Title: Ulpius Globe

Date: 1542

Author: Euphrosyne Ulpius

Description: The Globe of Euphrosynus Ulpius, constructed in 1542, is now preserved in the museum of the New York Historical Society, having been found in Madrid by Buckingham Smith. This important and deeply interesting instrument was discovered in the collections of a Spanish dealer in 1859, and brought to New York the same year, after the death of its owner, being purchased for the society by John David Wolfe.

There is, of course, no way of tracing its history. B. F. Da Costa, in The Magazine of American History (1879), called attention to a reference in Hakluyt to “an olde excellente globe in the Queen’s privie gallery at Westminister which seemeth to be of Verarsanus makinge.” On that globe he says the “coaste is described in Italian” and, as this is the special characteristic of many of the names to be found on this globe, it might possibly seem as though this were the one which Queen Elizabeth I frequently consulted in the privacy of the gallery at Westminster. It would be interesting to trace, at least conjecturally, the possibilities of how the globe found its way over to England. Very probably it was among the possessions left by Pope Marcellus II at his death in 1555. This was the year of the restoration of Catholicism in England under Mary Tudor, and the following year Cardinal Pole became her principal adviser. Through him the globe might easily have found its way into England at this time, and an interesting question would be to trace the relations of friendship between Reginald Pole during his sojourn in Rome and Cardinal Cervinus before he became Pope, so as to discover how this globe could have come into Pole’s possession and be taken to England. Even with that problem settled, however, the question as to how the globe found its way back to Spain, would remain. If there were a replica, one could easily understand that one of the two should find its way there since Mary’s husband was Philip II of Spain, and he doubtless would have been very much interested in this globe which, better than almost any other map of the time, set forth the Spanish possessions on the other side of the water. But Hakluyt’s reference is to Elizabeth, perhaps thirty or forty years after Mary’s death, and when there was no possibility of any such communication between England and Spain as would account for the globe reaching Spanish dominions.

It will doubtless prove of interest to note upon this map the line running from pole to pole and cutting through the border of South America. This is the line drawn by Pope Alexander VI (i.e., the Line of Demarcation from the Treaty of Tordesillas), by which, in 1493, he gave away the New World to Spain. That nation, according to his decree, was entitled to lands discovered by them west of the line, while the Portuguese were to confine their new possessions to the region east of the line, inscribed, Terminus Hispanis et Lusitanis ab Alexando VI. P. M. assignatus, [The Boundary of Spain and Portugal assigned by Alexander VI, Supreme Pontiff]. That line was drawn from pole to pole at ninety degrees west longitude, giving the Portuguese the right over all the territory of Africa, but only a small portion of South America which projects beyond that line. This famous Papal decision made Brazil a Portuguese and not a Spanish country.

The Ulpius globe is 15.5 inches in diameter, and is supported upon a worm-eaten stand of oak, the iron cross tipping the North Pole, making the height of the instrument three feet and eight inches. The northern and southern hemispheres were constructed separately. They close together like a spherical box, being held firmly by iron pins. Everything is done in accordance with the best science of the age, and proves that the globe was intended for careful use. The latitudes are found by the nicely graduated copper equator, upon which the names of the zodiacal signs are engraved; while the equatorial line of the globe itself has the longitude divided into sections covering five degrees each. Four distinct meridional lines divide the globe into quarters, while four more lines are faintly indicated. The latitudes are found by the aid of a brass meridian, the Tropic of Cancer being called ÆTIVVS, and Capricorn HYEMALIS. The Arctic and Antarctic circles are also faintly indicated. A brass hour-circle enables the student to ascertain the difference of time between any two given points, while the graduated path of the Ecliptic is a prominent and indispensable aid. The author of the globe evidently intended to secure simplicity of arrangement throughout. The date of the globe is fixed by the following inscription:







The literal translation is as follows: Regions of the Terrestrial globe handed down by ancients, or discovered in our memory or that of our fathers. Delineated by Euphrosynus Ulpius, 1542.

