This chart has received much publicity via texts discussing its provenance. The fact that it is perhaps the first chart to show an American coastline, however distorted and fanciful, and the discoveries by Columbus et al, it has been lauded by some enthusiasts and discussed ad infinitum for its visual content, but very little research forensically dissects the chart and exposes its inner workings properly. Existing research appears to be superficial even to the non-usage of its scale bar to indicate distance measures and instead the researchers tend to assume they know it is based upon Leagues etc. This is akin to producing an argument from a position of preconception. But, this is not so, they are not leagues and can be clearly illustrated and the chaotic medieval usage of measurements exposed as on other charts. There is also the incorrect assumption that the West Indies is drawn to a different scale which is clearly refuted by the evidence presented here-in. There is also the provenance of the chart to be discussed, Portuguese or Spanish?
A BASIC DESCRIPTION OF THE CHART
The “Jefe de la seccion de Cartografia, Museo Naval de Madrid” (2000 AD) has written two simple paragraphs of explanation regarding the basic chart form, which I have freely translated from the Spanish.
”The Chart of Juan de La Cosa is a hand drawn chart in colour, measuring 93cm high by 183cm wide and is freehand drawn on two pieces of parchment, either calfskin or vellum glued together with the joint line passing through the foot of Italy and then Africa. The size is irregular since the left part corresponds to the neck of the animal and is thus a normal rendition.
To install it conveniently, the entire surface of the chart was reinforced on the reverse with a Russian Skin and only the lost parts show along with the contour of the chart. It has been cut such that a small tab of the skin surrounds the actual chart for affixing to a 5mm plywood backboard which was first coated with a sheet of silk.”
Thus we can commence analysis using the most basic of facts, that the chart is formed from two sections of “skin”. These join in a peculiar geographic position, through the foot of Italy and the Gulf of Sirte and thence through Africa, and hence do not allow for a full Mediterranean Sea Portolan chart to be shown on the eastern section. What is more surprising is that the two sections are not joined in a manner to allow the alignment of the wind-rose constructs and obviously as we can see from the draughtsmanship and the design they are by different hands.
Before analysing the chart it is perhaps wise to indicate just what knowledge was available by 1500AD and could have been included on the chart.
There is an excellent “Atlas of World Exploration”, published in 1991 by Harper Collins, edited by Dr Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, from which I am extracting various maps to illustrate the exploration phases for Africa and the West Indies with the America’s. I am inserting them in as close to first date order as possible given that each has a spread of dates included there-on.
The west coast of Africa from the Strait of Gibraltar southwards commenced being explored c1340 with first the Canary Islands and the Azores being discovered along with a small segment of the main coast. Then gradually the whole coast of the mainland of North West Africa was explored prior to 1400 and by 1482 West Africa to the Niger Delta and Fernando Po Island were known. Hence rather good charts of this area were available drawn by the likes of Andreas Bianco in 1448 and G. Benincasa in 1473.
Then in 1487-88 Bartolomeu Dias sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, to be followed by Vasco da Gama in 1497, who sailed not only around the cape but north-easterly along the coast to Natal and by 1498 was opposite Madagascar. He continued onto Mombasa by April 1498 and then crossed the Indian Ocean to be in Calicut May 1498.
But for the northern extremity of the east coast of Africa sailing from the Red Sea we have particularly Pedro de Covilhao (1487-1490) who sailed southwards to Mozambique. Thus the east coast of Africa may have been apparent to the draughtsperson who prepared the eastern section of the chart we are investigating in that it had to join to the Red Sea area, although the form drawn probably indicates a guess and only verbal descriptions of the form of Africa were available. The corollary to that is of course it was a preparatory chart for exploration purposes.
This is the primary exploration storyline of the Columbus voyages commenced in 1492, which gradually explored some of the West Indies, but not enough to prepare a full chart. The four voyages are quite well documented as are subsequent voyages by Alonso de Ojeda, but circumnavigating Cuba appears not to have happened, or should we say has not been documented if it did. Indeed, Columbus required the survivors of the second voyage to sign a document which stated Cuba was joined to a mainland, “The East” and thus could not be an
For the America’s, in the north John Cabot commenced along the eastern sea-board in 1497 and further north the Corte-Reals explored in 1500. Thus at least Nova Scotia was known of, but there was no exploration south from there to Florida and even the coastline from Florida around the Caribbean Sea to Mexico was unknown, even though it is so very close to Cuba.
