In the course of putting together my summer graduate seminar on the expansion of Europe this past weekend I reacquainted myself with some digital map collections on the web. Maps provide an accessible entryway into this topic, in every era of European expansion. The shift from conceptual to more realistic cartography in the early modern era is a very evident and important trend, but early modern mapmakers retained a bit of whimsy when they produced maps in the form of plants, animals and humans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The maps contained in German theology professor Heinrich Bunting’s Travels according to the Scriptures (1581) are very popular with my students and with the blogosphere: the known world as a clover leaf, part of Asia as the flying horse Pegasus, Europe as the classical virgin Europa. This is still very conceptual geography; the clover leaf map is merely a new version of the medieval T-O map, in which the world is inhabited by the descendants of Noah dwelling in Asia, Africa and Europe. Jerusalem is at the center of the world as it has always been. Even though it is almost a century after Columbus, Heinrich’s “world” map only references the eastern hemisphere. His Europa map was stolen from one of the most popular books of the sixteenth century: Sebastian Munster’s Cosmographia, first published in 1544 and issued in many editions by the end of the century. This is what these new, colorful, fantastical maps are all about: competition in the new age of print.
Another Europa: Sebastian Munster’s version from a 1570 edition of Cosmographia:
Another lively early modern map is the “Dutch Lion” map (Leo Belgicus, Leo Hollandicus ) issued in a succession of variations from the late sixteenth century, contemporaneously with the Dutch Revolt against Spain. The rebellious Dutch provinces are shown in the form of a lion, roaring in the face of the powerful Spanish Empire.
Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic maps continue on into the modern era; they seem to be quite popular in the nineteenth century as a forms of political commentary and expressions of public opinion. These satirical maps are especially prevalent after 1870 and the unification of Germany: French and English versions definitely contain an alarmed awareness of the potential of the new empire to dominate the Continent, as these examples( L’Europe Animale, 1882 and Angling in Dangerous Waters, 1889) from the huge collection of such maps at the University of Amsterdam illustrate:
In L’Europe Animale, Germany is a sly wolf waiting to pounce, while the Angling map personifies the nation with its militaristic ruler, Kaiser Wilhelm II, who is looking over the horizon. The great big Russian bear and Tsar Nicholas are pretty intimidating as well. The end result of all this animosity was of course World War I, and BibliOdyssey has a great post on the jingoistic satirical maps of the Great War here, including the English map “Kill that (German) Eagle” from 1914.
On the lighter side: plates from William Harvey’s Geographical Fun. Being Humourous Outlines of Various Countries, an atlas (presumably for children but quite sophisticated in its humor) first published in 1869. The entire text can be found at the Library of Congress, and it has also been republished. Here, from a very British perspective, are France and Prussia (it’s just before the unification of Germany):
Finally, I can’t resist adding an elephant to this group even though he’s not quite a map: a World Wildlife Fund advertisement by Ogilby and Mather from our own time:
May 28th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
[…] a collection of “maps in the form of plants, animals and humans” created in the sixteen and seventeenth […]
May 30th, 2011 at 12:04 am
[…] a collection of “maps in the form of plants, animals and humans” created in the sixteen and seventeenth century. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning […]
June 7th, 2011 at 9:02 am
June 7th, 2011 at 9:02 am
Really great post and I haven’t seen any of these maps before. I really love the elephant WWF ad too. It would be v interesting to see what an artist would come up with for countries/politics of today.
June 7th, 2011 at 9:14 am
How wonderful. Thanks for showing us these maps. Love it.
June 7th, 2011 at 9:17 am
LOVE the Dutch lion map — only wish I had more time to really take in all the details. Such cool stuff!
Thanks for sharing,
June 7th, 2011 at 9:22 am
Really nicely done, thanks for sharing. Found on wordpress homepage!
June 7th, 2011 at 9:26 am
Very cool selection thanks for sharing. Glad you included the elephant and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.
June 7th, 2011 at 9:27 am
Those maps are fascinating, thanks for posting them!
June 7th, 2011 at 9:35 am
What a fascinating blog – I just love the pictures… I have a few photos I would love to send you of a map in the Vatican that I took last month whilst in Italy. I just love maps and the perspective they give future generations. Thank you
June 7th, 2011 at 10:20 am
Are really nice. I haven’t seen these maps before. I love the colorful of the maps. I love it specially the first three maps.
