1st Edition

Mirror of the World Literature, Maps, and Geographic Writing in Late Medieval and Early Modern England

By Meg Roland Copyright 2022
    306 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    306 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In the late fifteenth century, the production of print editions of Claudius Ptolemy’s second-century Geography sparked one of the most significant intellectual developments of the era—the production of mathematically-based, north-oriented maps. The production of world maps in England, however, was notably absent during this "Ptolemaic revival." As a result, the impact of Ptolemy’s text on English geographical thought has been obscured and minimalized, with scholars speculating a possible English indifference to or isolation from European geographic developments. Tracing English geographical thought through the material culture of literary and popular texts, this study provides evidence for the reception and transmission of Ptolemaic-based geography in England during a critical period of geographic innovation and synthesis, one that laid the foundation for modern geographical representation. With evidence from prose romance, book illustration, theatrical performance, cosmological ceilings, and almanacs, Mirror of the World proposes a new, interdisciplinary literary and cartographic history of the influence of Ptolemaic geography in England, one that reveals the lively integration of geographic concepts through narrative and non-cartographic visual forms.

    Introduction: ‘Master Ptolemy:’ The Ptolemaic Revival and the Trace of Ptolemy’s Geography in Early English Print Culture

    1. Fluid Geographies: The Confluence of Medieval and Ptolemaic Space in Malory’s Le Morte Darthur

    2. Cartographic Caxton: Myrrour of the World and Early English Print

    3. The Equipollent Earth-Apple: Mandeville’s Travels, the Behaim Globe, and Globes in Tudor England

    4. The Painted World: John Rastell’s Stage Globe and Geographic Pleasure in Early Tudor England

    5. ‘After Poyetes and Astronomiers:’ The Kalender of Shepherds, and Ptolemaic Geography in Popular Print

    Epilogue and Analogue: What the "Poets and Astronomers" of the Ptolemaic Revival Offer the Spatial Humanities


    Meg Roland is currently Dean of Arts, Social Science, and Humanities at Linn-Benton Community College in Oregon. She was Professor of English at Concordia University, Portland, Oregon, and previously taught medieval literature and material culture at Marylhurst University.