The texts “Cartografia Mallorquina”, HOC3/1/Ch7 and Nordenskjold’s “Periplus” all discuss the “OLIVES” dynasty which began with the brothers Jaume and Bartolomeo Olives. However, there were two “OLIVES” in the records, Mestre Bartolomeo Olives, ‘Painter’, c1440/1514 and Bartolomeo Olives ‘Painter’ c1490/1563.
From Notarial records held on Majorca certain facts and dates can be established, and these have been set down on the Time-Line diagram ChBOL/1/D01. There-on the extant charts and atlases of both Jaume and Bartolomeo Olives are set down and their place of production noted.
The Time-Line produced the information that Salvat de Pilestrina (c1470/1545) or/& Joan Salvat, “Buxoler” or “Buxolerius Aurifaber” was perfectly placed on Majorca to train both Jaume and Bartolomeo Olives in the art of Cartography. And, as their Father was an acknowledged “Painter” and Guild Member he could teach them his art to complement the technical side of cartography, which shows on their works.
SALVAT DE PILESTRINA
ChBOL/1/D02 & ChBOL/1/D03
La Cartografia Mallorquina, part 3, Siglo XVI, lists the known works with a full chart signed and dated 1511, drawn in Majorca. “Salvat de pilestrina en Malloques en lay MDXI” and is now only available as a facsimile; BnF GE AA 538, as the original held in the “Armeebibliothek, Muenchen” was lost in 1945. The chart is a typical Majorcan chart of the 1400’s and early 1500’s, highly decorated and beautifully drawn.
I have set over it as a tracing the Bartolomeo Olives 1538 chart, one of his first extant charts, and it is obviously drawn from the same pattern/template, and, being 27 years apart follows it remarkably well. From this fact it is open to opine that Salvat de Pilestrina trained the Olives brothers. See appendix for copy of Salvat de Pilestrina chart for comparisons.
BARTOLOMEO OLIVES; HIS OEUVRE IN DATE ORDER
1538 charts; Barcelona MM and Ca’Foscari University Venice
There are two charts by B Olives dated 1538. The first is held in the Barcelona Maritime Museum and it is only a partial Mediterranean Portolan showing from Iberia to Crete. It is a plain chart having four scale bars, 9 wind roundels and noted thus; “Bartolomeo Olives en Mallorques ny 1538”. It is 55 x 31cms, thus quite small and has an effigy of Saint Nicholas above the attribution text. The wind rose is set at 40N, east of Sardinia, which is where Salvat de Pilestrina placed it, as already shown previously on ChBOL/1/D02 and D03. The roundels are to become a trade mark design with their lettering. Being a small chart, although full of toponyms the only décor are the flags denoting “ownership” and as usual any “silver” has tarnished to black. Scotland is shown as an Island, but the whole British Isles profile is good and the attempt to include Ireland is noted. The beginnings of the Baltic Sea and Scandinavia are included.
The second chart dated 1538 is held in the Ca’ Foscari University, Venice and is 60 x 92cms, and thus completely different to the foregoing chart. I have included a small section of the chart as Diagram ChBOL/1/D04, an important section, as it opens up the discussion of the Biblical texts. Noted as ; “Bartolomeo Olives en Mallorques anv MDXXXVIIJ”, it is by comparison highly decorated and has significant vignettes of cities as well as having four beautifully drawn ships. It pays homage to Salvat de Pilestrina in that it has the 8 “Wind Faces”, the “PUTTI’s” but there is also a solitary Camel, 5 tents and the vignette of the Madonna and Child in the west. Venice and Genoa are drawn traditionally, but Barcelona has included the “Tibidabo Hill” and “Sagrat Cor” church atop. Granada sits atop its green mound which is shown as it has been since the Muslim defeat.
However, the main change from other Portolan Charts is that Bartolomeo Olives is showing his “Biblical” knowledge by drawing the basic facts of the Holy Family and their escape to Egypt. The items associated with it are the Capella, Orti de Balsema, Fig Tree and a total of 7 pyramids. Because this subject appears again later I have appended a full discussion for this and the matching atlas page.
Bartolomeu Olives 1550 chart, Korea National Maritime Museum.
This chart is 560 x 948mm and has the attribution “Bartolomeu Olives Mallorqui en Napole 1550” and is diagram ChBOL/1/D05.
It appears that this chart was sold by “Daniel Crouch Rare Books” (although they would not confirm it), but Google Arts by chance had a photograph of a chart in the KNMM and the two are identical. Unfortunately the KNMM have not responded to my request. As Daniel Crouch wrote a text concerning the chart, his words will suffice, as follows;
For its size it is actually hardly decorated but does have the signature roundels, Venice, Genoa, Barcelona and Granada and is no doubt a “copy” of the 1538 chart just discussed. It has the idiosyncratic Atlas Mountains and the Tee shaped Alps, but the Red Sea is drawn at 90 degrees to the geographical.
Even though it is a large size and decoration space is clearly available and as it is drawn in Naples, I do wonder if it was finished and travelling stopped its production by a return to Messina.
Bartolomeu Olives’ 1552 chart held in the Hispanic Society, USA Library, as K34.
It is 49 x 75 cms, noted as “Bartomeu Olives mallorq 1552”, diagram ChBOL/1/D06, and is similar to the 1550 KNMM chart with the same cities and rivers highlighted, but the mountains are omitted. The Red Sea is similarly twisted, but the Wind Rose Roundels take a new form, more extravagant. The wind rose is however centered as on the preceding charts at 40N and east of Sardinia, which is the centre line of the vellum skin.
NOTE; Cartografia Mallorquina has; “1557 B U Pavia- en citada por Blazquez No5, como existente en Pavia, perola biblioteca la desconoce, BL5”. That is no such chart!
THE HUNTINGTON LIBRARY, SAN MARINO, HM32
Critique of the Atlas HM32 attributed to Bartolomeu Olives and dated after 1580
The Huntington Library publishes a three part explanatory text regarding this atlas of 14 folios in “The Digital Scriptorium”. It is taken from an original text; “Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library (1989)”.
I have no quibble with the attribution to Bartolomeo Olives as it follows his other works in many ways as will be shown.
Apart from an obvious typo for folio 9, it should read “Northwest” not “Northeast Coast of Africa”; my main concern is the dating of the atlas and the reason given for the date.
I quote ”probably made in Majorca (since the nomenclature is mainly Spanish with many additions in Arabic on charts 6.7 &8) though the Olives/Oliva family of cartographers later worked in Messina and Marseilles, dated after 1580 because of the Spanish Standards in Brazil and the alignment of the South American coast”.
