the Ganges and Indus rivers; in his location of the islands of Prilam [Ceylon] and Taprobana [Sumatra]; and in his delineation of the coast line of Africa, Ruysch displays accurate and up-to-date information concerning the Portuguese discoveries. This appears also from the inscriptions in the Indian Ocean. The one inscription to the left of India states that this sea, which on the Ptolemaic maps was represented as landlocked, was shown by the Portuguese to be connected with the ocean. On Taprobane alias Zoilon, which almost corresponds to the immense island at present called Sumatra, there is a long legend, partly borrowed from Ptolemy, but with the interesting addition that Portuguese mariners arrived there in 1507. Another legend on the southeastern parts of Asia alludes to the existence of numerous islands in that part of the ocean, of which notices from Indian merchants seem to have already reached Europe. The news of this discovery must have been very recent when the map was made. This Portuguese influence may be due only to the fact that Portuguese charts, while kept in great secrecy, were more numerous than Spanish ones.

On the Ruysch map, the Indian peninsula now has significantly more names on both the west and east coasts than the Contarini-Rosselli map and, further east, Ruysch recognizes that the old Ptolemaic coastline can no longer apply. Madagascar and Ceylon are properly reduced in size and located more precisely.

It is also one of the first printed map of the world on which the discoveries of the Portuguese along the coasts of Africa are laid down. With the exception of some small maps based on the cosmographical speculations of the ancients, and inserted in the works of Macrobius, Sacrobosco and others (Slide #201), along with the Contarini and Waldseemüller maps, it is one of the first printed map representing Africa as a peninsula encompassed by the ocean. The southern point of Africa moreover is here placed on a nearly correct latitude, thus giving a tolerably exact form to that part of the world. Ruysch also gives on his map a relatively correct place to the Insule ae Azores, Insula de Madera, Ins. Canarias and Insuie de Capo Verde.

Ruysch's map is the first map published in print on which India is drawn as a triangular peninsula projecting from the south coast of Asia and bordered on the north by the rivers Indus and Ganges. Even though it has not yet received its full extension as a peninsula, yet an important deviation from Ptolemy's geography is thus made on the map to a part of the world to which almost a privilegium exclusivum of knowledge was attributed to the ancients. Ceylon is also laid down by Ruysch under the name of Prilam, with about its proper size, and correctly as regards the southern point of India. Taprobana alias Zoilon is placed further towards the East Indian peninsula, in which position this geographical remnant from the time of Alexander the Great was retained, down to the middle of the 16th century.

Ruysch has produced the first printed map on which the delineation of the interior and eastern parts of Asia is no longer based exclusively on the material collected by Marinus of Tyre and Ptolemy more than a millennium previously, but on more modern reports, especially those of Marco Polo. Various new names are here added in Scytia intra Imaum, as Tartaria Magna and Wolha [Volga], and an immense, quite new territory, an Asia extra Ptolemaeum, or Asia Alarci Pauli Veneti, is added beyond the eastern limits of Ptolemy's oikumene [known world]. Here the Chinese river-system is given in a manner indicating other sources for the geography of eastern Asia, than Marco Polo's written words. In its main features the delineation of eastern Asia, to the south of latitude 60 degrees north, on the map of Ruysch, so nearly resembles Behaim's globe, that a common original might have served for both. Both deviate from Fra Mauro's map of the world (Slide #249), which gives us a representation of these regions much inferior to both Behaim and Ruysch.

The exaggerated extension given by Ptolemy to the Mediterranean is here much reduced by Ruysch, or from 62° to 53°, the actual difference of longitude between Gibraltar and the western coast of Syria amounting only to 41° or 42°. This correction had been made, centuries previously, on the portolanos [nautical charts]. The first cartographer who adopted Ruysch's reduction, was the celebrated Gerard Mercator. On his famous map ad usum Navigantium of 1569, he gives the Mediterranean Sea a length of 52°. Ruysch's map is also the first printed map on which, in conformity with the drawings on the portolanos, a tolerably correct direction is given to the northern coast of Africa, by attending to the considerable difference of latitude between the coastlines to the east and to the west of Syrtis, and by giving a proper form to that bay. Ruysch's map covers a total of 224°.

