Pietro Coppo

Pietro Coppo (1469/70 – 1555/56; Latin: Petrus Coppus) was an Italian geographer and cartographer who wrote a description of the entire world as known in the 16th century, accompanied by a set of systematically arranged maps, one of the first rutters and also a precise description of the Istrian Peninsula, accompanied by its first regional map.

The world map by Pietro Coppo (1520)


Pietro Coppo was born in Venice and studied with Marcus Antonius Coccius Sabellicus. He was also deeply influenced by the Natural History by Pliny.[1] After a number of voyages across Italy and the Mediterranean and a period of six years he spent on Crete,[2] in 1499 he moved to Izola due to his work duties as a municipal scribe, where he married Colotta di Ugo from a rich Izola family. He was active in the public life of the town, where he worked as a notary, and also represented it on several occasions before the Doge of Venice.[3]


De toto orbeEdit

Coppo's major work was the description, accompanied by an atlas of 22 maps, of the entire known world, titled De toto orbe. It was written in four volumes from 1518 until 1520 and also included the outline of the coast of the Americas, a military secret at the time,[3] but remained unpublished.[4] The two preserved samples of the work are kept in Bologna (Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio) and in Paris (Bibliothèque nationale de France).[5]

De Summa totius OrbisEdit

From 1524 until 1526, Coppo prepared a shortened version of De toto orbe under the title De Summa totius Orbis. This work contained 15 systematically arranged woodcut maps, named Tabulae ("tables"), to be published in a book, thus representing the first "modern" atlas, though this distinction is conventionally awarded to Abraham Ortelius.[6] It has been preserved in three copies, kept in Venice, Paris and Piran. Only the Piran manuscript contains the maps.[7]


In 1528, he published the work Portolano, one of the first rutters in the world. Although not preserved in entirety (probably due to frequent usage), its copies have been preserved in Piran, Parish and London (the British Museum).[2]

Del sito de l'IstriaEdit

In his description of Istria (Del sito de l'Istria; 1529, published in 1540, Venice), he published the first geographic description and a copy of the first regional map of Istria, produced in 1525 and already included in De Summa totius Orbis.[2] Its copy inscribed in stone can now be seen in the Pietro Coppo Park in the center of the town of Izola in southwestern Slovenia.[8][2]

Piran CodexEdit

Two manuscripts of De Summa totius Orbis and Portolano, bound in a single text-block, together with printed woodcut maps, are kept in the Sergej Mašera Maritime Museum in Piran. This is probably the most precious cartographic work kept in Slovenia and considered world-class cultural heritage. It is unique primarily because unlike other preserved Coppa's works, it contains 15 colorized systematically arranged woodcut maps.[9][6]


  1. ^ "Prominent Istrians: Pietro Coppo". Istria on the Internet.
  2. ^ a b c d Kljajić, Ivka; Lapaine, Miljenko (2006). "Pietro Coppo". Kartografija I Geoinformacije. Croatian Cartographic Society (6). ISSN 1848-0713.
  3. ^ a b "Pietro Coppo". Primorci.si (in Slovenian). Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  4. ^ Bagrow, Leo (2010). "Map Workshops and the World Map of the 16th Century". History of Cartography. Transaction Publishers. p. 136. ISBN 9781412825184.
  5. ^ "L'allargameno dell'ecumene, 3e parte" (PDF) (in Italian). Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli. p. 1.
  6. ^ a b Mercator, Gerardu; Karrow, Jr., Robert W. Atlas sive Cosmographicæ Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura (PDF). Library of Congress. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-10.
  7. ^ Karrow, Robert W.; Ortelius, Abraham; Bagrow, Leo (1993). 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. Speculum Orbis Press. p. 120. ISBN 9780932757050.
  8. ^ "Historic Urban Cores: Izola". REVITAS – Revitalisation of the Istrian hinterland and tourism in the Istrian hinterland. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  9. ^ Vodopivec, Jedrt (2002). "Coppov piranski kodeks – struktura in stanje" [Coppo's Piran Codex – its Structure and State]. Knjižnica (in Slovenian and English). 46 (1/2): 7–27. ISSN 0023-2424. COBISS 119178240.

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