From research carried out within “Cartografia Mallorquina” and other documents, it has been clearly established that Bartolomeo and his brother Jaume were born on Majorca. My research has shown that by both applicable dates and the form of the cartography that they were trained by Salvat de Pilestrina c1528/1538. The records on Majorca refer to “Bartolomeo Olives, Illuminator Cartam Navigandi” and show he purchased a house in 1538 and married in 1546. The norms of the time mean that he was at least 21 years old in 1538, which is also the date of his first extant charts. Thus we can through the charts and atlases note just where Bartolomeo Olives is residing as indicated on my time-line diagram ChBOL/1/D01. It indicates from 1580 to 1588 he was working in Sicily and thus not Majorca as suggested in the quote above. His complete extant works date from 1538 to 1588 and are a mixture of Portolan Charts and Atlases and are indicated on the diagram with their place of drawing, but the date of this Atlas as given must be challenged.
THE HUNTINGTON LIBRARY HM32 ATLAS DISCUSSED BY FOLIO
Folio 1 South America
This chart has but eight toponyms, one full text description and a second partial text. One is; “Este estrecho sue descubierto por Fernando de Magallanos dia de las onze mil virgins el ano 1520”. The day of the 11 thousand Virgins is October 21st.
The whole continent is covered with drawings of towns (which are basically nonexistent) and mountain ranges with arbitrary rivers. The coastal profile, referred above as “the alignment of the South American Coast” is very reasonable for a geographical form. However it merely copies an engraving by G Gastaldi, 1548, a map of the world, Diagram ChBOL/1/D08, and is thus a probable “terminus a quo” for dating. The form of the mountains is a direct crib from the Salvat de Pilestrina 1511 chart which I have compared to the Olives 1538 chart to show they are really one and the same.
References given within the Huntington Library texts mention that there is a marked similarity to the Vatican Library Cod Urb 283 atlas dated to 1562 by its internal text.
However, the corresponding folio in that Atlas, Mss Urb Lat 283/0006 ( diagram ChBOL/1/D09) is covered in toponyms, has exactly the same two “Strait” texts, but is equipped with a latitude scale and a third short text, “Los moradoes desta tierra son silvestres y habitan en cavernas”. That text then appears on Folio 2 of HM32. But, more importantly is a seven line text on 283/0006 which is as follows; “ Es de notar que esta costa que se extiende desde ae Rio deb la Plata hata el estrcho de Magallanes. En todos// los mapas y cartas que hasta aqui se han hecho la situacion de nordeste sudeste y aqui(?) descrita al oeste sudests demandando asi la nueva descripcion que trazo el S.D. Garcia este ano 1562 de // tod alas costa de Chile hasta el Estrcho y papece conformarse con el derrotero del mismoMagallenes que// por gran ventura vino a nuestras manos donde situa esta costa parte al oests sudoeste y parte a la cuarta del oeste 4a al sudoeste y asi la descibimos aqui hasts tener mas entera relacion no variando las formas de los puertos ni sus Alturas de como hasta aqui an andado (???)
Note that this coastline extends from the River Plate until the Strait of Magellan. All maps and charts to date have reflected the situation NE SW and here is the description of the W SW thus required in the new description that S D Garcia drafted this year of 1562 of all the coast of Chile up to the Strait and that it seems to agree with the “derrotero” ( pilot’s guide) of Magellan himself which due to great fortune arrived in our hands where the coast is placed part W SW and part a quarter (11 ¼ ) off the W (and a ) quarter of the SW, and so we describe it here until we obtain a more complete description (thus) not altering the shape of the harbours, nor their latitudes as described heretofore.
It is patently obvious that Bartolomeo Olives is stating that he has redrawn the shape of South America to suit and thus this chart 283/0006 should be considered a “terminus ad quem” in the dating of HM32; Diagram ChBOL/1/D10. Also, the text referred to as “Magellan’s” is in fact by Antonio Pigafetta and it contains a plethora of sailing data, latitudes and a description of the “Strait” with a diagram. The only problem is the date this “Magellan” text was acquired before 1562 to be used by Bartolomeo Olives.
However, within that “derrotero” there is a sentence which indicates a conundrum for us. I quote, “But the Captain General (Magellan) said that THERE WAS ANOTHER STRAIT FOR GOING OUT, AND SAID THAT HE KNEW IT WELL, BECAUSE HE HAD SEEN IT BY A MARINE CHART OF THE KING OF PORTUGAL, WHICH MAP HAD BEEN MADE BY A GREAT PILOT AND MARINER NAMED MARTIN OF BOHEMIA”.
Martin Behaim certainly worked for King John 2 of Portugal, but the only extant “chart” of his is the “ERDAPFEL”, 1492 or World Globe made in Nuremburg, but that omits the Continent of America completely. Thus it is perhaps a case of mistaken identity from another chart with a passage drawn there-on. Martin Behaim resided on the Azores Island of Faial and actually died in Lisbon, 1507.
Thus this single folio removes most of the ideas given for dating the HM32, and the final argument is now given countering the Spanish in Brazil.
Folio 2. North East South America
The HM 32 second chart shows the coast from Rio de Plata to the Northern coast and the Caribbean Sea. It has a plethora of toponyms unlike the first.
However, apart from a single text, “Los moradores” the remarkable items are five towns all with the Spanish Flag of Castille/Aragon and they are clearly in the Portuguese section of South America, Brazil, as determined by the “line of Demarcation” given as 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Isles.
Simply put, the Spanish were never in this area of South America to build towns etc., thus why is this fact used to date the atlas?
Folio 3. The Caribbean Sea.
This is a very good chart, full of toponyms and geographically correct. There are three Spanish flags, two for towns and one “floating” and are situate in what was named “New Kingdom of Granada.” Basically it was colonized from c1520 when Hernan Cortes invaded Mexico and then expanded southwards through the land bridge into South America. Thus the west coast of South America became solidly Spanish Territory, Peru, Chile plus an eastward thrust into Argentina, leaving Brazil to the Portuguese.
Folio 4. North East America and Canada.
I was amazed when I first saw this chart many years ago. It is basically the lands explored by the Corte-Reals, 1500/1502, Portuguese explorers and the information gleaned was placed on Pedro Reinel’s c1503 chart with Portuguese flags appended. Thus yet again Bartolomeo Olives is either badly informed or is sending a distinct message with the Spanish Flags as the only Spanish colony on the east coast of America was in Florida, c1565.
At this stage in my investigation of the Huntington Atlas HM32 I began to believe that Bartolomeo Olives was in fact producing an atlas to glorify Spain and perhaps enhance its usage by the purchaser. The fact that folio’s 6, 7 & 8 had Arabic names appended to the toponyms in N Africa led to the thought that perhaps it was intended for a person who had dealings with the Muslim Arabs of the Maghreb and was perhaps a person in one of the Spanish enclaves. Hence the completely “over the top” use of coloured mountains, certainly akin to Arab decoration on their charts, was meant to impress visually, but also subtly show that Spain was in fact a very major world power in the New World. Thus it could well be used in diplomacy.
Folio’s 5 to 14
On folio 5, The Atlantic Ocean the Equatorial line is drawn, but there is a problem with the latitudinal numbering. From the south it is 7,6,5,4,3,2,1,2,3,4 etc with the Equator drawn at “2; line; 1,2” and thus the zero latitude, the Equator itself is missing.