The map of Ruysch is the first map published in print which, following a correction made in the portolanos since the beginning of the 14th century, leaves out that excessive projection towards the east, which characterizes Ptolemy's map of the northern part of Scotland.

Ruysch seems to have had no doubt that Greenland was a part of Asia and not of Europe as usually represented on maps of this period. Off the coast of Gruenlant is the location of an island which was totally consumed by fire in the year of our Lord, 1456. According to the historian A. E. Nordenskiöld, "the sagas of Iceland mention a small island between Iceland and Greenland from which the coast mountains of both were visible, although no such island at present exists". Directly south of Gruenlant the following inscription gives warning of the dangers encountered by fishermen in that region: It is said that those who came formerly in ships among these islands for fish and other food were so deceived by the demons that they could not go on land without danger.

An interesting, but almost illegible, inscription near Gruenlant reads: Hic compassus navium non tenet nec naves quæ ferum tenent revertere valent. [Here the ship's compass loses its property, and no vessel with iron on board is able to get away]. This belief probably arose from the variation of the compass needle, which was noticed by Cabot. This inscription doubtless refers to the experience of the second expedition of the Cabots, which it is believed Ruysch accompanied. On the margin of the map, near the North Pole, is an interesting inscription referring to the magnetic pole, which it is said was first located by the English friar Nicolas de Linna, who made a voyage to the north in 1355 and presented to Edward III of England an account of his discovery, with the title, Inventio fortunat. From this report Mercator said he derived his idea of the four polar islands (Slide #366). These islands are also seen on the map of Ruysch, who placed the magnetic pole on an island north of Greenland. The pole is now located in Prince Albert Island. The inscription mentioned above reads: It is said in the book concerning the fortunate discovery that at the arctic pole there is a high magnetic rock, thirty-three German miles in circumference. A surging sea surrounds this rock, as if the water were discharged downward from a vase through an opening. Around it are islands, two of which are inhabited. The legend of a huge magnetic mountain, dragging to it all vessels with iron aboard, was a long-standing myth of terror mentioned by Ptolemy and later elaborated by the Arabs.

According to H. P. Biggar, the Cabots came upon the eastern coast of Greenland. This coast was called "Labrador's Land" as it was first sighted by the Portuguese, João Fernandes, the "llabrador" or laborer, whom John Cabot had brought with him from the Azores, where he had gone the previous summer to recruit skilled seamen for his crew. Turning north, "they had," says Peter Martyr, "in a manner continual daylight." The action of the compass in those high latitudes might well cause the alarm expressed in the above inscriptions. The evidence that the landfall of the Cabots was Greenland and not Labrador is cited by Biggar.

The basis of the entire Ruysch map, according to Harrisse, was a purely Lusitanian planisphere, similar to those of Cantino and Caveri, but constructed after the former and before the latter; that is, between 1502 and 1504, as we have shown in a comparative description of the continental region which is north of Central America in Portuguese charts. There are in the section of the map delineating the New World, two very distinct parts, based upon data of similar origin, one of which, however, was modified in a most important respect.

The first part is that which represents Newfoundland. Originally, the region was delineated nearly as we see it in Cantino, and in all the Lusitano-Germanic maps. This can be seen simply by comparing the eastern profile of the Terra del Rey de portugall (present-day Newfoundland) in Cantino and King , with the profile of the Terra Nova of Ruysch, which is exactly the same region.


Eastern Profile of Newfoundland on Three 16th Century Maps


But as the German geographer Ruysch had himself visited the northern part of Newfoundland on board an English vessel, and acquired from experience positive data concerning the situation of that peninsula, as he calls it: qui peninsulae Terra Noua uocatæ, without having the same reasons as Gaspar Corte Real to place it in the middle of the Atlantic, within the Portuguese line of demarcation, Ruysch, following the charts used by his English companions, brought Newfoundland close to the western continent.