The coastline of South America was gradually explored by subsequent voyages from Trinidad to the Yucatan Peninsula, but very limited information was available by 1500AD.
What this does indicate however is that as the chart was drawn prior to the rounding of Cuba in 1506 and the survey thereof shown on the chart by Morales in 1508, there is a great deal of missing information concerning this exploration. This of course slightly ignores the comment by Pietro Martire d’Anghiera in 1511 that it was known people had sailed around the island at an early date, 1501 perhaps, as there is no corroborating evidence.
It could also mean that the date of the chart should be 1507 or later as Juan de La Cosa returned in 1509 with Alonso de Ojeda and I quote another author, “an ever memorable date in geographical science for in that year Juan de La Cosa finished the “Marine Chart” (carta de Marear) which bears and immortalises his name”.
Having briefly discussed the exploration dates and knowledge that may have been available to the draughtspersons, I will now investigate the chart section by section in my normal manner by endeavouring to ascertain how it was drawn and the distance measures used.
THE CHART AS DRAWN, SECTION BY SECTIONTHE WEST INDIES AND THE AMERICA’S
Certain facts regarding the exploration of the America’s are well documented and thus can be used as a basis for analysis. In the north John Cabot explored to Nova Scotia and a distance of 400 leagues was given from Ireland to the Newfoundland. Using the scale bar that distance on the chart at c51N is 1600 miliaria and hence 400 leagues of 4 Miliaria each.
Proceed south and we are informed that from the Canary Islands to the Lesser Antilles are 800 leagues, which on the chart measures 3200 Miliaria and confirms the 4 Miliaria per league measurement. In other words this distance measurement is another completely guessed idea from some basic knowledge which has been misunderstood. But, the Lesser Antilles lay on a basic geographical 60W Longitude and hence are 43 degrees west of the Canaries which is in turn therefore a basic 75 Miliaria per degree.
Using the same league, if we assess the position of the Line of Demarcation at 370 leagues or 1480 Miliaria west of the Cape Verde Islands, it is marked by the most easterly Spanish flag on the north coast of South America. Perhaps a coincidence, but more likely a reference point as the Cape Verde Islands are certainly not shown as 7 ½ degrees west of Cape Verde itself! Neither are the Canary Islands correctly positioned apropos the mainland.
Turning our attention to the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola along with Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles it is a geographical spread from 60W to 85W, which on the chart produces a measurement of 80 Miliaria per degree of longitude. Thus the 800 leagues just discussed could in fact be considered also as 40 degrees of 80 miliaria or 43 degrees of 75 Miliaria and given the scale and accuracy of the chart it is a close equivalent.
But, if we study Cuba, it is drawn at 850 miliaria longitude, when geographically it is actually 892 Miliaria, and thus can be considered an accurate rendition of the longitudinal measurement. On the diagram I have drawn as an overlay the geographical Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico to illustrate the actuality. Obviously Hispaniola has been drawn incorrectly and is 516 Miliaria geographical but drawn as 750 Miliaria and thus a simple 150% expansion. This could be attributed to the distance being noted as Miliaria, c500, then misnamed as Miglio Geografici and expanded to 750 Miliaria, the normal 150% expansion of one to the other.
But latitudinally it appears that the north coast of South America has been drawn c250 miliaria or c2.75 degrees north of the putative geographical latitude and correspondingly the 20N latitude between Cuba and Hispaniola has been drawn c650 miliaria north, but they both appear to be consistent in their measurement of 110 Miliaria per degree of latitude. It has been remarked by many researchers that the latitudes are those given by Columbus. However, the north coast of South America is set to the putative geographical latitude of 14 degrees and the Cuba/Hispaniola line is set at 29N. Thus 15 degrees of latitude equals 1100 miliaria or 73 miliaria per degree, and that equates to c61 Roman Miles per degree of Latitude from South America to Cuba. I suspect that the cartographer is using distances rather ad hoc. If Juan de La Cosa knew the Tropic of Cancer was at c23N that could mean the readings taken by Columbus et al placed Puerto Rico at 23N, but Columbus also stated that La Isabella was at 26N, in reality 20N and hence the latitudinal readings are seriously awry.
