Universal Chart

Diogo Ribeiro, 1529.

By Google Arts & Culture

Universal Chart (1866) by Diego RiberoOriginal Source: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City)

The full title of this chart translates as: "Universal chart containing all the world discovered until now, made by Diogo Ribeiro, cosmographer to His Majesty, in the year 1529, in Seville. It is divided into two parts corresponding to the capitulation agreed by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain and King John II of Portugal in Tordesillas in the year 1494." The Portuguese cartographer Diogo Ribeiro served at the House of Trade (Casa de Contratación) from 1518 until his death.

This chart continued the Castilian tradition of showing the Maluku (formerly the Moluccas or Spice) Islands within Spanish territory. In the same year (1529), Castile sold its rights to the islands to Portugal as part of the Treaty of Zaragoza.

The ships represent Elcano's route on his voyage, with the inscriptions, "voy a Maluco" (I am going to Maluku) on the outbound journey, and "vengo de Maluco" (I'm returning from Maluku) on the way back.

It is a very detailed chart, with a large number of legends providing information.

Certain navigational instruments are depicted for the first time, including a quadrant in the bottom left-hand corner …

… and an astrolabe in the bottom right-hand corner.

The continents are covered with visual representations of the landscape …

… and there are scrolls all over the seas, bearing the geographical names of the oceans and islands.

As for the newly discovered lands, the North American coast appears perfectly outlined. It also contains many place names taken from earlier charts that resulted from European voyages in search of a route from the northwest to the South Sea (now the Pacific).

Detail of the coasts of Colombia and Peru can be seen in South America, following the discoveries of Francisco Pizarro.

To the east, the outline of the Asian continent is becoming more accurate, with the island of Sumatra detailed perfectly.

There are three latitude scales graduated at five-degree intervals: one to the left of the chart, near the Maluku Islands, another crossing the Azores, and the third to the west of the Indian subcontinent.

The copy kept at Madrid's Naval Museum (Museo Naval) is a reproduction of the original made by Diogo Ribeiro in 1529.

Credits: Story

Adaptation of the text created by the Spanish National Geographic Institute Library (BIGN) text for the catalogue "The maps and the first world tour".

Image: Planisphere by Diego Ribero. Madrid. Royal Academy of History, Section of Cartography and Graphic Arts, C-018-014.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
The First Journey Around The World
Unravelling the complicated history, science and consequences of the first ever expedition around the world.
View theme
Google apps