Of Euphrosynus Ulpius nothing is positively known. The name has no prominence amongst the map and globe makers of Italy. The resemblance of the globe to that planned by Mercator, 1541, taken with the fact that Mercator and the Italian, Moletius, were in a sense associated, might possibly lead us to inquire whether or not Moletius had any influence in connection with the production of the work of Ulpius. Hakluyt’s reference to an olde excellent globe in the Queen's privie gallery at Westminster, which seemeth to be of Verarsanus makinge, is also of interest, for, like the globe of Ulpius, it had the Coaste described in Italian, and a necke of lande in the latitude of 40 degrees. Possibly the Globe of Ulpius is the globe which is here described. Nevertheless, the globe is of Italian workmanship, and apparently made in Rome. It is dedicated to Cervinus:





This may be rendered: Marcellus Cervino, Cardinal-Presbyter and Doctor of Divinity of the Holy Roman Church. Rome. The wheat or barley heads appear to have formed a device in the family arms, as they are given with his portrait, while the Deer form a proper allusion to his name.

This work is of great historical interest, for the reason that it bears direct and independent testimony to the voyage of Verrazano in 1524, certified first by the Letter of Verrazano to Francis I, confirmed by Carli, and attested to by the map of Hieronimo da Verrazano (#347); this witness being followed by the author of the Discourse of the Dieppe Captain, in 1539. Ulpius, in 1542 stands as the fifth witness to the voyage by the following inscription: Verrazana sive Nova Gallia a Verrazano Florentino comperto anno Sal. M. D., which may be rendered: Verrazana or New Gaul, discovered by Verrazano, the Florentine, in the year of Salvation, M. D. That this inscription was suggested by the Verrazano map no one has ever questioned. The principal adverse critic of Verrazano frankly concedes that the Globe of Ulpius affords indubitable evidence that the maker had consulted the map (Murphy’s Verrazano). Nevertheless attention has been called to the fact that, in an appendix to his work, the same critic refers to what is called an “authority,” which says that the map of Verrazano was originated sometime after 1550. If this were so, it would appear that the Verrazano map was based upon the Globe of Ulpius in connection with certain maps, and that, instead of having influenced the production of other maps, it is itself a composition made up of early material. We are, therefore, obliged here to glance at a question which really answers itself.

The present representation of one hemisphere of the globe, without being a facsimile, is nevertheless sufficiently correct for historical purposes, and may be relied upon. The Old and New Worlds are represented as they were known at the time, the latitude of Florida, which was too high on the Verrazano map (#347), being given quite correctly, while the excessive easterly trend of the North American coast line on that map is corrected.

The Ulpius Globe, Western Northern Hemisphere, 1542

It will be observed that Ulpius does not give the exact date of the discovery by Verrazano. On the North American section of the globe various new points are indicated, and the advance of the Spaniards in New Mexico is noticeable. This part of the continent is called Verrazana, sive Nova Gallia, while on the Verrazano map is found, Ivcatania. Purchas says that South America was called Peruviana, and North America, Mexicana; which explains the action of Hieronimo da Verrazano in 1529 (#347), who employs the name of Yucatan in accordance with the same principle.

In the northwest, near Alaska, is Tagv Provincia, the Tangut of Marco Polo, the coast, once again, being joined to Asia. The peninsula of Lower California does not appear, though exploration had been extended to that region, as proved by Domingo del Castello, on his map of 1541 (Lorenzana Historia de Nueva Espana, 1770).

Amongst the evidences of the Spanish advance is the name of Civola in New Mexico. This is a reference to the “Seven Cities of Cibola,” which were credited with such vast wealth, it being declared that the houses were supported by massive pillars of crystal and gold. Modern explorers find it difficult to fix upon the sites of the ancient cities. The wealth of Cibola eventually became the subject of sport, as was the case respecting the whole continent, at first supposed to be a part of the East Indies, and remarkably auriferous. Hence Shakespeare, in the Comedy of Errors, where he grossly describes the kitchen-wench, who was spherical like a globe, so that one could find out countries in her, makes Antipolus ask: “Where America, the Indies?” Dromio of Syracuse replies: “0, Sir, upon her nose, all o'er embellished with rubies, carbuncles, sapphires, declining their rich aspect to the hot breath of Spain, who sent whole Armadas of Carracks to be ballast at her nose.”

