The Catalan Atlas 19th C. Edition in 6 Maps
Maps of Europe, North Africa and the Near East
Map of Western Europe and North Africa Map of Europe, North Africa and the Near
Abraham Cresques (d. 1387) (after)
Map of Western Europe and North Africa (left)
Map of Europe, North Africa and the Near East (right)
from The Catalan Atlas
Charles Simonneau, Paris: 1st Half 19th Century
Hand-colored engravings on paper, mounted on linen
Set of six enclosed in paperboard folder and slipcase, as issued
20.5 x x 26 inches each (65 x 51 cm)
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The contours of England, Spain, France and Western Europe are mapped in a fair amount of detail. The maps are typical portolan charts of the time, but include the first compass rose every drawn on a portolan chart (far left, center). Some of the islands are accurately portrayed, but islands that we now know to be mythical also are included, such as the "Fortunate Islands" described by Pliny the Elder, thought the text comments that the "heathens" of India "believe that their Paradise is there. But in truth it is a fable." The mythical Insula de Brazil, found on assorted medieval maps, is also illustrated. Mountain ranges are indicated by chains or chain-like symbols.

North African kings are pictured--the king of Nubia, the king of Organa with a sword and shield and Mansa Musa king, ruler of the Mali, seated with crown, orb and scepter and called here "The richest and noblest King in the world." Jaime Ferrer's ship (far left, bottom) is illustrated with the caption that it set sail for the River of Gold in Africa on 10 August, 1346.

The red band in the lower right corner represents the Red Sea.

There is an overlap between these two maps in the center of the Meditteranean Sea, causing some features to be drawn twice.

References:

"BN-OPALINE." 12 June 2005. Bibliothèque Nationale de France Cartes et Plans. (19 January 2006).

"Ciel & Terre: L'atlas Catalan." from "The Age of King Charles V." Bibliothèque Nationale de France. http://www.bnf.fr/enluminures/texte/atx2_07.htm (18 January 2006).

Davis, Henry. "Slide #235: The Catalan Atlas." Index of Cartographic Images

Grojean, Georges Ed. Mapamundi, the Catalan atlas of the year 1375. Abaris Books, 1978.

Illustrating Maps of the Late Medieval Period: 1300 - 1500 A.D. 18 February 1998. http://www.henry-davis.com/MAPS/LMwebpages/235mono.html (18 January 2006).