It is obvious from the foregoing we are playing with numbers, a point made quite succinctly in my text MsFER/1 regarding the positioning of the Line of Demarcation, and thus I see no point in continuing this part of the investigation into measurements that are used here.
However, it is obvious that there is no actual change of scale but mis-measurement.
It is necessary to clarify what the chart actually shows and question the possibility of the data being transferred to Juan de La Cosa for inclusion on the chart by 1500AD. John Cabot sailed to Cape Breton 20/05/1497 and returned 06/08/1497 and the north south limits of his voyage are described as lying between the latitudes of Dursey Head Ireland and the Garonne Estuary, France, that is 46N to 51N. Juan de La Cosa or his associates must therefore have obtained the information prior to his 1499 voyage for the inclusion of the following notes on the coastline that is of course if La Cosa even knew of their inclusion before his return.
They are; Mar descubierto par ingleses; Cabo de Inglaterras; xx Lizaries; San Jorges and Santa Lucia. The Spanish ambassador appears to have obtained the information, but when is not known nor how it was transmitted, verbal, text or diagram.
The coast of South America is easier to ascertain as the exploration dates and data collected are known such that the chart preserves the descriptive names given by the explorers. They are;Costa Anegadas; Mare Dulces; Costa de las Perlas; Isla de Margalidas ; Isla del Brezil ; Bocas del Dragons ; Venesuela; Isla de Gogantes ; Cabos de Spera ; isla de Posecions ; Rio de Vacia-barriles ; Cabo Flechadas and Rio de la Helgansa.
Thus given the exploits of Juan de La Cosa perhaps the date of the chart was decided as a political statement for 1500 and is a sleight of hand when it should be at least 1502AD to 1507AD.
THE CHART; THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA BASIN
As shown on the diagram the putative geographical grid is similar to most portolan charts but is mis-measured in many places. Basically I would expect a chart of this area to have Latitudes of 90 Miliaria and longitudes of 72 Miliaria, except for the Iberian Peninsula west and north coastlines where they would be 75 and 60 Miliaria as they have generally been drawn using Roman Mile measurements but utilizing the Miliaria scale bar. What we find is a melange of measurements which indicate a very poor draughtsperson or copyist who was not aware of the actuality of the distances but was probably just copying from a chart and not very carefully. The Mediterranean Sea is in fact overlong as the units for the longitudes alter along its length and there is a doubtful measurement for the latitudes around the 36/37N area.
But, I must reiterate what this chart area does clearly portray is the difficulty in aligning the basic setting out for the Mediterranean Sea area and the African setting out based upon the Equator when the units both are 90/90 and not 90/72. Hence the African grid expands by 125% and depending just where the zero point for the whole chart is taken the longitudinal lines move further apart as the diagram clearly illustrates. Thus this chart and any others draw in a similar manner will have severe distortion problems the further south the chart reaches.
There is of course the possibility that the Mediterranean Sea was slightly expanded to overcome this fact, but that is so very doubtful given the rest of the measurement errors.
The coastline is a tale of two parts; the western coastline is generally well known by 1500, certainly to the Equator and has been mapped since 1448. Hence latitudes are or should be well plotted, but the problem is that they have been plotted at c76 Miliaria and not at the correct 90 Miliaria. This could be another misinterpretation of the measurements taking them as Miliaria and not Roman Miles as is possibly borne out by the fact that the longitudes at the Equator are c91 Miliaria and of course a degree of latitude equals a degree of longitude here at 75 Roman Miles or 90 Miliaria.
However below the Equator the scale changes to 60 Miliaria per degree of latitude and may be interpreted as the 60 Roman Mile degree used by some sailors/cartographers. But, 60 Miglio Geografici is equal to 90 Miliaria, the correct latitudinal measure and may represent the same error as with Hispaniola where the descriptive noun is mis-translated for Miliaria.
The south and east coasts are also questionable regarding their distance measures. The south coast shape trending from the Cape of Good Hope to the Capo do Recife and the Golfo da Roca is not drawn at c570 Miliaria, the geographical distance, but on the chart it is 1400 Miliaria, that is some 2 ½ times the distance. Thus having used the Equatorial longitude of c90 Miliaria for this section, instead of the Mediterranean distance of longitude 72 Miliaria, the whole coast has been increased easterly by at least 125%.
