The late fifteenth-century landfall by Christopher Columbus on the island of Guanahani, in the Bahamas, forced open the gates to a whole new world for the Spanish and other European explorers. America, as it came to be called, became the destination for numerous expeditions and adventures from 1492 onward. Through papal bulls in 1493 and the famous Treaty of Tordesillas between Spain and Portugal in 1494, the two Iberian powers laid claim to the entire Western Hemisphere, although to them the newly found lands were extensions of Asia, or islands off its coasts.
During the next seventy years, a veritable avalanche of individual and state-supported efforts ensued to discover, explore, and understand the fullness of America, although initially the efforts were concentrated along its extensive coastlines. Exploratory forays continued well into the eighteenth century until every segment of America, from Canada to Tierra del Fuego, was visited and studied.
In sixteenth-century Europe, authoritative knowledge of the geography of America was based upon the observations of primarily Spanish- and Portuguese-sponsored explorers and navigators, as interpreted and plotted by official cosmographers and cartographers of the crowns of Spain's new overseas empire. As Europe's vision of trade and land acquisition shifted from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, the information that this institution acquired about its new territories was vital to Spain's world power status. Comprehensive changes in long-held geographical concepts were produced as practical observation countered time-honored ideas about the shape of the world and the areas that comprised it.
In 1562 Diego Gutiérrez, a Spanish cartographer from the respected Casa de la Contratación, and Hieronymus Cock, a noted engraver from Antwerp, collaborated in the preparation of a spectacular and ornate map of what was then referred to as the fourth part of the world, America. It was the largest engraved map of America to that time.
Substantial mystery surrounds this map more than four hundred years after its creation. Confusion over its authorship, the location of its printing, and the reasons even for its preparation remains. The fact that only two known copies of this printed map are extant, one located in the Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.) and the other preserved in the British Library (London) no doubt contributes to our lack of knowledge about this valuable and authoritative depiction of Spanish dominion in its new world, America.
Entitled Americae sive quartae orbis partis nova et exactissima
descriptio. (Auctore Diego Gutiero Philippi Regis Hisp. etc.
There are three coats of arms on the Gutiérrez map: in the lower right, in the Atlantic Ocean east of Argentina is the coat of arms of the crown of Portugal, and Portuguese interests in India are noted in the Eastern Atlantic "La Flota De Portugal Que Va Par Calicute". In the southeastern and southwestern parts of what is now the United States are two coats of arms: the one on the left is that of the Spanish Habsburg Empire; to its right is that of the French crown. Gutiérrez's Americae is an official map, recognizing both Philip II, King of Spain from 1556 to 1598, and his half-sister Margarita de Parma, Regent of the Netherlands from 1559 to 1562.
The following inscription (in Latin on the map) gives evidence, seventy years
after Columbus's historic voyage, of the popular belief that Americus Vespucius
discovered America in 1497: "This fourth part of the world remained unknown to
all geographers until the year 1497, at which time it was discovered by Americus
Vespucius serving the King of Castile, whereupon it also obtained a name from
The map has been used as evidence in two South American boundary disputes. It was reproduced in part in Frontières entre le Brésil et la Guyane Française. Mémoire présenté par les États Unis de Brésil. Atlas (Paris, 1899) and Juicio de límites entre el Perú y Bolivia. Prueba peruana presentada al gobierno de la República Argentina por Victor M. Maurtua. Atlas (Barcelona, 1906). A tracing of it was made in the nineteenth century by Johann Georg Kohl for his hand-copied collection of maps in European libraries and archives for the study of the discovery, exploration, and mapping of North America, now in the Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress's copy of the Gutiérrez map was formerly in the collection of the Duke of Gotha in Germany. Sold at a 1932 auction in Munich, it was subsequently acquired by an American book dealer who sold it to Lessing J. Rosenwald, the well-known collector of illustrated books. The Gutiérrez map was among the items received when Mr. Rosenwald gave a portion of his collection to the Library of Congress in 1949.
