Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps

Overview

From dragons and serpents to many-armed beasts that preyed on ships and sailors alike, sea monsters have terrified mariners across all ages and cultures and have become the subject of many tall tales from the sea. Accounts of these creatures have also inspired cartographers and mapmakers, many of whom began decorating their maps with them to indicate unexplored areas or areas about which little was known. Whether swimming vigorously, gamboling amid the waves, attacking ships, or simply displaying themselves for ...

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Overview

From dragons and serpents to many-armed beasts that preyed on ships and sailors alike, sea monsters have terrified mariners across all ages and cultures and have become the subject of many tall tales from the sea. Accounts of these creatures have also inspired cartographers and mapmakers, many of whom began decorating their maps with them to indicate unexplored areas or areas about which little was known. Whether swimming vigorously, gamboling amid the waves, attacking ships, or simply displaying themselves for our appreciation, the sea monsters that appear on medieval and Renaissance maps are fascinating and visually engaging. Yet despite their appeal, these monsters have never received the scholarly attention that they deserve.
           
In Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps, Chet Van Duzer analyzes the most important examples of sea monsters on medieval and Renaissance maps produced in Europe. Van Duzer begins with the earliest mappaemundi on which these monsters appear in the tenth century and continues to the end of the sixteenth century and, along the way, sheds important light on the sources, influences, and methods of the cartographers who drew or painted them.
           A beautifully designed visual reference work, Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps will be important not only in the history of cartography, art, and zoological illustration, but also in the history of the geography of the “marvelous” and of Western conceptions of the ocean.

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Editorial Reviews

Scientific American
“[B]eautifully illustrated. . . . People interested in maps, cryptozoology, folklore, and arcane zoology and zoological history will want to check it out.”
Boston Globe Brainiac Blog
“The book features striking images of maritime monsters taken from maps of the ocean made between the 10th and 16th centuries.”
Out - Andrew Belonsky
“An in-depth dissection of ancient maps and sea beasts from days past.”
Lapham's Quarterly - Aidan Flax-Clark
“In the large-format, hardcover that this thing is, it’s basically as near to the ultimate nerd-level coffee table book that you could ever want, and I love it for that.”
Times Literary Supplement - Alessandro Scafi
“Full of charming stories and cartographic detail, Chet Van Duzer’s book is an entertaining and rewarding book for general readers and a well-researched reference for scholars.”
BibliOdyssey
“Medieval and Renaissance map scholar, Chet Van Duzer, backed by the British Library as publisher, have teamed up to produce a spectacular new book, Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps, a topic, oddly enough, for which there is little by way of real precedent. This book will become the sea monster authority by default. Although this beautiful book is a product of academic quality, it is very readable and accessible and requires no prior knowledge.”
Marine Quarterly - Sam Llewellyn
“A truly charming book, and one that will turbocharge the imagination of anyone staring over the side of a boat at a bunch of waves that could hide just about anything.”
Nautical Research Journal - Vicki Ellen Szabo
“Lavish. . . . The sea monsters depicted throughout Van Duzer’s beautifully illustrated British Library volume strike absolute wonder in the reader today, and the author provides valuable insight into what medieval and Renaissance viewers must have made of these sinewy, silly, horned, fanged, and fearsome creatures. . . . Van Duzer reminds scholars that it sometimes helps to let the eye wander to the margins, to get a different historical perspective of medieval perspectives of their surrounding seas. This critical analysis of a hitherto ignored cartographic trope adds much-needed depth to our understanding of medieval and later perceptions of the sea and its mysterious creatures.”
New York Review of Books - Marina Warner
“[An] authoritative, wide-ranging study. . . . Sumptuously produced. . . . The author is an encyclopedic scholar of historical cartography, with a magisterial command of comparative knowledge and scrupulous attentiveness to detail.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780712358903
  • Publisher: British Library, The
  • Publication date: 6/15/2013
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 297,928
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Chet Van Duzer is an Invited Research Scholar at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction

Classical Antecedents
The Earliest Medieval Maps with Sea Monsters: Beatus Mappaemundi
“Let the Waters Bring Forth Abundantly”: Sea Monsters in the Creation
Sea Monsters in the Harbor of Brindisi
An Imagined Mappamundi with Sea Monsters
Sea Monsters on the Ceiling
Giant Sea Monsters on Two Small Mappaemundi
“A Vast Sea Where There is Nothing But the Abode of Monsters”
Two Monumental Mappaemundi with Few Sea Monsters
Three Sea Monsters Battling in the Atlantic

Pictorial Excursus: The Dangers of Sea Monsters

Sea Monsters on Nautical Charts: Giant Octopuses, Sirens, Sharks
How to Buy a Sea Monster
Whaling Between Myth and Reality
A Nest of Sea Monsters at the Bottom of the World
Whales as Big as Mountains
Terrifying Monsters in the Indian Ocean
A Skeptic about Sea Monsters: Fra Mauro

Pictorial Excursus: Whimsical Sea Monsters

Invented Sea Monsters in the Circumfluent Ocean
The Manuscript with the Most Sea Monsters
Sea Monsters in Printed Editions of Ptolemy
The Sea Monsters of the Earliest Surviving Terrestrial Globe
The Sea Monsters of Waldseemüller’s Map of 1507 and Schöner’s Globe of 1515
Lighting a Fire on a Whale’s Back

Pictorial Excursus: The Cartographic Career of the Walrus

The Debut of the Sea Monsters of the Renaissance
Olaus Magnus and the Most Important Sea Monsters of the Sixteenth Century
Mercator’s Globe of 1541: The Influence of Olaus Magnus
The Ulpius Globe: Sea Monsters Before Their Time
The Monster that Stops Ships in Their Tracks

Pictorial Excursus: More Whimsical Sea Monsters

From Sea Dragons to a Sawfish: The Rylands Library Map of 1546
Evidence of a Sea Monster Specialist
The Curious Career of the Flying Turtle
The Eclecticism of Giacomo Gastaldi
The Sea Monsters of Gerard Mercator’s Great Map of 1569
Sea Monsters Cavorting Among the Mediterranean Isles
The Sea Monsters Surrounding Iceland in the First Atlas
A Haunting Sea Monster Reappears
Whales Fantastic and Realistic at the End of the Sixteenth Century
Two New World Sea Monsters
Conclusion

Endnotes
Index
Index of Manuscripts

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