Kunstmann IV Planisphere

Jorge Reinel, Pedro Reinel, and Otto Progel, 1519.

By Google Arts & Culture

Kunstmann IV Planisphere (ca. 1519) by Jorge ReinelOriginal Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France

This reproduction by Otto Progel is a copy of an anonymous, undated universal chart. The original has been attributed to the Portuguese cartographers Jorge Reinel and his father, Pedro Reinel, around 1519, when both were working for Spain at the House of Trade (Casa de Contratación).

The original chart, known as Kunstmann IV, was lost in a bombing during World War II, in 1945. Its contents are only preserved thanks to a hand-painted copy by the German artist Otto Progel (1836), kept at the National Library (Bibliothèque Nationale) in France.

It offers a summary of geographical discoveries up to just before Magellan and Elcano's voyage. Some believe it could be the map mentioned by the Portuguese ambassador to Spain, Sebastián Alvares, in his letter to King Manuel I of Portugal. According to him, it was used as a template for all the nautical charts that Diogo Ribeiro made for the expedition.

It includes the line set by the Treaty of Tordesillas, running from the North to South Pole.

It also shows the whole Pacific Ocean, marked with the curious inscription, "SEA SEEN BY THE CASTILIANS," in reference to Vasco Núñez de Balboa's sighting in 1513.

It is the first time that the Maluku (formerly the Moluccas or Spice) Islands appear charted in territory belonging to Spain, under the Treaty of Tordesillas. The accompanying text explains that cloves are native to these islands.

This chart was the first to stake territorial claims using a cartographic feature that would be repeated on all planispheres produced by the Spanish House of Trade, differentiating them from Portuguese versions. Ships bearing flags from one of the two countries are shown in disputed regions, as a way to assert ownership.

This map provides some insight into how big Magellan and his men imagined the Earth to be while navigating on their voyage. The estimated size of the Pacific is particularly interesting, suggesting the Earth's circumference was 13% smaller than it really is.

Credits: Story

Adaptation text created by the National Geographic Institute Library (BIGN) for the catalog "Maps and the first round the world".

Image: Kunstmann IV: Carte du monde. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Département Cartes et plans, CPL GE AA-564 (RES) .

Credits: All media
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