On folio 6, the Eastern Mediterranean Sea we see a standard chart with no surprises.
On Folio 7, the Central Mediterranean, there are rather large vignettes of Venice and Genoa out of all proportion to the chart itself. But that is saying these cities are so very important and trading with the Maghreb among others and again a subtle message.
On folio 8, the UK and Spain it has “Valentia”, the Roman spelling and what appears to be a half banded white and black flag which is a Muslim banner.
But it could be faded colours?
On folio 9, the North West coast of Africa has opposite the Canary Isles the “Mar de Pequena” which is adorned with a Portuguese Flag when in fact it is an original Spanish trading post from 1478 to 1524 named “Santa Cruz de la Mar Pequena”. However the Spanish were ejected by the Muslim SAADI dynasty in 1524 and unfortunately the actual site was lost until 1916.
On folio 10, the Gulf of Guinea we see again a standard chart except that the flags alternate from Portuguese to Muslim, which is incorrect as the toponyms indicate a Portuguese holding, and surprisingly the one major toponym and vignette for “Castle d’ Amina” is missing.
On folio 11, South Africa and Madagascar, named Aethiopia and I S Lavreti the tropic is correctly positioned at 23 ½ South. There are many toponyms, given the Portuguese explorations and their route to India using this coast.
On folio 12, N E Africa and Arabia both the Equator and Tropic of Cancer are correctly positioned, but with little else shown it is covered in the highly coloured mountains.
On folio 13, India, we see a chart cleverly designed to overlap folio 12 and note that the name PERSIA is split across the two folios. India is slightly foreshortened in latitude given that its southern cape is 8N, which should therefore be 1/3rd of the distance from the Equator to the Tropic, but it is too high.
Folio 14, The Malay Peninsula and the Spice Islands. On this chart are two texts which follow the storyline started on Folio 1, concerning Magellan’s circumnavigation of the World. “En esta illa matoran a Magellanes de la banda del surola dicha ista”. In fact on the 27th April 1521 Magellan was killed by a poison arrow on the island of Mactan. The second text points out Maluco and the Spice Island.
1) The atlas pages are covered in “mountains” to hide the fact that there is little or no information of the hinterlands when this atlas was drawn. It is also a problematic size of page when nothing is known as Olives has decided to draw it on a double page 306 x 442mm.Thus it becomes far larger than the Baptista Agnese Atlases which are generally 225 x 330mm. When using a double page the lack of knowledge leaves vast open spaces.
Was the size dictated by the purchaser to be as grand as possible?
2) The atlas is covered in a plethora of flags which have been shown to be wrongly placed and from my previous comments in all probability deliberately drawn as such to enhance both Spain and the owner of the Atlas. It would not surprise me if that owner was the viceroy/leader of a Spanish Enclave in N Africa. The Spanish were just about holding out against the Muslims and perhaps a diplomatic message of how great Spain is was required.
Thus using the flags as a dating method is balderdash.
3) This atlas is comparable in some details to the Vatican 283 Atlas which is unadorned and it appears that from 1562 the mountains in their ghastly colours are hardly ever drawn.
4) Up to the Bodleian Library 1559 Atlas, Bartolomeo Olives has used both charts and atlases to tell the Biblical story of the flight by the Madonna and Child to Egypt. However the 1562 Vatican Atlas has no iconography and neither does the 1562 Chart sold by Sotheby’s and even more different is the 1562 Devonshire Atlas which is a technical teaching aid.
5) As the HM32 Atlas shares much with Vatican 283 content and that atlas has specific notes regarding the shape of South America the obvious conclusion is that HM32 precedes Vatican 283 and should be dated either in the period 1556/1558 or 1560/1561 which would allow for the geographical change and simplicity of presentation to come through. Two such atlases sharing such similarities are unlikely to be drawn c20 years apart that is 1562 to +1580.
6) Thus I think that this HM32 is a “one off” presentation and as already premised there is a probable “terminus a quo” of 1548 and a possible “terminus ad quem” of 1562. That being correct then the dates of 1556/1558 are more likely as in 1562 so many items by Bartolomeo Olives appear which probably started life in 1561 or earlier; For the sake of a date, 1557.
Bodleian Library, MS Canon Ital 143, 5 sheet Atlas
“Bartolomeo Olives mallorquin in Venessia a di 17 Junyo anno 1559”
The atlas is bound with wood boards and red leather, each cover with gilt tooling and a centre piece of two circles enclosing ornate but blank shields. It is basically 435 x 275 x 15mm and was purchased in 1817.
The folios are as follows;
0003;9-10. The Atlantic coast of Iberia from 41N passing the Strait of Gibraltar and to the coast of West Africa south to 13 ½ N by Cape Vert; In the Atlantic are shown the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Isles with two sailing ships drawn also. A latitudinal scale is appended full length of the folio from 8N to 47 ½ N and two scale bars are appended. The decoration is of two seated “KINGS” and it has 8 flagged towns.
0004;7-8. From Engronelant in the North at 72N, the Baltic Sea, the European coast to 42N in Iberia, plus the British Isles with Scotland as an island, there are 7 more islands included. Islande, Gortaude, Frixlande, Isla Sverde, Illa de brasill, illa de brasill and illa de maydi.
The Baltic Sea is quite extra-ordinary in its form with a second inlet to its north separating Morbigia from Engronelant. There is but one vignette of Emperator Carolus.
0005; 5-6. Europe from the Breton peninsula, France, south to NW Africa and thence east, the Mediterranean Sea to the west coast of the Peloponnese and the Gulf of Surt. It is luxuriously decorated with 6 seated Kings and large vignettes of Venice and Genoa plus many smaller cities/towns all flagged. Granada is shown as a green mound and Barcelona has its hill. There is a latitude scale and two scale bars and this is the chart endorsed as follows;
“Bartolomeo olvas mallorquina in venessia a di 17 junyo any 1559”
0006;3-4. Basically the eastern Mediterranean Sea but it is adorned with a very Christian message in the African Levante area the south and SE of the chart.
It is adorned with a Dragon, Basilisk, Unicorn, Bear, Lion and Serpent all of which are Biblical and Christianized animals. (See the appendix)
There also a text for Mount Sinia; “Monte Sinayi dove sta il corpo di S(an)ta Catarina”
In the SE corner of the Mediterranean Sea commencing with “Capela de Nostar Donna” a road links to “Orti di Balsema”, the Garden of Balsam where the Virgin is said to have stopped and asked for Baby JESUS swaddling clothes. The road then connects to “Figora de Faraone” “Pharaoh’s Fig Tree”. The 7 fountains and the “Colonas pompeas de lire de egipta” of which seven are drawn, 5+2 are dealt with in the Appendix.
0007;1-2. South West Africa from Cape Vert to Cabo de Bona Speranca including the NE of South America from Rio Grande to the Tropic of Capricorn, indicating the Portuguese possessions to the Line of Demarcation. The “Linia Equinoctial” is shown and a latitude scale bar from 15N to 34S has been included. There is a small single scale bar vertically between the Equator and the Tropic.
