XI. Transcription and Translation

The importance of a map to an historian or historical geographer lies not only in the information depicted graphically but also in the texts that frequently accompany maps. Such texts provide a variety of important evidence for understanding the past. Our two examples–a translation of a German text and a transcription of an early English poem–together provide not only factual knowledge about Spain but also evidence of how the Spanish were perceived by northern Europeans.

HISPANIA 1525/1548

Note: words in brackets [..] are missing from our copy; they have been taken from an edition of Stumpf's work kindly made available by the New York Public Library.


German, 1498-1549
HISPANIA 1525/1548
From: Johannes Stumpf, Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen vnd Völkeren Chronick wirdiger thaaten beschreybung. . . .
Zurich, 1548
Woodcut, 12.3 x 15.5 cm.

The First Book of Europe

Kingdom of Spain: Lastly, Spain was divided into five distinguished kingdoms, i.e., Castile, Gallicia, Navarre, Aragon, and Portugal. But these lands aforesaid also have others attached to them, as Toledo, Granada, the Algarve, Valentia, Leon, etc. These kingdoms are all ruled at this time by Emperor Charles V, except for Portugal which has its own king. Spain's fruitfulness: Spain has wine, grain and meat, etc. Not as abundant as in France, but somewhat better, because it has not so much quiet air from midnight {i.e., from the North} as France does. That is why it has a lot of honey, oil, saffron, sugar, roete, minien, spartum, out of which ship-ropes are made, cochenille, from which purple is dyed, rosemary, capers, dates, lemons, pomegranates, and other abundant medicinal fruit, etc. Warmth and Type of People: Spain is warmer than France. That is why the inhabitants are of a darker and browner color, also less industrious bodies, all rather soft. They are well versed in the art of war, have fast horses, and are well trained horsemen. Customs: The Spanish are discreet, secretive and ignore a lot of things silently, as if they don't know anything about them. They are not as sociable as the French with food and drink, but serious: they mix their wine with water when they want to drink. Foreign and wandering people are not welcomed in a friendly way, they don't honor them, don't serve them: this is why a Spanish farmer does not greet a nobleman at once if he does not feel like it. They have a difficult language, something like Italian, for which those in Castile are praised before others. Spain is in territory somewhat [larger] than France, but not so populated. It has more gold than France, but [not as many] companies of merchants; rather it has a lot of uninhabited wild plains and a [desert.] Merchants: Spain exports to France various silks and woolen cloths, [also wool, saf]fron, sugar, oil, rice, alum, also various precious stones and spices [from India.] In turn they receive from France a lot of common fruit and [merchants goods, also] various kinds of weapons, swords, bows, cuirasses, pikes, etc. Dukes, Margraves, Counts, Barons, Bishops, Cardinals, Bishopric of Toledo: Spain has some 20 dukes, of whom each generally has a yearly income of more than 50 or 60 thousand ducats, several much more. Equally 20 margraves, who have only a little less income than is mentioned above. Equally 60 counts, whose yearly income generally amounts to 10 to 20 thousand ducats, several have up to 50,000. There are many barons, high bailiffs, viceregents, governors, marshals, and regents. Additional to that there are rich prelates of the orders, such as St. John of Jerusalem, the Dominicans, and others who have royal land entrusted to them, several worth 50,000 ducats. Spain has 9 archbishoprics, and 46 common bishops, among all those are customarily 8 cardinals. All of them have a very good income. The church of Toledo alone has a yearly revenue of about 200,000 ducats, from which its archbishop receives 80,000, etc. Criminal Punishment: If a criminal is found in Spain, one vigorously rings out the bell, then many thousand armed people run out from all towns to seek out the criminal; they send out messages to follow him, so that it is impossible for a criminal to escape lightly. If caught, he is bound living to a post, and pierced through with arrows. Pomp: The Spanish have a busy mind, always aspire to do great things, have a good intelligence, but learn carelessly. Although they are only half learned, they still consider themselves all-knowing in wisdom, art and knowledge. Also in the schools they prefer to speak Spanish rather than Latin. Female Haughtiness: The Spanish women are sumptuous, attach great importance to appearance; with a hoop or wooden bow they stretch their dresses far out over the stomach, thereby they walk splendidly and magnificently in them. They do not fit through the door. They also have several servants who walk before and after them: the more the better, and the more prestige she has. Virtue: But especially praiseworthy about them {i.e., Spanish women} is that, according to the fashion of the old Romans, they abstain from wine. Yet unworthy of praise is that they always augment, paint and color, their natural and inborn complexion through rouge, minien or other pigments, so as to appeal to the men. Psyche: Much apostasy and superstition has a hold on these people, and according to heathen custom they swear by the life of the king, or by his throne, etc. Spanish are good fighters: In recent years they have made themselves a name through many happy victories in wars, as they can in war patiently suffer work, hunger, thirst, heat and cold. In skirmishes they are artful, in battles prudent, in attacks crafty. Yet in small groups, they are quick to flee, quick to attack again. They can take less and worse food then the Italians, drink not so much as the Germans or the French, except if they are invited to a well-prepared feast, then they eat and drink their fill. [Spanish sea Travel, Calicut, America] On the sea they are skilled. They have circumnavigated all of Africa as far as the Orient, and have there conquered the kingdom of Calicut and many islands. The Portuguese share the same sea trade, from there {i.e., the Orient} they bring great goods, etc. Also the Castilians have found in the large ocean near the sunset {i.e., the Western ocean, the Atlantic} many islands rich in gold. And here I want to let Spain rest. Who feels like it should look at other books.