On the Ulpius globe South America is called Mundus Novus and also America. The name of America had been reserved for South America for the better part of half a century, at least for over thirty years, from the time of Canon Waldseemüller’s map in 1507 (#310), which followed the descriptions given in the notes of Amerigo Vespucci’s voyages.

The Ulpius globe corrects many errors of preceding geographers, though not free from errors itself. For the first time the peninsula of Florida receives a proper location and the shore of North America generally is rather well outlined. Florida is called Florida; Mexico, Nova Hispania; Northern Mexico, running over into what today we call California, is named Nova Galatia, after the province of that name in the north of Spain. Yucatan is spelled Ivcatan, and its general shape is nearly correct. What we know as Central America is called Nova Andalusia; the Pacific Ocean is named Mare Pacificum, but also Mare del Sur, which became the familiar South Sea in English, and in South America we find such names as Peru, Bresilia [Brazil], Venazola, Terra Paria, and Rio de Platta. There is a note of cannibals and anthropophagi. There is a Terra Gigantum and a Terra de los Fuegos, as well as an immense Terra Australis—a great southern continent below the Strait of Magellan (the initium freti Magellanici is carefully noted)—but with regard to this southern continent the globe tells us that it had not yet been explored, perhaps not yet actually found, for the Latin words are ad hue incomperta.

Perhaps the most surprising thing on the globe is to find that the portion of North America above Florida is called Verrazana sive Nova Gallia [Verrazano or New France]. This, it is noted, was discovered by Verrazano, the Florentine, in the year of grace (anno salutis), 1524. Undoubtedly, Verrazano was the first to explore the coast behind which lies this immense geographic region, and yet very little was known of that fact until quite recently. His brother published, in 1529, a large map, preserved in the College of the Propaganda at Rome, which outlines Giovanni Verrazano’s discoveries. It was doubtless from this that the details—some of them at least—of the Ulpius globe were secured. The name Nova Gallia [New France] is not surprising, though that term was applied later to territory farther north than here delineated, and indeed continued to be a favorite geographic designation for Canada and the French possessions until the middle of the 18th century. It was on Verrazano’s discoveries and voyage, authorized and financed by the French king, that the French based their claims to this part of North America.

The names scattered along the coast of North America in Ulpius’ delineation of it, are practically all of them of Italian form and termination, though many of them are evidently adaptations of place names well known in France. Breton, for instance, is mentioned, but there is a Selva de Cervi [a forest of deer or stags]; there is, of course, a San Francisco and a Porto Reale [Port Royal], and then there is a Terra Laboratoris, evidently what was later to be Labrador, but Ulpius, following Verrazano, places this very much farther south than our present-day Labrador. In the distant northwest of the North American continent there is a Tagu Provincia, which is evidently a reminiscence of previous mapmakers who had used that name. Curiously enough, Greenland is pictured not very far from where we know it and under a name not very different from ours, but Islandia is placed very close to the Greenland coast. Hibernia [Ireland] has much the form we know and looks like the little dog we see on our maps, but Scotia [Scotland], much less well known at that time, does not extend far enough north, and England is much compressed in length. The Orkney Islands, under the name of Orcades, are given a very prominent place, thus leaving insufficient room for northern Scotland.

Nova Galitia [present-day Mexico/Honduras], a region conquered by Gusman (Alcedo’s Diccionario Geografico), is seen to the southward; and, in its proper place, in the middle of a lake, Mexico City may be recognized.

South America is styled Novvs Mvndus, and presents a very lively picture. From the Straits of Magellan to Chinca, just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, the coast is marked Terra Incognita. Peru is called New Castile, and is said to be auriferous and fertile. Gvito, or Quito, happens to be placed nearly in the centre of the South American continent, and close by we read, Domus olim ex solido auri, [the House formerly of solid gold]. This may be a reference to legendary El Dorado.

