This is an interesting map of America and parts of Europe and Asia, based upon a possible voyage by the Captain Cluny. This figure was a legendary sea captain of the Hudson Bay Company, who was thought to have reached as far as 82.5° N during an early voyage in the 1740s. Two marks on the map show the passage of Cluny's ships in the North Atlantic, indicating a shipwreck near Spitsbergen and a stretch of ice-free ocean they discovered far to the north of the archipelago. Text on the map suggests that this work was based on a map in the American Traveller, a tale of sea voyages supposedly by Cluny himself.
Diderot's maps were intended to further an understanding of the western coast of America and northeastern Asia, during a time period immediately prior to Cook's first voyage, a time when numerous theories abounded on nature these regions. This map would have helped to demonstrate how far to the north the oceans are navigable.
Many other features of interest appear on the map. The discoveries of Bering and Gwosdew are marked in Alaska, and a peninsula in "Tschuktschi" (Chukotka) bulges northwards. The Bay of Baffin is closed, though a small channel marks a hopeful Northwest Passage. The Riviere de L'Ouest appears to be an early suggestion of the Columbia River, which European explorers had heard of but not yet found.
If Ortelius is the father of the modern atlas, Diderot is the creator of the encyclopedia as we know it. His Encyclopédie sought to act as a reference work for useful human knowledge and is widely accepted as being the first modern encyclopedia. This work is considered one of the most important texts of the Enlightenment and was compiled by many contributors, known as Encyclopédists. Topics covered in the work included units of measurements, the Arts Mechaniques, agriculture, and many, many other topics.
The Encyclopédie was notable for many reasons. Not only did it create the modern encyclopedia as we know it, as well help move the ideas of the Enlightenment along, but it was also politically important. Some contributors openly attacked the Catholic Church and the French Monarchy (while others defended these institutions), and Clement XIII placed it on the Index. Despite Diderot's perception that, during his lifetime, the work was pointless, the Encyclopédie is now seen as one of the forerunners of the French Revolution.