Three “KINGS” are shown seated with the southernmost “Presta Juani de L’India” in SW Africa far from the normal NE African homeland, although it is called “Etiopia” on the folio.
There is one lonely Camel drawn north of “Rio de P Bartolomeo” between two Portuguese flags in the area called “Libia”. It indicates a complete real lack of knowledge here.
Note; the Cartografia Mallorquina has several charts dated 1561 which are no longer extant(?) and thus the ideas formulated here can only be based upon that which is extant.
Chart dated 1562 sold privately by Sotheby’s London, June 2000.
The Sotheby’s catalogue, page 70, item 107, has a photo of the chart and a short description as follows;
107 Portolan chart—Olives, Bartolomeo. (Portolan chart of the Mediterranean and Northern Europe) [Venice]; 1562
Total dimensions (including neck) 625 x 940mm., Manuscript chart in ink and colours on vellum, signed ”Bartlome Olives Mallorqu Ano 1562”, extending from the Azores to the Holy Land and from Scandinavia and Iceland to the Nile, coastlines and islands in green, sepia and red, rivers in blue, over 1000 place names in red and sepia, heightened with (oxidised) gold and with 15 detailed town vignettes, the neck of the chart with insets depicting the Virgin and Child, six compass roses, seven wind-heads, decorated with a Lion, two Camels and an Elephant, the whole chart divided by rhumb lines.
Even this late after his training Bartolmeo Olives is still emulating Salvat de Pilestrina, the Atlas Mountains, but obviously Sotheby’s are not at liberty to name the purchaser and hence all we have is the catalogue photo.
Atlas held in the Devonshire Collections, Chatsworth, Derbyshire UK; DEV/011740
There are four manuscript charts which have been described in an inventory compiled by Sotheby’s London;
OLIVES, BARTOLOMEO. Portolan atlas of the Mediterranean, (Messina, 1562), folio, four manuscript charts in ink and colour on vellum, the last signed “Bartolome Olives Mallorquin en Messina an el Castillo del Salvador ano 1562”, embellishments highlighted in Gold, seventeenth-century Italian red morocco, gilt, housed in morocco box.
A remarkably well-preserved example by the famous family of Majorcan cartographers; such charts and atlases were intended for use rather than display and this particular copy is in fine condition. He charts cover the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, the coast of Spain and France, with the British Isles complete, and the coastline of southern Portugal and north-west Morocco.
Provenance; Inscription in Spanish on flyleaf, stating that the atlas originally belonged to King Philip II of Spain (most of the inscription has been erased, and inspection under UV light did not provide any additional information); acquired by William George Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire.
The text has been translated on Diagram ChBOL/1/D13 and mentions Joan Martinez who was a very prolific cartographer in Messina from 1550 and was later appointed royal cosmographer to King Philip II when he transferred to Naples and then signed his works “cosmografo de S.M.” He died in Naples c1591. Thus Joan Martinez was probably trained in Messina and born there c1515, trained 1525/1535 by the Rubeus/Russus Family as described in my text “ChMAJ/1, Majorca and Messina influence Portolan Charts”. “The Rubeus/Russus and Olives Families; Historical”. The second section of text appears to be stating that Joan Martinez moved to another workshop and possibly thence to Naples.
Because it appears to have formed part of the Library of King don Filipo II and has that endorsement, I contacted Professor Jose Luis Gonzalo Sanchez-Molero, Universidad Complutence, Madrid for assistance to determine its history from the Royal Library.
The inscription pasted onto the flyleaf (that which still exists) in the first sentence mentions that it was sold to a Dr Contreras from the auction or clearance sale of the Library.
EMAIL EXCHANGES FROM AUTHOR TO PROFESSOR J L G SANCHEZ-MOLERO
24/08/2022 to the Professor; Pasted into the Chatsworth Atlas which was in the possession of Philip2 is a badly defaced notice which I hope may prove some worth to you in investigating its provenance for me, I have studied the atlas four folios and come to the conclusion that it is in fact instructional, not a straight forward nautical atlas.
Thus the date of 1562, that is close to the 18th birthday of Don Carlos the son of Philip2 and with the data shown there-on, I am of the opinion that it may well be a gift from Philip2 to his son and heir, just as Charles V gave Philip one.
I cannot think of a reason for the additional data on the atlas folios if they are not to educate and aid the recipient. The original page was looked at under UV light but did not shed any other info, but it would be interesting to know if the Dr Contieras is known?
Response from the Professor; In Philip II’s inventory of 1574 the map of Olives does not appear. There are very few “cartas de marear”, and two were those of Agnese.
Its dating between 1565 and 1566, in Messina, has allowed me to venture that, in reality this map could have belonged to Juan de Austria, the illegitimate brother of the Spanish King. At his death in 1578, Don Juan had several“mapas”y”cartas de marear” on parchment. Such as:”Un mapa de marear en pergamino y carta de marear de de de dos bars de ancho con su tafetan Leonardo”, or “ Una carta de marear en pergamino de una vara de ancho”, and so on up to six more, all on parchment. It was an important collection.
These maps were inherited by Philip II, perhaps that is what the note about them being sold at the auction of this monarch refers to. Don John of Austria arrived in Messina on 24 September 1571 and returned to the same city on 1 November of the same year, after defeating the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto. Did he then buy the chart painted by Olives? In 1596 all these sea charts, maps and other plans of the Mediterranean cities were given to the architect Juan de Herrera, by order of Philip II. Herrera was in charge of the King’s nautical and mathematical instruments. He died in 1597. The King in 1598. These maps were sold at auction in Spain, as they were inherited by Philip II; perhaps that is what the note about it being sold at auction of this monarch refers to. My hypothesis is that Olives’ sea chart belonged to Don Juan, and then to Philip II. It does not appear among his personal possessions, because these maps in the palace had a more practical and scientific use. The King never had them in his personal library. THAT IS JUST MY OPINION.
COMMENT. My text therefore is written as I saw the history originally and subsequently altered to contain the undoubtedly fantastic work by Professor JLG Sanchez-Molero.
John of Austria 1547/1578(?) was an illegitimate son of Holy Roman Emperor CharlesV. He became a military leader in the service of his half brother King Philip II of Spain and is best known for his role as Admiral of the Holy Alliance Fleet against the Turks at Lepanto. He was in Valladolid 1554 and completed his education at the University of Alcala de Henares, now the Complutense University, Madrid. From that I actually deduce it was obtained quite early by John of Austria as a teaching aid.
Folio 1; this folio is an abnormal chart in that it has information appended usually not seen. It is the chart with the attribution text. There are 8 wind rose roundels and that in the north has all 32 wind directions notated as well as containing the 8 letters for the major winds.
