Cosmographers and Pilots of the Spanish Maritime Empire: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Cosmographers and Pilots of the Spanish Maritime Empire

1st Edition

By Ursula Lamb


288 pages

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Hardback: 9780860784739
pub: 1995-12-28
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These essays deal with questions of navigation and, more broadly, the intellectual challenges posed by Spain’s acquisition of an empire across the Atlantic. Crudely, they had to find out what was where and how to get there. The first section of the volume looks at the 16th-century Sevillan cosmographers and pilots charged with this task: their achievements, the social and political context in which they worked, and the methods used to establish scientific truths - including the resort to litigation. Ursula Lamb then turns to examine specific problems, from the routing of transatlantic shipping to the application of cartographic coordinates to allocate unexplored territories. The final articles move forward to the time when, after a lapse of two centuries, Spanish nautical science became revitalised, and the Spanish Hydrographic Office was established.


'This…is a book that a wide variety of historians- political, diplomatic, and social, as well as historians of science, cartography, and exploration- should find invaluable.' JEMH '…this fascinating overview of the equipment, personalities and politics from which evolved the enhanced maritime capabilities required for effective control of Spain’s vastly expanded empire.' Terrae Incognitae: The Journal for the History of Discoveries, Vol. XXIX

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The cosmographies of Pedro de Medina; The Quatri Partitu en Cosmographia by Alonso de Chaves: an interpretation; Science by litigation: a cosmographic feud; La nueva ciencia geográfica; The Spanish cosmographic juntas of the 16th century; Cosmographers of Seville: nautical science and social experience; The Sevillian lodestone: science and circumstance;The teaching of pilots and the Chronographía o Repertorio de los Tiempos; Nautical scientists and their clients in Iberia (1508-1624): science from imperial perspective; Dos huellas científicas del tratado de Tordesillas; Puerto de Caballos, Honduras: an abandoned choice; The silver masters: a link in the Spanish silver chain; Advice to the King: the route to the Indies and the South Atlantic; Argos and Polyphemus: eyes on the New World; Martín Fernández de Navarrete clears the deck: the Spanish Hydrographic Office (1809-1824); The London years of Felipe Bauzá: Spanish hydrographer in exile, 1823-34; Early Spanish plans for lithographic reproduction of maps: a fruitful failure; Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General