de la Cosa map

Mappa Mundi by Juan de la Cosa (ca.1500). (Compass rose modified.)

La Cosa, a Spanish Basque pilot and cosmographer, drew this map shortly after 1500. As owner of the Santa Maria, the vessel that Christopher Columbus took to America in 1492, la Cosa accompanied Columbus on his first two voyages. He then continued to survey the American coast until 1504. Although la Cosa's map also illustrates the Old World, the section here shows only the New World, which was drawn on a larger scale. La Cosa's map included the most up to date information concerning Spanish discoveries in the West Indies and South America. Alongside the large landmass - which is believed to represent the North American coast - are five English royal standards and the caption 'mar descubierta por inglese' ('sea discovered by the English'). Although evidence is lacking, some scholars think these legends refer either to John Cabot's voyages or to a later Bristol-Portuguese expedition. Parallel to these standards are 12 names along the western portion of the map which are not identifiable and do not appear on any later maps. This map is probably a copy of la Cosa's original map because some of the place names have been corrupted. Although the American half of this 'Mappemonde,' or world map, is dated 1500, it was probably constructed sometime after 1505.

Description based on Samuel Eliot Morison, The Great Explorers: The European Discovery of America (New York: Oxford University Press, ©1978) 37. Image from W. P. Cumming, R. A. Skelton and D. B. Quinn, The Discovery of North America (Montreal: McClelland and Stewart Limited, ©1971) 36. Courtesy of Museo Naval de Madrid, Madrid.

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