Rare Treatise with an Important Fifteenth Century map of the World -- The Earliest Printed Map to Name The Antipodes
La Sale's book is a remarkable early compendium of works which otherwise survive only in manuscript form. Of particular note is his unusual map of the World, which has been called the earliest printed map to name the Antipodes, with one scholar noting that it was preceded only by a manuscript map by Leonardo Da Vinci.
La Salade, so-called “because in a salad are put many delicate herbs,” is a bizarre collection of cosmography, stories, and eye-witness accounts of interesting people and places, and a manual of chivalry by a much-travelled courtier and expert on tournaments and jousts. Its text exists in three recensions written for Jean d’Anjou, Duke of Calabria, “fleur des chevaliers”: the first recension dates from about 1437 and is represented only by a sadly defective manuscript at Chantilly; the second, dated 1442, is extant only in a Brussels manuscript; the third occurs only in the two editions of this work. All three are accepted on convincing grounds by Desonay, the editor of la Sale’s works (1935--41). The final version cannot be later than la Sale’s death which occurred about 1460 (see Desonay).
The work includes a remarkable geographic content, with the world described in 3 parts, Asia, Africa and the northern parts of Europe. It is clearly one of the oldest European texts to give some account of the Northern Regions of the globe which, which La Sale describes “are unknown to our astrologers because of the long and bitter winters.” Specifically, he describes and names Iceland, Greenland, and “Unimarch”. In addition to naming these northern regions, the world map which accompanies the text depicts Iceland. At least one commentator (Yale educated bookseller, Laurence Claiborne Witten, most famous for having discovered and brought to America the so-called Vinland map), opined that
[La Sale's world] map was derived from the lost manuscript for which [Early 16th Century Parisian bookseller and publisher] Michel Le Noir obtained the exclusive printing privilege from François I in 1521/2. The character of the map, its design, and its legends are exactly those of a mid-fifteenth century world map like the 1436 Andrea Bianco map. The language of the text throughout the work, despite mention in the privilege of Le Noir’s having updated it, is that of the manuscripts and is undeniably the language of the 1440 period.
1527 World Map Published in Paris
La Sale's map of the world is one of the earliest maps printed in France.
The map of the world is North-oriented, Europe connects to Asia, while a bulbous Africa floats near the middle of the map. To the south is a large ocean, Mar Antipodes Incognitum, with a landmass, Regio Patalis, trailing into the southeast of the circle border and curling northward to connect with Asia. Together, the map is a "curious ensemble, based on medieval concepts combined with perhaps Pomponius Mela's classical world and yet showing some later influences" (Shirley).
One of the most remarkable maps of the early sixteenth century, this woodcut offers a novel solution to the location of Regio Patalis, placing it far to the south yet still attached to Asia. It also offers a conservative, yet innovative, version of the southern continent for its time, placing a large sea at the South Pole instead of a sprawling continent. The map was first included in a 1527 edition of La Salade, a series of stories originally published in the mid-fifteenth century, and is derived from a manuscript original which can no longer traced.
The La Sale map is of note for its identification of Regio Patalis (the Region of Patala) and may be the earliest map to show the migration of Patala from India Superior to Terra Australis.
Whereas the Patala was well-known to mariners and traders of the ancient Mediterranean, by the Middle Ages mapmakers were no longer sure of its location. Regio Patalis appeared on late fifteenth and early sixteenth century maps and globes in a variety of locations, further and further east and south of India. Beginning at about the time the La Sale map was printed in 1527, Regio Patalis began to appear on some maps in Terra Australis.
The use of the name Regio Patalis in maps is typically attributed to Pierre D'Ailly's Ymago Mundi (1410), which served as the standard text book on cosmography during the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. It popularized the view that there was a part of India, or of what was later called Indo-China, where the sun's shadow always fell southward at noon: the region of Patala. This theory found expression on Martin Behaim's globe of 1492, where India potalis is located south of the Equator on the Hoch India peninsula on the eastern side of the Sinus Magnus, actual Indochina.
