Universal Atlas of Fernão Vaz Dourado

Universal Atlas of Fernão Vaz Dourado Map No. 9. The coast discovered by Ferdinand Magellan

Map No. 9. The coast discovered by Ferdinand Magellan

This is a singular map in the atlas, owing to the enormous “void” depicted, the almost completely unknown Pacific Ocean, shown here without any nomenclature. It is a maritime “desert” that encompasses the entire folio. To the north the map extends beyond the Tropic of Cancer, up to 27º N, even further than the latitude of Formosa.

It is only in the lower left corner that one suddenly finds a rectilinear coast, with some islands, explained by the corresponding inscription, identical to the inscription on the previous map: “This coast was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan, a native of Portugal, on the orders of Emperor Charles in the year 1520.” Based on this information various authors have highlighted its importance, e.g. Varnhagen: the map on folio 15 “can be consulted with regard to the history of the first circumnavigation of the world.” However, as has been mentioned, Magellan sailed north of these latitudes.

João Carlos Garcia
Faculdade de Letras, Universidade do Porto
(Fragment of the Universal Atlas of Fernão Vaz Dourado commentary volume)

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