Martin Waldseemüller

Martin Waldseemüller (Latinized as Martinus Ilacomylus, Ilacomilus or Hylacomylus; c. 1470 – 16 March 1520) was a German cartographer.

He and Matthias Ringmann are credited with the first recorded usage of the word America, on the 1507 map Universalis Cosmographia in honour of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.

Martin Waldseemüller
Martin Waldseemüller (19th-century painting)
Bornc. 1470
Died16 March 1520 (aged 49–50)
Sankt Didel
Alma materUniversity of Freiburg
MovementGerman Renaissance


Waldseemüller was born in Wolfenweiler near Freiburg im Breisgau (his mother came from Radolfzell) and he studied at the University of Freiburg.

Waldseemuller map 2
Universalis Cosmographia, Waldseemüller's 1507 world map which was the first to show the Americas separate from Asia

On 25 April 1507, as a member of the Gymnasium Vosagense at Saint Diey (German: Sankt Didel) in the Duchy of Lorraine (today Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, France), he produced a globular world map and a large 12-panel world wall map using the information from Columbus and Vespucci's travels (Universalis Cosmographia), both bearing the first use of the name "America". The globular and wall maps were accompanied by a book Cosmographiae Introductio, an introduction to cosmography. The book, first printed in the city of Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, includes in its second part, a translation to Latin of the Quattuor Americi Vespuccij navigationes (Four Voyages of Americo Vespucci), which is apparently a letter written by Amerigo Vespucci, although some historians consider it to have been a forgery written by its supposed recipient in Italy.

In the seventh chapter of the Cosmographiæ Introduction, written by Matthias Ringmann, it is explained why the name America was proposed for the then New World, or the Fourth Part of the World:

Atque in sexto climate Antarcticum versus et pars extrema Africæ nuper reperta. . . . et quarta orbis pars (quam quia Americus invenit Amerigen, quasi Americi terram, sive American nuncupare licet) sitae sunt


And in the sixth climate toward the Antarctic, the recently discovered farther part of Africa . . . and a fourth part of the world (which may be called Amerige, as if meaning "Americus' land", or America) are situated

In the ninth chapter of the same book the reasons for the name America are given in more detail:

Nunc vero et hæ partes sunt latius lustratæ et alia quarta pars per Americum Vesputium (ut in sequentibus audietur) inventa est, quam non video cur quis jure vetet ab Americo Inventore sagacis ingenii viro, Amerigen quasi Americi terram sive Americam dicendam; cum et Europa et Asia a mulieribus sua sortita sunt nomina.


But now these parts have been more widely explored, and also another fourth part has been discovered by Americus Vesputius (as will be heard in the following), and I do not see why anyone should justifiably forbid it to be called Amerige, as if "Americus' Land", or America, from its discoverer Americus, a man of perceptive character; since both Europa and Asia have received their names from women.

In 1513, Waldseemüller appears to have had second thoughts about the name, probably due to contemporary protests about Vespucci’s role in the discovery and naming of America, or just carefully waiting for the official discovery of the whole northwestern coast of what is now called North America, as separated from East Asia. In his reworking of the Ptolemy atlas, the continent is labelled simply Terra Incognita (unknown land). Despite the revision, 1,000 copies of the world maps had since been distributed, and the original suggestion took hold. While North America was still called Indies in documents for some time, it was eventually called America as well.

The wall map was lost for a long time, but a copy was found in Schloss Wolfegg in southern Germany by Joseph Fischer in 1901. It is still the only copy known to survive, and it was purchased by the United States Library of Congress in May 2003[1] after an agreement was reached in 2001.[2] Five copies of the globular map survive in the form of "gores": printed maps that were intended to be cut out and pasted onto a wooden globe. Only one of these lies in the Americas today, residing at the James Ford Bell Library University of Minnesota; three copies are in Germany (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, LMU Munich, Stadtbibliothek Offenburg), and one is in London, UK, in private hands.

Waldseemüller died intestate 16 March 1520 in Sankt Didel, then a canon of the collegiate Church of Saint-Dié.

