Diego Ribero, 1529
This map is justfiably considered by many scholars to be the finest cartographic production of its age. The mapmaker, whose name in its Portuguese form is Diogo Ribeiro, was a Portuguese [Lusitanian] at Seville in the service of King Charles V of Spain. For many years Ribero was recognized as one of the most expert cosmographers of his time. He was closely associated with all of the noted explorers who gathered about the Spanish court. He was a personal friend of the Pilot Major, Sebastian Cabot; was the royal cosmographer under Ferdinand Columbus; and made the maps which Magellan carried with him on his famous voyage across the Pacific. Ultimately Ribero suceeded Sebastian Cabot as Pilot Major, a position for which he was obviously highly qualified, having also navigated to India for both Vasco da Gama and Albuquerque.
As royal cosmographer, it was Ribero's duty to revise the patron real (padron general), the standard or official map, as new data was brought back by the pilots from their voyages of discovery. Therefore this map was the one that incorporated the most recent discoveries, corrections and revisions into one master map thereby providing the most accurate, continually updated delineation of the known world. The patron real had first been made, by order of Ferdinand in 1508, by a commission under Vespucci, and was put under the control of the Casa de Contratacion, a council which had been organized five years before to supervise discoveries. No copy of this important patron real is now known to exist, although the Pilot Major was authorized to make and sell copies to all pilots, who were ordered to take them on their voyages. Ribero's existing maps are the nearest example what these copies of what the official map probably looked like. They show the astonishing growth of detailed knowledge of the New World since the first voyage of Columbus thirty-seven years before. The entire east coast from Greenland to the Straits of Magellan had been explored, and reports of voyages along the Pacific coast were coming in rapidly.
In 1524 Ribero was also a member of the Conference of Badajos which was assembled to settle the dispute as to whether the Philippine Islands lay within the part of the world allotted by the Treaty of Tordesillas to Spain or to Portugal. This conference dissolved without agreement, but Spain retained control of both groups of islands until 1528, when Charles V sold his claim to the Spice [Moluccan] Islands to Portugal as part of the Treaty of Saragossa.
In 1526 Ribero was a prominent member of the junta of pilots at Seville, under the presidency of Ferdinand Columbus. This group was called together by Charles V to secure data for a revision to the patron real.
There are two well known world maps signed by Ribero; one, produced in 1529 is sometimes called the Propoganda, or Second Borgian map, formerly in the Museo Borgia of the Propoganda Fide, now in the Vatican Library at Rome; and the other, produced in 1527 is in the Grand Ducal Library at Weimar. A third map, produced in 1532 and closely resembling the other two, but unsigned, known as the Wolfenbüttel map, as it is in the Wolfenbüttel Grand Ducal Library, is also believed to be the work of Ribero. There is also a map produced in 1525 currentlt in the library at Manua, another map from 1529 also at Weimar and fragments of a world map produced in 1530 now preserved in Studienbibliothek, Dillingen on the Danube.
The map shown here, the Propoganda map, is the one now in the Biblioteca Apostalica Vaticana,Vatican City. It is an illustrated manuscript world map produced on vellum measuring 85 X 205 cm [33 X 80 inches]. The other two maps are drawn on parchment and measure 86 X 216 cm (Weimar).
The full title of this world map is Carta Univeral En que se contiene todo lo que del mondo Se ha descubierto fasta agora: Hizola Diego Ribero Cosmographo de Su Magestad: Año de 1529. La qual Se devide en dos partes conforme a la capitulcio que hizieron los catholicos Reyes de españa, y El Rey don Juan de portugal e la Villa de tordessilas: Año de 1494 [General chart containing the whole of the world that has hitherto been discovered; complied by Diego Ribero, cosmographer to His Majesty, which is divided into two parts according to the agreement made by the Catholic Majesties of Spain and King John of Portugal at Tordessilas, A.D. 1494].
Beginning on the northern part of the North American continent, on the coast of Tiera de Labrador [Greenland] a brief inscription reads: The English discovered this country. It produces nothing of any value. It was discovered by the English from the city of Bristol. This clearly indicates the discovery accomplished by John Cabot, but ascribed by Ribero to Sebastian, who was in 1529 his superior in the service of the Castlian Crown and from whom he certainly gathered most of his data concerning the northeastern regions. On the Wolfenbüttel edition of the map is added: As he who first sighted it was a farmer from the Azore Islands, this name remains attached to that country. This name Labrador, i.e., the land of the laborer, was later transfered to the country west of the Davis Strait. The bay to the west of Labrador is undoubtedly the entrance to Davis Strait, not yet explored.