Terra Nova, one of the earliest uses of this term for the modern Newfoundland, appears as a large peninsula jutting out from the mainland of Asia, although on some copies of the map, because of wear or creases, it may appear to be depicted as an island. On all other maps of the first half of the sixteenth century, even on the Cabot map of 1544, it is represented as a group of islands. The use of the name Insula Baccalauras on the coast of Terra Nova is one of the earliest instances of the appearance on any map of the American coast of that Romance word for codfish, baccallaos. There is no certain authority for the statement sometimes made that the term was first applied in the west by the Cabots nor for the assertion by Peter Martyr that the word was found by Europeans in use among the natives of Terra Nova.

Meanwhile, it behooves us to show the Portuguese origin of his geographical data, south of what Ruysch names Terra Nova, which, with him, does not mean the New World, or the country newly discovered, but our Newfoundland exclusively; in imitation of the English mariners with whom he visited that island. " Qui peninsula Terra Nova vocatæ," says his commentator, Marcus Beneventanus.

To that effect, Harrisse compares the nomenclature of the region placed in Ruysch's mappamundi, south of his Terra Nova, with the names inscribed on the northwestern continental land in the Cantino and Caveri maps, both of which are of the Lusitanian map tradition, with no admixture of foreign geographical elements whatever. Harrisse establishes a similar comparison between Ruysch's South America and the latter continent in all of the seven world charts, now known, which circulated in Europe when he constructed his mappamundi. One is Spanish, and the work of Juan de la Cosa, who designed it in Andalusia before October, 1500. The other six originated in Portugal, and were delineated during the first few years of the sixteenth century. They are:


1. Cantino. 4. Kunstmann No. 3.

2. Kunstmann No. 2. 5. Kunstmann No. I.

3. King. 6. Caveri.


In those maps, the American coastlines of the mainland bear distinctive names. For the north and south together, de la Cosa gives twenty-nine; Kunstmann No. 2, forty-four; Kunstmann No. 3. twenty-three; and Caveri, eighty-one. Only a few names are inscribed on the King and Kunstmann No. 1 maps. Ruysch inscribes thirty-six names on his map, but not one of them is to be found either in the de la Cosa or in any other Spanish map whatever; while thirty-one out of its whole number are duly set forth either in the Cantino, or Kunstmann No. 2, or Caveri maps (not to speak of Waldseemüller and Schöner (Slide # 323), which are derivatives of Portuguese maps), as is shown in Harrisse's two-page list of place-names showing the matches/lack of matches between the Ruysch map and the Cantino, Caveri and Kunstmann No. 2 maps. This historian believes that it is striking proof of the Portuguese origin, direct or indirect, of Ruysch's nomenclature. Of the thirty-six names inscribed by Ruysch, thirty-one, at least, figure on the Lusitanian charts. Moreover, if his mappamundi was based upon Spanish maps, the names which he inscribes on the sea-board of Brazil, for instance, would recall the nomenclature of Vicente Yanez Pinzon, or of Diego de Lepe, and not that of the Portuguese Pedro Alvarez Cabral. The famous Cape of the Holy Cross on which de la Cosa puts the legend: This cape was discovered in the year 1499 [old style] for Castile, Vicente Yañez being the discoverer thereof, would not be called, on Ruysch's map: Caput S. Crvcis, but Cabo de Santa Maria de la Consolacion which is the name given to that cape by Pinzon on January 26, 1500, or Rostro Hermoso, as he also, if not de Lepe, named it.

Ruysch's delineations of the South American continent embrace likewise, the coasts of Venezuela and Honduras, which were discovered by Spanish navigators, who, of course, made maps of their discoveries. Yet it was not from these that he took his names and legends for that region. This is shown by the fact that none of his designations for the Honduras, Venezuela, and Guyana coasts are to be found among the fifty names inserted along those sea-boards by Juan de la Cosa, who was one of the discoverers; nor even in the nomenclature of Ribero (Slide #332) and other official quantity of cosmographers, who must have followed, in that respect, though it was twenty-five years later, the traditions of the Spanish school.

