Waldseemüller, Martin (1470-1520)
Martin Waldseemüller, a German cartographer known for compiling the first map of the world (1507), the earliest map that came down to us, where the name "America" was used. He suggested that the name "America" comes from the Latin version of the name Amerigo Vespucci.
Martin Waldseemüller was born in Breisgau, in the family of a butcher. Father did not interfere with his science-prone son, and sent him to the famous University of Freiburg. Martin was particularly interested in cosmography - the description of the Earth and the Universe.
At the University of Freiburg Martin Waldseemüller got introduced to the teachings of the Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy, who lived in Alexandria in the II century. Ptolemy drew maps of the world with the coordinates of each point - the prototype of modern longitudes and latitudes. He was convinced of the spherical shape of the Earth and derived a formula to calculate its circumference.
Several years later Martin went to Switzerland, to Basel, where his uncle had a printing house. There he learned to draw geographic maps, cut plaque boards and engrave images. He was convinced that his contemporaries lacked maps that would reflect the actual location of geographical objects, as well as the spheres of political influence in the world.
Around 1505, Waldseemüller moved to Lorraine, in the town of Saint-Dieu. Here, Waldseemüller and his friend Ringman decided to create a large wall map of the world, the scientific work “Cosmographiae Introductio” ("Introduction to Cosmography") and the so-called segment map consisting of 12 engravings. The sphere they wrapped with it turned into a real globe.
This scientific masterpiece was born on April 25, 1507. The biggest sensation was the huge map of the world: 2.32 m wide and 1.30 m high with a new continent on it called "America."
As early as 1507, two editions of “Cosmographiae Introductio” were printed, and the total circulation of the world map measuring three square meters reached an impressive figure of 1000 copies.
In 1520, Martin Waldseemüller died in Saint-Dieu, and soon his name was in oblivion. His world maps and segment maps for the globe of 1507 disappeared. And only after almost 400 years, in 1901, a Jesuit priest found in the library of the Wolffeg Castle in Upper Swabia one of the Waldseemüller’s 1507 World maps. It was folded and hidden in one of the plain-looking books. And almost a century later, in 1993, the librarian Vera Zak discovered during the inventory in the Historical Library of Offenburg one of the segment maps for the globe, sewn into the book by Aristotle. In total, there were four such sets for the assembly of globes, while a large map of the world of 1507, discovered in the Wolffeg Castle, remains the only surviving specimen.