Sebastian Münster; 1489-1552.
A true renaissance man, this German linguist and mathematician
(and a Franciscan) may not have been as good a cartographer
as Gerard Mercator or Abraham Ortelius. But he is generally
credited for having been the first and foremost influence
in the spreading of geographical interest and knowledge throughout
His major publications must have been the most read books
of their time (beside religious texts).
He expanded on, and corrected, the work of Martin Waldseemüller,
on the basis of his massive correspondence with numerous German
Most of his maps were printed using the woodblock technique
of the day.
- Geographia in 1540-42-45-52, all in Latin, with 27 ptolemaic
maps and 13 (growing to 27 in the last issue) modern maps.
- Cosmographia Universalis in 1544. In 6 volumes, it was also
published by his step son; Henrich Petri, who continued the
printing till 1588, well after Münster death of the plague.
Further editions in 9 volumes by Petri's son (Henri Sebastian)
till 1628 were rushed to print to compete against the more
successful Ortelius atlas, with Ortelius' maps instead of
All in all, 33 editions, 19 in German, 5 in Latin, 6 in French,
2 in Italian and 1 in Czech.
Hispanie Beschreisbung/mit seinen Knigreichen/Landtschafften
This diminutive woodcut map (5 3/8" X 3"), originally prepared
for book II of the 1544 Cosmographia, was re-engraved in different
states throughout the life of this book.
The present item has been printed for the 1598 German edition.
Notice that only a very few cities are shown, and that the
largest one appears to be Toledo (then the capital city of
the Spanish King till 1561), and that the boldest name is
reserved for Burgos (a major pilgrim stop over on the road
to Santiago de Compostela (here shown as S Iacob).
Also note the numerous spelling mistakes.
Even though of a late production, the total page (6 ½" X 10
¾') is very sought after, because it shows also the coat of
arms of the eight kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula:
- Aragon (present day arms have four vertical red bars, not
- Portugal (king of Spain and king of Portugal were the same
person between 1580 and 1668).
- Toledo (here represented by the crowned miter of the Primate
Bishop of Spain residing in that city).
German text on verso.