Carta itineraria europae 1520 waldseemueller watermarked
Carta itineraria europae 1520

See also


  1. ^ Hébert, John R. (September 2003). "The Map That Named America". Library of Congress. 62 (9). Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  2. ^ Dalrymple, Helen; Brett, Jill (23 July 2001). "Library of Congress Acquires Only Known Copy of 1507 World Map Compiled by Martin Waldseemüller". Library of Congress. ISSN 0731-3527. Retrieved 27 October 2018.


  • Peter W. Dickson: "The Magellan Myth: Reflections on Columbus, Vespucci and the Waldseemueller Map of 1507", Printing Arts Press, 2007, 2009 (Second Edition)
  • John Hessler: The Naming of America: Martin Waldseemüller's 1507 World Map and the Cosmographiae Introductio, Library of Congress, 2007
  • Seymour Schwartz: Putting "America" on the Map, the Story of the Most Important Graphic Document in the History of the United States, Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 2007
  • David Brown: 16th-Century Mapmaker's Intriguing Knowledge, in: Washington Post, 2008-11-17, p. A7
  • Toby Lester: Putting America on the Map, Smithsonian, Volume 40, Number 9, p. 78, December 2009
  • Toby Lester: The Fourth Part of the World, The Epic Story of History's Greatest Map, Profile Books, London, 2009
  • Chet van Duzer and Benoît Larger: Martin Waldseemüller Death Date, Imago Mundi, Volume 63, Part 2: 219-221, 2011

External links


Year 1507 (MDVII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

1507 in science

The year 1507 in science and technology included many events, some of which are listed here.

1512 in science

The year 1512 in science and technology included a number of events, some of which are listed here.

Amerigo Vespucci

Amerigo Vespucci (; Italian: [ameˈriːɡo veˈsputtʃi]; March 9, 1454 – February 22, 1512) was an Italian explorer, financier, navigator, and cartographer who was born in the Republic of Florence. Sailing for Portugal around 1501-1502, Vespucci demonstrated that Brazil and the West Indies were not Asia's eastern outskirts (as initially conjectured from Columbus' voyages) but a separate, unexplored land mass colloquially known as the New World. It came to be called "the Americas", a name derived from Americus (the Latin version of Vespucci's first name). He became a citizen of the Crown of Castile and died in Seville (1512).

Cosmographiae Introductio

Cosmographiae Introductio ("Introduction to Cosmography"; Saint-Dié, 1507) was a book published in 1507 to accompany Martin Waldseemüller's printed globe and wall-map (Universalis Cosmographia), which were the first appearance of the name 'America'. Waldseemüller’s maps and book, along with his 1513 edition of Ptolemy’s Geography, were very influential and widely copied at the time.

It is widely held to have been written by Matthias Ringmann although some historians attribute it to Waldseemüller himself. The book includes the reason for using the name America in the wall map and the globe, and contains a Latin translation of the four journeys of Amerigo Vespucci as an appendix.

The full title of the book is: Cosmographiae introductio cum quibusdam geometriae ac astronomiae principiis ad eam rem necessariis. Insuper quatuor Americi Vespucii navigationes. Universalis Cosmographiae descriptio tam in solido quam plano, eis etiam insertis, quae Ptholomaeo ignota a nuperis reperta sunt.

(translation: Introduction to Cosmography With Certain Necessary Principles of Geometry and Astronomy To which are added The Four Voyages of Amerigo Vespucci A Representation of the Entire World, both in the Solid and Projected on the Plane, Including also lands which were Unknown to Ptolemy, and have been Recently Discovered)

The map of the world in 1507, entitled Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque lustrationes, was published in an edition of 1000 copies, of which it seems only a single copy survives. The surviving copy was found in the library of Prince von Waldburg-Wolfegg-Waldsee in the Castle of Wolfegg in Württemberg. It was bought by the Library of Congress in 2001. This preservation seems to be due the several sheets being bound into a single cover by the cartographer, Johannes Schöner.

The map consists of twelve sections printed from woodcuts combined with metal types, each measuring 18 x 24.5 inches (46 x 62 cm). Each section is one of four, that form one of three zones. The map uses a modified Ptolemaic coniform projection with curved meridians to depict the entire surface of the Earth.