Thus we can see the mis-translation of the longitudinal distance measures by the application of the proportional change from Roman Miles to Miliaria that is 5:6 being wrongly applied here. At the Equator we see 90 Miliaria per degree longitude, which if the ratio is inverted gives 90/5 = 18 x 6 = 108 miliaria per degree of longitude. The diagrams illustrate clearly the problem of the actual latitudinal and longitudinal distance measures utilized from the Equator northwards as the meridians all slope accordingly to meet their Mediterranean Sea counterparts. NOTE this is actually in this period of the development of charts a horrendous challenge for those first world charts to overcome. It was not solved until 1569 when Mercator produced his proportional chart.
To ascertain if the coast of East Africa was based upon actual knowledge I have indicated by another overlay the Mediterranean Sea in its Geographical position and thus allowed Aromata, the North-east corner of Africa to move southerly and indicated its correct 12N/51E grid point on the chart face. It would appear that it is possible the distance measures longitudinally have meant the draughtsman had to join South Africa to North-East Africa and could only use a north to south alignment. This is the problem I identified for all “World Charts” when the correct Equatorial distance is used, 90 Miliaria and the correct Mediterranean distance of 72 Miliaria is used and they are still hide bound by a rectangular grid at each point and of course they will never be compatible.
THE TWO CHART SECTIONS
Study carefully the whole chart and immediately it is obvious there are two separate wind-rose constructs with differing designs of individual circles denoting some but not all major wind-rose node points on the hidden circle that is the overall wind-rose. Then study the joint line of the two sections and it will immediately become clear that each section was drawn separately prior to being glued together as there are only later draughting lines which slightly cross the joint line between the wind roses emanating from each hidden circle centre. They do not match each other either latitudinally or longitudinally to ensure the correct cross reading from one wind-rose to the next and thus for the correct transfer of winds. Thus one was drawn firstly and the second drawn to match but affixed very slightly out of alignment with the putative centre line when glued together and then some extra wind lines were appended which cross the joint line. They are correctly sized and the reason for the misalignment is discussed later.
Given the exploration dates for Africa and the Antilles the eastern section was probably drawn first including the Mediterranean Sea basin area which could have been copied from any of the numerous portolan charts with similar decoration appended as vignettes? But note that the later wind lines cross the vignettes which were therefore drawn first. Thus with a “Ptolemaic” far east appended it leaves open the possibility that the chart section for Europe and Africa was in fact a complete chart in its own right, drawn on a large skin which has been severely cut back, and could be regarded as a primer for Portuguese exploration and ownership. Is it Portuguese?
Why do I surmise that fact? The eastern section has its own empty cartouche drawn on its southern bordure and that was drawn prior to the wind-rose lines being drawn. It would have been prepared for the cartographers name, date and place of preparation upon completion and in all probability it has been “high-jacked” to form a semi world chart as we now witness. Copied no doubt, the cartouche would be a give-away if it had been completed. If as I surmise the two sections were drawn separately for their individual usage, but tailored to fit together by size and wind rose layout then the cartouche on the eastern section would be appropriate, but un-necessary for a different scenario of both charts being prepared for one joint chart of the semi world. Thus we enter the speculative world regarding the origins of the chart and just how many cartographers were involved and when. This is discussed in the appendix section. But first the misalignment of the two charts must be addressed and the problem resolved.
Having illustrated the misalignment of the two sections of the chart both horizontally and vertically and the impossibility of obtaining agreement to the wind-rose alignments with the chart as drawn, I reverted to the most basic research of a wind-rose, the rectangular/square grid upon which it is constructed based upon simple geometrical proportions.