Then, where did Ruysch pick up the egregious mistake which transformed A baia de todos Sanctos [All-Saints Bay] into Abatia omnium Sanctorum [AIl Saints' Abbey] ? Not in Spanish charts, certainly, but in a Lusitano-Germanic map, manipulated by a northern cartographer who had read the Latin version of the four voyages of Vespucci, printed at St. Diey in Lorraine, in May, 1507, and where we see Omnium sanctorum abbatiam, whilst all the Spanish maps properly inscribe, Baya de todos sanctos (Turin and Weimar charts).

Another decisive proof of the Portuguese origin of Ruysch 's cartographical data is the legend which he has inscribed across the country bearing his twenty-eight South American names, viz.: Terra Sancte Crucis. No such designation as the "Land of the Holy Cross" was ever adopted in Spain for Brazil, or written on any map by the Spanish pilots or geographers of that time. It was originally given to those regions by Pedro Alvarez Cabral, when, on the 23rd of April, 1500, a landing was effected under the Portuguese flag on the coast of Brazil: En las octavas de la pascua siguiente llego a una tierra que nuevamente descubrio, a la cual puso nombre de Santa Cruz, or, rather, if we follow a Portuguese original text just discovered in the State Archives at Venice: e nas outavas de Pascoa seguyente cheguou a una terra que novamente descobrio, a que pos nome Santa, as King Manoel wrote to Ferdinand and Isabella, July 29, 1501. But the Spaniards always, and justly, claimed to have discovered that country, as Pinzon had sighted and actually, taken possession of the land situated by 8° 19' south latitude, three months before. They consequently never accepted its Lusitanian name, and invariably called that region Tierra del Brasil. The Portuguese, on the other hand, at once named it Terra Sancta Crivis, as is evidenced by the original documents above quoted, as well as by the King chart, and particularly Kunstmann No. 2, where we read on a scroll: Terra sancta crucis, whilst, on the mainland, there is a legend which begins thus: Ista terra q. inuenta sunt positum est nomen terra sac eo quod in die sancte crucis inuenta est. Popularly it was also called La terra dagli Papaga [Parrots' Land], on account of those large and beautiful birds, which Gaspar de Lemos first brought to Portugal. It was only at a later date that it was named Brazil, by reason of the large quantity of dye-wood found in that country. C. Glaciato on the eastern coast suggests the work of the Italian editor and Baia de Rockas shows the influence of English associations.

The southern coast line of Newfoundland continues directly west to the land of Gog and Magog, and thence south to Cathay. From the Biblical land of Gog and Magog the people of the Middle Ages expected the coming of destructive races at the last day. Behaim and La Cosa also locate this fabled region in Asia.

As regards the continental regions south of Newfoundland, and discovered by the Spaniards and Portuguese, Ruysch was clearly of the opinion that they were entirely distinct from Newfoundland or the pseudo Asiatic country which he had visited and delineated; and that they constituted a new world, as yet imperfectly known, particularly regarding its west coast. This coast Ruysch could not admit to be connected in any manner with as he already depicts in detail the eastern Asiatic seaboards, from the point where they merge with his northern regions, to 39 degrees south latitude, which is the termination of the map.

While Ruysch undoubtedly believed that the lands seen by the Cabots and Corte-Reals were part of Asia, he thought that the coasts explored by Columbus, Vincente Pinzon, Cabral, and others belonged to a continent separated from Asia by a stretch of open sea. His representation of the West Indies is confusing. Near the island of Spagnola [Haiti] and south of the island of Antilia is an inscription which tells the story of that island as given on Behaim's globe. What was intended by the land west of Spagnola is uncertain. The historian Varnhagen maintained that it was the land seen by Vespucci on his disputed voyage of 1497. Another historian, Kohl, thought it was meant to show that Cuba was a peninsula of a new land.