Globus Jagellonicus

The Globus Jagellonicus or Jagiellonian globe, probably made in northern Italy or the south of France and dated to around 1510, is by some considered to be the oldest existing globe to show the Americas. It bears a striking resemblance to the Hunt–Lenox Globe, also tentatively dated to 1510 which is the second or third oldest known terrestrial globe, after the Erdapfel of Martin Behaim, made in Nuremberg in 1492, the year before Columbus' discovery became known in March 1493, and thus without the new continents. Globes made by Martin Waldseemüller in 1507 already showed America.

The globus belonged to the medieval Cracow Academy which was in 1817 renamed the Jagiellonian University; it is featured on display at the Collegium Maius Museum. It was rediscovered in the early 1870s and described as Globus Jagellonicus in 1900 by Prof. Tadeusz Estreicher in the Transactions of the Cracow Academy of Sciences for that year. At the time, when no Polish state existed for about a century, Prof. Estreicher points out that this globe indicating recent geographical discoveries, possessed by the Cracow Academy since 1510, throws special light on the interest taken by Polish scholars of that time.

The gilded copper globe is considered the earliest existing globe to indicate any part of the New World and the first to delineate the South American continent. It is also the oldest globe on which the continent of America is shown to be distinct from that of Asia. It uses the name "America", which had been introduced in 1507 by Martin Waldseemüller in his Universalis Cosmographia, though for a continent located to the south of India. A replica of the globe is on display in the Polish Nationality Room at the University of PittsburghRobert J. King has pointed out that America was shown on the Jagiellonian Globe in two locations: in the Atlantic Ocean under the names MUNDUS NOVUS, TERRA SANCTAE CRUCIS and TERRA DE BRAZIL; and in the Indian Ocean under the name AMERICA NOVITER REPERTA (America newly discovered). The phrase, america noviter reperta was used for the first time in the booklet, Globus Mundi: Declaratio sive descriptio mundi et totius orbis terrarum, published in Strassburg by J. Grüninger in 1509.This bilocation of America in the eastern and western hemispheres resulted from the two different scales of longitude employed, one that of Claudius Ptolemy who allowed 180 degrees between the westernmost point of Europe, Cape St Vincent in Portugal and Cattigara on the easternmost point of Asia, the other that of Christopher Columbus, who allowed 225 degrees for the same distance. According to the Columban calculation, therefore, the New World/America was closer to Europe, its most western part no more than 135 degrees west of Portugal, while according to the Ptolemaic calculation it was further west, to the south of India, as seen on the Jagiellonian Globe.

This was a solution to the problem of representing the known world so that both the Ptolemaic and the Columbian ideas could be represented similar to that devised by Martin Waldseemüller for his world map of 1507. Acceptance of the Columbus claims to have reached the Indies (eastern Asia) involved a rejection of Ptolemy's degree value and longitudes, which many cartographers were not prepared to do. As a result, there was a conflict between the Columbian and the Ptolemaic schools of geography. It was impossible satisfactorily to indicate that Columbus had reached eastern Asia if the cartographer retained the Ptolemy longitudes and attempted to represent the entire 360 degrees of the earth's circumference. Waldseemüller’s map was a reconciliation of the Columbian longitudes with the Ptolemy longitudes as shown on the globe of Martin Behaim. On the right hand side of his world map Waldseemüller indicated the Ptolemy/Behaim conception included within 270 degrees of longitude from the meridian of the Canary Islands to the east, including the island of Zipango. The Waldseemüller map thus represents on its right hand side the Behaim conception of the earth as far as longitude 270ºE and terminates in the east with an open sea The ocean east of Asia is named the Occeanus Orientalis Indicus.