In my texts ChWR/1 and ChWR/2 I illustrated how wind roses were constructed and drawn when a circle was not formed to allow its usage for the construct by segmental sub-division. This is all based upon the natural tangent ratio for 22 ½ degrees and its multiples. When set out to form a complete circuit of 360 degrees it can be shown to have a simple dimensional basis. This was adequately shown first by Petro Vesconte in his Atlas of 1318AD. Thus any wind-rose will be capable of subdivision into 92 parts based upon the “radius” measure of the hidden circle, and a square of 184 x 184 units is formed. Divide the “radius” arms into 92 equal units and mark off the points of the graticule or grid to be formed at 35; 30; 20 and 7 units. The last being at the point of the “radius” extremity and then draw the appropriate lines and a grid is formed. The node points of the grid will indicate the 22 ½, 45 and 67 ½ degree lines radiating from the centre point as wind directions.
Thus if you have two adjacent wind-roses which do not touch as hidden circles but are entirely divorced from each other, for the radial lines when projected outwards to meet correctly from each wind rose that alignment must be the precise central line between the wind-rose extremities.
That is of course precisely what does not happen on this chart!
It is a simple matter as diagram ChJLC/1/D13 illustrates to indicate that firstly with a mismatch vertically the lines will never meet even if the joint line is central, and secondly the joint line of the two sections is not central as discussed. But there is another unfortunate error on the chart in that the draughtsperson has drawn one of the central area 22 ½ degree lines from the wrong node point and thus the system will never work correctly even if the joint was centrally placed.
But, by re-aligning the charts vertically at least one of many problems would be solved.
But perhaps the greatest error is the fact that the eastern section of the chart was wrongly cut to length and should be of a greater size to meet precisely centrally on the distance chosen between the two wind rose extremities. This simple error could have been avoided, but as I suspect the two sections were drawn at different times by different draughtspersons, one copying the wind-rose from the other to allow for a continuous chart form, I must ask if the person who joined the two sections together knew of the subtlety of the wind-rose construct setting out as whoever tried to marry up the two sections obviously tried to carry the wind rose lines across the joint line but in a half-hearted manner probably realising they would never meet correctly.
What is also very obvious is that the outer form of the chart, its bordure was drawn prior to the wind-rose being drawn on the eastern section as the cartouche is devoid of any such lines. On the far right of this section is a clear indication that a scale bar was to be drawn vertically down the edge of the skin, thus it is in all probability a separate chart that has been “high-jacked” and its scale bar probably on the western side of this section of chart, now removed.
JUST HOW LARGE WAS THE EASTERN SECTION ORIGINALLY
On the right hand side of the eastern section there is the alignment mentioned which is typical of a pre-prepared area for a scale bar presentation, and this has wind-rose lines drawn across its form. There is obviously a north south bordure consisting of several lines and a red band which continues across the western section and indicates this was probably a later addition along with the Equatorial and Tropic lines.
Thus we must ask why the cut on the chart was made at such an inauspicious position when a standard portolan chart with two wind-roses would be co-ordinated for positioning. Firstly, the vertical longitude line does not represent the “Line of Demarcation” as it is most certainly not 370 leagues from the Cape Verde Islands, and thus I surmise that it is possibly the demarcation between the European Section of the Chart and the New World Section and could represent the original eastern charts extremity.
If the sections of the whole chart are further analysed the eastern section and the western section to the longitude line are of similar length and the residual centre section is slightly less than 50% of those two sides. Hence we may have a 5 section chart split 3:2 in either direction which would give two original charts of approximately 1100 x 930mm and then one chart, the eastern, is cut back to c730 x 930mm.
It is therefore a simple step to take and opine that the eastern section was drawn and then copied by the same person onto the western section as put quite simply, the cut line avoids all of the miniature drawings, the vignettes, but the coastal lines are very easily continued. There are only minor geographic items across the cut line such as the Baltic Sea which is easy to redraw and several toponyms. Also the fact that some lettering is so close to the cut line that it may have been planned accordingly not only to miss diagrams but do as little damage to what may have been a finished or nearly finished chart. Finally, a rather wide chart, 930mm and possibly 1100mm long probably accounts for the fact that the European miniatures are drawn from the north side of the chart as they would then be so much easier to apply from there instead of reaching across the whole chart, which in old terms is 3 statute feet in height. This is a standard feature of a number of Portolan Charts as discussed later.
THE CHART; SCALE BARS
The two part chart has appended two scale bars, north and south on the western section which are halted in length by the junction cut line of the eastern section. It is quite apparent that they continue under the glued section, but they do not continue upon the eastern section. As there is no scale bar on the eastern section of the whole chart this further increases my suspicion that the eastern chart section should have had a scale bar drawn on its right hand bordure, and thus possibly the scale bar on the left hand side was removed when the chart was cut.