The south roundel is adorned with the “Raxon de Marteloio”, the method of determining how to know if you have sailed one degree of latitude when sailing anything but due North, and of course due East. The scale bar has an appended text which tells the reader how to establish 17 ½ leagues from it, that being the measurement of one degree of latitude given on the Raxon de Marteloio.
The latitude scale bar has a text stating that each division is one degree with which to measure the coasts. Another note states the Canary Isles were known in antiquity as the Fortunate Isles and between them and the African Coast we read “Esta es la Mar Pequena” and another in land next to an inlet states “Mar Pequena”.
This refers to “Santa Cruz de la Mar Pequena”, literally “Holy cross of the little sea” and refers to the Spanish trading post on the inlet founded in 1478. It even had a small fortress. It is situate close by Cape Juby and the Spanish were expelled by the SAADI Dynasty in 1524. The inlet has subsequently been blocked by the Canary Current sweeping down from the north and moving the coastal sands with it. Hence not even the Sailing Directions for the coast mention it.
This is a standard folio showing the coast of Iberia northwards to Britain and the Atlantic sea-bord, but unlike Folio 1 where Bartolomeo Olives clearly identifies the latitudes by 17 ½ leagues, the standard for Spain, here by using the scale bar (exactly the same as folio1) we can clearly indicate that He is using a standard measurement, as the coast of Iberia from 37N to 43N is 450 units. That is 6 degrees of 75 units which are the Roman Mile equivalent of a degree. However from 43N to 50N the distance is 630 units or 7 degrees of 90, which are miliaria and 90 miliaria equals 75 Roman Miles. Thence from 50N to 58 ½ N Britain, it scales 740 units or 8 ½ x 87 when 765 units gives 8 ½ x 90.
Clearly Bartolomeo Olives wanted to include the Spanish degree of 17 ½ leagues.
Folio3. The Western Mediterranean Sea and another completely standard chart having only toponyms and no major adornment. Areas/countries named (when they are) in a miniscule hand and Majorca is adorned with the Flag stripe motif, that of Aragon.
Folio4. The Eastern Mediterranean Sea, yet another completely standard chart with just the Island of Rhodes adorned with its Cross.
However, given the above text I think this Atlas probably hides its raison d’être.
The four folios of the Atlas are actually quite plain in presentation. What makes it special starts with the fact that it was drawn in 1562, and contains so little of Olives’ normal data? Firstly, it is an atlas of the Mediterranean Sea basin with only the smallest lettering for the few individual countries named. They are actually hard to spot as they are the same as the toponyms and thus persons using the Atlas are already expected to know all of the countries drawn there-on.
But then one folio, The Atlantic coast from Lisbon to Cape Bojador, Folio1, is covered in nautical information. The 32 compass points are all explained with terminology regarding the 4 main winds/4 subsidiary winds in a manner that actual mariners would describe them. Folio 3 actually has the 8 winds named from their letters used in the roundel; Tramontana; Grego; Levante; Soloco; MedioGiorno; Liveche; Ponente and Marstral as I have indicated transferring it to the overlay for Folio1. However the chart, Folio1 Diagram ChBOL/1/D16 becomes technical in that the southern roundel has the 9 distances required explaining the “Raxon de Marteloio”, the sailing distances required to achieve one degree of latitude. Then the second technical point is the explanation of the scale bar for 17 ½ leagues and the third technical point, that the scale bar of latitudes is to be used against the coast.
It is as though the cartographer is aware of the recipient’s knowledge, or lack of knowledge, and is providing explanatory notes and encouraging the study of the charts in detail to determine the shape and form of the Mediterranean Sea.
King Philip II already has a grand atlas drawn by Baptista Agnese (see ChBapa/1), obtained by the then King Charles V through his ambassador and given to him as a present. He was obviously interested in these items and being born in Valladolid could have come under influences to encourage that interest. It was there he first met John of Austria.
Possible explanation for the origination of the above nautical matters;
In 1554, Valladolid Spain Pietro da Medina (1493/1576) published “Arte Del Navigare”. (Diagrams ChBOL/1/D17 and D18). He was a cleric who for a time served as librarian to the Duke of Medina-Sidonia (1588 Armada) and was asked to prepare charts and other aids to navigation by Emperor Charles V and in 1549 was named “Cosmografo de honor”. This very important book is headed as follows;
“Arte de Navigare, en quese contienen todas Reglas, Declaraciones, Secretos y Avisos, q’ a la Buena navegacioson necessaries, y se deve faber, hecha por el maestro pedro de medina. Dirigida al serenissimo y muy esclarescidoSenor, Don Philipe principe de Espania, y de las dos Sicilias. Lon previlegio imperial.”
This 1554 text has the 32 compass points named similarly to the 1562 (page57) and discusses all of the navigational requirements for a ship’s captain. It also contains a small scale chart of the Atlantic Ocean showing Europe, Africa and the New World. This in part indicates that before 1550 South America was being drawn geographically (see earlier HM32).
Did John of Austria share this interest and thus knew of the texts and charts King Philip II was collecting for scientific use and from his position in the Royal Family therefore have his own scientific papers which enabled him to lead at Lepanto, 1571. Thus a navigational aid atlas dated 1562 could well have been an educational tool for John of Austria to become a seaman!
1562, Biblioteca Vaticana Cod Urb Lat 283; an atlas of 14 sheets (curiously numbered)
This atlas is available on line at https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Urb.lat.283
However it is not signed or dated; the date comes from a text within as has been shown in the text for HM32. They are black and white photographs with sheet 0014 the “escala de grados” from 32N to 64N. Then sheet 0015 continues the coasts south to 13N and includes both the Canary Isles and the Azores. Sheet 0016 covers from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Peloponnese.
The whole atlas covers from the Caribbean Sea, N America, S America, Africa and the Mediterranean Sea basin from the UK to the Caspian Sea. I have already discussed the atlas in the text for HM32 regarding the new S America and the Magellan Voyage.
1563, British Library chart Add.MS.37632
“Bartolome Olives Mallorquin en Messina ano 1563”
This chart is a very plain rendition of the Mediterranean Sea basin with six large and many small vignettes of towns, all flagged. It shares coastal details with the privately owned 1562 chart.
However, it extends further into the Atlantic Ocean and has both Stilanda and Frixlanda Islands with Sverda Isle having a satellite island “ylla de brazil”. There are also four smaller islands named. It has a full latitudinal scale from 17N to 67N, with the wind rose roundels obviously drawn (marked off) before the coastal profiles as the roundel situate in Britain clearly indicates. It is worth noting that “Mar de Pequena” is illustrated with the flag of the SAADI Dynasty and has Portuguese flags either side. But the Saadi Dynasty fought both the Spanish and Portuguese, effectively expelling them from Morocco.
1570/75. Private collection, four page atlas drawn in Messina
“Bartolomeo Olives mallorquina en el Castillo del Salvador in Messina”
1572, Royal Library Belgium, reference II 4622
“Bartolome holives mallorquin en el Castillo di Salvador en Messina ano 1572”
This is a plain atlas comprising sheets as follows;
1) Atlantic Coast-UK to N Africa, 62N to 31N and is similar to the 1562 Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana 283, sheet 0014.
