Impressive Large-Format Map of the Ottoman Empire with Picturesque Views
Striking large-format map of the Ottoman Empire by Herman Moll, one of England's leading map makers at the beginning of the eighteenth century.
This highly-detailed map includes views of Constantinople, Smyrna, four views of Jerusalem, and a vast amount of annotated information focused on contemporary British trade, religious and political interests.
Areas on this map are shown in relation to degrees of Ottoman control: ruled by the Ottomans, a tributary state with a Basha (Pasha), or an allied state (such as Little Tartary). The European continent is full of remarks on famous battles (current and historic) between Ottoman forces and Europeans, regaling viewers with fascinating information.
The map is dedicated to Thomas Vernon, who served a significant role in European-Ottoman trade as a Commissioner of Trade and Plantations. The dedication is centered along the lower margin in a whimsical cartouche, decorated with flourishes and topped with a boar’s head. At the righthand corner is a small decorative compass rose, just inside the graticule frame. Longitude is communicated in degrees both “East from Ferro Island” (bottom) and “East from London” (top).
The tone of this map’s annotations reveals the European attitude toward the Ottoman Empire as both an economic and territorial threat. This map was first published in 1714, at a time when Ottoman forces were at war with Russia (1710−1711), Venice (1714−1718), and Austria (1716−1718). They were fighting to regain their former broad territorial reach in Europe.
Trade is another major subject for this map. Egypt is where “the Turk makes himself master of all the Ports of the Red Sea,” with surrounding areas marked as rich in corn and luxury goods and excellent for trade. Significant ports are all marked, as are the notable goods from specific cities: Moca in the Arabian Peninsula is noted as providing coffee to Britain, and the Moroccan territory contains notes on lions from Segelmesse and Turkish Red Dye from Tarodant. Viewers will note numerous rich details on goods and trading included throughout this expansive map.
Religion is discussed in several notes, whether to mark religious landmarks (Jerusalem as “much resorted to by Christian pilgrims” and Mecca and Medina as the site of major pilgrimage for Muslims) or to discuss the oppression of Christians in Ottoman-held territory. The North African coast is annotated with information about Christian slavery and battles to defeat Turkish and North African forces and free Christian slaves.
The four large inset views of Jerusalem focus on the holy city’s religious sites. The top view titled “A Draught of the City of Jerusalem, as it is now, taken from the South East by Corneille Le Bruyn” is a beautiful landscape of the city and its surrounds with 25 features labeled, including churches, boroughs, ancient gates, and other sites of interest.
Below the main view are three views focused on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, created by J. Harris. These views show the architecture and surroundings of the church, and also impart detail from inside, such as the “44 silver lamps” donated by world rulers.
Ottoman control of the holy city is contested through labels such as “St. John’s Church, at present a Turkish Mosque” and “A Turkish Mosque…built on the same ground where Solomon’s Temple Stood”.
A view titled “Plan of Constantinople” is included at top left of this map, marking ports, towers, cannons, and major sites. The Ottoman seat of power is shown from a far-off birds-eye perspective and drawn from the European side of the city.
The final inset, at top right, is a pleasing illustration showing Turkish vessels in a tranquil harbor abutting mountainous, verdant land. Now known as Izmir, Smyrna was founded in antiquity by the Greeks and remained throughout history a strategic port on the Aegean coast of the Anatolian peninsula.
This informative and impressive large format map of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, complete with fine detail and stunning illustrative views, is an excellent example of Herman Moll’s respected cartography. It also effectively shows English and European views of the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century.
Herman Moll (c. 1654-1732) was one of the most important London mapmakers in the first half of the eighteenth century. Moll was probably born in Bremen, Germany, around 1654. He moved to London to escape the Scanian Wars. His earliest work was as an engraver for Moses Pitt on the production of the English Atlas, a failed work which landed Pitt in debtor's prison. Moll also engraved for Sir Jonas Moore, Grenville Collins, John Adair, and the Seller & Price firm. He published his first original maps in the early 1680s and had set up his own shop by the 1690s.
Moll's work quickly helped him become a member of a group which congregated at Jonathan's Coffee House at Number 20 Exchange Alley, Cornhill, where speculators met to trade stock. Moll's circle included the scientist Robert Hooke, the archaeologist William Stuckley, the authors Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe, and the intellectually-gifted pirates William Dampier, Woodes Rogers and William Hacke. From these contacts, Moll gained a great deal of privileged information that was included in his maps.
Over the course of his career, he published dozens of geographies, atlases, and histories, not to mention numerous sheet maps. His most famous works are Atlas Geographus, a monthly magazine that ran from 1708 to 1717, and The World Described (1715-54). He also frequently made maps for books, including those of Dampier’s publications and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Moll died in 1732. It is likely that his plates passed to another contemporary, Thomas Bowles, after this death.