1709 Moll Map of the Roman Empire

An historical map of the Roman Empire and the neighbouring barbarous nations to the year of our Lord four hundred when the empire began to be rent with foreign invasions. / Theatrum historicum ad annum Christi quadringentesimu in quo tum Imperii Romani tum barbarorum circumincolentium status ob oculos ponitur.

1709 Moll Map of the Roman Empire


Rare English issued joinly published variant on Delisle's map of the Roman Empire.

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An historical map of the Roman Empire and the neighbouring barbarous nations to the year of our Lord four hundred when the empire began to be rent with foreign invasions. / Theatrum historicum ad annum Christi quadringentesimu in quo tum Imperii Romani tum barbarorum circumincolentium status ob oculos ponitur.
  1709 (undated)    19 x 46 in (48.26 x 116.84 cm)     1 : 80000000


This is a scarce c. 1709 large scale historical map of Europe under the the Roman Empire and the surrounding 'barbarous' regions. The map essentially covers all of Europe and parts of Central Asia from the Azores to the Indus River Valley and from Norway to the Red Sea and North Africa. Cartographically this map is based upon maps by Guillaume Delisle, the preeminent French cartographer of the era. According to a note at top center this map was quite rare and highly sought after in England due to a lack of imports related to trade embargoes between England and France associated with the War of Spanish Succession (1701 – 1714). Ever the entrepreneur, Moll joined forces with other important English cartographers, including Thomas Bowles, John Bowels, and Philip Overton, to bring Delisle's map to the English public. Although cartographically very similar to Delisle's map, Moll, who is most likely the primary publisher given that the map is rendered in his distinctive idiosyncratic style, provides translations of Delisle's Latin text throughout. Some of the more interesting notes are worthy of replication here (spelling anomalies included):
In digging ye gold Mines in America Lucius Marinaeus Siculus lib. 29. Tit. 16. Tells us that there was a Medal found stampd with the Name & Effigies of Augustus Caesar to confirm ye probability of this he urges that ye Romans formerly penetrated as far as ye Indies. But I leave this to ye Author.

Gerardus Mercator, Abrahamus Ortelius and Others, were of Opinion that Plato's Atlantis, was America. Guil. Sanson the Kings Geographer had the name Notion, and published a Map curious enough of the Island, wch according to Plato de divides among the ten Sons of Neptune, assigning each Son to his Share.
Since this map was published as a joint production, it was most likely sold independently and only included as an add-on piece in various atlases.


Herman Moll (1654 - 1732) was an important 18th century map publisher and engraver based in London and Holland. Moll's origins are disputed with some suggesting he was born in the Netherlands and others Germany - the Moll name was common in both countries during this period. Most likely Moll was a German from Bremen, as his will, friends, and contemporaries suggest. What is known for certain is that he moved to London in 1678, possibly fleeing the Scanian War, where he worked as an engraver for Moses Pitt and other London map publishers. Around the turn of the century, Moll set up his own shop where he produced a large corpus of work known for its high quality and decorative flair. As a new émigré to England, Moll made himself more English than the English, and through his cartography proved a fierce advocate for his adopted nation. Most of Moll's early maps were issued as loose sheets that would be bound to order, however, he did publish several important atlases late in his career. Moll is said to have made the bold claim that without a doubt "California is an Island" and that he "had in [his] office mariners who have sailed round it." While California may not be an island (yet), it is true that moll had talent for attracting interesting friends and acquaintances. He frequented London's first stock exchange, Jonathan's Coffeehouse at Number 20 Exchange Alley, Cornhill. At the time Jonathan's was known as "a place of very considerable concourse for Merchants, sea faring Men and other traders" (Erleigh, The Viscount, The South Sea Bubble, Manchester: Peter Davies, Ltd., 1933, 21). Eventually this activity attracted the interest of stock brokers, who inspired by sailor's tales, sponsored the ill-fated South Sea Company, the world's first stock bubble. Moll's close circle, mostly from the Coffee House, included scientist Robert Hooke, the writers Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe) and Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels), the pirates William Dampier, William Hacke and Woodes Rogers, and the archeologist William Stukeley. Herman Moll's work was highly regarded for its decorative beauty and was pirated, most notably by the Irish publisher George Grierson, both in his lifetime and after his 1732 death at St. Clement Danes, London.

The De L'Isle family (fl. c. 1700 - c. 1760) (also written Delisle) were, in composite, a mapmaking tour de force who redefined early 18th century European cartography. Claude De L'Isle (1644 -1720), the family patriarch, was Paris based a historian and geographer under Nicholas Sanson. De L'Isle and his sons were proponents of the school of "positive geography" and were definitive figures, defining the heights of the Golden Age of French Cartography. Of his twelve sons, four, Guillaume (1675- 1726), Simon Claude (1675 - 1726), Joseph Nicholas (1688 - 1768) and Louis (1720 - 1745), made a significant contributions to cartography. Without a doubt Guillaume was the most remarkable member of the family. It is said that Guillaume's skill as a cartographer was so prodigious that he drew his first map at just nine years of age. He was tutored by J. D. Cassini in astronomy, science, mathematics and cartography. By applying these diverse disciplines to the vast stores of information provided by 18th century navigators, Guillaume created the technique that came to be known as "scientific cartography", essentially an extension of Sanson's "positive geography". This revolutionary approach transformed the field of cartography and created a more accurate picture of the world. Among Guillaume's many firsts are the first naming of Texas, the first correct map of the Mississippi, the final rejection of the insular California fallacy, and the first identification of the correct longitudes of America. Stylistically De L'Isle also initiated important changes to the medium, eschewing the flamboyant Dutch style of the previous century in favor of a highly detailed yet still decorative approach that yielded map both beautiful and informative. Guillaume was elected to the French Academie Royale des Sciences at 27. Later, in 1718, he was also appointed "Premier Geographe du Roi", an office created especially for him. De L'Isle personally financed the publication of most of his maps, hoping to make heavy royalties on their sales. Unfortunately he met an untimely death in 1728, leaving considerable debt and an impoverished child and widow. De L'Isle's publishing firm was taken over by his assistant, Phillipe Buache who became, posthumously, his son in law. The other De L'Isle brothers, Joseph Nicholas and Louis De L'Isle, were employed in the Service of Peter the Great of Russia as astronomers and surveyors. They are responsible for cataloguing and compiling the data obtained from Russian expeditions in the Pacific and along the northwest coast of America, including the seminal explorations of Vitus Bering and Aleksei Chirikov. The De L'Isles, like their rivals the Vaugondys , 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. 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.


Very good. Some centerfold wear and creasing. Even overall toning. Else clean. Original plate mark visible. Two panels joined by publisher. Blank on verso.


Boston Public Library, Leventhal Collection, G1015 .M65 1709. Phillips (Maps) p. 258 OCLC 220874913.