2) The Atlantic Coast from Iberia, 45N to West Africa, 13N and is as Vatican 0015 even to the four palm trees on the coast.
3) Strait of Gibraltar to Peloponnese with the attribution name and date; As Vatican 0016.
4) Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean Sea and as Vatican 0017.
1575 Bodleian Library Oxford, Ms c2:7 (27)
“Olives, mallorquin el Castillo del Saktodor en ano 157-5.”
This is a chart of the Mediterranean Sea Basin so very similar to previous plain charts except that it also contains a latitude scale in the west and has five animals drawn in Africa, namely 2 lions, 2 Camels and an Elephant. The Red Sea is slanted as usual, but only the green mound of Granada is shown. However the wind rose roundels are topped with a very large Fleur des Lys as the north point.
1550/1580; Hispanic Society of the USA, chart K16
“Bartolome olivo mallorquin en Palermo ano 1520, but in that date the only original and authentic number is the 1. Thus it has been dated as after 1550 and up to 1580!
It is a highly decorated chart which reflects the “Christianity” of previous charts in that Mount Calvary with the three crosses is drawn and the mythical animals re-appear. The Basilisk is without its serpent tail and looks more like a Dodo, but could be an Ostrich. The Lion, the pair of Camels one feeding from the other (virgin and child?); a curiously drawn Elephant and its trunk and the Dragon are all portrayed.
Many more towns are drawn, mostly with a similar profile, but Venice and Genoa have morphed into similarity. Marseilles is shown with its harbour and Barcelona still has its hill. Peculiarly, the “SEA-GOAT” is drawn and could represent Capricorn or “Pricus” the immortal Sea Goat. The Greek storyline is that Pricus asked his creator Cronos, the God of Time to allow him to die. But being immortal Cronos threw him into the heavens where he became the star sign Capricorn. In the west is drawn “Christ on the Cross”.
The roundels have a smaller “fleur des lys” as the north point and the Wind Rose is centered in Sicily.
1582 Biblioteca Universitaria Pisa Italy; an atlas of 11 sheets referenced MS 602.
“Bartolome Olives mallorquin en Messina en el Castillo del Salvador ano 1582”
The atlas has 11 folios for charts and a peculiar frontispiece which actually gives the date as 1532. This is a mistaken reading of the date and the “three” shows signs of an abrasion to change the figure. Within this atlas is a date of 1544 and the fact that the city of Livorno (liorna) was developed in 1577. Hence it is to be considered as a 1582 Atlas.
Folio1, a world chart including the America’s and it is fully showing the massive burst of exploration in the early to mid 1500’s. Set in an oval frame it has decoration in the form of corner Fleur des Lys and is fully annotated.
Folio 2, the Aegean Sea, with the Peloponnese named Morea which is the name from the early 13th century under the Latin Empire. Interestingly it is adorned with “La Troia” with “paris” above it on the entrance south coast of the Dardanelles’: History writ large.
Folio 2, The Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean Sea and it has two texts appended as follows; “El dezierto que passso el gran turco Soltan Soli por andar al cayro 1516” and, a list of the Sultans from the first to the tenth as described in text ChBAO/1 as follows;
Text Five; The fifth text actually gives the whole storyline in a historical context;
“Hotomanus primus rex turcarum, Aranes secundus, Anmurates tercius, Bazartes quartus, Maometh quintus, Anmurates sextus, Maometh septimus, Bazaites octavius, Selinus nonus, Solunarius turca(rum) decimus.
Here is the list of Ottoman Rulers with those omitted from above noted only as there are 19 between 1299 and 1574. The last possible Ruler for the chart is Selim 2nd 1566-1574.
1) Osman 1st, 1299-1326 = Hotomanus
2) Orhan, 1326-1362 = Aranes
3) Murad 1st, 1362-1389 = Anmurates
4) Bayezid 1st, 1389-1402= Bazartes, and here there is a break and three are omitted.
5) Mehmed Celebi, 1403-1406 = Maometh with two omitted
6) Murad 2nd, 1413- 1444 = Anmurates with one omitted
7) Murad 3rd, 1446 – 1451 = Maometh with one omitted
8) Bayezielli 1481 – 1512 = Bazartes with one omitted
9) Selim 1st, 1512-1520 = Selmus
10) Suleiman 1st. 1520 – 1566 = Solinarius ( The magnificent)
Sixth text; “El deserto che passo el gran turcho Soltan Soli per andar al cairo” and should require no translation.
Folio 4, the Mediterranean Sea from Eastern Spain to the Peloponnese. A fully annotated chart with major cities in Africa held by the Spanish highlighted. There are no flags but Majorca is drawn as a flag.
Folio 5, the Atlantic Ocean and coast of Spain and N W Africa. The Azores and Canary Isles are featured with a full height Latitude Scale from 17N to 44N.
It is endorsed as follows;
“Bartolome olives mallorquin en missina en el Castillo del Salvador Ano 1582”.
Folio 6, UK and Ireland with Europe from Flanders to the Strait of Gibraltar and it includes in the NW Corner the Island of “Fryxlanda”. The latitude scale is from 34N to 61N.
Folio 7, the North Atlantic from “Tierra Be Labrador” to Ireland, Spain and the NW coast of Africa to Cape Verde with the Latitude scale from 13N to 60N.
Folio 8, the Equator from Africa to South America that is Guinea to Brazil. The latitude scale bar is from 30S to 16N. The Cape Verde Islands appear to be called “Ylias dcabaVerte” which should be read as “Ylias de cabo verte”.
Folio 9, the Caribbean Sea, South America north and the Amazona and it is adorned with a text at the mouth of the Amazon; “Por sterio des cobria den fu vasimiento fransisco de orellana el ano 1544.” It has the Equator and a latitude scale bar from 10S to 25N, but omits the Tropic.
Folio 10, Caribbean Sea, Mexico and the land bridge to South America. “Mexico City” in its Lake is drawn large, and the land bridge is named “Castilla del Oro”. The latitudes are from basically the Equator (not drawn) to 28N
Folio 11, is a wind rose with the names fully written for 24 of them with the central of each of the eight sections merely noted as “metzo”.
This atlas is obviously a forerunner of the 1584 chart “History writ large”.
The frontispiece is worth noting for its data and wrongly given year.
“Carte di reduzione evero da navigare fatted al Capitano Bartolomeo Olives, Majochino, nel castello de Salvator di Messina l’ano MDXXXII”
As we have seen Folio 9 contains a date of 1544, hence the reading for the year is 1582.
1583 chart. Osher map Library Maine USA
“Bartolomeu Olives mallorquin en Messina en Castillo del Salvador ano 1583”
A typical Olives Portolan chart but decorated differently to the previous charts/atlases. The roundels are similar and the Wind Rose is set out from the east of Sardinia at 40N
The names of the land areas of Europe, Asia and Africa are in large black stylized letters, but Venice and Genoa are both drawn rather splendidly with Venice having a large flag of the Winged Lion, where-as Genoa and Barcelona (with hill) have flags the same size as the other towns. There is the standard Madonna and Child in the west. The chart overall is not in good visual order and appears to suffer from water damage giving it a pink hue.
