This is a hand colored 1749 Didier Robert de Vaugondy map of southwestern Africa. Stretching along the coastline from Gabon to Angola, the map depicts several pre-colonial African kingdoms. Myriad rivers are labeled, including the Congo River (Zaire R). Mountain ranges snake across parts of the map and towns dot the landscape.
The Kingdom of Gabon (Royaume de Gabon ou Pongo) is included at the top of the map just inside the border. Just below the Kingdom of Gabon lies the Kingdom of Loango (Royaume de Loango). The Kingdom of Loango existed approximately from the 16th to the 19th century. The earliest reference to Loango in a documentary source is a mention by a priest in the Kingdom of Kongo that King Diogo I sent Christian missionaries to Loango. Although documentation about Loango is scarce, it is certain that the kingdom came to an end after the Conference of Berlin in 1885, when European colonial powers divided uncolonized Africa between themselves.
The Kingdom of Kongo (Royaume de Kongo) was a mostly independent state from around 1390 to 1891. From 1891 to 1914 it was a vassal state to the Kingdom of Portugal. After 1914, following a Portuguese victory against a revolt, the monarchy was forcibly abolished and the territory was assimilated into the colony of Angola.
The earliest reference to the Kingdom of Matamba (Royaume de Matamba) is in reference to the Kingdom giving tribute to the King of Kongo in 1530. Following the arrival of the Portuguese in the late 16th century, Matamba, and the neighboring Kingdom of Ndongo (Royaume de Dungo) began a series of wars against the Portuguese and between themselves. For the next two centuries, Matamba and Ndongo fought a series of wars and civil wars and never truly found peace and appear to have eventually been conquered by the Portuguese.
Unfortunately, our research did not discover a history of the Kingdom of Benguela (Royaume de Benguela), although there is a province in modern day Angola that is named Benguela, or of the Kingdom of Macoco (Royaume du Macoco)
This map was published by Gilles Robert de Vaugondy in his Atlas Universel, Portatif et Militaire in the 1749 edition.
Gilles (1688 - 1766) and Didier (c. 1723 - 1786) Robert de Vaugondy were map publishers, engravers, and cartographers active in Paris during the mid-18th century. The father and son team were the inheritors to the important Sanson cartographic firm whose stock supplied much of their initial material. Graduating from Sanson's map's Gilles, and more particularly Didier, began to produce their own substantial corpus of work. Vaugondys were well respected for the detail and accuracy of their maps in which they made excellent use of the considerable resources available in 18th century Paris to produce the most accurate and fantasy-free maps possible. The Vaugondys compiled each map based upon their own superior geographic knowledge, scholarly research, the journals of contemporary explorers and missionaries, and direct astronomical observation - moreover, unlike many cartographers of this period, they commonly took pains to reference their source material. Nevertheless, even in 18th century Paris geographical knowledge was severely limited - especially regarding those unexplored portions of the world, including the poles, the Pacific northwest of America, and the interior of Africa and South America. In these areas the Vaugondys, like their rivals De L'Isle and Buache, must be considered speculative geographers. Speculative geography was a genre of mapmaking that evolved in Europe, particularly Paris, in the middle to late 18th century. Cartographers in this genre would fill in unknown areas on their maps with speculations based upon their vast knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers and navigators. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered many rivalries. Vaugondy's feuds with other cartographers, most specifically Phillipe Buache, resulted in numerous conflicting papers being presented before the Academie des Sciences, of which both were members. The era of speculatively cartography effectively ended with the late 18th century explorations of Captain Cook, Jean Francois de Galaup de La Perouse, and George Vancouver. After Didier died, his maps were acquired by Jean-Baptiste Fortin who in 1787 sold them to Charles-François Delamarche (1740 - 1817). While Delamarche prospered from the Vaugondy maps, he also defrauded Vaugondy's window Marie Louise Rosalie Dangy of her inheritance and may even have killed her. Learn More...
Robert de Vaugondy, G. Atlas Portatif, Universel, et Militaire (Paris: Vaugondy, Durand, Pissot) 1749.
Very good. Blank on verso. Original press mark visible.
Pedley, M. S., Bel et Utile, p. 206, 438. OCLC 11460626.