Tierra de los Baccallos [Newfoundland], which is still a part of the mainland as on the map of Ruysch (Slide #308), is thus described: The land of cod fish discovered by the Cortereals and where they were lost. Up to this time nothing of value has been found there, except the fishing of codfish, and these do not amount to much.
Tiera De Estevã Gomez commemorates the voyage made in 1525 by Estevan Gomez, the captain of the San Antonio, who deserted Magellan and returned to Spain. He was present as an associate of Ribero in the Conference of Badajos in 1524. Upon the failure of that conference, Gomez was sent out in the autumn of 1524 in search of a shorter passage to the Spice Islands. He explored the same coast which had been visited a few months before by Verrazano (Slide 333). He sailed along the coast from Cape Race to Florida, examining all of the bays and inlets, and found that Maize is the food of the natives. They are of large size. Much land adjoining that which is called the Baccallos and situate under the fortieth and forty-first degrees; but neither finding the straight nor Gaitaia [Cathay], which he promised, returned backe within tenn monethes after his departure. Noteworthy is the "strait that never was" as Ribero displays a separation between North and South America near present-day Panama. The inscription reads as follows: The country of Stephen Gomez, which he discovered at the command of his Majesty, in the year 1525. There are here many trees and fruits similar to those in Spain, and many rodovallo [walruses], and salmon, and fish of all sorts. Gold they have not found.
On his return voyage, Gomez saw the Bermuda Islands, which were rediscovered long after by Gates and Somers in 1610. Ribero located them on his map and near them a ship with the legend: I come from the Indies.
Tiera De Ayllon lies to the south of the land of Gomez. The tragic attempt of the Spaniard, Ayllon, in 1526, to found a colony on the James River, or according to the historian Henry Harrisse on the Cape Fear River, had but recently occurred. The inscription reads: Here went the licentiate Ayllon to settle the country, for which he sailed from S. Dominigo, or Puerto de Plata, where his men were taken on board. They took with them very little provisions, and the natives fled into the inferior from fear. So that when winter set in many of them died of cold and hunger. . . They determined to return to Hispaniola. A somewhat different inscription is provided here on the Weimar edition: The country of Ayllon, which he descovered and returned to settle, as it is well suited to yield breadstuff, wine and all things of Spain. He died here of disease. This is the earliest statement of the sad fate of Ayllon and of his last expedition to Chicora [the Carolinas].
Tiera De Garay, north of the Gulf of Mexico, was so named for Francis de Garay, the Governor of Jamaica, who in 1519 sent Pineda to find a starit through the land to the "South Sea" recently discovered by Balboa. Pineda sailed along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico as far west as the river Panuco, discovering a large river, the R. del Espiritu Santo, probably the MIssissippi. In 1523, Garay failed in an attempt to found a colony and died in Mexico. Ribero's inscription (on the Weimar map) reads: The country of Garay: All over this coast and that of the Licentiate Ayllon, and the land of Estevan Gomez, there is no hope of finding gold as in New Spain, because it is too much out of the way of the tropic.
Nueva España, or Mexico, has the following inscription: Nueva España is thus called because it contains many things [of the kind found] in Spain. Wheat was sent thence in such quantities that it could be re-shipped to other parts. It contains much native gold.
The following inscriptions occur on the Weimar version of this map. Castilla del Oro [Golden Castile], in northern South America, is so called because much gold is found there. The Indians are more warlike than those of Santo Domingo and other parts, because they use poisoned arrows. Here there is a locality called St. Martha, where large quantities of gold are found in the soil. Within it, the Germans have their territory, from Cabo de la Vela to Cumana, from 140 to 150 leagues.
The northern coast of Brazil has this inscription: All over this coast, from Rio dulce to the Cape of San Roque, nothing of account has been found. Once or twice, since the discovery of the Indies, the coast has been ranged, but since, no one has returned thither. The Rio de Marañon is very large, and vessels enter it to fill their casks, and twenty leagues [from coast] in the sea, they take in fresh water. The Marañon, or Amazon River, was first seen by Vincente Yañez Pinzon in 1500.
