#253

TITLE: Rudimentum Novitiorum

DATE:  1475

AUTHOR:  Lucas Brandis de Schass

DESCRIPTION: It should be emphasized that most of all of the previous maps discussed in these first three volumes have been one-of-a-kind, manuscript maps.  Maybe there might have been multiple copies made of individual maps and the reproductions/facsimiles were printed, but the overall number was small and the distribution obviously very limited. Beginning with the invention in Europe of the printing process and the publication of the first printed map in 1472, the traditional T-O map in the Etymologiæ of St. Isidore (Book II, #205), the distribution, and survival, of maps increased significantly.  However, in the 15th century, and even occasionally in the 16th, woodcut and printing presses continued to produce copies of the hand-drawn cartographic works of an earlier age.  The first printed editions of the manuscripts writings of the Church Fathers, Roman historians, and medieval cosmographers were often illustrated by T-O maps, climate-zone maps and the like.  So too were the works of contemporary scholars such as Pierre d’Ailly, who used a typical climate map in his Ymago mundi, which was written about 1410 and printed in Louvain in 1483 (#238).

The conservatism of the Higden maps (#232) can be explained by their 14th century model, but in the late 15th century a world map appeared in print which was extremely peculiar and whose antecedents we do not know. Printed in Lübeck in 1475, the map was an illustration for a universal history in Latin entitled Rudimentum Novitiorum sive chronicarum historiarum epitome [A Handbook for Beginners]. According to its publisher, Lucas Brandis, it was designed so that “poor men unable to afford a library can have a brief manual always on hand in place of many books.” The paupers of whom Brandis spoke may have meant poor preachers or friars minor but also may have referred to a growing number of book owners among the merchant class in a thriving commercial city such as Lübeck. Like Higden, the anonymous author of Rudimentum included several lengthy geographical digressions, one on the world and one on the holy land. The Rudimentum is a fascinating world history and encyclopedia structured on medieval Christian theology.  He condensed the Bible and the history of the popes and rulers of Europe and added the best contemporary geographical description of the Holy Land, Burchard’s Prologus.  The publication was one of the earliest illustrated books to appear in Lübeck and one that was also widely known in its French translation, La Mer des Hystoires, the first edition of which was printed in Paris in 1488-89.  In the postscritum or long colophon it is stated, that the book “with the aid of the art of printing newly invented by the special grace of God to the redemption of the faithful”, was published to serve as a manual to students, and to dispense the poorer of them with the necessity for buying other books. 

Among the numerous fine woodcut illustrations and genealogical tables are two double-page maps: one of Palestine and one of the world.  These two maps illustrating this book are the first printed European maps that are not mere diagrams but actually attempt to try and show land-forms and countries in topographical relation to each other.  The circular world map, measuring 38 cm in diameter, is essentially derived from a Christian medieval tradition known as the Sallust type, without any reference to either Ptolemaic or portolan [nautical] sources.  It gains vivacity by scattering its place names over a myriad of little hills.  There are water features around and between the hills; however, apart from one gulf, the Sea of Amazons, and the ocean at the Pillars of Hercules, this world map shows no seas.

The world map is oriented to the East with Asia on top and the other two continents below, T-O style, though the three water divisions (Don, Nile, Mediterranean) are not shown (Book II, #205). The province of Palestine is more or less in the center, where Jerusalem, unnamed, is represented by a formidable castle. In the west, three columns stand for the Pillars of Hercules at the entrance of the Mediterranean. The map’s most striking feature is its conformation of the land as a succession of “hillocks”, each surmounted by a castle or tower and bearing the name of a province or territory. It is really a list-map with a decorative base. Rivers flow plentifully among these hillocks but are unlabelled and unidentifiable. There is no encircling ocean, and the only labeled sea is “Mare Amasorieo,u,,,, in the north, possibly intended for the Caspian Sea. Geographical locations are somewhat confused. Of many examples, Nicomedia (from Asia Minor) is shown next to the Pope near Rome and again in Africa, perhaps an error for Numidi, India is north of Persia, which is next to Taprobana. There are a number of misspellings, leaving some inscriptions incomprehensible. Printing was, of course, in its infancy and woodblock printing was still rather crude. The challenged typesetter, working backwards, probably had some problems with the difficult geographical names.