A large portion of the country is abandoned to Anthropophagi and Canibales. Near Patagonia is the Terra de gigantic. The giants themselves are wanting, like Raleigh’s men with heads in their breasts, notwithstanding we are told by Pigafetti and other voyagers that there was a plenty of giants in those days; yet, further north, the chameleon roost upon a broad-leaved plant, and still higher up, one of the tall ostriches, described by Darwin, is trying to exhibit himself, using as a pedestal the house formerly of solid gold.

In Brazil the aborigines appear in the scant wardrobe that they were accustomed to affect, and display, on the whole, what may be regarded as an animated disposition. A couple of Brazilians, broad ax in hand, are on the point of taking off a fellow being’s head, while a third, with a knife, is artistically dressing a leg. Near by, two other amiable representatives of the tribe are engaged in turning a huge spit, upon which, comfortably trussed up, is another superfluous neighbor, whom the blazing fire is transmuting into an acceptable roast. The parrot, evidently an edified spectator, gazes placidly down from its perch in the tree. Such was life in Novvs Mvndvs in 1542. The Amazon and the La Platt Rivers appear, but Ulpius does not show any clear knowledge of the Orinoco River seen by Pinzon around 1500.

No true indication of the terminus of the continent of South America is given, but south of the Straits of Magellan is seen a vast continent spreading around the pole. This imaginary continent was referred to in classic times as Austrinis Pars. Its existence was considered probable, for the reason that it seemed to be required in order to maintain the balance of land and water. Regio Patalis, a part of this continent, lies southwesterly from the Straits of Magellan, the name perhaps having been transferred from the coast of Africa. On a peninsula may be found the following inscription: Lusitani vltra promotorium bone spei i Calicutium tendentes hanc terra viderut, veru non accesserut, quaobrem neq nos certi quidq afferre potuimus [The Portuguese, sailing beyond the Cape of Good Hope to Calcutta, saw this land but did not reach it, wherefore, neither have we been able to assert anything with certainty].

In the more easterly portion of this continent is written, Terra Australis adhuc incomperta, being an unexplored region, while in passing around the border of this continent we come to Brasieeli, a corruption of “Brazil,” a name earlier applied to an island in the Atlantic before the discovery of America. On the 1520 globe of Schöner (#328) this general area is called Brazilia Inferior.

The Old World is depicted substantial1y as it appeared in the re-constructed Ptolemaic maps of this period. With respect to the East Indies, however, a clear improvement is made upon the Verrazano map. Ulpius, in common with Verrazano, exhibits the great lakes of Central Africa.

Near the bank of the Nile a robed ecclesiastic sits upon a canopied throne with a triple crown upon his brow and a triple cross in his hand. The figure is explained by the legend: Hic dñat psbit Johanes [Here rules Presbyter John] usually called “Prester.” Of human subjects he appears to have none, and his lordly supremacy seems to concern the sagacious elephant, the winged dragon, the scaly crocodile, the fierce rhinoceros, the unruly hippopotamus, and certain long-necked birds, one of which is engaged in some performance not described by Herodotus. Prester John has been regarded as a king in Tibet, but the Portuguese claim that he was a convert to the Nestorian faith in Abyssinia.

In Asia may be seen a multitude of cities and provinces. Canton is displayed as a collection of houses, near which is a bird, in company with a couple of goats with ears that reach to the ground. A tiger, a leopard and a giraffe make up the represented animal kingdom in this region.

Upon the ocean is displayed life, animation and enterprise. Tall ships, laden with the wealth of “Ormus and of Ind,” move bravely homeward with billowing sails, while light galleys glide around the borders of the newly found lands. The fish form a noticeable feature, and Leviathan displays his huge sides, even that

Leviathan, which God of all His works

Created hugest, that swim the ocean stream.

The Conger eel, without much regard to the proprieties, stretches complacently over several degrees of latitude, herein following the example of the gold fish (Aurata), which puffs itself up to half the size of the whale. The Kraken of Pontoppidan, or at least what resembles the sea-serpent of Nahant, appears in the Atlantic off South Africa, corrugating his hirsute back. The whale (Balena) is not so well executed as the rest, and is attended by the dolphin (Orca), also called Marsuin by the French.