The mapmaker Diego Gutiérrez had been named cosmographer in the Casa de la Contratación by a royal appointment on October 22, 1554, following the death of his father Diego in January 1554. He received a salary of 6,000 maravedis because of his known ability to make navigational charts and other nautical instruments. On the famous 1562 map of America he is identified as the "Auctore Diego Gutiero Philippi Regis Hisp. Etc." That is, "Diego Gutiérrez , cosmographer at the time of the reign of Philip II of Spain." He served as a cosmographer in the Casa de la Contratación from 1554 to at least 1569, according to documents in the Archive General de Indias in Seville. He was among a number of cartographers in the Casa de la Contratación, known as cosmographers, including Alonso de Chaves (Pilot Major), Francisco Falero, Jersnimo de Chaves, Sancho Gutiérrez (Diego's brother), and Alonso de Santa Cruz. Diego Gutiérrez was distinguished from the rest as "oficial de hacer cartas de marear" ["an official who makes sea charts"]). Diego's brother, Sancho Gutiérrez, became a cosmographer in the Casa on May 18, 1553.
The engraver of the map, Hieronymus Cock, was a Flemish artist of recognized talent who worked in Antwerp. He has been considered one of the most important engravers and printmakers in Europe in the sixteenth century. In the second half of the sixteenth century, Antwerp became the major center for the production of prints and books in the Low Countries. Cock was the son of Jan Wellens or Willems, alias Cock, and had a brother, Mathias Cock; they were both noted painters. Born at Antwerp in 1510, Cock was admitted to the Guild of St. Luke as a master painter in 1545 and later engaged in engraving and print selling. Between 1546 and 1548 he studied in Rome, where he was influenced by the work of the noted artists and printmakers Antonio Salamanca and Antonio Lafrery. In Antwerp in 1548 Cock established the shop Aux Quatre Vents [To The Four Winds]. Between 1548 and the time of his death in 1570 he carried on a very successful business, popularizing art through his engravings of the finest works of the Dutch masters.
In 1550 Cock prepared his first engraving of ruins of Ancient Rome, followed by twenty-four plates of the ruins in May 1554. He engraved various works in honor of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, including the "Pompa funebris" in 1559, depicting the funeral cortege organized in Brussels in 1558 by Philip II in honor of his father. Cock in 1555 engraved portraits of Philip II and Maria and Maximillian II of Austria. He engraved a portrait of Charles V in 1556 and produced the Divi Caroli V imp. opt. max. victoriae, in 1563, a series of twelve engravings illustrating the triumphs of that emperor.
Cock engraved several maps, including those of Leiden (1550), Piedmont (1551), Sicily (1553), Turkey and Persia by Castaldo (1555), Siena (1555), Ostia (1557), an Antwerp bird's-eye view (1557), Siege de Saint-Quentin (1557), Ypres (1562), Hableneuf (1563), Malta (1565), Bourgogne by Ferdinand de Launoy (1562), and the Holy Land by Petru Laicksteen (1562) in addition to the 1562 America map. He engraved several of the maps for Abraham Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, published in 1570 by the Plantin Press in Antwerp and is cited in Ortelius's Catalogus Auctorum Tabularum Geographicarum. His engravings also appeared in Jacob van Deventer's Nederlansche Steden, Braun and Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum, and Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia.
In order to invest his business with an official status and obtain privileges, Cock had as his patron the powerful Antoine Perrenot, Cardinal de Granvelle (1517-1586), to whom some of Cock's prints are dedicated. His widow carried on the business after his death in 1570.
Facts concerning the distribution of the 1562 map of America or the number of
copies prepared are not known. It would seem that a
It is possible that the map was produced, at the request of official Spain, through Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle who was the Spanish negotiator of the 1559 Treaty of Cateau Cambrésis. As was mentioned earlier, Granvelle was the patron of much of Cock's printing in Antwerp. That treaty between France and Spain, and a separate one by the same name between France and England brought to a close nearly thirty years of constant warfare in Western Europe. And the recognition of Philip II on the map, to whom Gutiérrez was cosmographer, indicated that the map itself probably was prepared after 1556, when Charles V abdicated the throne in favor of Philip II and retired to the Monastery of Yuste in Extremadura. Charles died on September 21, 1558.
