January 22, 2015

"North is at the bottom:" Once Again We Learn That the Map is Not the Territory


A 16th century view of North America in the Vallard Atlas

The scene above shows the second American map, which is of the East Coast of North America, and is one of the most significant of the Vallard Atlas. It is again oriented to the South and has the latitude markers and distance scales in the left and right margins. In the Atlantic, almost in the center of the map, is one beautiful ship, partially surrounded by compass roses, exuding rhumb lines.



But what makes this map particularly important is its display of the geographical information brought back from the New World by the expeditions of Jacques Cartier in 1534, 1535-1536, and 1541-1542. Detailed are the Gulf of St Lawrence and the St Lawrence River and some of the wilderness beyond them, discovered and explored by Cartier in search of the elusive Northwest Passage to the Orient and who gave Canada its name. The meticulous representation of the coastlines with their numerous inlets underscores Canada’s potential for fishing and trade. He also reported fully on the Indians of the many tribes that he encountered. Shown in the forests of the mainland in an exquisite, almost late Medieval manner are Cartier, his well armed explorer-colonists, and the winter fort of Sainte-Croix. The Indians, who clearly are overshadowed by the Europeans, also are present observing them, hunting deer, and warring with each other. In addition to the deer, other fauna such as dogs, bears, and possums or foxes are present as well.


Video about the Vallard Atlas and larger map if you


Posted by gerardvanderleun at January 22, 2015 11:04 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Interesting how disorienting it is to have North at the bottom of the page. Would have to hold the atlas upside down to get my brain to accept the geography.

Beautiful art work. The illustrations are a real boon to historians and archeologists. Don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this. But then I'm not an historian or archeologist.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at January 22, 2015 8:05 PM

And if folks were playing Assasin's Creed, and actually reading the stuff involved in the game, they MIGHT have a well founded comprehension of
how much "unsupervised" work, and diligence,(and maintenance) is involved in invading "new" territory!

Posted by: CaptDMO at January 23, 2015 1:15 PM