Decorative example of Munster's map of the modern World, based upon Abraham Ortelius' world map. This map first appeared in the revised edition of Munster's Cosmographia in 1588 and was part of a revised group of maps largely based upon Ortelius.
The map includes a marvelous depiction of the Northwest and Northeast passages. The massive unknown southern continent (Terra Australis Nondum Cognita) is retained, as are early references drawn from Marco Polo's travels, including the location of Beach near modern day Australia. Japan is shown, as are the Kingdom's of Quivira and Anian on the West Coast of North America. Florida, Nova Francia Granada and Nova Hispania are other the regional names depicted in North America. Fascinating depiction of Southeast Asia, China and Korea.
The map is elegant in its simplicity and stark depictions of the coasts, rivers and inland seas of the World.
Sebastian Münster (1488-1552) was a cosmographer and professor of Hebrew who taught at Tübingen, Heidelberg, and Basel. He settled in the latter in 1529 and died there, of plague, in 1552. Münster made himself the center of a large network of scholars from whom he obtained geographic descriptions, maps, and directions.
As a young man, Münster joined the Franciscan order, in which he became a priest. He then studied geography at Tübingen, graduating in 1518. He moved to Basel, where he published a Hebrew grammar, one of the first books in Hebrew published in Germany. In 1521 Münster moved again, to Heidelberg, where he continued to publish Hebrew texts and the first German-produced books in Aramaic. After converting to Protestantism in 1529, he took over the chair of Hebrew at Basel, where he published his main Hebrew work, a two-volume Old Testament with a Latin translation.
Münster published his first known map, a map of Germany, in 1525. Three years later, he released a treatise on sundials. In 1540, he published Geographia universalis vetus et nova, an updated edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia. In addition to the Ptolemaic maps, Münster added 21 modern maps. One of Münster’s innovations was to include one map for each continent, a concept that would influence Ortelius and other early atlas makers. The Geographia was reprinted in 1542, 1545, and 1552.
He is best known for his Cosmographia universalis, first published in 1544 and released in at least 35 editions by 1628. It was the first German-language description of the world and contained 471 woodcuts and 26 maps over six volumes. Many of the maps were taken from the Geographia and modified over time. The Cosmographia was widely used in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The text, woodcuts, and maps all influenced geographical thought for generations.