On the left hand side of Waldseemüller's map are the remaining 90 degrees necessary to make up the 360. Here he indicated the Columbian conception, duplicating the same eastern Asia, once as the west coast of the Occeanus Occidentalis, and again as the west coast of the Occeanus Orientalis Indicus. Beyond the Occeanus Occidentalis the Spanish discoveries are shown as two long narrow islands, PARIAS and AMERICA, corresponding to North and South America but separated by a strait in the region of the present Panama (on the miniature map inset into the upper-midsection of Waldseemüller's map the isthmus joining the two is unbroken, again demonstrating his willingness to represent alternative solutions to a question yet unanswered). The west side of both large islands is marked with the legends terra ultra incognita ("land beyond unknown") in the south and in the north terra ulterius incognita ("land further beyond unknown"). There is a conjectural sea to the west of the islands. On the gores of Waldseemüller's globe of 1507, the sea to the west of the notional American west coast is named the Occeanus Occidentalis, that is, the Western or Atlantic Ocean, and where it merges with the Occeanus Orientalis (the Eastern, or Indian Ocean) is concealed by a latitude staff. The island of Zipangri (Japan) and the island of Hispaniola, which Columbus considered identical, differ by only 45 degrees on their west coasts: this is substantially the difference between the Columbian and the Behaim longitudes. The cape of Florida is in almost the same latitude as that of the Zaitun region of the Behaim Asia, and the two differ in longitude by 55 degrees. On the left hand side in the remaining 90 degrees he thus represented the Columbian concept. The land on both the right and the left sides of his map represented the Indies (eastern Asia). The two alternative conceptions were shown on the same map. The Waldseemüller world map duplicates both eastern Asia and Cipangu, as America and Hispaniola. Waldseemüller in effect devised a map scheme where he could let his reader take his choice between the Columbian and the Ptolemy-Behaim concept: the choice was left open. As George E. Nunn observed, “This was a very plausible way of presenting a problem at the time insoluble”.Likewise, on the Jagiellonian Globe, the different scales of longitude running eastward and westward results in a very obvious bilocation of America in the eastern and western hemispheres: in the western hemisphere it lies according to the Ptolemy–Behaim longitudes, on an Earth equivalent to 33,296 kilometres in circumference, to the west of Africa, where it is called MUNDUS NOVUS, TERRA SANCTAE CRUCIS and TERRA DE BRAZIL; and in the eastern hemisphere according to the Columbian longitudes to the east of Africa, on an Earth of equivalent to 30,191 kilometres in circumference, as AMERICA NOVITER REPERTA. As on the Waldseemüller map, ZIPANGRI and SPAN[iola] are separated by forty-five degrees of longitude. The island of Zipangri (Japan) and the island of Hispaniola, were considered by Columbus to have been identical, so by representing them by a difference of forty-five degrees, substantially the difference between the Columbian and the Behaim longitudes, Waldseemüller and the Jagiellonian Globe were showing their acceptance of the Columbian claim that they were one and the same — a bilocation, just as in the case of America.

Henricus Martellus Germanus

Henricus Martellus Germanus is the latinized name of Heinrich Hammer (Italian: Enrico Martello), a geographer and cartographer from Nuremberg who lived and worked in Florence from 1480 to 1496.

Between around 1489 and 1491, he produced at least one world map which is remarkably similar to the terrestrial globe produced by Martin Behaim around 1492, the Erdapfel. Both show novel adaptions of the existing Ptolemaic model, opening a passage south of Africa and creating an enormous new peninsula east of the Golden Chersonese (Malaysia). Both possibly derive from maps created around 1485 in Lisbon by Bartolomeo Columbus.The only extant manuscript world map, measuring 201 by 122 centimetres (79 in × 48 in) in size, was rediscovered in the 1960s and donated to Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. An inscription in the lower left corner states: "Although Strabo and Ptolemy and the majority of the ancients were most assiduous in describing the world we, however, bring together in this picture and carefully show in their true places the new knowledge that escaped their diligence and remained unknown to them".Martellus’ map served as an inspiration for the Waldseemüller map of 1507. The overall layout was similar, and Martin Waldseemüller used the same projection as Martellus, the pseudo-cordiform projection. Both cartographers added decorative wind-heads in the borders of their maps, and both also took advantage of the extra space in the lower corners of the maps created by the swooping lines of the projection to add text blocks in those corners. The shape of northern Africa is the same on both maps, that is, it is Ptolemaic with a sharp northwestern corner. The shape of eastern Asia is similar on the two maps, with a huge peninsula jutting southwestward into the Indian Ocean, and Japan is in precisely the same position on the two maps, at the eastern edge.Martellus also produced an Insularium Illustratum ("Illustrated Book of Islands") of which four manuscripts are extant, plus one draft in Biblioteca Laurentiana. It contains an illustrated description of islands of the Aegean Sea, mostly copied from a previous work by Cristoforo Buondelmonti, plus maps from other islands, several regional maps and a world map.He has been identified with an Arrigho di Federigho who authored the first translation into German of Bocaccio's Decamerone. According to this theory, the surname Martellus would come from the Martelli family, to which Henricus / Arrigho was linked.

