Navigators have long communicated information about the seas and coasts by a variety of means: word of mouth; the written word; graphic images and profiles of the coast; and, charts. Today, most sailors use a combination of charts and written guides. The charts in this section were made for sailing along Spain's coast and for negotiating her harbors. These activities entail different conceptions of scale and therefore require different types of maps. (Sailing across the high seas requires yet another set of information and navigational forms).
Pilots of the mid-16th century had at their disposal a wide variety of coastal sea charts ("portolans"), textual descriptions of sailing directions ("rutters"), and orally transmitted instructions. The Dutch navigator and hydrographer Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer brought this information into a uniform or systematic form in 1584, when he compiled De Spieghel der Zeevaerdt. This concise atlas of sea charts was made at a standard scale; its maps used the same symbols throughout and were accompanied by commentaries on the quality of Waghenaer's sources. This chart (9), showing part of the northern coast, is one of ten covering Spain's Atlantic coast. With soundings, detailed insets of harbors, and sailing directions, Waghenaer's work prefigured the modern sea chart and was often copied, as by Willem Blaeu in his Het Licht der Zeevaert (1608).
LUCAS JANSZOON WAGHENAER
Die Carte vande Zeekusten van biscaien, zeer guade hauens voer groote schepen tußche Rio de Sella e Auiles.
Biscanæ descriptio littoralis: portus magnis incommodißimos nauibus, inter fluuium sellam et Auilam continens
From: Speculum nauticum super nauigatione maris Occidentalis confectum . . .,
Spieghel der Zeevaerdt, vande nauigatie der Westersche zee Innehoudende alle de Custen van Franckrijck . . .
Antwerp, Plantin press by FRANSISCUS RAPHELENGIUS, 1586
Engraving, hand colored, 32.6 x 51.1 cm.
Pascaart Vande CUSTEN Van Andaluzia, Portugal, Gallißiem, Biscajen . . .
From: Cinquiesme Partie Du Grand Atlas . . .
Amsterdam, 1650 or 1657
Engraving, hand colored, 43.2 x 54.5 cm.
Waghenaer's works were popular, but they did not supplant all other forms of coastal mapping. Each of Waghenaer's images focused only on small areas of coastline so that they could not be used for planning long journeys. Smaller scale charts therefore continued to be constructed. Such charts possessed a geometrical structure formed from lines of latitude and compass-lines; because of the difficulties involved in measuring time, the charts did not show longitude. The charts of Spain's Atlantic coast by Johannes Janssonius and Frederick de Wit, both reputable Dutch publishers, were clearly derived from the same sources, but they differ slightly in the detailed representation of the coast (10 and 12). The chart by John Seller, an English hydrographer known for copying Dutch sources, is in fact a direct copy of Janssonius's (13). Please note that these three maps all have North to the left; East lies at the top. The Straits of Gibraltar, to the south of Spain, are on the right; France, to the north of Spain, lies on the left. The habit of putting North at the top of maps became established only because of aesthetic considerations when lines of longitude were shown; these maps do not show longitude and were oriented in a manner conducive to their easy use by mariners who sought to align themselves with the landmass.
FREDERICK de WIT
HISPANIÆ, et PORTUGALLIÆ Maritimi Tractus, à S.Andero, ad Malagam. Pascaert van SPANGIE, en PORTUGAL.
From: Orbis Maritimus ofte Zee Atlas . . .
Amsterdam, ca. 1680
Engraving, hand colored, 49.0 x 56.7 cm.
English, fl. 1664, d. 1697
A Chart of SPAINE Perticularly Discribing the Coasts of Biscaia Gallissia Portugal Andaluzia Granada . . .
From: Atlas maritimus or a book of charts . . .
London, ca. 1671
Engraving, hand colored, 43.6 x 54.4 cm. With insets of harbors.
Negotiating harbors and dangerous waters requires a wealth of detailed information about highly localized variations in tides, shoals, and shifting sands. Most of this information has always been held in the minds of the pilots who bring ships in and out of ports, but some of the basic configurations of ports were being mapped in the sixteenth centuries. Seller includes three insets of harbors--top-to-bottom: Bordeaux (France), Cádiz, and Lisbon (Portugal)--on his coasting chart (13). The chart of the Straits of Gibraltar by the Dutch hydrographer Johannes van Keulen is an example of a large-scale chart dedicated to an area of dangerous waters; the map is oriented with east at the top; Cádiz is therefore located in the left hand portion of the map (15). As the major naval port of Spain, Cádiz was the frequent subject of detailed maps, as for example by the Frenchman Nicolas de Fer, géographe du roi ("geographer to the King") (16).
JOHANNES VAN KEULEN
Dutch, ca. 1654-1715
Nieuwe Paskaart Van de Kust van HISPANIA. Vant't Klif tot aan Valaz Malaga. Als mede de Kust van BARBARIA. . .
From: De Groote Nieuwe Vermeerderde ZEE-ATLAS ofte WATERWERELT. . .
Engraving, hand colored, 50.4 x 57.8 cm.