But the extant scale is quite easy to ascertain using the chart itself and particularly the Mediterranean Sea area. However the “Jefe de la seccion de cartografia (2000AD)” has written as follows; “La distancia se calculaba a ojo y se media en leguas marinas que en Espana mantenia generalemente la proporcion de 17 ½ leguas al grado. Cada legua se dividia en 4 millas romanos. Ademas los accidents costeres estaban siempre a la vista del marino, sirvien dole de indicacion” and later “Dos escales de leguas estan colocadas las margenes superior e inferior, en el oceano Atlantico y expresan leguas cada una de la cuales valia 4 millas romanos; aunque el valor de la milla vario a lo largo de los siglos, parceque cada legua en la carta media 1480 metres.”
To put it plainly, I find this a nonsensical assessment as 17 ½ leagues x 4 Millas Romanas will only give 70 Millas Romanas for a degree of latitude, when that degree is actuall75 Roman Miles or 90 Miliaria. My text ChMEA/1 appended to the CgSTA/1 text fully sets out the basic measurements and their origins.
Thus if we use the scale bars to measure distances in the Mediterranean Sea area it is simply that the measurement is Miliaria with each division representing 50 Miliaria. Study the scale bars and you can clearly see that they have the little dots between the lines indicating the 10 miliaria subdivisions. There are no leagues of 17 ½ units as each would require to be 4 2/7th Millas Romanas or 5 1/7th Miliaria and those do not exist in the pantheon of measurement.
There is now also the problem of the measurements that may be used on a “World Chart”. At 36N the degree of longitude is 60 Roman Miles or 72 Miliaria, with the degree of latitude being 75 Roman Miles or 90 Miliaria, but, at the Equator the degree of longitude is equal to the degree of latitude and each are 75 Roman Miles or 90 Miliaria. Thus there is an immediate expansion of 125% from the 36N Mediterranean Sea to the Equatorial line to be accommodated. This will of course skew any chart if an attempt is made to join the two areas depending upon where the chart zero longitude is drawn to allow the two sections to be drawn correctly. Chaos will ensue if this is not taken into account by the draughtspersons of “world maps”.
The diagrams noted for this section are in fact a single chart match and can be joined to form that chart again. They were originally drawn at A3 size and can be enlarged to suit. The scale bar is therefore the same for all three parts of the chart.
THE WEST INDIES COMPARED TO GEOGRAPHICAL CHARTS
The first diagram is merely a copy of the chart as drawn, illustrating the form of the Islands set around the Tropic of Cancer which is set at c23N and thus illustrates the errors in the latitudes determined by Columbus on the first two voyages. The second diagram illustrates the same section of chart at the same scale; the scale bar is appended; and illustrates the fact that Cuba is drawn quite accurately as previously discussed and the mis-positioning of the residue of the West Indies.
WEST AFRICA BELOW THE EQUATOR
The first diagram, ChJLC/1/D20, merely shows the toponyms that are readable, the joint between the two skins and the geographical graticule continued from the 5N latitude in both latitudinal and longitudinal measurement. The second diagram, ChJLC/1/D21, has two versions of the same coastal area; that on the left is the geographical graticule continued as on ChJLC/1/D20, with the same longitudinal measurements applied. The right hand section has the longitudinal measurements revised to suit the proportional difference as previously described, and is in fact a truer reflection of the format of this coastline. The third diagram, ChJLC/1/D22, has appended to it the geographical positions of the actual West African coastline set out to accord with the two graticules with the differing longitudinal measurements. The accuracy of the revised longitudinal measurements when used to plot the geographical positions is quite marked from the original plot graticule continued from the section above the Equator.
COMPARISONS OF CHARTS
I have chosen to make a simplistic comparison between two charts and the Juan de La Cosa chart to illustrate the possible antecedent of some of the information on the Juan de La Cosa chart.