June 7th, 2011 at 10:26 am
100% awesome! I’m a big fan of maps, typography and design, these hit on all those which means I’m in love with them all! Great post.
June 7th, 2011 at 10:26 am
Very interesting. http://cmiraeng.wordpress.com
June 7th, 2011 at 11:04 am
Fantastic post, and those maps are amazing – I knew that this sort of thing existed, but not to that sort of extent. Really interesting stuff, thank you.
June 7th, 2011 at 11:05 am
Great! I love this collection. And, thanks for the short, but important, lesson in geography and cartography! 🙂
June 7th, 2011 at 11:08 am
These are really Fantastic!
June 7th, 2011 at 11:12 am
As my old theology prof. used to say: show me the maps on your wall, and I’ll know all about you.
Love the collection!
June 7th, 2011 at 11:14 am
These are great! I love the elephant map the best. By the way, I saw your post on Freshly Pressed.
June 7th, 2011 at 11:19 am
Beautiful maps, but I wouldn’t want to try to navigate with them!
June 7th, 2011 at 11:26 am
Wow. These maps are amazing. I think it might be harder to read than a normal map though.
June 7th, 2011 at 11:27 am
Hahahaha! Those were spectacular! Talk about bizarre.
June 7th, 2011 at 11:27 am
The elephant is the best…very cool
June 7th, 2011 at 11:36 am
These are great! Thank you for sharing.
June 7th, 2011 at 11:57 am
Beautiful Maps! Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂
June 7th, 2011 at 1:10 pm
June 7th, 2011 at 1:53 pm
These maps are beautiful, it’s amazing to see how people saw the world so long ago and what was important at those times!
June 7th, 2011 at 2:14 pm
What a great inspiring way to teach maps and geography, and make them easy to remember. The true map should be placed alongside each one.
June 7th, 2011 at 2:56 pm
This is a beautiful collection of maps.
Using maps for interior decorating has become even more popular during the past several years.
Such maps are timeless, elegant and will blend in with any decorating style, no matter if contemporary or classic.
June 7th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
Wow is that first one a map, or flower. As an artist, I just love all of these but as a geographer, I can’t help but to be a bit mortified by the accuracy.
June 7th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
i love maps…have a few framed in my home. but nothing like these…they’re amazing! thanks for sharing. i’ll have to look into getting some more cool prints.
June 7th, 2011 at 3:53 pm
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June 7th, 2011 at 4:14 pm
Facinating! Obviously back in the day impressions were more important than accuracy…..lol.
June 7th, 2011 at 4:30 pm
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June 7th, 2011 at 4:54 pm
June 7th, 2011 at 5:00 pm
What a wonderful post. I never would have imagined that such things existed, even though in some cases they aren’t too far off from modern-day political cartooning.
June 7th, 2011 at 5:16 pm
June 7th, 2011 at 5:46 pm
Very good research.
June 7th, 2011 at 6:38 pm
The maps are incredibly beautiful. So much thought and time required to produce these beautiful works of art. I find that I’m more and more drawn to ancient ways of thinking and acting. The slower pace required to achieve many things in our ancient cultures, is somehow enticing to some of us, in our society today.
June 7th, 2011 at 7:36 pm
Thank you so much for sharing these with us. They are so fascinating and cool! I love how the depicition of what was occurring historically is “mapped” out artistically.
June 7th, 2011 at 7:43 pm
I love maps and these are heck of some coolest map collections I’ve seen…ever. THANKS for sharing 😀
June 7th, 2011 at 7:45 pm
What a wonderful collection of maps to look at and to savor!! Thanks for pulling them all together for us to enjoy.
And congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.
June 7th, 2011 at 8:02 pm
NIce research, the maps are gorgeous.
June 7th, 2011 at 9:10 pm
I’ve never seen anything like this. Thanks for posting.
June 7th, 2011 at 9:52 pm
Wow, these are fantastic and beautiful! I have some prints of old maps in my room but none quite as fascinating as some of these. It’s amazing to see how people used to view the world and their place in it. Thanks for sharing!
June 7th, 2011 at 10:34 pm
[…] can’t tell that, can you? But, at the same time, I begin to look at the massive list of things that interest me! In an earlier day, we would say that the list is as long as my arm…but likely, given our […]
June 7th, 2011 at 10:55 pm
Fascinating and cool. Always been a huge fan of old maps, and although I probably don’t know my way around them like you do, I’m captivated by them as snapshots of our collective image of the world around us, and ourselves.