Tiera Del Brazil has this legend: Here, the only thing of value is the brazil [dyewood], which costs only the trouble of cutting and carrying it to the vessels, which the INdians do for very little. They eat the flesh of their enemies. Here, the King of Portugal has at Pernambuco a factory where is a large quantity of brazil-wood collected for shipping on board vessels sent for the purpose.
The La Plata region of South America was first explorered by Juan de Solis, who, in 1512, succeeded Vespucci as Pilot Major. In 1515-16 he led an expedition into that country, where he was "killed and eaten by the Indians". After Gomez had failed to find a passage to the Moluccas between Florida and the land of Baccallos, Sebastian Cabot, attempting to find a passage through South America in 1526, entered the La Plata River, where he remained four years. He had not returned when Ribero made this map. These facts are referred to by Ribero in the following inscription: This country was discovered by Juan de Solis in the year 1515 or 1516. There Sebastian Gaboto now is, in a fort which he has constructed. It is very well appropriated for yielding breadstuff and wine in great abundance. The River is extremely large and abounding with fish. The belief is that there is gold and silver in the interior. The two small islands at the mouth of the La Plata River which appear on the Ribero map no longer exist.
The following inscription on Tiera De Patagones, or the Country of the Patagonians, discloses that Ribero was familiar with the description of that country which was brought back to Spain in 1522 by the survivors of the Magellan expedition: Those who inhabit that land where Fernam de Magellan found the strait, are men of large bodies, almost giants, covered with skins of beasts. The land is steril and of no value. Here Fernam de Magellan stayed six months, especially in the port of St. Julian which is by 50 degrees. There, Indians came on board, and having tasted the bread and wine which was given to them, manifested abhorence for the same. No houses were seen. They live in the open air. There are many ostriches. The Indians use arrows. And,Some of the Indians came on board, and asked to be carried [away, and] they died afterwards at sea. According to Pigafetta, those Indians, so far from having left of their owen accord, were treacherously chained and kidnapped.
As can be seen there are a multitude of place-names on the coasts of all of the continents. The place-names from the Ayllon and Gomez voyages, together with Ribero's revised northeasterly curving coastline of North America, remained on Spanish maps for over a century. Noticeably omitted is any reference to Verrazzano's explorations. The political expedience precluded the official Spanish map mentioning a French voyage of reconnaissance in Spanish territory. The nomenclature on the Propoganda edition is more ample than in the Weimar copy, combing names in the latter with many which are in the Weimar map of 1527, but giving a few new ones. Near Cape Breton island, besides the Tierra de los Bretones, a cape called C. del berton, which may be the C. de bretoni of Maggiolo. In the large bay corresponding to the present-day Gulf of St. Lawrence, mention is made of an arciepelago, which may refer to the Iles de la Madeleine, borrowed apparently from some Portuguese map of the Fagundes expeditions. On the northest coast there is a Rio solo and, on the Pacific coast, what the Weimar Ribero calls R. de la concepcion is here called R. de la acension. The scholasr Harrisse provides a detailed listing of the new names Ribero applied to the New World.
On the west coast of South America, Peru bears this inscription: Peru. This country of Peru was discovered by Francisco Pizarro in the year 1527. There was found gold and silver with which they trade. The natives are more intelligent than in other parts. They have sheep, with which they make clothes, and they have large walled cities and large praying houses, where they go in processions to adore their idols. The name Peru is derived from that of an Indian chieftan, Biru, who resisted Francisco Pizarro when he was one of Balboa's party at the time the latter discovered the South Sea [Pacific]. The fact that Pizarro was still engaged in the conquest of the land of the Incas when Ribero made this map shows how well informed he was concerning the former's discoveries.
Further north, on the west coast of the modern day United States, but relating to the Atlantic coast, the inscription reads as follows: Everywhere on this northern coast the Indians are taller than those of Santo Domingo and other islands. They feed on maize and fish, which they have in great abundance; they hunt much game and other animals, and wear the skins of wolves and foxes.