The fish represented upon the globe are so well done that they might claim a full and separate treatment, evidently belonging to the earliest scientific delineations in Ichthyology. The fish upon the Ulpius globe bear a close resemblance to those of Rondelatius (Lugduni, 1554). On globes and maps prior to 1542 may be found a variety of intriguing marine monsters, but correct representations of fish are scarce.

Besides the historic groups of islands, there are also many of lesser note, together with a few not found today. East of Cape St. Roque is De Ferna Loronha, or Fernando de Noronha, discovered in 1506 by the Portuguese navigator of that name. This lonely, harborless isle, with its remarkable peak appears ready to be what it is now, the Sing Sing of Brazil; while St. Helena, discovered on the festival of that saint, 1501, is waiting to imprison one of the world’s great disturbers. There is also Insvle Tristan Dacvnha, found by the Portuguese, Dacuna, in 1506; and Insvle Formose, while in the southern part of the Indian Ocean is Insvle Grifonvm [the Isle of Griffins].

Bermuda is prominent, having been laid down for the first time on Martyr’s map of 1511, and southward is Catolica, possibly an alternate name for the “Island of the Seven Cities,” which was reported in various places, the inhabitants being “good Catholics.” Near this spot, on Ruysch’s map of 1508 (#313), is the word Cata. An island that appears to be a duplicate of Cape Breton that lies eastward of that region, and is called Dobreta. It probably represents present-day Sable Island. Northward is S. Crvcis, not found today. Here we might pause to remark upon the ease with which islands that have no existence are found in the sea, and the corresponding difficulty of getting rid of them. Upon some of our best maps may be found such islands as Jaquet Island, Three Chimnies, Mayda, Amplimont, and Green Rock. Amplimont is given in Bescherelle’s Geographical Dictionary. On Colton’s Atlas these islands lie in the track of navigation between France and Newfoundland. It is said that they originated with icebergs in the fog-banks, or possibly in the fog-banks themselves. It should be noticed, however, that this part of the ocean is volcanic, and that islands of considerable magnitude have risen from the sea at different times. The earliest eruption on record in the north Atlantic is that mentioned on the Ruysch map in the Ptolemy edition of 1508. Between Iceland and Greenland is the legend Insule hac 1456 anno Dno fvit totaliter combusta [This island was entirely burned up, A. D. 1456]. 

It would not, however, be proper to treat all these islands of Ulpius now missing in accordance with the volcanic theory. Amongst them is Ins. viride, which may be regarded as a reminiscence of pre-Columbian voyages by the Portuguese and others to the fishing banks near Newfoundland, the largest being known as the “Grand Bank,” while the lesser bear various names, amongst which is the “Green Bank.” The latter shoal, known to be very rocky, was evidently taken by some mapmaker for solid land, and laid down as an island. This mistake is often also made in our times. To a similar origin may be assigned Jaquet Island, which came from the Jaquet Bank, a shoal near the edge of Grand Bank. Mayda is simply the “Maidas” of the early maps, while the Three Chimnies, if not explained by some eruption, may have originated in such peculiarities of the bottom as that known as the “Whale Hole” on the bank of Newfoundland.

It would be a more difficult task, perhaps, to explain the origin of S. Branda, or Brendan, which appears on the Ulpius globe. It is true, as already indicated, that sailors often shape islands out of the fog. An instance is found in the Isle de Fer, a reflection of which, often noticed by sailors, and called the Land of Butter [Terre de beurre], was gravely ceded by the Spanish Government to Louis Perdignon. The Fata Morgana is perhaps quite as unsatisfactory as the theory of satanic delusion, sometimes resorted to for the purpose of explaining the mystery. St. Brendan’s Island, without any great stretch of the imagination, might be referred to as a burning insular peak, so far as the etymology may be concerned; while, again, as the Irish monks were abroad upon the sea at an early period, some of them may have landed upon an island that afterward disappeared. In the case of the monks, it would have received due embellishment, since they were as fond of the marvelous.

