Cartographica Neerlandica Background for Ortelius Map No. 234

image of the map

Title: VTOPIÆ | TYPVS, EX | "Narratione Raphaelis Hythlodæi, | Descriptione D. Thomas Mori, | Delineatione Abrahami Ortelij" | ME:|RIDI:|ES. [A map of Utopia, after the narration of Raphael Hythlodæus, the writings of Thomas More as well as the drawing of Abraham Ortelius]. (Cartouche lower left:) NOBILISS. VIRO: IO:MAT:|THÆO WACKHERIO A WACK:|ENFELS SAC.CÆS.M.tis CONSI:|LIARIO ET EPI WRATISLAV. | CANCELLARIO | Amico optatissimo | "Ab. Ortelius dedicabat", L.M. [Abraham Ortelius has dedicated this map willingly and not without merit to the most honourable man Johannes Matthæus Wacker von Wackenfels, adviser to his holy imperial majesty, chancellor of the bishop of Breslau, his dearest friend]. (Cartouche bottom right:) AD SPECTATOREM. | "En tibi delicias mundi: regne ecce beata! | Queis melius, queis nil pulchrius orbis habet. | Hæc illa Utopia est; arx pacis; nidis Amoris, | Justitiæ, ac summi portus et ora bonj. | Lauda alsias terras: istanc cole qui sapis. Isto | Vel nulla fixa est Vita beata loco. | I.M.W. à W.f. | Lustravit Raphael: Descripsit Morus: Abrahamus | Edidit Ortelius. Tu fruere atque vale". [To the spectator. Have a look at the joys of the world. Behold the happy kingdom. The world has no other, which is better or more beautiful! This is that Utopia, bulwark of peace, centre of love and justice, best harbour and good shore, praised by other lands, honoured by you who knows why, this, more than any other place, offers a happy life. For Johannes Matthæus Wacker von Wackerfels; as told by Raphael; as described by More; Published by Abraham Ortelius. Enjoy it and be well].

Plate size: 380 x 475 mm
Scale: not applicable
Identification number: Ort 234 (not in Koeman or Meurer, Karrow: 1/210, van der Krogt AN: 9999:31).

Occurrence in Theatrum editions and page number: so far no editions of the Theatrum have been found which contain this map, although its size allows easy insertion.

States: 234.1 only. Werner (1998) "Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598)Aartsvader van onze atlas, Canaletto") reports another copy in the British Library, but this information is incorrect.

Approximate number of copies printed: only one copy known (without text on verso). Colius reports in 1596 (Hessels 294) that Norton delivered 12 copies of this map to him. Since this copy was found in Great Britain, it is probably one of those twelve.

Cartographic sources: as Wacker a Wackenfels puts it in his letter to Jacobus Monau, dated August 1, 1595 "each nation may recognise something of its own in this Utopia".

References: C. Kruythooft (1981) "The Map Collector" 16:10-14; P.H. Meurer "Ortelius as the Father of Historical Cartography", p. 133-159 in: M. van den Broecke, P. van der Krogt and P.H. Meurer (eds.) "Abraham Ortelius and the First Atlas", HES Publishers, 1998; Johannes Stoffers (2001) "Die Republik Utopia. Erläuterung und Gedanken zu einer alten Karte". Essay. Special Publication from Auswärtiger Dienst Vierteljahresschrift der Vereinigung Deutscher Auslandsbeamter e.V. 62. Jahrgang, Heft I/II, 2001. Werdersche Markt 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany.
M. van den Broecke (2004) De Utopia Kaart van Ortelius. "Caert-Thresoor" 23(4):89-94. Marcel van den Broecke & Ferjan Ormeling (2005) "What's in a name?" pp. 132-133 in "The Map Book", Peter Barber (editor) Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London.

Remarks: Fairly frequent references to this map are found in Hessels (letters 274, 286, and 294), and in Denucé. It seems that Ortelius made this map to please his friends, and was not too enthusiastic or serious about it himself.
There is no text on verso of the only copy extant.

Raphael Hythlodæus is a fictional figure, invented by Thomas More in his book as the main character, to carry on a dialogue. His first name means "God heals". The archangel Raphael is the patron of Travellers and Physicians. His last name may mean "Enemy of vain talk", or, alternatively, "Narrator of Fantastic Tales, Fantasizer". Thus, his tales cannot be true, neither in his tales nor in real life. The combination of these two names may point to a mixture of Earnestness and Jest.