At the top of the map are two figures in an enclosed garden. They are not, however Adam and Eve, but two men, each holding what may be an olive branch in his hand, apparently having a conversation. Various identifications have been suggested. The scholar Anna-Dorothee von den Brincken thinks they might be a Jew and a Christian having a harmonious discussion, thus symbolizing the unity of the Old and New Testaments. Another idea is that they represent Enoch and Elijah, Old Testament characters who went directly to heaven without suffering death. Paradise is not labeled, but near one of the streams is the word Evilath [Havilah], one of the regions watered by the four rivers mentioned in the book of Genesis. Or these may be the Master and his Novice, source of rivers and all knowledge; alternatively according to Winter they may represent ‘. . . two men of marvelous wisdom, Jew and Christian . . . united in love of God in one law and one road to wisdom’, as propounded by the medievalist Lull. In an article by Carmelo Ottaviano there is a reproduction of a theological treatise “De Adventu Messie” taken from a MS. which is attributed to Lull. The prologue of the treatise shows that the idea on which the drawing in Rudimentum Novitiorum is based is not original. The prologue runs (inter alia) as follows, after a brief invocation of God (the bombastic Middle-Latin text is simplified and abridged):

“Two men of marvelous wisdom, a Jew and a Christian, lived in a great city and esteemed each other in glowing love. They undertook to unite themselves in the pleasures of (worldly) goods and the love of God in one law and in one road to wisdom. (Having made this decision)... they went from the city to a grove, highly graced with trees, leaves, flowers, fruits, springs, grass and rivers. In this grove for a long time they disputed in friendly conversation the advent of the Messias”.

This description corresponds completely with the picture on the map and the olive branches also are now clear. One may however ask whether the idea or only its expression originates with Lull. The first alternative is predominantly a question for religious history. If, however, the second is true, it would be interesting to know why the words of the Majorcan scholar (born 1235) found an echo precisely in Lübeck.

This leads to another question: who was the author of Rudimentum Novitiorum? This question is interesting also for the cartographer, considering that it is the first reliably dated printed map. Schwarz arrives only at the conclusion that the author had been a cleric, and infers from the word noster at a specific place that the author was of Lubeck or its vicinity. We must however note that this would be true only for the version printed in Lubeck but not of possible of the earlier MSS. A note in the Incunabula Section of the State Library in Berlin refers to L’ histoire litteraire de la France" 19, 1838, 392/3, according to which Frater Johannes Columpna is called in two Paris MSS. the author of a “Compilation, betitelt Mare Historiarum... etc.” (cf. the catchword of Rud. Nov.'). The question is now whether the same pictorial representation is not found in possible earlier MSS. Two are in Paris (Lat. 4914 of 1381, and 4915, of about the same time), but according to a kind communication from the Bibl. Royale have no world map. A MS. if any, with the same pictorial representation remains to be found.

Other pictures on the map include two dragons in Libya, crowned kings and a queen in various kingdoms, the Pope in Rome, a figure in the holy land which is perhaps Saint Jerome (a major source for the book), and a phoenix in flames in Africa. A man-eating devil in northern Asia is already in the process of devouring a victim’s severed arm.

The textual description of the world in the Rudimentum is based on Isidore.  Judea and Palestine can be seen in the center of the map, which is oriented with East at the top, and Anglia [England] can be discerned to the left of the Pillars of Hercules at the bottom (West).  The rough outline of Europe and the Mediterranean lands can be made out with the names of individual countries marked on the cluster of hills.  The Pope is prominent in the walled city of Rome.  The Asian and African countries are all represented by hills surrounded by water.  Numerous towns, throned-kings and mythical animals are depicted, and extend to Taprobana [beyond Persia and India, Ceylon/Sri Lanka?], Ethiopia (beyond Egypt) and to Tartary and the Sea of Amazons to the north.

