Nineteenth-Century Maps of the Middle Ages

in Historical Atlases

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780226300719
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226300726 | DOI:
Nineteenth-Century Maps of the Middle Ages

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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A compiler with a wide knowledge of eighteenth-century historical maps, and a restrained critical sense, might have complained that the accumulated labors of cartographers had yielded an embarrassment of riches. Nineteenth-century atlases were astonishingly conservative in their arrangement and choice of subjects. Some managed to be new by severely limiting their contents. In many geographic collections, the unique concession to the past kept alive early models more or less directly in the Ptolemaic tradition—such as a map of Palestine depicted as the Holy Land of biblical times. The continuity of these traditions in atlas-making contrasted with contemporary works hinting that a geography with its own specialized terrain might finally be coming into existence. A number of strictly geographical atlases eschewed history altogether, regardless of whether it was biblical, ancient, medieval, or recent.

Keywords: nineteenth century; middle ages; atlases; Ptolemaic tradition; geographic collections

Chapter.  26775 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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