Saint Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535) was an English lawyer, author, and statesman who in his lifetime gained a reputation as a leading Renaissance humanist scholar, and occupied many public offices, including Lord Chancellor (1529–1532). More coined the word "utopia", a name he gave to an ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in the eponymous book published in 1516. He was beheaded in 1535 when he refused to sign the Act of Supremacy that declared King Henry VIII Supreme Head of the Church of England.
In 1935, four hundred years after his death, Pope Pius XI canonized More in the Roman Catholic Church; More was declared Patron Saint of politicians and statesmen by Pope John Paul II in 1980. 1969 saw the inclusion of More's name in the General Roman Calendar, with a Memorial in which he is venerated with Saint John Fisher on 22 June, the day of the latter's death. In 1980, More was added to the Church of England's calendar of saints, again jointly with John Fisher, but on July 6, the day of More's death.
While an envoy to Flanders, More sketched out his most well-known and controversial work, Utopia (completed and published in 1516), a novel in Latin, probably written at the instigation of Mores friend Erasmus. In it a traveller, Raphael Hythlodaeus (in Greek, his name and surname allude to archangel Raphael, purveyor of truth, and mean "speaker of nonsense"), describes the political arrangements of the imaginary island country of Utopia (Greek pun on ou-topos [no place] and/or eu-topos [good place]) to himself and to Peter Giles. This novel describes the city of Amaurote by saying, "Of them all this is the worthiest and of most dignity".
Utopia contrasts the contentious social life of European states with the perfectly orderly, reasonable social arrangements of Utopia. In Utopia, with communal ownership of land, private property does not exist, men and women are educated alike, and there is almost complete religious toleration. Some take the novel's principal message to be the social need for order and discipline, rather than liberty. The country of Utopia tolerates different religious practices, but does not tolerate atheists. Hythlodaeus theorizes that if a man did not believe in a god or in an afterlife he could never be trusted, because, logically, he would not acknowledge any authority or principle outside himself.
Others read the novel as ultimately a critique of those who, while dreaming of perfect commonwealths in some imagined future or present (like Hythlodaeus), exempt themselves from responsibility to serve and seek to better their own less perfect societies. More's life choices show his ultimate rejection of this Utopian attitude of his fictional interlocutor, who may personify More's reservations about engaging in the morally complex, dangerous, and flawed world of the court.
More used the novel describing an imaginary nation as a means of freely discussing contemporary controversial matters; speculatively,
Utopia is a forerunner of the utopian literary genre, wherein ideal societies and perfect cities are detailed. Although Utopianism is typically a Renaissance movement, combining the classical concepts of perfect societies of Plato and Aristotle with Roman rhetorical finesse, it continued into the Enlightenment. Utopia's original edition included the symmetrical "Utopian alphabet" that was omitted from later editions; it is a notable, early attempt at cryptography that might have influenced the development of shorthand.

Johannes Matthæus Wacker (1550-1619) was born in Konstanz, grew up as a reformed protestant, studied law in Strassburg and Genova. He became a prominent civil servant for the bishop and German emperor in Breslau, was converted to catholicism in 1592 and was appointed to nobility in 1594 as lord of Wackenfels. He moved to Prague in 1599 and belonged to the spiritual elite, as had also been the case in Breslau. He was in contact with well known European intellectuals as Giordano Bruno, and Johannes Kepler. He died in Vienna. The gifted and multilingual Wacker wrote a considerable amount of Latin verse testifying of a rich mind. In a letter to Monau, Wacker relates that Ortelius requested from him, as the initiator of the Utopia map, a list of cities in Utopia. As a result, he sent to Monau the names of 54 places, among which 5 of Utopian derivation. Next to those, he drew up place names in Old Greek, Latin, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch, Sarmatian, and Saracenian, through which every nation would recognise something about themselves in this land. Place names on the map are grouped by language. He is supposed to have called three places after Monau, Ortelius and himself. One was the name of "Amaurotus Metropolis", already mentioned in Hythlodæus' dialogues. The river names were produced in a similar fashion. Ortelius did not adopt the three names of his friends for Utopian cities, but inserted these in river names, viz. "Felsius, Ortileus" and "Mavonius". He increased the number of cities by one to 55, giving it the name "Favolia" after the name of the Antwerp scientist Johannes Baptista Favolius.

Bibliographical sources mentioned on this map:

Hythlodæus, Raphael is a fictitious character in More's Utopia.
More, Thomas (1478-1535) was the writer of the book Utopia
Ortelius is mentioned as the maker of this map
Wacker à Wackerfels is the person who is supposed to have initiated the making of this map and the person to whom it is dedicated.

No map text available

No bibliographical sources available

Topographical names

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