This world map is often described as “the first modern printed map”, in that it bears no relation to Ptolemy and it is not of medieval schematic type.  Other medieval-type world maps similar to those in the Rudimentum Novitiorum may well have been printed less formally as unsophisticated broadsides.  Occasional fragments of such maps (e.g., forming part of simple calendars) have been reported, and further examples may come to light.

Of more convincing pictorial quality is the map of Palestine, which, measuring 58 x 40 cm, presents a bird’s eye view over the hills and seas of the Holy Land.   This map is believed to be based upon an important lost delineation of Burchard of Mt. Sion, the 13th century Dominican from Magdeburg whose account and map of his pilgrimage (Prologus) were widely known throughout late medieval and early renaissance Europe. Burchard’s narrative account appears in its entirety in the same third section as the map of Palestine in Rudimentum Novitiorum.  The map shows Jerusalem, the most prominent city, presented in its center and the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea at the top, that is, the East; the Red Sea is on the right.  Acre is the second most prominent city depicted, from which all distances are calculated.  The entire Holy Land appears as a network of linked mountains from Mt. Lebanon to Mt. Sinai.  Like the world map, names are inserted in moveable type with the name of each geographical feature inserted atop a stylized hill.  Around the outer edge Brandis included eight wind boys, or personifications of the winds, to indicate the compass directions by which he had organized his account.  There are ships in the Mediterranean, and the spires of Sodom and Gomorrah are visible breaking the surface of the Dead Sea.  At Mt. Sinai are the burning bush and Moses receiving the Tablets of the Law, and, on Calvary, the Crucifixion.  This map of Palestine is considered the earliest printed regional map.

The Rudimentum had only one printing in Germany, and by 1500 its printer was broke. It must have sold fairly well, however, as numerous copies survive today in libraries. We do not know if there was a manuscript version that formed its base, as none has ever been found, but there are a great number of universal histories of this type, which were very popular in the late Middle Ages. Von den Brincken notes that the twenty years before the book’s publication are barely covered in the history and opines that the printer updated an older work. The book was, however, translated into French, maps and all, under the title Mer des Hystoires in 1488. This work had greater success, as it came out in three more editions: Lyons, 1491; Paris, 1500; and Paris, 1536. The French editor added material on French history and some new illustrations, including a woodcut of the baptism of Clovis. On the re-cut map a few new images appear-ships, birds, and trees-but the basic format was unchanged.

Over 100 places-names and geographic features are identified, with towns and countries named. Each country is represented as a separate hill accompanied by either a figure of the sovereign or several small buildings representing towns.  Many of the hills are surrounded by water, and there are numerous trees, buildings, historical and religious figures scattered throughout.  “It is unlikely that the map-maker intended his readers to treat too literally the relationship of distance and direction between one country and another,” according to Tony Campbell, “Crete and Cyprus, for example, are shown to the northeast of France and Rome is to the south of it.”  Nevertheless, this remarkable map provides us with one of the earliest, and certainly the most complete, depictions of Europe’s medieval conception of the world.  Wesley A. Brown has studied and published a detailed monograph on the map.  He cites a number of possible sources for the geography.  As with all Christian-based models, much information was taken directly from the Bible, but additional place names derive from sources such as Herodotus, Pliny, Solinus, Bartholomaeus, Chrysostomes, Isidore and the 14th century manuscript Book of Sir John Mandeville.

Arguably the greatest technical advance in human history was the invention of printing, and it is ironic that the first use of this invention in the service of cartography marked “the end of an era rather than the beginning of a new one” – Tony Campbell.  The Rudimentum map is clearly medieval in character and after its printing, no new maps of the medieval or mappaemundi tradition were published.  “This map represents the conclusion of a millennium of geographical thought based on the biblical dictates of Isidore.  Interestingly, this representation of the end of an era of geographic thought was published the same year as the first printing of Ptolemy’s Geographia [without maps], which ushered in a new era of geographic thought based on the order and reason of Ptolemy” – W.A. Brown.