On the La Sale map, " Patalie regio" is shown on a far southern landmass that is connected to Asia. In 1523, the globe of Johann Schoener of Nuremberg would include a southern continent titled Terra Australis Recenter Inventa Sed Nondum Plene Cognita ( Terra Australis, recently discovered, but not fully known), which showed Regio Patalis as a promontory on Terra Australis. In 1531, the cordiform world map of French mathematician and cosmographer Oronce Fine would also show a large promontory attached to the continent of Terra Australis and extending northward almost to the Tropic of Capricorn, which was named Regio Patalis.
The use of Regio Patalis in Terra Australis began to lose its currency in 1538, with the publication of Gerard Mercator's world map, modeled after the Oronce Fine cordiform. The outline of Fine's Regio Patalis, though shown as a promontory of this smaller Antarctic continent, is unnamed by Mercator. The practice was not entirely dead, however. In 1564, Abraham Ortelius published his Typus Orbis Terrarum, on which he identified Regio Patalis with Locach, a northward extension of Terra Australis. He notes, in Latin, "This tract is called by some Patalis" and "The Region of Locach seems to be placed here by Marco Polo the Venetian". The great promontory terminated in the north with New Guinea, "recently discovered, so called because its nature and climate do not differ from the African Guinea; apparently this tract was called Terra de Piccinacoli by Andrea Corsali". The La Sale map thus marks a transition in the identification of Regio Patalis with the southern continent, shifting the region from India to an extension of Asia in the far south of the world.
The Antipodes and the Antipodean Sea
The other innovative cartographic feature on the map is the vast Mar Antipodes Incognitum, another bold cartographic decision by the map's compiler. As mentioned above, contemporaries of this map tended to depict a large southern continent at the South Pole; see, for example, Fine's 1531 cordiform world projection. Another example, one of the first maps to show Terra Australis, is Franciscus Monachus' De Orbis Situ (ca. 1529) (Wroth). Of course, there was debate over the size of this continent. On his 1538 world map, Mercator reduced the size of the southern continent, explaining, " terra hic esse certum est sed quãtus quibusque limitibus finitas incertum" (It is certain that there is a land here, but its size and the limits of its boundaries are uncertain). It is noteworthy, therefore, that the La Sale mapmaker was not so certain of a southern continent. Instead, the lands in the south are an extension of Asia, a conservative choice that maintains a somewhat Ptolemaic-version of the eastern hemisphere with land ringing the Indian Ocean, or at least its eastern half, in this case. The placement of Regio Patalis is more suggestive of Australia than Antarctica.
Since ancient times, humans have been fascinated by the idea of lands beyond the known world. Since at least the fourth century BCE, scholars were aware the earth was spherical. Crates of Mallos, who lived in the second century BCE and was a librarian in the Greek city of Pergamum, posited that there were lands to the south. Crates is also credited with creating the first globe, an example of his geographic theory (informed by Strabo) of the earth as a sphere with four quadrants, but the globe does not survive. However, it should be noted that the names of Crates' quadrants--oikumenai, periokoi, antoikoi, antipodes-were more common in the Medieval period than the Ancient Greek. The terms were used to describe the favored theory of equiposure, or continental balance (Stallard).
Beginning with Augustine in the fifth century CE, Christian teachings rejected the idea of antipodal lands, for any peoples who lived there could not be the descendants of Adam. The idea lived on, however, usually accompanied by the peopling of far southern lands with fantastical creatures By the Middle Ages, scholars were convinced that the antipodes were a real place, but were unsure where to place them and their supposed populations. At least fourteen medieval mappa mundi survive that are quadripartite, i.e. they split the world into four parts: Asia, Africa, Europe, and a southern continent which sometimes is identified as where the Antipodean people live (Kominko, Williams).
In the fifteenth century, mapmakers began to use the term 'antipodes' more frequently to refer to southern lands. The La Sale map follows this trend; indeed, one nineteenth-century scholar identifies the La Sale woodcut as one of the earliest examples, along with Fine's cordiform and, purportedly, a map by Leonardo Da Vinci (McClymont). The La Sale mapmaker choose to use the term to describe an ocean rather than a continent. Paired with the placement of Regio Patalis, the map presents an intriguing and singular view of the world. The map rewrites the eastern hemisphere, leaving it more open for navigation around Africa to southern lands that might connect to the lucrative East Indies, all accessible via a vast antipodal sea. And who knows? The Mar Antipodes remains incognita, so there may even be room for more lands to be discovered.
