This is a beautiful 1749 map of the northern portion of Upper Saxony, in what is now Northeast Germany and Northwest Poland, by Robert de Vaugondy. In includes the Duchy of Pomerania and Brandenburg. The entire region is depicted in extraordinary detailed, offering both topographical and political information, with forests and mountains beautifully rendered in profile.
The 'circles' of Germany are the 'imperial circles,' administrative units created for tax and defense purposes by the Holy Roman Empire, of which these areas were a part. The Napoleonic Wars would, of course, dissolve the Holy Roman Empire and lead to the consolidation of Germany in 1871.
In 1180 Duke Henry the Lion fell, and the medieval Duchy of Saxony dissolved. The Saxe-Wittenberg lands were passed among dynasties who took the tribal name Sachsen (Saxons) upstream as they conquered the lands of the Polabian Slavs further up the Elbe. The Polabian Slavs had migrated to this area of Germany in the second half of the first millennium A.D., and had been largely assimilated by the Holy Roman Empire by the time this map was made. Today, the German government recognizes some 60,000 'Sorbs,' or descendants of the Polabian Slavs, who have retained their language and culture.
This map was published in the 1748 edition of Vaugondy's Atlas Portratif Universel et Militaire.
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...
Very good. Original platemark visible. Minor foxing.
Pedley, M. S., Bel et Utile, p. 177, 263.