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.[1][2] It bears a striking resemblance to the Hunt–Lenox Globe, also tentatively dated to 1510[3] 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[4] and described as Globus Jagellonicus in 1900 by Prof. Tadeusz Estreicher in the Transactions of the Cracow Academy of Sciences for that year.[5][6] 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.

Globus Jagellonicus. Tadeusz Estreicher delineavit. Illustration No. 3 published in Tadeusz Estreicher, Globus Biblioteki Jagiellońskiej z początku wieku XVI, w Krakowie, Nakładem Akademii Umięjetności, 1900.

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.[7] A replica of the globe is on display in the Polish Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh[8]

Robert 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.[9]

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.[10] 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 [11] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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).[14] 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.[12] As George E. Nunn observed, “This was a very plausible way of presenting a problem at the time insoluble”.[15]

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.[16] 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.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ (in Polish), Sławomir Leśniewski, Ameryka na nowo odkryta, Polityka, 20 July 2007
  2. ^ MUSEUM OF THE JAGIELLONIAN UNIVERSITY IN CRACOW Archived 2010-05-05 at the Wayback Machine on
  3. ^ Denis E. Cosgrove, Mappings, 1999
  4. ^ The originals of greatest interest are: the earliest engraved map of the world, 1508, the original Hunt–Lenox Globe, about 1510, supposed to be the earliest Post-Columbian globe which is extant, unless rivalled by the lately discovered Globus Jagellonicus; Publishers Weekly, Philadelphia, 1873 [1]
  5. ^ Tadeusz Estreicher, Globus Biblioteki Jagiellońskiej z początku wieku XVI, w Krakowie, Nakładem Akademii Umięjetności, 1900, 18 pp; a resumé, "Ein Erdglobus aus dem Anfange des XVI. Jahrhunderts in der Jagellonischen Bibliothek", was published in the Bulletin international de l'Académie des Sciences de Cracovie/ Anzeiger der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Krakau, No.2, February 1900, pp. 96–105. Estreicher prepared a manuscript English translation in March 1900: A globe of the beginning of the 16th century in the Jagellon Library, Extract from the Official Report of the Cracow Academy of Sciences, Globus Biblioteki Jagiellonskiej z początku w. XVI, No.12, January 1900, National Library of Australia MS 760/12/199; published as “Tadeusz Estreicher and the Jagiellonian Globe”, The Globe (Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Map Society) no.75, 2014, pp. 16–28. [2] Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine [3] See also Tadeusz Estreicher, « Globus Biblioteki Jagiellońskiej z początku wieku XVI, a trzema figurami », Rozprawy Akademii Umiejętności: Wydział Filologiczny, w Krakowie, Nakładem Akademii, vol.32, 1901, pp. 1–18. [4]
  6. ^ Edward Henry Lewinski Corwin, The Political History of Poland, 1917, [5] Protestant Reformation and the Golden Age in Poland
  7. ^ The name America was not universally accepted. Waldseemueller removed the name "America" from his map called Universalis Cosmographia substituting "terra incognita" (unknown land) for both continents. But printers reinserted it after his death.[6]
  8. ^ Sigmund H. Uminski, Poland Discovers America, 1972
  9. ^ Globus Mundi has been digitalized at: See Sophus Ruge, “Die Litteratur zur Geschichte der Erdkunde vom Mittelalter an”, Geographisches Jahrbuch, Bd. 20–21, 1898, p.244; Armand d' Avezac-Macaya, Martin Hylacomylus Waltzemüller: ses Ouvrages et ses Collaborateurs, 1867, pp. 14–117; Leo Bagrow, A. Ortellii Catalogus Cartographorum, Gotha, 1928–1930, No. 210, p.100; Leo Bagrow, History of Cartography, revised and enlarged by R.A. Skelton, 2nde edn., Chicago, Precedent, 1963, p.247; Robert W. Karrow Jr, Mapmakers of the sixteenth century and their maps: bio-bibliographies of the cartographers of Abraham Ortelius, 1570: based on Leo Bagrow's A. Ortelii Catalogus cartographorum, Chicago, Speculum Orbis Press, 1993, 80/C, p.574; Hildegard Binder Johnson, Carta Marina: World Geography in Strassburg, 1525, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1963, p.123; Thomas Horst, “Traces of Voyages of Discovery on Early 16th-Century Globes”, Globe Studies, No. 55/56, 2009 (for 2007/2008), pp. 23–37, p.25.
  10. ^ George E. Nunn, The Origin of the Strait of Anian Concept, Philadelphia, Beans, 1929, pp. 4–6.
  11. ^ Joseph Fischer and F. R. von Wieser: The Oldest Map with the name America of the year 1507 and the Carta Marina of the year 1516; cited in George E. Nunn, The World Map of Francesco Roselli, Philadelphia, Beans, 1928, pp. 8–9.
  12. ^ a b George E. Nunn, The World Map of Francesco Roselli, Philadelphia, Beans, 1928, pp. 8–9.
  13. ^ George E. Nunn, "The Lost Globe Gores of Johann Schöner, 1523–1524", The Geographical Review, vol. 17, no. 3, July 1927, pp. 476–480, nb p. 479.
  14. ^ George E. Nunn, The Origin of the Strait of Anian Concept, Philadelphia, Beans, 1929, pp. 4–6.
  15. ^ George E. Nunn, "The Lost Globe Gores of Johann Schöner, 1523–1524", The Geographical Review, vol.17, no.3, July 1927, pp. 476–480, nb pp. 479–80.
  16. ^ Robert J. King, “The Jagiellonian Globe, a Key to the Puzzle of Jave la Grande”, The Globe: Journal of the Australian Map Circle, no.62, 2009, pp. 1–50.