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1756 Vaugondy Map of Germany in Antiquity

Germania Antiqua in quatuor magnos populos, in minores et minimos distincta, et Regiones Danubium inter et mare Adriaticum contentae. - Main View

1756 Vaugondy Map of Germany in Antiquity



Germania Antiqua in quatuor magnos populos, in minores et minimos distincta, et Regiones Danubium inter et mare Adriaticum contentae.
  1756 (dated)     19.5 x 24 in (49.53 x 60.96 cm)     1 : 2300000


This is a fine 1756 map of ancient Germany by Robert de Vaugondy. It covers the lands of the Germanic people prior to the fall of the Roman Empire, from modern day Denmark to the Adriatic Sea and from France to Lithuania. Several important cities and towns are identified throughout, along with rivers, lakes and other topography.

At the time, 'Germania' was a name given to the lands between the Alps and the Baltic Sea. The region was inhabited mainly by Germanic, but also Celtic, Baltic, Scythian, proto-Slavic people. Caesar Augustus described the Germanic tribesmen north of the Roman Empire as extremely savage and a threat to Roman Gaul to be conquered. His Roman Legions, led by generals Germanicus and Tiberius, conquered Germania Magna to the River Elbe, and occupied it until the Romans were defeated at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, in 9AD. The Romans withdrew, establishing the Rhine and the Danube Rivers as Germanic boundary of the Roman Empire.

Tacitus wrote in Germania in 98 BC:
…they affirm Germania to be a recent word, lately bestowed. For those who first passed the Rhine and expulsed the Gauls, and are now named Tungrians, were then called Germani. And thus by degrees the name of a tribe prevailed, not that of the nation; so that by an appellation at first occasioned by fear and conquest, they afterwards chose to be distinguished, and assuming a name lately invented were universally called Germani.
The lower left quadrant depicts a beautifully engraved title cartouche. This map was drawn by Robert de Vaugondy in 1756 and published in the 1757 issue of his Atlas Universal. The Atlas Universal was one of the first atlases based upon actual surveys. Therefore, this map is highly accurate (for the period) and has most contemporary town names correct, though historic names are, in many cases, incorrect or omitted.


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. More by this mapmaker...


Vaugondy, R., Atlas Universel (Paris) 1757.    


Very good. Some wear and verso repair along original centerfold. Original platemark visible. Minor creasing and spotting.


Rumsey 3353.007. Pedley, Mary Sponberg Belle et Utile: The Work of the Robert de Vaugondy Family of Mapmakers, 247, state 1.