Waldseemüller Martin


Applied geodesy existed in the ancient times, references to the maps can be found even in the Holy Bible. The first scientific guidelines on cartography were developed by the Greek scientists of the III-II centuries B.C.E.
Claudius Ptolemy (Latin: Claudius Ptolemaeus) created global map with the coordinates of each point - prototypes of modern longitudes and latitudes. The museum Collection exposition features a Map of the Transcaucasia (Southern Caucuses). From the first edition of "The Geography of Claudius Ptolemy" by Michael Servetus published in Lyon in 1535 by the brothers Trechsel (Claudii Ptolemaei Alexandrini Geographicae enarrationis libri octo. Lyons: Melchior & Gaspar Trechsel, 1535) and the map of Sarmatia from the second edition of "The Geography of Claudius Ptolemy" by Michael Servetus. The edition of “The Geography” consisted of three parts, the second section of the book included fifty maps, twenty seven of which were compiled and published in 1522 by the French scientist Laurent Frieze (1490-1532 / 1533), a great admirer of the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller (1470-1520).

Martin Waldseemüller became famous not only as a monk known for his research on cosmography – but also as the author of one of the most mysterious and fateful maps in the history of mankind, the so-called "Waldseemüller world map“. Full name of the map is Universalis Cosmographia Secundum Ptholomaei Traditionem et Americi Vespucii Alioru[m]que Lustrationes that is translated from Latin as "World Map, built in accordance with the method of Ptolemy and supplemented by new lands from Amerigo Vespucci”. The name of the southern part of the New World, proposed by Waldseemüller in honor of Amerigo Vespucci, received worldwide recognition.

Martin Waldzeemüller was born in Breisgau, in the butcher's family. The worthfull shopkeeper sent his son to the famous University of Freiburg to study theology. Cosmography - description of the Earth and the Universe as one of the main parts of theology - the principal science of the Middle Age preoccupied Martin.

Martin lived in Switzerland in his youth, in the place where his uncle had a printing house. He learned to draw maps, cut cliché boards, and engrave images there. Circa 1505, Waldzeemüller, being over thirty, moved to Lorraine, to the town of Saint-Dieu near the Vosges mountains (Saint-Dié-des-Vosges s). The revolution in geography practically took place there in that time. A small coterie of scientists assembled in the monastery church: they disputed, translated and compiled scientific texts together, drew geographical maps. Even established a printery.

The authentic story of Amerigo Vespucci about his voyage to the continent, which he called the New World, inspired Martin Waldzeemüller and his friend, young scientist Matthias Ringmann to design a new map. The creation of Waldzeemueller and Ringmann involved three parts: large wall world map, the scientific essay Cosmographiae Introductio ("Introduction to Cosmography") and the so-called segmented map - 12 petal-shaped engravings. The sphere covered with those petals transformed in the real globe. Even compared to today, the project was large-scaled, based on fundamental science, hence created with the aim of practical application.

Scientific masterpiece was released on April 25, 1507, a year after Christopher Columbus died. The giant Waldzeemueller world map was a real sensation: 2.32 m wide and 1.30 m high. The image of Ptolemy, personifying the ideas of ancient scientists concerning the world order and next to - the portrait of Amerigo Vespucci – the cartographers elevated him to the rank of a new are prophet. New geographical name - America appeared on the bottom left edge of the new continent. Why Martin Waldzeemüller was considered a father of "the greatest injustice in the history of mankind”? Everyone supposed to know that it was Columbus, who discovered America, as well all literate people know that the continent was named after the Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci. Columbus died believing belief that he had found a new way to India.

However, Vespucci was the first to realize that the lands discovered by Columbus were not the part of Asia, but a new mainland. He wrote in one of the letters to the friend, “Most ancient authors say that there is no mainland to the south of the Equator. But my last trip proved that this opinion is wrong, since in the southern regions I found a continent more densely populated by people and animals than our Europe, Asia or Africa….”.  Vespucci's letters were compiled and published in the brochure entitled "MundusNovis" - "New World”. Moreover, it played the fatal role. The interest in new discoveries among European public at that time was huge, hence the reports on the results of the voyages of Columbus and other Spanish navigators were security-guarded by the Spanish government and never published. The friend of Vespucci, the head of Republic of Florence, Piero Soderini, sent this brochure to one of the enlightened rulers of that time - René II, Duke of Lorraine. The promoter of geographical discoveries, as Rene II is called in Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, patronized the group of young intellectuals: Lude, Matthias Ringmann and Martin Waldzeemüller. Waldzeemüller focus on maps and undersign as "Sheepdog" - so quickly he sniffed out new information about the Earth everywhere. The tractate by Vespucci impressed him and he wrote in the capital letters on the image of the new mainland, AMERICA. How did the German monk Martin Waldzeemüller in the terrestrial Lorraine find out the facts unknown to the most experienced captains – is a mystery that will never be revealed. However, this was copied countless times; it became the significant phenomenon of the cultural life, the name “America” proliferated wider and wider.

It is interesting that Martin Waldzeemüller himself was against the use of this name. After the heirs of Columbus, through rather long trial, officially obtained the formal recognition of the Genoese navigator as the discoverer of the New World, the Freiburg map-maker suggested using the names Terra Nova (New Land), Terra Incognita (Unknown Land) or Terra papagalli (Parrots’ Land). Nevertheless, the popularity of the name "America" could no longer be stopped. Leonardo da Vinci was among the adherents of this designation in 1515, depicting a new continent on the map by this name. Moreover, later, circa 1538, Gerardus Mercator, a geographer, cosmographer and cartographer from the County of Flanders, called by the name of America the northern and southern parts of the fourth part of the world the question was finally settled.

It was believed that only three copies of this glorious map had been preserved. One of them was acquired by Library of Congress from one of the German princes in 2001. The miraculously preserved copy was found in the castle of the princely family Waldburg-Wolfegg und Waldsee in the early 20th century. Library of Congress acquired it for 10 million dollars.

However, the Christie`s managed to find the fourth copy - it was reported that the map was kept in a private collection, and its owner found out the significance of the item only a few years ago from newspapers. As a result, the map was sold in 2005 for one million dollars. Exactly 500 years after the appearance of this commemorative map of the World, German Chancellor Angela Merkel presented it to the American people in 2007. This copy is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List; it can be examined in the Library of Congress.

Later the fifth copy Waldseemüller’s map was found under the library binding of the 19th century in the library of Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich. This discovery became a sensation.

Bulatov V.E. “Russian atlas consisting of forty-three maps and dividing the Empire into forty-one provinces" (1800). M., 2008.