LOCATION: Library of Congress, Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection


REFERENCES:

*Bagrow, L., History of Cartography, pp. 99, 100.

*Bricker, C., Landmarks of Mapmaking, p. 60.

*Brown, L.A., The World Encompassed, #42, Plate XV.

*Brown, W. A., The World Image Expressed in the Rudimentum Novitiorum.

*Campbell, T., The Earliest Printed Maps, pp. 144-145.

*Edson, E., The World Map, 1300-1492, pp. 166, 169-172.

*Nebenzahl, K., Maps of the Holy Land, pp. 61-62, Plate 20.

*Nordenskiöld, A.E., Facsimile Atlas, pp. 3, 5, 35.

Philip Lee Phillips Society, Library of Congress, Occasional Paper Series, No. 3.

*Scafi, A., Mapping Paradise, pp. 204, 205, Plate 11a, Fig. 8.3

*Shirley, R., The Mapping of the World, plate 3, pp. xxi, 1-2.

Winter, H., “Notes on the World map in “Rudimentum Novitiorum”, Imago Mundi, Volume 9, p. 102

*Woodward, D., Five Centuries of Map Printing, pp. 40, 46.


*illustrated








ANONYMOUS, [untitled world map from:  Rudimentum Novitiorum...] Lübeck, 1475. 

Circular woodcut map 14 3/4” in diameter.  The image shown here is on two half-sheets as printed; a first edition in original color.  With the exception of a single T-O diagram, this striking circular woodcut is the first printed world map.  It preceded the first published atlas [the Bologna Ptolemy] by two years and is a map of legendary rarity.  Only one edition was printed from the original Lübeck woodblocks, and this is an example of this rare Lübeck edition. Published in 1475, the illustrated world history, Rudimentum Novitiorum, included two remarkable maps - one of Palestine and this one of the world.  “These are the first printed maps to try and show land forms and countries in topographical relation to each other.  The world map derives from a Christianized medieval tradition without any reference to either Ptolemaic or portolan sources, and is a vivid piece of early cartographical design” – R.W. Shirley.  The Rudimentum Novitiorum would go on to become more widely known through later French translations under the title Mer des Hystoires.

Over 100 places-names and geographic features are identified, with towns and countries named. Each country is represented as a separate hill accompanied by either a figure of the sovereign or several small buildings representing towns.  Many of the hills are surrounded by water, and there are numerous trees, buildings, historical and religious figures scattered throughout.  “It is unlikely that the map-maker intended his readers to treat too literally the relationship of distance and direction between one country and another,” according to Tony Campbell, “Crete and Cyprus, for example, are shown to the northeast of France and Rome is to the south of it.”  Nevertheless, this remarkable map provides us with one of the earliest, and certainly the most complete, depictions of Europe’s medieval conception of the world.  Wesley A. Brown has studied and published a detailed monograph on the map.  He cites a number of possible sources for the geography.  As with all Christian-based models, much information was taken directly from the Bible, but additional place names derive from sources such as Herodotus, Pliny, Solinus, Bartholomaeus, Chrysostomes, Isidore and the fourteenth century manuscript Book of Sir John Mandeville.

Arguably the greatest technical advance in human history was the invention of printing, and it is ironic that the first use of this invention in the service of cartography marked “the end of an era rather than the beginning of a new one” – Tony Campbell.  The Rudimentum map is clearly medieval in character and after its printing, no new maps of the medieval or mappaemundi tradition were published.  “This map represents the conclusion of a millennium of geographical thought based on the biblical dictates of Isidore.  Interestingly, this representation of the end of an era of geographic thought was published the same year as the first printing of Ptolemy’s Geographia [without maps], which ushered in a new era of geographic thought based on the order and reason of Ptolemy” – W.A. Brown.

