• Translation

Article ID EUI1311




Map shows the city of Mantua in Lombardia


ca. 1550


Münster (1489-1552)

Sebastian Münsters (1489-1552) is one of the famous cosmographers of the Renaissance. Its real importance in the field of cartography is based on its famous cosmography, which he published in 1544 with 24 double-sided maps (including Moscow and Transylvania). The material for this came largely from research and the collection of information from around 1528, which he initially only wanted to use for a description of Germany, but was now sufficient for a map of the entire world and ultimately led to a cosmography. He constantly tried to improve this work, i.e. to replace or add to maps. In the edition of 1550, only 14 maps were taken over from the earlier editions. The 52 maps printed in the text were also only partially based on the old maps. The great success of this cosmography was also based on the precise work of the woodcuts mostly by Hans Holbein the Younger, Urs Graf, Hans Rudolph Deutsch and David Kandel. It was the first scientific and at the same time generally understandable description of the knowledge of the world in German, in which the basics of history and geography, astronomy and natural sciences, regional and folklore were summarized according to the state of knowledge at that time. Cosmography is the science of describing the earth and the universe. Until the late Middle Ages, geography, geology and astronomy were also part of it. The first edition of the Cosmographia took place in 1544 in German, printed in Heinrich Petri's office in Basel. Heinrich Petri was a son from the first marriage of Münster's wife to the Basel printer Adam Petri. Over half of all editions up to 1628 were also published in German. However, the work has also been published in Latin, French, Czech and Italian. The English editions all comprised only a part of the complete work. Viktor Hantzsch identified a total of 46 editions in 1898 (German 27; Latin 8; French 3; Italian 3; Czech 1) that appeared from 1544 to 1650, while Karl Heinz Burmeister only had 36 (German 21; Latin 5; French 6; Italian 3; Czech 1) that appeared between 1544 and 1628. The first edition from 1544 was followed by the second edition in 1545, the third in 1546, the fourth edition in 1548 and the fifth edition in 1550, each supplemented by new reports and details, text images, city views and maps and revised altogether. Little has been known about who - apart from the book printers Heinrich Petri and Sebastian Henricpetri - were responsible for the new editions after Münster's death. The 1628 edition was edited and expanded by the Basel theologian Wolfgang Meyer. With Cosmographia, Sebastian Münster has published for the first time a joint work by learned historians and artists, by publishers, wood cutters and engravers. The numerous vedute are usually made as woodcuts. Sebastian Münster obtained his knowledge from the travel reports and stories of various scholars, geographers, cartographers and sea travelers. Long after his death, "Kosmographie" was still a popular work with large editions: 27 German, 8 Latin, 3 French, 4 English and even 1 Czech editions appeared. The last edition appeared in Basel in 1650.

Historical Description

Mantua was founded by the Etruscans, for its mythical founding story is named the Greek seeress Manto. In 804 the Roman Catholic bishopric of Mantua was founded. Since 1328 the noble family of the Gonzaga ruled there, who were raised by the Roman-German emperors to counts in 1362, to margraves (Marchesi) in 1433 and to dukes in 1530. In 1536, Emperor Charles V also granted the Gonzaga, as a loyal ally, the rule over the important margraviate of Monferrato on the often contested French-Italian border. For a time, they thus rose to become one of the most important dynasties of princes in Italy. The extinction of the main Mantuan Gonzaga line in 1627 triggered the War of the Mantuan Succession between France and the Habsburgs over the strategically important duchy, which abruptly ended the economic and cultural prosperity of the country. In 1631, the Habsburg emperor had to recognize the French succession candidates, the dukes of Gonzaga-Nevers, as the new rulers of Mantua. Since they were again on the French side against Austria in the War of the Spanish Succession from 1701, the emperor deposed them in 1708; Mantua was since then a direct part of the Habsburg Empire. During the Coalition Wars, the city, which had been part of the Habsburg Duchy of Milan since 1745, was fought over several times. Napoleon was able to capture Mantua after a month-long siege in early 1797, but it was lost again as early as 1799. In 1814 Mantua became Austrian again and only in 1866, as a result of the German War, did it become part of Italy.

Place of Publication Basle
Dimensions (cm)22 x 15,5
ConditionVery good
Coloringoriginal colored


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