Johannes Schöner globe

The Johannes Schöner globes are a series of globes made by Johannes Schöner (1477–1547), the first being made in 1515. Schöner's globes are some of the oldest still in existence. Some of them are said by some authors to show parts of the world that were not yet known to Europeans, such as the Magellan Strait and the Antarctic.

Joseph Fischer (cartographer)

Joseph Fischer, S.J. (German: Josef Fischer; 19 March 1858 – 26 October 1944) was a German clergyman and cartographer. Fischer had an eminently successful career as a cartographer, publishing old maps. In 1901, while he was investigating the Vikings' discovery of America, he accidentally discovered the long-lost map of Martin Waldseemüller, dated 1507. This map, which claims to update Ptolemy with the voyages of Amerigo Vespucci, is the first known to display the word America. The map was purchased from its owner by the United States Library of Congress in 2001 for ten million dollars.

Matthias Ringmann

Matthias Ringmann (also known as Philesius Vogesigena or Ringmannus Philesius; 1482–1511) was an Alsatian German cartographer and humanist poet. Along with fellow cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, he is credited with drafting the first world map that named America as a land mass.

Naming of the Americas

The naming of the Americas, or America, occurred shortly after Christopher Columbus's voyage to the Americas in 1492. It is generally accepted that the name derives from Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer, who explored the new continents in the following years. However, some have suggested other explanations, including being named after a mountain range in Nicaragua, or after Richard Amerike of Bristol.


Saint-Dié-des-Vosges (French pronunciation: ​[sɛ̃ʒ]; German: Sankt Didel), commonly referred to as Saint-Dié, is a commune in the Vosges department in Grand Est in northeastern France.

It is a sub-prefecture of the department.


Schallstadt is a town in the district of Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald in Baden-Württemberg in Germany. It is known for its wine production and celebrates an annual wine festival in late summer.

Schloss Wolfegg

Schloss Wolfegg is a Renaissance castle next to the town of Wolfegg in Upper Swabia (Germany). The castle is the ancestral seat of the family of Waldburg-Wolfegg, which still owns it today.

Strait of Anián

The Strait of Anián was a semi-mythical strait, documented from around 1560, that was believed by early modern cartographers to mark the boundary between North America and Asia and to permit access to a Northwest Passage from the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific. The true strait was discovered in 1728 and became known as the Bering Strait. The Strait of Anián had been generally placed nearby but sometimes appeared as far south as California.


Taprobana (Ancient Greek: Ταπροβανᾶ) or Taprobane (Ταπροβανῆ) was the name by which the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka was known to the ancient Greeks.

Waldburg Castle

The Waldburg (English: Forest castle) is the ancestral castle of the stewards and imperial princes of the nobility gender with the same name. It dates from the 12th century and stands on the march of the municipality Waldburg in the district of Ravensburg, applies as one of the best preserved medieval buildings, and is one of the landmarks and the highest point in Upper Swabia.

Waldseemüller map

The Waldseemüller map or Universalis Cosmographia ("Universal Cosmography") is a printed wall map of the world by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, originally published in April 1507. It is known as the first map to use the name "America". The name America is placed on what is now called South America on the main map. As explained in Cosmographiae Introductio, the name was bestowed in honor of the Italian Amerigo Vespucci.

The map is drafted on a modification of Ptolemy's second projection, expanded to accommodate the Americas and the high latitudes. A single copy of the map survives, presently housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Waldseemüller also created globe gores, printed maps designed to be cut out and pasted onto spheres to form globes of the Earth. The wall map, and his globe gores of the same date, depict the American continents in two pieces. These depictions differ from the small inset map in the top border of the wall map, which shows the two American continents joined by an isthmus.

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