This map does not have Adam and Eve in the east (at the top), as others do, but shows, on a mountain from which four rivers rise, within a group of trees, two pulpits with a man in each holding a green leaf in a lifted hand. Both are clothed and wear birettas. Theodore Schwarz describes this image only very briefly, although it is natural to see in them two disputing men, two priests. The leaf, the well-known symbol of peace, might signify here that the disputing men are not enemies, but friends. The question is now: is this an original idea of the artist, or is it based on something which existed before?

By chance I happened to read (2) an article by Carmelo Ottaviano. It contains the reproduction of a theological treatise “De Adventu Messie” taken from a MS. which is attributed to Lull. The prologue of the treatise shows that the idea on which the drawing in Rudimentum Novitiorum is based is not original. The prologue runs (inter alia) as follows, after a brief invocation of God (the bombastic Middle-Latin text is simplified and abridged):

“Two men of marvelous wisdom, a Jew and a Christian, lived in a great city and esteemed each other in glowing love. They undertook to unite themselves in the pleasures of (worldly) goods and the love of God in one law and in one road to wisdom. (Having made this decision)... they went from the city to a grove, highly graced with trees, leaves, flowers, fruits, springs, grass and rivers. In this grove for a long time they disputed in friendly conversation the advent of the Messias”.

This description corresponds completely with the picture on the map and the olive branches also are now clear. One may however ask whether the idea or only its expression originates with Lull. The first alternative is predominantly a question for religious history. If, however, the second is true, it would be interesting to know why the words of the Majorcan scholar (born 1235) found an echo precisely in Lubeck.

This leads to another question: who was the author of Rudimentum Novitiorum? This question is interesting also for the cartographer, considering that it is the first reliably dated printed map. Schwarz arrives only at the conclusion that the author had been a cleric, and infers from the word noster at a specific place that the author was of Lubeck or its vicinity. We must however note that this would be true only for the version printed in Lubeck but not of possible of the earlier MSS. A note in the Incunabula Section of the State Library in Berlin refers to L’ histoire litteraire de la France" 19, 1838, 392/3, according to which Frater Johannes Columpna is called in two Paris MSS. the author of a “Compilation, betitelt Mare Historiarum... etc.” (cf. the catchword of Rud. Nov.'). The question is now whether the same pictorial representation is not found in possible earlier MSS. Two are in Paris (Lat. 4914 of 1381, and 4915, of about the same time), but according to a kind communication from the Bibl. Royale have no world map. A MS. if any, with the same pictorial representation remains to be found.



LOCATION: Library of Congress, Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection


REFERENCES:

*Bagrow, L., History of Cartography, pp. 99, 100.

*Bricker, C., Landmarks of Mapmaking, p. 60.

*Brown, L.A., The World Encompassed, #42, Plate XV.

*Brown, W. A., The World Image Expressed in the Rudimentum Novitiorum.

*Campbell, T., The Earliest Printed Maps, pp. 144-145.

*Edson, E., The World Map, 1300-1492, pp. 166, 169-172.

*Nebenzahl, K., Maps of the Holy Land, pp. 61-62, Plate 20.

*Nordenskiöld, A.E., Facsimile Atlas, pp. 3, 5, 35.

Philip Lee Phillips Society, Library of Congress, Occasional Paper Series, No. 3.

*Scafi, A., Mapping Paradise, pp. 204, 205, Plate 11a, Fig. 8.3

*Shirley, R., The Mapping of the World, plate 3, pp. xxi, 1-2.

Winter, H., “Notes on the World map in “Rudimentum Novitiorum”, Imago Mundi, Volume 9, p. 102

*Woodward, D., Five Centuries of Map Printing, pp. 40, 46.

.


*illustrated















Rudimentum Novitiorum, Map of Palestine, 1475(below), 24 x 36 inches
(above) detail: Jerusalem







Rudimentum Novitiorum, world map, 1475, 38 cm diameter





Detail: Armenia, Affrica





Detai: Roma, Grecia, Macedonia, Creta





Detail: Taprobana, Arabia, Persia, Palestine





Rudimentum Novitiorum, Palestine, 1475