Purposes of Early 19th-Century Polish National Cartography

in Mapping Europe's Borderlands

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780226744254
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226744278 | DOI:
Purposes of Early 19th-Century Polish National Cartography

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter examines the purpose of Polish cartography in the early nineteenth century. The drawing and collection of maps in early nineteenth-century Poland were invitations to cultural nostalgia and political assertiveness. But by no means did they represent a consensus on autonomy or independence, reform or revolution, or Poland's frontiers in general. Polish maps were artifacts suited to combat forgetting, blatant intimations of a past national golden age, or devices to verify, fabricate, manipulate, and disseminate historical memory. In confronting the layers of meaning in Polish maps, such ambitions are difficult to disentangle. Those who imagined a way to encompass, define, and restore Poland's territorial space in Europe retained the idea of the historical peoples of pre-1772 Poland–Lithuania as belonging to Poland, living in a providential, harmonious space. In postpartitioned Poland, activists used maps as a way to draw the distant Atlantis intimately near.

Keywords: Polish cartography; maps; Poland; mapping; Europe; territorial space; activists

Chapter.  8414 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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