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Gastaldi’s Influential Map of Poland—First Edition!

Fine wide-margined example of the first edition of Gastaldi's two-sheet map of the Kingdom of Poland and part of the Duchy of Moscow, published in Venice in 1562.

Gastaldi's map is one of his most important maps to focus on regions outside of Italy and is generally recognized as the earliest Lafreri School map to focus on Poland and its environs. Because the map is generally not joined, it is rarely appreciated as a two-sheet map.

The upper sheet shows the Baltic Sea and numerous northern lakes, as well as polities like the Duchy of Moscow and Livonia. The lower sheet prominently features Poland, the city of Kracow (Craconia) and the Wistula River basin. It also features Moldavia, Pomerania, Litva, Prussia, and a corner of the Black Sea.

The cartouche to the right explains the areas covered (the Kingdom of Poland, part of the Duchy of Moscow, with part of Scandinavia) and carries a dedication to Maximilian, King of Bohemia and Archduke of Austria. The first title was only recently bestowed on Maximilian II, from the Austrian branch of the Hapsburgs, as he was crowned King of Bohemia on May 14, 1562, the same year this map was published.  A year later he was crowned King of Hungary and Croatia and, in 1564, he succeeded his father, Ferdinand I, as Holy Roman Emperor.

The geography of this map was largely derived from Gerard Mercator's 1554 map of Europe. The map was also likely influenced by the maps of Bernard Wapowski (1526) and Waclaw Grodecki (1548). The latter is now lost, but was copied by Ortelius in 1570. Paolo Forlani issued a subsequent edition of Gastadi's two-sheet map of the Kingdom of Poland in 1568.

The Duchy of Moscow

This map references the Duchy of Moscow. However, just before the map was made Russia transformed from a duchy to a tsardom. The Duchy of Moscow, also called the Grand Principality of Moscow or Muscovite Rus, was a principality that lasted from the Medieval period to 1547. It was ruled by the Rurik dynasty.

In 1263, Alexander Nevsky of this dynasty placed his son on the throne of the newly-created Grand Principality of Moscow, a vassal state of the Mongol Empire. By the 1320s, the new duchy had absorbed its parent duchy, that of Vladimir-Suzdal. The Novgorod Republic annexed the duchy in 1478. Despite frequent uprisings, however, the powerful duchy remained under the yoke of the Golden Horde khanate until 1480.

Ivan III consolidated the duchy’s power at the end of the fifteenth century; by 1503, he had tripled the territory under his control. He adopted the title of tsar and declared himself the ruler of the all the Rus. He married Sophia Palaiolognina, niece of the final Byzantine Emperor. This tie allowed him to fashion the duchy as the successor state to the Byzantine Empire and, therefore, the Roman Empire. Ivan’s son, Vasili III, also expanded the territory and power of Moscow. His son, Ivan IV, would become known as Ivan the Terrible. He was crowned in 1547, which coincided with the proclamation of the Tsardom of Russia.  

The Kingdom of Poland

The territory of the modern state of Poland has a long history of political and ruling configurations. The entity that ruled Poland when this map was made was the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, also known as the Polish Crown, which lasted from the Medieval period to 1569, just after the map was published.

The creation of the Kingdom of Poland is usually dated to ca. 966, a date that marks the Baptism of Poland. This is when the pagan Slavia holdings of Mieszko I joined Christian Europe. Mieszko’s son, Boleslaw I Chrobry, was crowned the first King of Poland in 1025.

Poland and Lithuania were initially bound in the Union of Krewo in 1385. This personal union was further cemented in the Union of Lublin in 1569. This second union formed the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and transformed Poland into an elective monarchy.

The map is quite rare, especially as a joined two-sheet item. OCLC notes examples in the British Library, BNF, and the Leiden University Library. This is the first time we have offered the map in thirty years.

Condition Description
2 sheets, unjoined
Niewodniczanski no.85, Ruge:1904-16 4:no.85, Tooley:1939 no.453.
Giacomo Gastaldi Biography

Giacomo Gastaldi (1500-1566) is considered the foremost Italian cartographer of the sixteenth century, alongside Paolo Forlani. His skills of compilation are comparable to those of Mercator and Ortelius, yet much less is known of his life than of his two contemporaries. Gastaldi was born in Villafranca, Piedmont, but had established himself in Venice by 1539. He originally worked as an engineer, but turned to mapmaking from the 1540s onward.

It was in Venice where he made his reputation as an engraver, geographer, and cosmographer; for example, he was asked to fresco maps of Asia and Africa in the Palace of the Doge, or the Council of Ten, Venice’s governmental body. He also frequently consulted on projects for the Savi sopra la Laguna, drawing maps for this body which oversaw the regulation of fresh and salt water around Venice. 

His contemporaries also recognized his skill, as he was named cosmographer to the Republic of Venice, was a member of the Accademia Veneziana, and was a major source for other geographers and mapmakers including Camocio, Bertelli, Cock, Luchini, and Ortelius. He even had his own distinct style of copper engraving that made him a pioneer in his day and makes his works iconic today.

Gastaldi enjoyed an especially productive relationship with Giovanni Battista Ramusio, Secretary of the Venetian Senate, who used Gastaldi's maps for his famous travel account collection, Navigationi et Viaggi. Gastaldi also tutored Ramusio's son in cosmography.