1578 Munster Map of Spain

Hispania nach aller seiner gelegenheit in Bergen, Wåssern, Ståtten, Vólckern, Konigreichen und Inseln. - Main View

1578 Munster Map of Spain


Edition of one of the earliest modern maps of Spain and Portugal.


Hispania nach aller seiner gelegenheit in Bergen, Wåssern, Ståtten, Vólckern, Konigreichen und Inseln.
  1578 (undated)     10.25 x 13.5 in (26.035 x 34.29 cm)     1 : 3700000


This is Sebastian Munster's 1540 map of Spain and Portugal, from a German edition of Munster's Cosmographia Universalis, probably 1578. The mountains and rivers of the Iberian Peninsula are shown pictorially, as are the many cities shown: among these are Lisbon, Cadiz, Madrid, Cartagena, and Barcelona; a portion of France beyond the Pyrenees is shown as well, with Montpelier noted among the cities there. The map is a somewhat simplified and clarified iteration of Waldseemüller's 1513 Tabula Moderna et Nova Hispanie; both of these maps are distinct from earlier printed maps of the Iberian Peninsula in that the toponymy - that is to say, the naming of places - is based here on contemporary knowledge rather than the work of the second-century geographer Claudius Ptolemy. Until 1513, the only printed maps of the region reflected the geographical knowledge of Imperial Rome: following the rediscovery of Ptolemy's work in the 15th century, geographers strove to update the maps with recognizable names for the cities, rivers, mountains and kingdoms. That effort is reflected here.
Publication History and Census
This map was introduced in the first 1540 edition of Munster's Geographia. It remained in each edition of that work, and was included in all editions of Munster's Cosmographia until 1578, after which point the double-page maps of the long-lived work were replaced and updated. This map, despite a multitude of states, was printed with only one block, which is astonishing, as the woodblock for this map was, from its creation, plagued with cracks. The first of these can just be discerned in the very first issue of Geographia and all three are evident as early as 1545. Our scrutiny of dateable examples suggests that before the 1560s the woodblock was in no fewer than four parts, with the areas between cracks showing different levels of boldness in strike. The condition of the block, too, appears to have exacerbated the usual variation in the body text of the map - to the extent that virtually every edition of the map incurred state changes, and even within the same edition we see variations in the state of the map. The typographical variations on this example do not correspond to any other state we have seen, but the evidence of the cracks suggests to us a late issue. The decorative engraving used on the verso appears to be unique, on this map, to the 1578 German edition of the map and so we are content to categorize this example as a variant of that edition. While this map is only catalogued separately as a map seven times in OCLC, German editions of Cosmographia are well represented in institutional collections. Various editions of this map appear on the market from time to time in wildly varied condition.


Sebastian Münster (January 20, 1488 - May 26, 1552), was a German cartographer, cosmographer, Hebrew scholar and humanist. He was born at Ingelheim near Mainz, the son of Andreas Munster. He completed his studies at the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen in 1518, after which he was appointed to the University of Basel in 1527. As Professor of Hebrew, he edited the Hebrew Bible, accompanied by a Latin translation. In 1540 he published a Latin edition of Ptolemy's Geographia, which presented the ancient cartographer's 2nd century geographical data supplemented systematically with maps of the modern world. This was followed by what can be considered his principal work, the Cosmographia. First issued in 1544, this was the earliest German description of the modern world. It would become the go-to book for any literate layperson who wished to know about anywhere that was further than a day's journey from home. In preparation for his work on Cosmographia, Münster reached out to humanists around Europe and especially within the Holy Roman Empire, enlisting colleagues to provide him with up-to-date maps and views of their countries and cities, with the result that the book contains a disproportionate number of maps providing the first modern depictions of the areas they depict. Münster, as a religious man, was not producing a travel guide. Just as his work in ancient languages was intended to provide his students with as direct a connection as possible to scriptural revelation, his object in producing Cosmographia was to provide the reader with a description of all of creation: a further means of gaining revelation. The book, unsurprisingly, proved popular and was reissued in numerous editions and languages including Latin, French, Italian, and Czech. The last German edition was published in 1628, long after Münster's death of the plague in 1552. Cosmographia was one of the most successful and popular books of the 16th century, passing through 24 editions between 1544 and 1628. This success was due in part to its fascinating woodcuts (some by Hans Holbein the Younger, Urs Graf, Hans Rudolph Manuel Deutsch, and David Kandel). Münster's work was highly influential in reviving classical geography in 16th century Europe, and providing the intellectual foundations for the production of later compilations of cartographic work, such as Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Münster's output includes a small format 1536 map of Europe; the 1532 Grynaeus map of the world is also attributed to him. His non-geographical output includes Dictionarium trilingue in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and his 1537 Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. Most of Munster's work was published by his stepson, Heinrich Petri (Henricus Petrus), and his son Sebastian Henric Petri. Learn More...


Münster, Sebastian: Cosmographey, oder Beschreibung aller Länder... Basel, 1578     The Cosmographia Universalis, one of the greatest geographical and historical works of the 16th century, 'taught nearly three generations of laymen most of what they knew about the world beyond their native places' (Strauss). Filled with maps, views, and rich descriptions of places throughout Europe and beyond, it was the best general source of geographical information until the advent of Ortelius' Theatrum. It was first issued by Sebastian Munster (1488 - 1552) in its 1544 German edition, and stayed in print long after its author's death in thirty five editions, and in five languages. (Of these, the 1550 and 1552 editions are widely regarded as the most complete and truest to the author's intentions: thereafter, later editors continued to add to the work's text; editions from 1588 onwards employed an entirely different set of maps produced on Ortelius' model.) Munster's goal, initially, was to rally his homeland's humanists and scholars to produce a new map of Germany in order to 'see what kind of a land our ancestors conquered for their home... bring honor to our country and place its beauties in the clear light of day.' Munster's project quickly expanded to cover the known world in its scope to produce a 'sufficiently large volume, in which I touch upon the foundation of all nations and kingdoms, their peculiarities, rivers, mountains, customs of men, royal successions, origins of the more important cities, succinct histories, religions, characteristics and fertility of lands... in Germany, however, I tarry a little longer.'.

Munster's methodology in Cosmographia is notable in particular for his dedication to providing his readers with direct access to firsthand reports of his subjects wherever possible. Many of the maps were the result of his own surveys; others, the fruit of an indefatigable letter writing campaign to scholars, churchmen and princes throughout Europe, amicably badgering them for maps, views, and detailed descriptions of their lands. For lands further afield than his letters could reach, Munster relied on the best that the authorities of northern European scholarship could offer: he was well familiar with the work of Waldseemuller and other geographers of the early 16th century, and was well connected with the best geographers of his own generation. A disproportionate number of the maps of Cosmographia show contemporary geographical knowledge of the their respective areas for the very first time: The first map to show the continents of the Western Hemisphere; the first map to focus on the continent of Asia; the first modern map to name the Pacific Ocean; the first map to use a key; the first modern map of the British Isles and so on. Even in cases where earlier maps exist, Munster's works very often remain the earliest such acquirable by the collector.


Very good condition. Some faint marginal soiling, else excellent. German text.


OCLC 163145357. See also Rumsey 11623.069.