In accordance with the recommendations of the Spanish members of the Conference at Badajos that all Spanish maps should thereafter locate the Line of Demarcation, Ribero drew such a line 370 leagues west of San Antonio, the westernmost of the Cape Verde Islands, using it as the initial meridian. He thus allotted Brazil, Greenland and a part of Tiera nova De Cortereal to Portugal; and to Spain, all lands within 180 degrees west of that line, including the greater part of the new continent, the Philippines and the Spice Islands. On a odern map, both groups of islands belonged to Portugal. The two flags of Spain and Portugal in the southeast corner of the map and on the coast of China indicate the location of the Line of Demarcation.
The route or track taken by the famous Magellan expedition in 1519-20 is marked on Ribero's map by drawings of his first two ships, the Victoria and the Trinidad. The place names in the inset record his passage along the coast of Patagonia and through his strait, here named Estrecho de Fernam de magellanes. The length of Magellan's crossing of the Mar del Zur had already impressed cartographers and Ribero represents the width of the Pacific, from Peru to the Moluccas [Gilolo], as 125 degrees of longitude. This is 25 degrees more than the width of shown by Agnese in 1536, or Velasco in 1575; but is still 25 degrees short of the true width (150 degrees), and the underestimate was perhaps prompted by the political exigency which required the Moluccas to be laid down on the Spanish (or eastern) side of the Line of Demarcation. It is also worth noting the increasingly accurate presentation of Southeast Asia, particularly the Moluccas.
Several of Ribero's famous large planispheres, impressively executed in the style of nautical charts, as well as a plan of the western hemisphere, have been preserved and are found today in the libraries of Mantua (the 1525 map), the Vatican (1529), Weimar (1527 and 1529), and Wolfenbüttel (1532). Fragments of a world map produced in 1530, probably for a member of the important Augsburg merchant dynasty the House of Welser, are preserved in the Studienbibliothek, Dillingen on the Danube.
Typical of Ribero's world maps is their decoration, which depicted quadrants, astrolabes (bottom left and right) and text providing the rules of navigation and information about various countries. According to Nebenzahl, these are the first cartographical decorations to include scientific and technical motifs, replacing or supplementing the religious or historical and ethnographical illustrations that had predominated until then. There are also three escutcheons: Della Rovere's, and on its right and left, Chigi's, but one of these is quartered with Rovere's (this may imply that the owner, or buyer, of the map was the Marquis Agostino Chigi, son of Lorenzo, who apparently married a Della Rovere). The world maps in the Vatican, Dillingen and Wolfenbüttel also feature masterful drawings of mountains, trees, castellated towns, ships, birds and mammals. A drawing of the South American ostrich, or rhea, turns up for the first time on the Wolfenbüttel map oof 1527. Antonio Pigafetta, whose influence on the mapmaking of Ribero is well known, had listed several birds from South America, among which was an ostrich.
On the Propoganda map, specifically, there are Indians, monkeys, oppossums, rheas and parrots which were becoming familiar on the South American scene; but Ribero also adds deer, a jaguar, a possible bear, a dragon, some birds and a number of small animals that are difficult to interpret, but, according to Wilma George, give the impression of some of the South American rodents such as the mara, chinchilla and viscacha. If this interpretation is correct, this is the first appearance on a map of a representative of the New World rodents. Additional animals on Ribero's map is include what appears to be an armadillo, its small pig-like body with an impression of armoring seems to identify it. In all of the continental regions there are a multitude of such illustrations, especially in what George calls the neotropical and ethiopian regions.
Locations: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City
Size: 85 X 205 cm
*Cummings, W.P., The Southeast in Early Maps, p. 94, Plate 4.
Cummings, W.P., R.A. Skelton and D.B. Quinn, The Discovery of North America, p. 104
*Fite, E. & Freeman, A., A Book of OLd Maps..., pp. 47-50, #14.
*George, W., Animals and Maps, pp. 62-64.
Harrisse, H., The Discovery of North America, pp. 569-575.
*Nebenzahl, K., Atlas of Columbus, pp. 92-95, Plate 29.
*Shirley, R.W., The Mapping of the World, p. XXIV-XXV, Plate 6.
*Stevenson, E.L., "Early Spanish Cartography of the New World", Proceedings of the
American Antiquarian Society, XIX (April 1909), pp. 369-419.
*Winsor, J., Narrative and Critical History of America, IV, p. 30.
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