Antoine de la Sale
La Sale is primarily remembered for his literature; he is considered one of the first writers of literary prose in French. In addition to being an author, Antoine de la Sale (also la Salle, de Lasalle; 1385/86 - 1460/61) was a French courtier and tutor. In his youth he served as a page in the court of Anjou, travelling extensively to attend tournaments, diplomatic negotiations, and military campaigns. His works include a moral treatise he wrote for his pupils, the sons of Louis de Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol, and a history of the knightly tournament, a subject he knew well since he served as an official at the competitions. His most successful work was Little John of Saintré, a romance, written in 1456.
La Sale wrote La Salade, the collection that was eventually to contain the map, from 1437 to 1444 while tutor to John II, Duke of Loraine. The book was intended as a guide to princely behavior; it contains a variety of stories including fables and La Sale's own travel memoirs-thus the title, the Salad, a mix of writings. As noted by Maggs in their 1926 catalog description (Lot 3917, priced at 500 GBP--no mention of the world map in the description):
The Author gives an account of his visit to the Mountain of the Sibyl and describes the surroundings of the Cave of the Sibyl and its curious legend. The narrative is a variant of the story of Tannhäuser. A German knight and his esquire enter the cave and are welcomed by "la royne" and her companions, and are prevailed upon by various inducements to remain, but they may not leave before eight days are passed. If on the 9th day they wish to stay longer, they cannot leave before the 30th day, if not on the 30th, they remain till the 330th, if not gone by then they stay for ever. The knight reports in time and leaves the subterranean abode on the 330th day. Like Tannhäuser, he cannot rest until he obtains absolution from the Pope. Absolution refused, he is prevailed upon by his esquire to return to the Mount of Venus, on the pretext that the Pope was seeking their death.
In May 1862, Sothebys offered the Prince d'Essling copy of the book with the following description:
Prince d'Essling's fine copy of a slightly-known work, which contains at once a Romance of Chivalry, a History of France, and a Treatise on Cosmography. This copy is quite complete, and has the Genealogical Table, and the two folding Maps [probably a reference to the folding Mt. Sybil plate] (all three xylographic) mentioned by Brunet. In the Map of the World, Africa is represented surrounded by the sea. America is not indicated; but there is to be seen, to the East of Africa and South East of India, a large Continent prolonged to the Terrestrial Paradise, and to India, which might be meant to indicate America, stretching itself, as at first it was believed, to China, and occupying even the place of Australia.
While the suggestion of America is a bit farfetched, the presence of such a developed southern continent, with mention of the antipodes and Regio Patalis, and this copy's prestigious provenance (see below) make this book unique. According to American Book Prices Current, no other copy of this or the first edition of the book has sold at auction since 1968 (Harrisse 140; Sabin 39110; Shirley 50). Facsimile editions of the map were created by A.E. Nordenskold in 1889 and Collingridge in 1895, indicating its enduring interest among map scholars and collectors.
Provenance: Jean-Paul Morin Sale, Sothebys 2020.
Goldie, Matthew Boyd. The Idea of the Antipodes: Place, People, and Voices. New York: Routledge, 2010.
Hiatt, Alfred. Terra Incognita: Mapping the Antipodes Before 1600. London: The British Library, 2008.
Kominko, Maya. “New Perspectives on Paradise: Levels of Reality in Byzantine and Late Medieval Maps.”
In Cartography, Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Fresh Perspectives, New Methods, edited by Richard J. A. Talbert and Richard W. Unger, 139-154. Leiden: Brill, 2008.
McClymont, James R. “The Theory of an Antipodal Southern Continent During The Sixteenth Century,
Extracted from the Report of the Fourth Meeting of the Australian Association for Advancement of Science.” Report of the Fourth Meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science. Sydney: Hobart, 1892.
Scott, Ann, Alfred Hiatt, Claire McIlroy, and Christopher Wortham. European Perceptions of Terra Australia.
Sabin, 39110; Brunet, III, 854-855.