This is a great map of Vijaydurg Fort in western India, two hundred miles north of Vasco de Gama. The map is well detailed, providing an extensive look at a small part of coastal India.
Popular interest in the map would have resulted from the 1756 Battle of Vijaydurg, then known as the Capture of Gheria in England. This was a major victory for British aggression in the region and marked the end of the Maratha Navy as the supreme naval power in the Indian Ocean. The base was believed to have been commanded by the pirate Tulagee Angria who operated throughout the Malabar coast and frequently plundered East India Company ships, though this version of events appears heavily influenced by British retellings.
Rumors about the fort abound. A supposed lost quarter-kilometer long undersea tunnel connects the town to the village. An undersea wall was meant to have caused the destruction of many undersea ships. The false walls of the fort, possibly shown on this map, are meant to have sidetracked any would-be assailants. The map includes an extensive description of some features of the fort.
The Gentleman’s Magazine was a British publication that helped to normalize the use of maps in support of articles and features. It was founded in 1731 by the prominent London publisher Edward Cave, a pioneer in periodical journalism. The magazine continued in print for nearly two centuries, shuttering production in 1922.
This was the publication which first used the word “magazine”, from the French for storehouse. Cave wanted to create a storehouse of knowledge and he employed some of London’s best writers to fill his pages: Samuel Johnson gained his first regular employment by writing for the Gentleman’s Magazine. Other famous contributors included Jonathan Swift.
The publication covered a broad range of topics, from literature to politics, and, from 1739, frequently used maps as illustrations. The first map they printed was a woodcut of Crimea; the second was a fold-out map of Ukraine by Emanuel Bowen. Maps were used to show battle lines, to chronicle voyages, and to educate about areas with which Britain traded. Certain geographers, like Thomas Jefferys, contributed several maps to the publication.