An apparent oral agreement between French and Spanish negotiators at Cateau Cambrésis concluded that the geographical parameters of the treaty were not to extend to non-European areas, for example, in America, where the French claimed the right to trade, which Spain denied.
One of the noteworthy omissions in the Gutiérrez map of America is the absence of the famous line of demarcation. This hypothetical vertical line in the Atlantic Ocean served as the division between Spanish and Portuguese possessions in America. West of the line were Spain's areas of influence. In the Gutiérrez map the most prominent line of demarcation is not a vertical line but rather a parallel or horizontal line, representing the Tropic of Cancer at 23° 30' N. One would have expected instead the parallel of Cape Bojador at 26° N, which passes south of the Canaries, and was used by Pope Martin V in the fifteenth century to grant exclusive privileges to the Portuguese southwards down the African coast, and by Pope Nicholas V in Romanus Pontifex (1455) and in all subsequent bulls on the subject of spheres of influence. But the latitudinal line mentioned in the 1559 Treaty of Cateau Cambrésis and prominently shown on the Gutiérrez map was that of the Tropic of Cancer.
But why was the famous vertical line of demarcation, that line separating
Europe from America, not referred to in the treaty of
In the sixteenth century, no one could determine longitudes across the oceans with more than a rough approximation of accuracy. From the outset of the diplomatic history of the Americas, it was concluded by diplomats, as well as distinguished Spanish jurists and theologians, that the Pope in Rome had no right to give away what did not belong to him, and that the only valid claim that Spain could assert to any part of America was to those areas it effectively occupied. In their sixteenth- and seventeenth-century relations with Spain, other European powers, with the exception of Portugal, recognized only one line, and that was the Tropic of Cancer. And Spain had chosen to use that line without regard for papal donations, for practical reasons. Navigators could easily ascertain the location of the Tropic of Cancer. What made it particularly useful was that Cancer ran through the Straits of Florida with the safest channel well on its Cuban, or southern, side. So no ship could enter West Indian or Caribbean waters, not even the Gulf of Mexico, without crossing the Tropic of Cancer. Spain was vitally interested in preserving the monopoly of its American trade and the safety of its silver and gold fleets. Until 1559 the only serious threat to its monopoly was France, and no sooner did French interlopers and corsairs begin to be a nuisance than measures began to be taken to pursue and eliminate them anywhere below the Tropic of Cancer. The normal relation between Spain and France, especially before 1559, had been war.
With the map and the treaty of Cateau Cambrésis, Spain and France acknowledged areas of possession in America. At the time of the map the ill-fated French settlement of Nicolas de Villegaignon in Portugal's Brazil, following France's 1555 establishment of its "La France Antarctique" in Guanabara Bay, was under continuous attack by the Portuguese until it was removed in 1567. South of the Tropic of Cancer. Spain had firm control in its America. But from the Florida Keys northward Spain had not effectively placed its flag. In the 1560's in present-day South Carolina and Florida, the most ambitious effort to test Spanish resolve occurred. In 1562 a new French colony was established in Florida under Jean Ribaut and René de Laudonniére only to be destroyed by the Spanish in 1565 with the subsequent establishment of the first permanent settlement in what is now the United States, Saint Augustine, as a protective station for the Spanish gold fleet returning from America to Spain.
Gutiérrez 's magnificent
The Gutiérrez map of America has rarely gained the recognition and the study that it deserves. Perhaps its uniqueness, with only two known copies extant, has contributed to its relative obscurity in cartographic literature. Or, it is possible that the controversy over who actually made the map, whether the father or less well-known son, has confused researchers. But, for whatever reason that limited information is known about this large map of America, it is hoped that this facsimile of the map in the Library of Congress's Geography and Map Division can generate interest in further research on Diego Gutiérrez and his 1562 map of America. Perhaps then this magnificent map can enter its proper rank among the cartographic treasures of the early years of European exploration of America.
Dr. John R. Hébert
Geography and Map Division
Library of Congress
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