Turning to the Greenland section of the globe, a gratifying improvement upon Verrazano’s outline is found, showing that Ulpius had consulted the maps of Ruysch, 1508 (#313), and Orontius Fines, 1531 (#356), though it will be well to remember in this connection that Behaim’s globe of 1492 shows land in the same direction. The Greenland section of Ulpius also indicates that the knowledge in possession of the Zeno family at Venice found some expression in Italy before the publication of the Zeno Voyage and Map in 1558. The Ulpius globe gives a clear denial to Ptolemy respecting the situation of Greenland. The editor of the Ptolemy of 1482 knew of the Chronicle of Ivar Bardsen, and some of the names mentioned by him appear upon the editor’s map; yet at the same time he assigns a false position to Greenland, which is shown as an extension of Norway, while Iceland is laid down in the sea west of what is given as Greenland. Ulpius, on the contrary, and in accordance with fact, places Iceland east of Greenland, though both are placed too close to mainland Europe. The waters of Greenland are represented as navigated, and nothing is perhaps more susceptible of proof than the fact that communication was never lost with Greenland from the tenth century down to the present day. Ulpius, who seems to copy Ruysch’s basic outline, leaves the space between Greenland and the west as unexplored; while Ruysch, on the other hand, makes Greenland, together with Newfoundland, part of Asia, Gog and Magog being in close proximity. It remained for the Zeno Map, published sixteen years after the Ulpius globe, to show the position of Greenland more distinctly, and at the same time to reveal the sites of the eastern and western colonies of Greenland, so erroneously supposed in later times to have been situated on the opposite coasts of that country. 

It will be necessary next to speak of the coast names on the North American continent, though it has been indicated previously that certain of them show an agreement with the names on the Verrazano map. Along the eastern border of the Gulf of Mexico, adjoining Florida, may be seen Rio Del Gato [the Cat River], the Rio de Los Angelos, or [River of the Angels], the P. de. S. Iohan; Navidad [Nativity], the Costa Verde [Green Coast], and the Costa de Corsales. Perhaps this last one was placed here in honor of Andrea Corsali, the Florentine navigator in the service of Emanuel, King of Portugal, though no record is found of any voyage made by him to this region. B. de Los Baxos [the Shoal Bay], completes the list of names on this part of the Gulf.

On the Atlantic coast, the names commence near South Carolina with the B. della + [Bay of the Cross]. Next is Valleombrosa [the Shady Valley]. Punta del Olivio is evidently the same as Verrazano’s Cape Olimpe. Then follow Selvi di Cervi, the Deer Park of Verrazano, and Calami, similar to the Carnavarall of the Spanish maps. This brings us to Lvngavilla and G. di. S. Germano, both Verrazano names, the former being Longueville, near Dieppe, and the latter St. Germaine-en-Laye, the splendid residence of Francis I. R. del Sole [River of the Sun], if not for Solis, is followed by Normanvilla, a French city near Longueville. C. S. Iohan indicates today’s southern New Jersey. Porto Reale follows, when suddenly we reach the river intended for the Penobscot or Norombega, which, as on the Allefonsce map, which is positioned too far south. The coast being drawn on a small scale, the outline is a little confused. At the southern entrance of the river is S. Franc. C. [the Cape of St. Francis], delineated by Allefonsce as the Franciscan Cape. Next is Refvgivm Promont, intended for the Cape of Refuge of the Verrazano map, which afforded Verrazano a land-locked harbor, today identified with Newport, RI. It must be observed again, however, that the outline of the Ulpius globe is a bit confusing. The next name is Corte Magiore, unless indeed Magiore belongs with the succeeding inscription. The signification is obscure, like that of Flora, though the latter occurs in several of the Ptolemaic maps of the period, including the Maggiolo map (#340) of 1548, and in Ramusio’s Verrazano sketch. Finally, Cavo de Brettoni is reached, or Cape Breton, a name usually referred to the French, but which may have been given by the Portuguese. The form, it will be observed, is Portuguese. Cimeri, on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is a word whose use is not plain. The reading may be cdmeri, and thus refer to the Cosin de mer annano, or Oceanus on the Schöner globe of 1520 (#328), signifying the Ocean Cape. With Terra Laboratoris we reach, not Labrador, the Portuguese “Land of the Laborers,” but Newfoundland. By mistake, Laboratoris is applied to Newfoundland, as later to Cape Breton, the inland waters of which are today called “Bras d’or,” previously lengthened from  Brador, which, according to the fancy of someone, signified “the Arm of Gold,” Thus easily are names emptied of their original signification. The coastline to C. Frio [the Cold Cape of the Portuguese] represents Newfoundland, one part of which is marked Terra Corterealis. C. Branco [White Cape], and C. de Bona Vista afforded a good view. Yet, whatever name may be given to Newfoundland by the old cartographers, that of Bacca laos always adheres, being derived from Baculum, a stick, often used to keep fish spread open when drying. Baia dos Moros, at the Straits of Belle Isle, signifies Codfish Bay. G. Datrometa is a misspelling of G. da Tormento [the Gulf of Torment], found on Reinel and other charts, apparently referring to the stormy weather. Ilhado follows, and R. da Braco may signify the Shallow River. C. Primero is the “first” cape, G. do placel is the Gulf of the Sand Bank, and Dos Demonios [the Island of the Demons], is often found. Greenland lies adjoining, being called Groestlandia. It is separated from Labrador by the sea. As in several other maps of the period, the name is repeated on an island lying westward as Grovelat. The greater portion of the region around the Pole is shown as land, but north of Asia is an immense lake, Mare Glaciale, also found on the Nancy globe (#363).

