TITLE: Carta marina et descriptio septentrionalium terrarum ac mirabilium rerum in eis contentarum diligentissme elaborata

DATE: 1539, 1572

AUTHOR: Olaus [Magnusson] Magnus (1490-1558)

DESCRIPTION: The Carta Marina, or marine map, in either edition, is a very rare map which was orginally printed on nine leaves from woodblocks in 1539 and published under the patronage of Hieronymo Quirino, Patriarch of the Republic of Venice. Two years later in 1541 the Pope made Olaus the Catholic Archbishop of Uppsala. In 1555, Olaus, who had entered the Swedish convent of St. Birgitta in Rome, published a Historia de Gentibus septentrionalibus, "a treatise concerning the Northern Peoples", which was a lengthy compendium on the "topography, natural history, ethnology and economic and political conditions of the countries depicted" on his map. It was the first large-scale map of a European region and remained the most important source map of the northern regions for cartographers throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. As can be seen, the map is a wealth of finely executed knowledge because, in addition to its detailed physical geography, it is embellished with over 100 miniature engravings showing fantastic creatures, ships, local customs, costumes and regional fauna embracing Norway, Sweden, Demark and Iceland. Among the animals depicted are elk, reindeer, lynk, bear, foxes, horses, wolves, gluttons(wolverine) , otters, marten, sable, and even rodents such as beaverm squirrel, mountain hares, and mice being eaten by a dragon and foxes. There is a horse in west Frisia which is obviously not domesticated and there is a picture of the now extinct wild aurochs, or wild ox, in Russia. A wild pig storms through White Russia and the lakes and oceans are filled with fish of all types. Birds are numerous, from pelicans to many sorts of birds of prey. There are also snakes shown. On the human side, there are historic events such as battles being played out, skiiers, kings on thrones and various exmples of hunting and fishing.

Only one example of the original is known to survive, which is now in the Munich State Library. Latter printed in reduced scale from two engraved copper plates on two sheets by Antonio Laferi in Rome in 1572, this map of the Scandinavian area is one of the most notable maps of the 16th century.

LOCATION: Munich State Library

*George, W., Animals & Maps, pp. 103-105, 111, 113-117, 120, 167, Figure 5.6
*Goss, J., The Mapmaker's Art, pp. 343, 344, PLates 12.1, 12.2
*Nordenskiold, A.E., Facsimilie Atlas, pp. 117, 118ff
*Lynam, E., The Carta Marina of Olaus Magnus, Venice 1539 & Rome 1572, 1949
*The World Encompassed, #151, Plate XLIII

Index of Renaissance Maps