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Caveri [Canerio] world map, 1502-04

Sultan Husayn Bayqara 1470–1506
Stacked Wooden Logs


The sea-faring city of Genoa, Columbus's birthplace, returns to center stage with this major cartographic contribution. The Genoese mapmaker, Nicolo Caveri, referred to by historians as "Nicolay Canerio" until recently when his signature on this map was re-interpreted, has a place in history with this production. The Portuguese toponymy employed throughout shows that Caveri had access to what the historian Henry Harrisse referred to as Lusitanio-Germanic prototypes. Its strong likeness to the Cantino planisphere (Slide #309) indicates that Caveri either used the Cantino chart or the two maps had very similar sources.

This important map, discovered in the 19th century in the Archives du .Service hydrographique de la Marine at Paris, represents the entire world as known in 1502-1504, and measures 46 X 90 inches (1150 X 2250 mm). This great planisphere bridges the medieval and Renaissance worlds, as dramatized by the circular mappamundi [world map] at its center (near the Equator on the continent of Africa). Radiating out from the nucleus are rhumb lines that connect with a circle of compass roses. Rhumbs are also projected from these, forming a network covering the chart. Outside this circle six further points of intersection with compass roses inscribe yet another, though incomplete, concentric circle. This mesh of loxodromic lines has its origin in the late thirteenth century with the oldest of surviving sea charts.

If the mappamundi in the middle is a reference to the past, the latitude scale in the left margin is an innovation of great significance for future mapmaking. Since voyages across the seas had become a possibility, determining latitude accurately became essential to record compass directions. With this information navigators could return directly to home port and revisit newly discovered lands. Dead reckoning and a few latitude readings may have brought Columbus to America initially, but for regular travel more scientific methods were required.

The fact that it is a Portuguese map is undisputed, however, it is undated, but signed as follows: Opus Nicolay de Caveri Januensis: The work of Nicolas de Caveri, Genoese. That is, the Caveri chartwas constructed (or only copied) by a Genoese cartographer, most probably in Portugal; as if he had executed his work in Italy, there would have been no reason for inscribing the legends in the Portuguese language, and he would have translated them into Italian. On this point we must give the precise text of the two leading legends:

Over the West Indies
The Antillies of the King of Castile, discovered by Collonbo, Genoese [this word is not in Cantino] Admiral, which islands were discovered by command of the very high and very powerful prince the King Dom Fernando, King of Castile.

On the Brazilian Coast
The True Cross, so called, which was discovered by Pedro Alvarez Cabral, gentleman of the household of the King of Portugal; and he discovered it in navigating as chief captain of fourteen ships which the said King was sending to Calicut, and, in following his route, he found that land, which is believed to be a continent, where are many men endowed with reason, and men and women who go naked, as brought into the world. They are rather white than dark, with smooth hair. The said land was discovered in the year [one thousand] five hundred.

The configurations and nomenclature, everywhere in this chart, are those of the Cantino map, but they do not proceed from the latter, as the profiles exhibit differences, and there are additional names indicating another prototype of a later date.
Caveri and the Cantino map show similar contours for most parts of the world, although Caveri's mapping of the Red Sea is less accurate. In South America, particularly on the Brazilian coast. Caveri includes new place-names reported by two Portuguese expeditions. The first, in 1501-02, included Amerigo Vespucci; the second, commanded by Fernando de Noronha in 1503-04, attempted to establish a trading post in Rio de Janeiro Bay. Since Caveri had information from these voyages, the map probably dates from 1505. In North America he presents a new delineation of the Gulf of Mexico, with the peninsulas representing Yucatan and Florida. Although the relationships of Cuba, Yucatan and Florida are only partly correct, Caveri's concept of the Gulf region was widely used for the next twenty years.

While the great Spanish planisphere by Juan de La Cosa (Slide #308) fell into virtual oblivion until its modern rediscovery, Caveri's chart was responsible for a continuous series of derivatives over the next twenty-five years, principally the 1507 twelve-sheet printed world map of Waldseemüller (Slide #312). These maps served to present the image of the New World to Europeans until news of further explorations of Ayllon, Verrazzano, and Gomez corrected and helped to complete the cartography of North America

As mentioned, a very important feature in the Caveri map is a regular scale of latitudes. According to that scale, the continental region in the northwest, first delineated in Cantino, extends here from 50° to 20° north latitude; showing a prolongation of that region southward of eighteen degrees, less, however, than in Schöner's first globes, and with new profiles. As on this prolongation the Nuremberg geographer has inscribed the word Parias, and as his prototype was certainly very much like Caveri's, we are inclined to believe that the prolongation was originally intended to represent the countries discovered by Columbus during his third voyage; the first mention of which appeared in print on the loth of April, 1504, in the Libretto de tutta la Nauigatione de Re de Spagna, but was known in Italy as early as the autumn of 1501, when Angelo Trivigiano sent his account to Domenico Malipiero.

In the nomenclature on the northwestern continent, we see for the first time the name Lago del ladro, which appears in Ruysch as Lago del oro, and in Waldseemüller as larro dellodro; but was probably inscribed on the prototype, Lago del ladro, for Lago del ladron [The Lake of the Thief], and not Lago del oro [The Lake of Gold].

Two other names are spelt differently, but not more intelligibly. Where the Cantino chart displays: G: do lurcar, and C. do mortinbo, Caveri inscribes: Gorffo de lineor, and Cauo de mertineo. Finally, the preposition "of," which in Cantino is written "do," as in Portuguese, appears in Caveri as " de," in the Spanish form, while that northwestern continent exhibits in the latter, at both ends, the standard of Castile and Leon; which indicates in the opinion of the cartographer, Spanish possessions, and perhaps also Spanish discoveries or explorations.

