During the 18th and 19th centuries, European governments increasingly consolidated their control over their territories. Necessary components of this process were both detailed mapping and the development of coherent, organized networks of communication and transportation. Thus, Francisco Xavier de Cabanes, a brigadier general in the Spanish infantry, was commissioned in 1829 to prepare an accurate map of the Spanish state’s postal system. His legend clearly indicates a hierarchy of five different types of road, together with two levels of postal administrative unit, and the post relay stations (“parada”), all essential information for the efficient regulation and use of the postal system. Such maps served to reduce the several local measures of distance–as revealed by the three scale bars on Cabanes’s map–to a single measure defined by the state. But Spain’s central government had insufficient power to force the adoption of a uniform standard of length until the 1930s!
FRANCISCO XAVIER de CABANES
MAPA ITINERARIO de los reinos de Españ y Portugal . . .
Engraving, 74.5 x 92.0 cm