Ruysch's knowledge of the New World, south of Newfoundland, was derived exclusively from a another Lusitano-Germanic map, according to Harrisse who believed that the omission of Cuba was an oversight on the part of Ruysch. The name C. De Fundabril on the peninsula extending toward Spagnola is suggestive of Cuba as that name was given by Columbus, on his second voyage, to a cape on the coast of Cuba which he left the on the thirtieth of April. On the scroll upon the west coast of this unnamed land is the inscription: As far as this the ships of Ferdinand have come. To the southwest of the supposed island of Cuba is this striking statement: M. Polo says that 1400 miles to the east of the port of Zaiton there is a very large island called Sipango, whose inhabitants worship idols and have their own king and are tributary to none. They have a great abundance of gold and all kinds of gems. But as the islands discovered by the Spaniards occupy this spot, we do not dare to locate this island here, being of the opinion that what the Spaniards call Spagnola is really Cipango, since the things that are described as of Cipango are also found in Spagnola, besides the idolatry. The considerable distance from the eastern coast of China adopted for Zipangu [Japan] by the geographers of the first part of the 16th century depends, according to Peschel, on the distance being given by Marco Polo in Chinese Li of which there are 250 on one degree of latitude. This Chinese Li was by the European cartographers confounded with the Italian mile (60 = 1 degree).

The unnamed northwestern continental land in Ruysch is also far less complete than we find it depicted in the Caveri map; and it is certain, from its shape and position, that if Ruysch's prototype had presented a coast line extending, for instance, so far south as our 10 degrees north latitude, he would not have cut it off at ten degrees. From the moment that we admit the existence of a map which exhibited the northwestern continental region as reaching only to the tropic of Cancer, we are authorized to presume that there may also have been a map which represented that land ten degrees shorter still; in as much as such is, prima facie at least, its latitudinal area in the map of Cantino. In the present state of the enquiry, the critic is bound, therefore, to accept, as being within the meaning of the original cartographer, the configuration and extent of that continental land as we find them measured and depicted in the said map.

The configuration of the continental land which corresponds with the northwestern region of Cantino is distorted in that map, but perfectly recognizable. However, Ruysch exhibits a geographical peculiarity which must be noted and explained. He depicts no island, whether named "Isabella" or otherwise, between that northern continent and Hispaniola. Such an omission, if interpreted strictly, would make of that land nothing but Cuba, and reject the document among the maps of the first type. In reality, the absence of an island between the northwestern coast and Hispaniola must be ascribed either to an oversight, or to a late innovation introduced by that geographer upon his own responsibility.

Still farther south there is, on Ruysch's map, a large island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between latitude 37 and 40 degrees north. It is called Antilia Insula, and a long inscription on the map asserts that it had been searched for in vain, but that it had been discovered long ago by the Spaniards, whose last Gothic king, Roderik had taken refuge there from the invasion of the Barbarians. The inscription depends on a myth, which has played a certain part in the history of geography, and from which is derived the present name of the islands between Florida and the northern coast of South America. The earliest delineations of an island, Antilia, in the Atlantic Ocean, are found on a portolano of 1425, belonging to the Library at Weimar, and on Andrea Bianco's map of 1436 (Slide #241). On the Globe of Behaim to the south of the Azores an island of the same name is also represented, provided with a long inscription, corresponding, but not identical with the legend of Ruysch.

South America is depicted as a large continent with the name: Terra Sancte Crucis sive Mundus Novus. The name America had been suggested only the previous year by Waldseemüller, and it is possible that Ruysch had not heard of the suggestion when he made his map or for some reason he did not care to follow it. We here obtain notices regarding exploring-voyages undertaken before 1508, of which no other information is met with in the history of geographical discovery. The natives of this Mundus Novus are described in the long inscription across its northern part:


At different places this region is inhabited, and it is supposed by many to be another world. Women and men appear either entirely naked or clad with interwoven leaves and the feathers of birds of various colors. They live together in common without any religion or kin. They are continually at war among themselves. They eat the human flesh of captives.They exercise so much in the salubrious air that they live more than one hundred and fifty years. They are rarely sick, and then they cure themselves only with the roots of plants. There are lions here, and serpents and other terrible monsters are found in the forests. Very large quantities of pearls and gold are in the mountains and rivers. From here brazilwood, or verzini, and cassia are carried away by the Portuguese.