The surprise is the number of real and mythical animals drawn in Africa; 15 in total commencing in the west with a Monkey eating a banana but also riding a Camel; Lion; Elephant; Camel; Bear; Lion; Camel with saddle; Seated camel; Bear; Unicorn; Camel; Winged monster, a dragon; Lion ;Eagle eating; Ostrich. The camel seated is not certain but being next to the Saddled Camel standing and appearing to have a saddle is probably telling the method of riding. The Winged Monster as a dragon has been drawn far better on earlier charts. The Ostrich may have started as an intended Basilisk, but as the basilisk looking more like a dodo is poorly drawn
After the Biblical charts and the animals obviously telling a story this is a mind blowing menagerie and it is hard to know just why it was drawn. Normally I would expect a storyline to unfold but there is none in this instance. Considering it is late in Bartolomeo’s life and the previous year he had been in Palermo, I do wonder if he was just enjoying himself having omitted the Atlas Mountains and decided that the space could be filled with his imagination, a menagerie, whilst still thinking of his Biblical examples.
I contacted a Professor who is an expert on Medieval magic, Ritual and Witchcraft and asked for an opinion of the image, Monkey/banana/camel and it was likened to a geographically appropriate version of the iconography of the ape riding an animal “(in its typology of ape as imitating human or ape as sinful human).” If you look up camel in the attached list you will see 2 medieval MS references to examples of ape riding a camel”.
They are in “Lillian Randall, Images in the Margins of Gothic Manuscripts”, page 49 (48-65) and refer to, “Ape and Camel, Astride”.
1584 BnF Paris Res GE B-1133 Portolan chart
“Bartolome olives mallorquin en missina en castilla del Salvador ano 1584”
This chart is the subject of my text ChBaO/1, entitled “Bartolomeu Olives, 1584 Portolan Chart. A History lesson writ large on a chart.”
see; https://www.cartographyunchained.com/chbao1/. The charts page has many examples.
The abstract is as follows;
Bartolomeu Olives is the younger brother of Jaume olives and has Portolan charts to his name dating from 1538 to 1588. They are mostly drawn in Messina Sicily, but he/they commenced in Majorca and had a brief foray to Venice. This 1584 chart is held by BNF Paris, Departement of Cartes and Plans, reference CPL GE B-1133 (res), and is an extraordinary compilation. Excluding the standard toponyms it is scattered with Kings, Dukes and large writ place-names which at first sight are a strange combination.
This text analyses the chart as drawn technically and then endeavours to unravel the reasoning behind these place-names and in the process finds a 1500 year history lesson with a rather chilling raison d’être of persecution and conquest written there-on.
1584 Museo Correr Venice (port No 10) portolan Chart
“Bartolome olives maurquin en missina en el castillo del Salvador Ano 1584”
A standard Portolan chart with normal decoration.
Le Havre France Atlas MS 243 consisting of 13 folios.
This atlas is attributed to Bartolomeo Olives and dated c1580. The author of “L’Atlas nautique du Havre,” Lucille Haguet has gathered together the comments of other researchers and states (p74) “Pour tresumer, L’atlas du Havre a ete date successivement de 1525, 1534 et 1580. Il est cosidere tantot comme espagnol, et plus precisemement catalan avec de fortes influences portugaises, tantot comme majorquin. Il est successivement attribute a un pilot catalan , a Salvatore de Pilestrina et enfin a Bartomeu Olives”
But previously in the text we read; “ The Le Havre atlas dedicates only 3 leaves to the Mediterranean Sea and none to Asia, except for the Eastern Mediterranean. The document is primarily dedicated to America and Africa, the great Iberian discoveries of the XV & XVI centuries whose charts do the recording.”
Also, “The map has therefore been enriched with toponyms by a possessor hellenophobe” as the Aegean Charrt has been over-written using the Greek alphabet.
This alteration/addition was easily spotted but I wonder how many on other charts and atlases are unknown?
Here are, as per Bartolomeu Olives other atlases, many animals shown in Africa, but they are all real and no mythical beasts are shown. And, the mountains are less important, although Monte Sinai with St Catherine’s Monastery is well represented.
On folio 11, the western Caribbean Sea, the Yucatan Peninsula is drawn as an Island which is a retrograde step in the mapping and could indicate an earlier date. Here are only Spanish Flags shown on the N Coast of S America, and thus the Vatican and Huntington Atlases may make this Le Havre atlas a similar age, that is 1560-1565.
ANIMALS ON CHARTS
1) Ca’ Foscari 1538, Biblical
2)Bodleian 143, 1559 see below
4) HSA, K16, 1580, animals and sea goat, Pricus
5) Osher Maps 1583 15 various animals
6) Le Havre Atlas, real animals.
There appears to be no reason for the dates of charts/atlases to have animals or Biblical items. Below is an explanation of some of those animals and on the Osher Map the Eagle could be in fact as Deuteronomy 32:11 “like an Eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young so he spreads his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions (reminds one of Frodo and Gwaihir)”
The Camels feature in both Genesis and Job, but are merely enumerated for each.
The Ostrich is an animal of North Africa, the Maghreb and was used by Al-Idrisi to describe the form of England.
Ca’Foscari University, Venice, 1538 chart
There are five short texts appended to the 1538 chart which have been set out on the diagram with an explanatory text this time by Professor JLG Sanchez-Molero which is very similar to my own following text for the 1559 atlas page, which should be read with this text.
However it is evident that B Olives is rather muddled in his placement of items, which is made even harder to totally understand as one word at the end of text 4 does not appear to translate. However with a little digging around it was translated as below.
It would make sense if in fact it was “Column of Pompeo height xxxx colfas?” There is an Arab measure, cafla, but it is a weight and I suspect the word is just badly written as the last word in the Capella text, balsez not balsam as in text 3.
Being an inquisitive person I have tried to “solve” the “colfas/cosas” word and think it may be from the Arab measurements system of the Cubit. They have a cubit of 32 doigts Arabic which is 2.4 empas or 2 feet. The column is total measurement for height 26.85 metres or 88 statute feet which divided by 40 gives 2.2 feet per unit. The Cubit is 640mm and thus 2.1 feet. I think B Olives has transliterated an Arabic word for an measurement.
Having written that idea a translation of the text arrived from Professor Ramon J Pujades and he writes as follows; “Columna pompeo alta xxxx colses” and gives “ Processional column of height 40 elbows”. Thus I consider my idea to be correct, they are Arab cubits.
However, it is the first of B Olives attempts at history on a chart and trying to combine Egyptian and Biblical must cause problems.
“Capella de Nostra Dona d’on se rege l’ort de balsam” is thus “Our Lady’s Chapel, where is a fountain which provides water to the Balsam garden.”