The southern continent extends from 12 to 35 degrees south latitude, which is about ten degrees more than in the Cantino planisphere. The nomenclature for the north coast or Brazil is as in the latter; but on the eastern seaboard, the list comprises, in addition to the names in Cantino, those of Kunstmann Nos. 2 and 3, with the addition of Porto de Sto Sebastiano, and Alapago (pagus) de Sam Paullo, both of which make here their first appearance. According to the scale inscribed by Caveri, thirty-five degrees (from 20° to 55° North latitude)of that continental region were then known; and, what is more remarkable, he places at both extremities the standard of Castile and Leon.

Do those flags indicate Spanish discoveries, or only Spanish possessions ? They may mean both, as we know from the despatch sent by Pedro de Ayala to Ferdinand and Isabella, giving an account of Cabot's discoveries in 1497, that the Spanish Ambassador to the Court of Henry VII, actually stated that the lands found by Cabot formed part of the transatlantic dominions of the Crown of Castile. The envoy of the Republic of Venice, when relating the discoveries just accomplished by Gaspar Corte-Real (1501), also expressed the opinion that the country discovered by the latter was connected with the Spanish possessions in the New World. If to those surmises, which must have been current then, we add the clauses of the Treaty of Tordesillas, which Portugal was the first to invoke, so as to maintain her rights to Newfoundland and Brazil, the appearance of Spanish flags on a western continent appears quite natural, even in a Portuguese map.

Newfoundland presents the configuration already seen in Cantino, and is placed in the same erroneous longitude, but bears no inscriptions whatever. Nor is the Line of Demarcation depicted.

The Portuguese legends concerning the discoveries of the Land of the True Cross and of the Antillies are as in Cantino, but Caveri takes care to recall the action of his countrymen by adding to the map: descoberta por collonbo ienoeize; and the cross of St. George to the Canarian island of Lansarotto. The latter, however, is a peculiarity already existing, not only in the celebrated Catalan chart of 1375 (Slide #235), but also in the Majorcan mappamundi, which bears the inscription: Hoc opus fecit angelino Dulcert ano M°cCc°XXXVIIIJ de mense augusti in ciuitate maioricarum.

The Caveri map constitutes the earliest specimen known of Harrisse's Fourth Type (see Slide #309, Cantino, or Harrisse's Discovery of North America for a discussion of the five types of the Lusitano-Germanic Group). The calligraphy is representative of the beginning of the sixteenth century; and the prototype map or the model copied by Caveri was certainly Lusitanian, as is shown by the identical resemblance of the configurations and nomenclature in his map with those in the Cantino chart, which was made at Lisbon in 1502; by the leading legends, which are in the Portuguese language; and by the fact that we read on the Brazilian coast: The Bay of All Saints, instead of The Abbey of All Saints.

In Wroth's discussion of the northern discoveries as an element of the Verrazzano story, he states that the Cantino and Caveri maps take a place of great significance for many reasons, good and bad. One of their common features is their location of Newfoundland as an island "cast far away into the sea" to the east or northeast of the "American" landmass which they both portray for the first time. It is now generally agreed that the maker of the Cantino map did not intend to represent the Newfoundland-Labrador landmass as an island, but as the known eastern extension of a supposed continental land not definitely located. Not all of the the contemporaries of the Cantino planisphere interpreted his meaning in this way. The Newfoundland-Labrador land is shown unmistakably as an island in the Lusitano-Germanic Group, including Caveri. A significant point to be kept in mind in the discussion of the maps of Cantino and Caveri, and their chief derivative, the Waldseemüller world map of 1507, is that, whether or not they regarded Newfoundland as an island, they showed Verrazzano and his contemporaries no connection of solid land between Newfoundland and the Florida landmass portrayed on them. This wide expanse of ocean offered unimpeded passage to an explorer seeking a route to China.

Also on these two similar maps, it is to be observed that the two mapmakers intended to convey a belief that the two continents of North and South America formed a grand division of the earth, separated as they were from both Europe and Asia. This belief is graphically portrayed in the Caveri map where open water borders the western shore of the North American continent. While not shown on the Cantino chart, this concept is inferred by the fact that the chart only display 257 degrees of the earth's 360 degrees and that the eastern coast of Asia is bordered by open water, leaving the remaining 103 degrees to speculation.
Of all the types of the Lusitano-Germanic cartography, that which has exercised the greatest influence in Central Europe is the one which was derived from the prototype copied by Caveri. A map resembling the latter in most respects, found its way into Germany at an early date; for we find its chief configurations in globes which were constructed during the first ten years of the sixteenth century. The oldest of these is represented by the Hauslab Gores (a set of 12 globe gores engraved on wood).

Like the Cantino planisphere, the Caveri map also displays castlelated cities in Europe and Africa. In addition, there is a large drawing of a castlelated city in the Middle East [Jerusalem, the Holy Land] along with a tower and castle in Saudi Arabia. There are colorfull parrots shown in South America and a giraffe and elephant placed in Africa.

LOCATION: Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris

Crone, G.R., Maps and their Makers, p.88
*Harrisse, H., The Discovery of north America, pp. 77, 305-306, 428-430.
*Nebenzahl, K, Atlas of Columbus and the Great Discoveries, p. 40.
*Wroth, L. C., The Voyages of Giovanni da Verrazzano, pp.45-46, no. 3

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