June 7th, 2011 at 11:56 pm
those are the coolest maps ive ever seen
June 8th, 2011 at 12:23 am
very cool would make some nice T’s
June 8th, 2011 at 1:38 am
Very cool. Thanks for sharing.
Congrats on being Freshly Mapped….oops, I mean Freshly pressed.
June 8th, 2011 at 1:53 am
Thank you for collecting these very interesting old maps- the one from L’Europe Animale is an epic story in itself 🙂 it’s so interesting how they’d built in their self-image projections into the map.
June 8th, 2011 at 2:47 am
WOW, what a wonderful post.
I think that secretly most men love the complexity of maps. (Like tools and stationary, we just can’t resist. 🙂 )
June 9th, 2011 at 3:32 pm
TOTALLY agree with you!
June 8th, 2011 at 4:09 am
June 8th, 2011 at 5:18 am
How stunning – illustrated maps bring places alive in our imagination far more than our boring modern day atlas versions!
June 8th, 2011 at 5:44 am
amazing maps! thanks
June 8th, 2011 at 7:42 am
Super like!!! Nice maps.. loved them esp. the elephant one!
June 8th, 2011 at 8:05 am
I love maps, I have a collection. Yours are very cool!
June 8th, 2011 at 9:20 am
Hello I found this post so good that I reblogged it – as my blog has only my family and friend visitors it probably won’t matter. I just have to tel it here.
Great comments too.
June 8th, 2011 at 11:15 pm
These are fantastic! What a unique post.. it’s nice to see art made out of everyday things. 🙂
June 9th, 2011 at 9:20 am
Funny maps, anyway! I do really, really, really, really give two thumbs up for this post. Awesome.
June 10th, 2011 at 12:23 am
Loving everything about the zoomorphic map,
June 10th, 2011 at 6:32 am
A great post, love the pics of the maps
June 10th, 2011 at 12:16 pm
[…] All of which leads me to believe that, if your map’s going to be inaccurate, make it really inaccurate, like the beautiful examples shown over at the streetsofsalem blog. […]
June 12th, 2011 at 2:28 pm
[…] In the course of putting together my summer graduate seminar on the expansion of Europe this past weekend I reacquainted myself with some digital map collections on the web. Maps provide an accessible entryway into this topic, in every era of European expansion. The shift from conceptual to more realistic cartography in the early modern era is a very evident and important trend, but early modern mapmakers retained a bit of whimsy when they pro … Read More […]
June 13th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
hi-ya, I like all your posts, keep them coming.
June 20th, 2011 at 11:36 am
I like your page and your entries!! look forward reading more from you!! Cheers!!!
April 11th, 2013 at 3:21 am
A reblogué ceci sur difference propre and commented:
Pour faire écho à un précèdent article sur une carte de The economist, je reblogge un article de 2011,
Les cartes s’animent ?
Le propos de l’auteur, Donna Seger est une femme et un historien est de présenter une série de cartes « modernes », depuis la renaissance mettons, mais dont l’idéologie, la géographie mentale, reste prépondérante. Elle parle de carte conceptuelle.
Le blog et l’article valent la peine d’y jeter un coup d’oeil. C’est à la fois drole et instructif.
Add your thoughts here… (optional)
April 11th, 2013 at 3:39 am
translation (a try) : maps come alive ? the purpose of the author, Donna SEGER is a woman and an historian is to present a sequence of modern maps, say after the Renaissance, wich ideology, mental geography, is the main matter. She speaks of conceptual map.
Blog and article are quite awesome. It is fun and didactical all-in-one.
(craps I forgot to cancel at first)
April 11th, 2013 at 3:42 am
I add that the reblog was just a convenient way to speak about you blog, and we would not mind if you do not validate this as comment. 🙂
April 11th, 2013 at 7:41 pm
Thanks so much.
April 12th, 2013 at 6:43 am
You are welcome. Thank you to edit a so wonderful blog.
June 20th, 2013 at 10:33 am
Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is great, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about Maps Come Alive | streetsofsalem .
June 3rd, 2014 at 5:10 pm
I am extremely impdessed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog.
Is this a paid theme or diid you customize it yourself?
Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare tto see a nice blog like this one today.
June 6th, 2014 at 11:53 am
Marvellous maps ¡
May 28th, 2018 at 7:42 pm
Very cools stuff!