The mapmaker's quest : depicting new worlds in Renaissance Europe / David Buisseret.

Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Buisseret, David.
Format: Book
Published: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2003.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Buisseret, professor of the history of cartography at the University of Texas at Arlington, intends this book to answer a simple question: "[W]hy was it that there were so few maps in Europe in 1400, and yet so many by 1650?" One reason for the explosion was the 15th-century European rediscovery of ancient map collections, such as Ptolemy's supremely influential Geography; the book's first chapter is devoted to the cartographic legacy of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Equally important was Europe's new outward expansion, with journeys of exploration to Africa and the New World. Portugal and Spain, Buisseret emphasizes, led the way in mapmaking just as they did in exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries, though other nations, such as England and France, caught up by the 17th century. Cartography also came to be used for military purposes, for depicting battlefields, troop maneuvers and fortifications. Maps were also important for administrative purposes: nation-states were growing fast, and maps helped in governing them. In 16th-century England, Buisseret explains, estate maps were used by individuals to define the limits of an owner's property, and in the same period, town plans emerged in reaction to military and administrative requirements. This growth of mapmaking was greatly accelerated by the emergence of the printing press. Buisseret supplements his narrative with dozens of illustrative maps, in color and black-and-white, from some of the great Renaissance mapmakers such as Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Durer. Anyone interested in cartography will enjoy this book, though it may be a bit specialized for the general reader. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.