Mapping in the Fifteenth Century

University of Glasgow Library Blog

A guest incunabula blog post by Patrick J. Murray
Patrick J. Murray is a researcher at the University of Glasgow in the College of Arts. He has just completed a PhD on early modern cartography.

The ongoing work by the Library’s Incunabula Project is currently being showcased in the Ingenious Impressions exhibition at the University’s Hunterian Art Gallery. Among the many exhibits on show is a coloured illustration from the Rudimentum novitiorum (‘Handbook for beginners’) published in 1475 by Lucas Brandis which ostensibly depicts the geography of the Holy Land.

Rudimentum Novitiorum (Sp Coll Hunterian By.1.12) Rudimentum Novitiorum (Sp Coll Hunterian By.1.12)

Yet it also presents a challenge to any preconceptions regarding what maps should look like. Consider firstly its composition. The orientation of a map is understood as ‘the relationship between the directions on the map and the corresponding compass directions in reality’. In 2015, we are used to a north-south orientation, as…

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