Only two of the names between the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of St. Lawrence remain today. The French were nevertheless ambitious, and would have founded New France on the central portion of our coast if circumstances had proved more favorable. Trivial incidents sometimes turned them aside. But for a head wind when off Cape Cod, sailing southward in 1605, Champlain might have reached the Hudson, and instead of planting Port Royal in Nova Scotia, he might have established its foundations on Manhattan Island, in the region where Port Royal (Porto Reale) was laid down by Ulpius. This would have made the greatest city in America a French city, and, possibly, changed the destiny of the continent.

It will be seen that Ulpius gives to France only that to which she was entitled. As far northward as the coast of the Carolinas, the territory is considered Spanish, while thence to the Gulf of St. Lawrence it is French, the rest being Portuguese, as allowed by the general use of Portuguese names. In 1542, when Cartier set out upon his expedition to colonize on the St. Lawrence, it was clearly understood at Rome what the French claimed. At the same time the globe, as pointed out, bears the line of Pope Alexander, by which the most of the New World was given to Spain. These facts, however, are consistent with one another, even on the supposition that the globe was made at the Vatican under the direction of the Cardinal-Presbyter Cervinus. That person, though loyal to the Papal throne, which he was destined to occupy, was not over friendly to Spain, having three years before refused a pension of ten thousand piastres from Charles V., who wished to win his support. Therefore, while recognizing the decree of Alexander, he might have been fair with the French, and thus conceded what they had accomplished in the New World by the aid of his countryman, Verrazano. However this may be, the French are recognized, and the most of the region now occupied by the United States was claimed for France as New Gaul. Cluverius (Introductio ad Geographium, ed. 1629) also speaks of New France as Gaul (Nova Francia Gallis). Did he know of the Ulpius globe? Cartier’s voyage of 1534 is not mentioned, as he made no discoveries, but the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which he entered, is left open. Ribero on his map (#346) indeed closes the Gulf, yet it was well known to the French at a very early period.

The open sea and isthmus on the Ulpius globe form a topic of special interest. The sea and isthmus were copied from Verrazano, and the existence of a body of water in close proximity to the Atlantic was generally believed. Often it was represented as lying further to the south, and hence some suppose that what was referred to may have been the Gulf of Mexico. Again, the sea was supposed to lie near the St. Lawrence River, a belief that led the French to attempt the colonization of that cold and inhospitable country, in preference to the sunny and fertile regions explored farther southward by Verrazano. The Spaniards, on the same principle, as previously noted, proposed to fortify and colonize the Straits of Magellan. The St. Lawrence was supposed to lead directly into the “Sea of China.” When Champlain went to Canada in 1608, he declared that he would not return until he reached that sea.

