"Cosmographia" (1544)
by Sebastian Münster

*Münster on India*
*Münster on Italy*
*Münster on Germany*
*Münster on France*
*Münster on England*
*Münster's maps*
*Münster's towns*
*Münster's sights and views*
*Münster's science*
For comparison: maps and views from
*the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)*
*Mallet's Description de l'Univers (1683)*
*Prévost's Histoire générale des Voyages (1746)*
*vortecpan's main website on Münster* (with special thanks for his generous permission to use his helpful analysis of Münster's India)
*wikipedia on Münster*
*the honor roll of map sources*

*title page from the 1558 Italian edition*; *closer view*; *picture of Munster*
*title page from the 1598 German edition*
*title page of the first book, from the German edition of 1600*; *a detail*
*title page of Book V, German edition of 1600*
*title page from the last edition, 1628*
Sebastian Münster (1488-1552) was a German cartographer, cosmographer, and Hebrew scholar whose Cosmographia (1544; "Cosmography") was the earliest German description of the world and a major work in the revival of geographic thought in 16th-century Europe. Altogether, about 40 editions of the Cosmographia appeared between 1544 and 1628; Münster was a major influence on his subject for over 200 years.
Münster acquired the material for his book in three ways. He used all available literary sources. He tried to obtain original manuscript material for description of the countryside and of villages and towns. Finally, he obtained further material on his travels (primarily in south-west Germany, Switzerland, and Alsace). Cosmographia not only contained the latest maps and views of many well-known cities, but also included an encyclopaedic amount of detail about the known -- and unknown -- world, and was undoubtedly one of the most widely read books of its time.

Aside from the well-known maps present in the Cosmographia, the text is thickly sprinkled with vigorous views: portraits of kings and princes, costumes and occupations, habits and customs, flora and fauna, monsters, wonders, and horrors.


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