HISPANIA: HONDIVS his Map of Spaine

This second example, a transcription, with its map and text comes from a five-volume set. Running to over 4,000 pages, the work describes pilgrimages, itineraries, and voyages around the world. This page is only one of sixteen pages that describe the itinerary of a pilgrimage from England to Jerusalem by way of Spain and Italy, and back through northern Europe. The text is described in the table of contents as having been written in "old English rhyme." The reader was told of important cities, sites to visit, and places where safe lodging could be found. As with the previous example (35), the map was added more as an illustration than as a guide to locating the places mentioned in the text. Only a small number of the cities and rivers named can actually be found on the map.


Dutch, 1563-1612
HISPANIA: HONDIVS his Map of Spaine. 1607/1625
Engraving, 14.8 x 18.7 cm.

Left Hand Column

And from thennez to Hospitall de Reyne, To passe that River thou schalt be fayne. And so forthe to Sent Antony: And ever ther gothe the Maruedy. From thennez even to the cite of Lyones: Betweene hem ben mony praty tounez. In that cite ther schalt thou paie Passage or thou goe awaie. By younde the Brugge on thi right hand, To Sent Salvator the waie is Where y. pottez may thou se, In the wiche water turnet to vyn at Architriclyne. And mony other reliquez ben there, But the mountez ben wonder he, & fere. Wymmen in that Land use no vullen, But alle in lether be thei wounden: And her beuedez wonderly ben trust, Standing in her forhemed as a crest, In rowld clouthez lappet alle be forn Like to the prikke of a N` And men have doubelettez full schert, Bare legget and light to stert. A Knight, a boie wit out hose, A sqwyer also thei schull not lose.

Right-hand Column

A Knave bere iij. dartez in his hand, And so thei schull go walkand: Here wyn is theke as blode, And that wull make men wode. Bedding ther is nothing faire, Mony pilgrimez hit doth apaire: Tabelez use thei non of to ete, But on the bare flore thy make her sete: And so they sitte alle infere, As in Irlande the same manere. Then from the citee of Lyonz so fre, On thi lyft hand the waie schalt thou see, At that Brugge that I of have saide, Over an heethe to Astergo is layde. That is a cite and faire is sette, There the gret mountains togeder be mette: And so forthe to Villa Frank schalt thou go, A fair countraye, and vinez also. The Raspis groeth ther in thi waie. Yf thee lust thou maie asaie. From thennez a deepe dale schalt thou have, Up unto the Mount of Fave: He hull'ez, and of the Spanyse see a cry: That noyse is full grevose pardy.