In 1612 he made a seventeen days’ journey into the wilderness from Montreal to find the sea upon whose shore Vignan professed to have seen the wreck of an English ship. This man, who marched before Champlain through the tangled forests, has been called an impostor, and, with a musket leveled at his head, Vignan confessed himself one; yet no doubt he was as much deceived as Champlain, having acted upon the trusted relation of another, a course which he supposed would succeed, and bring him great credit. De Bry (Brevis Narratio, Pt. 2, 1591) represents the sea in his map, while the Virginia colonists entertained a similar idea. As late as 1651 the western sea was represented within about two hundred miles of the Atlantic coast, as appears from a map of that year, found in some copies of The Discovery of Nevv Brittaine (see #472). This error had its day, and then died though not without manifesting a remarkable vitality. The belief was shared by Ulpius in common with Verrazano, the latter being as positive on the subject as Frobisher himself, both having committed the belief to maps.

The Ulpius globe, no more than the Verrazano map, is associated with fraud. The charge is based upon a misconception of the facts, and must be abandoned. The instrument in question is a Roman production, the design of which may yet be traced to Pope Marcellus himself, who was known for his ability and skill in this kind of work. Nevertheless, by whomsoever it may have been designed, this ancient globe has come to us from the Eternal City, finding a permanent resting place at last, not without a certain fine justice, in the great metropolis which looks out upon the splendid harbor visited and described by him whose name is so prominently engraved upon the portion representing the New World. If the history of the globe could be written, it would be found to possess the charms of romance. This may be the very globe that, as Hakluyt said, “seemetk to be of Verrasanus making,” and which Queen Elizabeth I was accustomed to consult in the gallery at Westminster. If so, by what means did it reach England? It certainly went to Spain, and there, the instrument upon which perhaps more than one Pope read the decree of his predecessor, Alexander, was finally banished to the realm of worthless antiquities. Yet it is a rare souvenir of the past. It embodies many of the great aspirations of the 16th century. It stands connected with its maritime enterprise and adventure, and with its naval and geographical romance. It forms an epitome of the world from the beginning to 1542. Especially does it prove to the student how the exploration of our continent tried the courage, tested the endurance, baffled the skill and dissipated the fortunes of some of the noblest of men.

As mentioned above, the globe is further interesting for illustrations of many different kinds of fish that are found in the different oceans. Many of the varieties are very well illustrated. The parts of the ocean where they are usually seen are also indicated. These are the first illustrations of fish with any hint of their habitat that we have. Paul Jovius wrote a book on ichthyology, which was published in 1524, but it was not illustrated. The whale is represented as living in the distant north and is, perhaps, the poorest illustration of all. Of course, the sea serpent finds a place here, but then the sea serpent has been seen many times, ever since, without scientists being able to locate him.

It also serves to show how deeply interested were the Popes and the high ecclesiastics near them at Rome in securing and diffusing the best available scientific information. This globe, surmounted with a cross, remains as a very definite demonstration that the too common impression of Roman ecclesiastical authorities as hampering the progress of science or keeping information away from the people, is one founded entirely on ignorance of the actual conditions.

Location: Library of the New York Historical Society

Size: 15.5 inches (38.1 cm) diameter

Reproductions of details:

Wilma, George, Animals and maps, fig. 7.12 (western part of Africa: pelican, snakes, dragons, lions and hippopotamus).

Winsor, J., Narrative and Critical History of America, Volume 4, p. 81.


Bagrow, Leo, History of Cartography, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard UP, 1964, 130.

*De Costa, Magazine of American History, volume 3, 1897, pp. 17-35.

Harrisse, H. Discovery of North America.

Harrisse, H. Cabot.

Paulist Fathers, Catholic World, vol. 14, pp. 224-228.

*Stevenson, E.L., Terrestrial and Celestial Globes, pp. 118-120. Figures 57, 58.

*Sullivan, L.E., “The Cartographic Treasures of the New York Historical Society”, The Map Collector, March 1986, #34, p. 32.

Wilma, George, Animals and maps, 136, 139, 142, 150, 164.

Winsor, J., Narrative and Critical History of America, vol. 4, p.81.


Lithograph facsimile of the Ulpius Globe, Western Hemisphere, 1542, New York Historical Society, 23 cm from Dr. De Costa