Below this inscription is another:


Portuguese navigators have inspected this part of this land, and have sailed as far as the fiftieth degree of south latitude without seeing the southern limit of it.


On the scroll on the unknown western coast of South America is the statement:


As far as this Spanish navigators have come, and they have called this land, on account of its greatness, the New World. Inasmuch as they have not wholly explored it nor surveyed it farther than the present termination, it must remain thus imperfectly delineated until it is known in what direction it extends.


On the east coast of South America is the interesting name Abatia õniu sactoru, or All Saints Abbey. This form, as well as that used by Waldseemüller, Omnium sanctorum abbatiam, is a corruption of the Portuguese inscription on the Cantino map: a baia de todos los sanctos, or the Bay of All Saints. All maps made in northern Europe followed Ruysch in this error and all Spanish and Portuguese maps used the correct form and hence it has come about that the use of this name has become a means of classifying later maps. Harrisse believed that this error took its origin in the Latin translation of the letters of Vespucci, who first saw and named this port. It is known today as Abbadia.

The Ruysch map is classified by Harrisse as a Type III within the Lusitano-Germanic group of new world maps (the only specimen that Harrisse places in this Type).

There are, both in the Ruysch and Canerio (Slide #310) maps, geographical representations and names showing that their prototypes differed in important respects from Cantino. The Asiatic coasts are different; the nomenclature presents also a number of names which are in one and not in the other two, and vice versa. Madagascar, on Ruysch's map, is evidently borrowed from a recently made Portuguese map, as is evidenced by the name Sada therein inscribed, and which is an abbreviation of Comoro Sada, which must have been derived from the account of Tristão D'Acuña, made known after his return in 1506. That Portuguese map, however, may have been limited to the Asiatic and African regions; or if it was a planisphere, may have exhibited more ancient configurations for the New World.

While one of the more widely circulated of all the printed maps from this period, none have exercised so little influence over the cartography of the New World as his mappamundi. We have never seen its configurations reproduced anywhere; and it is only mentioned twice in the first half of the sixteenth century.

Ruysch's world map more usually appears in the 1508 printing of the Rome Ptolemy. Minor amendments were made to both the right and left hand plates of which the made is comprised and in consequence a number of "states" are known. These have been classified sequentially as follows:


State Left-hand Plate Right-hand Plate

1 The island La Dominica is Lacks inscriptions mentioned below

Cannibali instead.


2 As stated in 1 above. Sinus Gageticus in the Bay of Bengal

and Sinus Magnus added further east.


3 La Dominica correctly labelled. As in State 2 above.


4 Sinus Gruenlanteus added between As in State 3 above.

Greenland and Newfoundland.


5 As in State 4 above. Pelagus Bone Speranze added off the Cape of Good Hope.


It is evident, from what has already been said, that Ruysch deserves to be placed in the first rank among the reformers of cartography. His map is not a copy of the map of the world by Ptolemy, nor a learned master-piece composed at the writing-table, but a revision of the old maps of the known world, made on a Ptolemaic, i. e. on a scientific basis, with the aid, on the one hand of great personal experience and geographical learning and, on the other, of extensive knowledge combined with a critical use of the traditions among practical seamen of different nations. The legends on this map are consequently of very high interest, and form a more important contribution to the history of geography than many a bulky volume.



LOCATION: Harvard College Library; Library of Congress; Arthur Holzheimer Collection


SIZE: 40.5 x 53.5 cm



*Fite, E. & Freeman, A., A Book of Old Maps, pp. 29-32.

*Harrisse, H., Discovery of North America, pp. 296-302; 449-52.

*Nebenzahl, K., Atlas of Columbus, pp. 48-51, Plate 15 (color)

*Nordenskiöld, A.E., Facsimile Atlas, pp. 64-67.

*Shirley, R.W., The Mapping of the World, pp. 25-27, PLate 29.

*Winsor, J., Narrative and Critical History of America, vol. II, pp. 102, 115-116.




Index of Renaissance Maps