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Portolan Chart of Europe Showing the British Isles part A0

Portolan Chart of Europe Showing the British Isles part A0

Cartographer: Benincasa, Grazioso

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1470

Shelfmark: Additional 31318-A

Item number: f. 1

Length: 57

Width: 97

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript Map

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Authorship of this portolan is confirmed by the inscription at the neck: "Gratiosus Benincasa Anconitanus Composuit Ancone anno domini mcccclxx. Die viii Octubrie". Benincasa was one of the most active fifteenth century Italian chart makers. The Bay of Cardigan is not shown on this map, the Welsh coast and that of northern England is a smooth curve, dating this chart to pre 1550. Scotland is an island, the knot tying England and Scotland is typical of Benincasa, who reproduced the standard nautical chart with this new feature. Ireland is shown with the fabled land mark, the Purgatory of St Patrick, an inland loch with many islands. The text records that there are 368 islands. A dark red circle to the left of Ireland is marked "Brazill", known to exist due to classical legend, the location and form however are obviously as yet unknown. [Anthilia] is marked under the skin of the neck. This chart is interesting in that it shows the expansion of Portuguese knowledge of the coast of Africa. Spain and Portugal were hunting for the New World. The east coast of England is the most accurate area of Britain depicted on this chart. Crosses around the coast indicate rocks, a peril to ships. London is marked in red and the Thames is indicated.
A red cross on the island of Rhodes indicates the presence of the Knights of St John who occupied the island until 1522. This chart is in the Venetian tradition, which is typified by a lack of decorative elements with Venice the only place to be pictorially represented.

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