Bodleian Library MS canon Ital 143 ATLAS PAGES (PART)
THE MYTHICAL ANIMALS;
This appears in “Revelations”, the last book of the New Testament. Chapter XII, verse 1, a woman appears who is with child and a Red Dragon, with 7 heads, 10 Horns and 7 Crowns sat and waited for the Child to be born and thus could eat it.
But in verses 7 and 9, “Michael” and the Angels fought the Dragon and he was cast out, “That old Serpent called the Devil and Satan”.
But the Dragon appears again similarly in the story of St George (13thC) or St Theodore the Tiro (9/10th C) supposedly in Silene, Libya. There the Dragon eats all the sheep and then starts on the Children who are offered to it after lots are drawn for the victim. The latest is the daughter of the King and she is tied to the rock next to the spring when St George appears, spears the Dragon and takes it captive to Silene, and says that he will kill it if the population convert to Christianity. They did- He did.
This is a truly mythical beast, half Bird (cockerel) and half Snake, and is commonly shown with a Cock’s Comb, Legs, Dragons wings and Serpents Tail. It lives in the wild places of the Desert.
Pliny the Elder (C79AD) wrote about it in his Natural History and he connects it to Egypt. “It routs all snakes with its hiss, and does not move its body forward in manifold coils like other snakes but advancing with its middle raised high. It kills bushes not only by its touch but also by its breath, scorches up grass and bursts rocks. Its effect on other animals is disastrous.”
The story was picked up by many including The Venerable Bede and Leonardo da Vinci.
JOB XXXIX verses 9-12
will the Unicorn be willing to serve or abide by thy crib
canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? Or will he harrow the valleys after thee
wilt thou trust him because his strength is great? Or wilt thou leave thy labour to him
wilt thou believe him that he will bring home thy seed and gather it unto thy barn.
It was adopted by the Christian Church because of the many allegorical stories particularly to the Virgin Mary. One of the popular legends was that if a Virgin sat under a tree the Unicorn would come and lay down with its head on her lap. Hence in Medieval times the image of the Unicorn is used by many artists to represent the Virgin and Child.
THE TEXTS AND DRAWINGS;
THE SEVEN OR FIVE PLUS TWO PILLARS;
In Proverbs 9:1-5 we read;
Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars
She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath furnished her table
She hath sent forth her maidens; she crieth upon the higher places of the city
Whoso is simple let him turn hither; as for him that wanteth understanding she saith to him 5) Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine which I have mingled.
There is possibly a reason the seven pillars are split 5 + 2 as we read in Revelations XVII, 10. “And there are 7 Kings, five are fallen and one is, the other is yet to come and when he cometh he must continue a short span.”
Actually there are two pillars near Cairo, at Matariya, the one incorrectly named Pompey’s Pillar and the other a Pillar of Pharaoh Senestris.
In Exodus II, 16-21 the story is as follows;
Now the Priest of Midian had Seven daughters; and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their Father’s flock. And the shepherds came and drove then away, but Moses stood up and helped them and watered their flock.
The Fountain of Moses is an underground spring supplying St Catherine’s Monastery with water. It is said to be the very spot where Moses met his future wife Zipporah, one of the seven daughters.
The Seven Fountains are cleverly placed by the Red Sea where Moses led the Israelites across, with Mount Sinai adjacent on the chart.
In Revelations II, the seven churches are in what is now Turkey. They are; Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.
Hence in Revelations the number Seven is repeated time and again; 7 gold candlesticks; 7 stars + Angels and the churches; 7 lamps + 7 spirits of God;
The Lamb has 7 eyes, 7 horns + the 7 spirits of God; 7 seals; 7 angels; 7 locusts like horses with faces of men. Red Dragon with 7 heads, 20 horns and 7 crowns and the 7 Angels with the 7 plagues.
CHAPEL, GARDEN AND FIG TREE;
The road from the” Capela de nostra dona” leads to the “Orti del Balsemo” or Garden of Balsam next to which is Figora de Faraone, or Pharoah’s Fig.
It is the story of the Holy family fleeing to Egypt and this is at Matariya.
In Matariya the Holy Family found shade under a sycamore tree. At that spot Jesus created a well, blessed it and drank from it. The Holy Virgin also used the water to bathe Jesus and wash his swaddling clothes. On the place where she threw out the water a “Balsam” plant grew which gave a beautiful fragrance, that is why it is called the Tree of the Holy Virgin.
Bruchard, a German Dominican Monk wrote as follows (c1272)
Near the Dead Sea, on its western shore, one league from Zoar, is the going up of Mount Engaddi, where we read that David once lay hid when Saul sought for him to slay him. On this mount and round- about it was Garden of Balsam; but in the days of Herod the Great, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, out of hatred for Herod and by favour of Mark Anthony, removed it to Babylon in Egypt. So there I saw it when I came into Egypt to the Soldan, who had me taken thither; and I carried off much Balsam-wood, and bathed in the well which waters the garden. Then gardeners told me that from that noon on Saturday even to Monday oxen would not draw from that well, even if they were cut to pieces.
This garden is two bow-shots long, and a stone’s throw or more wide. The Garden of Balsam in Egypt is tilled by Christian gardeners and is watered from a well wherein the Blessed Virgin is said to have often dipped the Boy Jesus.
Marino Sanuto, the Venetian, wrote about the Garden Of Balsam and the fact that the garden is watered from a single fount, wherein the Blessed Virgin is aid to have washed the boy Jesus’ swaddling clothes. Sanudo also reports a Scared Palm Tree. One text 9/11th C notes it as a sycamore, but a text 1175/1250, indicates it is a Balsam.
To complicate matters, a later Dominican Monk, Felix Fabri claims that he has seen a Fig Tree with a hollow trunk near the gate of the Enclosure. Hence all the drawing is possibly explained with the fact that a Church was consecrated at Matariyah named after the Virgin Mary. It is an ancient church and the remains of the old tree are close by. Curiously, there is a Monastery near-by which also has tree!
On its slopes is the very impressive Monastery of St Catherine, which unfortunately I was unable to visit due to the troubles in Sinai when I was there.
OTHER ANIMALS ON A MOUNTAIN;
North of Mount Sinai is a mountain range with to its west a Bear and a Lion and to its east a snake. These animals are all within “Revelations”, but curiously there is also the Lion of Judah. The Snake in the East is possibly meant to indicate “Babylon the Wicked”.
However in 1Samuel, 17;34 we read; “But David said to Saul, Your servant was tending his Fathers sheep when a Lion or Bear came and took a lamb from the flock”
The Bear is the Syrian Bear, Ursus Syriacus and is found on the higher slopes of the mountains of Palestine, hence the charts diagram. The Bear is also mentioned in Proverbs and Job.
Salvat de Pilestrina
The diagram Ch BOL/1/D23 is a copy of the facsimile chart held by BnF Paris and illustrates all the trends on the works by Bartolomeo Olives.