Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Atlases Relevant to History

in Historical Atlases

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780226300719
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226300726 | DOI:
Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Atlases Relevant to History

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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The origin of historical atlases, as now conceived, presupposes that a “geography” called “ancient” or “old” signified ancient history. It follows from this reasoning that atlases that embody “ancient geography” may be freely said to contain “historical” maps and to form “historical” collections. This substitution of “history” for “geography” is hasty and uncalled for: old geography was no less geographic than the “new” variety. The discipline of ancient geography fascinated geographers and mapmakers for a long time. The acquisition of Ptolemy by Latin scholars revived a science of geography, and capped the ancient geographical literature known to Europeans. Chronologically specific scenes embodying geography were created before Ortelius. The comprehensive historical atlases of the future depended on bridging the ancient and modern branches of geography and on realizing that all the past, or all parts of it, were the subject needing to be mapped. Inhibited from yielding to these directives, the Parergon and its progeny retreated gradually into a niche.

Keywords: historical atlases; geography; ancient history; Latin scholars; Ortelius

Chapter.  16667 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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