What is it about maps? I know I’m not the only one who can spend hours poring over them – places I’ve been, places I haven’t, places I’ve never heard of, it doesn’t matter. Give me a map and I’m as happy as a toddler with a saucepan and a wooden spoon.
We have an out-of-date road atlas in our car and rather than get another one that accurately shows us which road to take when we go out for a weekend jaunt, we like to stick to the old faithful . So instead of a straightforward trip, we have an adventure-slash-navigational-history lesson. Why? Because we like comparing the old map with the new reality. There have been rather a lot of changes to the roads in Yorkshire in the last few years so it’s quite common to hear our navigator (usually me) say to our driver (usually my partner) something along the lines of: ‘Oh look, the motorway junction we were supposed to take no longer exists, twenty miles to the next one!’ Or, and this is nothing to do with the age of the map: ‘I don’t know how to get there, the bit we need is in the crack of the pages.’ Why is it that the place you’re going to is always in the fold?
I also remember a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (the biggest arts festival in the world) a couple of years ago. My friends and I found a map of Scotland in the apartment we were renting and spent a good two hours pointing out places with amusing names to each other. You might think that was a waste of our time but I can assure you it was far more entertaining than some of the shows we saw that week at the festival!
What I’m trying to say is: my name is Beth and I’m a bit of a map nerd.
So, today I’m delighted to have the opportunity to share some fascinating maps with you to commemorate the birthday of Jodocus Hondius, or Iodico Hondio, or Joost de Hondt, as he was variously called. Let’s hope he was more consistent with his maps than the writing of his name!
Jodocus was born this week in 1563 and was a Flemish artist, engraver and cartographer. He is best known for his early maps of the New World and Europe, for re-establishing the reputation of the work of Gerard Mercator, and for his portraits of Francis Drake. He helped establish Amsterdam as the center of cartography in Europe in the 17th century.
Europeana contains some very fine specimens of his work so if you are a map nerd like me, you can lose a few hours zooming in and out and checking out some of the real detail in these historical maps. Historical maps are particularly interesting when you can find something that relates to your own life in them. In Hondius’ maps on Europeana I’ve found maps covering where I grew up in the UK – a town called Ulverston in the Furness peninsula near Morecambe Bay, Cumbria. The coat of arms holds the slogan ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’ and below it (zoom in on the full version here) are images of the kings of England from the House of Lancaster. I also found a map of the seaside town of Swansea where I went to university. The town’s name is written as ‘Swansey’ on the map. Check out the scary lady riding the waves of the Bristol Channel on a fearsome sea monster! The final image is just something I’d love to own – a beautiful globe. Enjoy!
Atlas sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura (1607-1608) / Gerhard Mercator; Jodocus Hondius, National Library of the Czech Republic, Public Domain Image.
Section from The countie pallatine of Lancaster described and divided into hundreds by Iohn Speed and Jodocus Hondius, courtesy of the French National Library and the European Library, public domain image.
Section from Glamorgan shyre with the sittuations of the cheife towne Cardyff and ancient Landaffe described by John Speede and Jodocus Hondius, courtesy of the French National Library and The European Library, public domain image.
GLOBUS Facsímil: [Globus terraqüi] / Iod. Et Hendricus Hondij, fratres, Jodicus Hondius, courtesy of Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya, CC-BY-NC-N