This chart is an amalgam of a diagrammatic portolan chart of the Mediterranean Sea basin, and an inspired African Continent partially based upon Portuguese exploration and the World Map of Claudius Ptolemy. I have merely endeavoured to approximate the scales of both as an example using the Iberian Peninsula and the coast of North Africa as a base point. There is good agreement for those areas but as can be clearly seen the South African profiles are so very different. But the Ptolemaic map from the Persian Gulf to the Ganges Delta is surprisingly aligned for distance and shows a similar basic copying of the original map.
MERCATOR PROJECTION BASE 1;40,000,000
By aligning the Iberian Peninsula and Strait of Gibraltar area on both charts the basic accuracy of North West Africa is shown thanks to the Portuguese exploration. But any residual area of the chart is far from accurate. I have indicated the 10E longitude and the problem with a “World Chart” drawn using the 90/72 ratio in the Mediterranean Sea area and the 90/90 ratio at the Equator, but maintaining a square/rectangular grid format.
The over length of the Mediterranean Sea is again clearly shown due to the mis-measurements of the longitudes in the various areas discussed.
The examination of the chart has clearly indicated there at least two draughtspersons at work to produce the finished chart. The basic wind-roses on the two sections are stylistically different as are the bordure lines and treatment of the presentation. From that information it is possible to opine that the eastern section as per ChJLC/1/D25 was drawn as a stand-alone chart of the Mediterranean Sea, Africa and the Far East. It is thus probably dated to the period after the voyage by Bartolomeu Dias in 1487/89 and Pedro de Covilhao in 1487/90. We should also note that the Henricus Martellus world map is dated c1490 and is likely to be from the same derivation. Thus it is possibly a precursor chart for indicative eastern exploration.
This chart was then “high-jacked” as it was probably now inaccurate as the exploration in the east continued apace. The naming cartouche is empty and the eastern bordure scale bar is incomplete, but, where exactly and when it was drawn is indeterminable, however I suspect it may be Portuguese as the large cartouche regarding the King of Portugal does not seem to be a fitting item for a Spanish chart.
Then the exploration of the West Indies took place and the extant eastern section of the chart being incapable of affording the space to include the new explorations it had to be expanded one way or another.
Thus the western section was planned by distances known to the new world, Nova Scotia and the Lesser Antilles and the overall chart length ascertained. But as the western section would be void in its eastern portion by not showing a complete Mediterranean Sea and Far East, the only methodology available was to utilize both charts by cutting and joining the eastern section to the larger western section skin. This of course can point to a time limited period when the Eastern Chart section could not be redrawn on the Western Chart skin to produce a single complete chart.
The wind-rose was drawn on the new skin to the same dimensions as the eastern section and using the pre-planned positioning of the West Indies and the America’s the two parts were joined. Unfortunately the persons carrying out this task were not cognizant with the intricacies of joining two wind-roses such that the transfer of wind lines occurred smoothly one to the other. The clumsy setting out of the western wind-rose vertically would ensure it was never a match for the eastern wind-rose and hence the graticule horizontal lines are awry. But the attempt at joining the two by crossing new wind lines over the joint obviously did not and could not work satisfactorily and only a few lines were attempted.
Having joined the two sections, by cutting the eastern section carefully to miss any of the excellently drawn vignettes, the next task was simply to copy the part of the chart now to be discarded onto the new skin, including the missing vignettes etc., and then the “geographical” information for the West Indies and the America’s was added forming the complete chart we now study. That of course means that the original cartographer actually worked on both sections of the chart, but as opined did not produce it all.
Thus I suspect that if Juan de La Cosa was a cartographer the period in Spain from November 1494 until 1496 may have been used to acquire the eastern section which by using the South African data from 1488 and later was the latest available, and he was then waiting for the western data to be available as he would have known the exploration continued apace. That it did not arrive is attested by the profile drawn of the west coast and it had to be guessed. Therefore it is possible that in the 7 months of 1500 when Juan de La Cosa was back in Spain the final data was available and his co-cartographers were able to finish the chart, but of course it could be dated to 1500 and placed under Juan de La Cosa’s name without any comment from outsiders.
But did Juan de La Cosa draw anything or was he merely the figurehead of a group of draughtsmen providing them with the raw data? I think that is the more likely scenario.
APPENDIX; IS THE EASTERN SECTION A PORTUGUESE PRE EXPLORATION CHART
I have already commented several times that I consider the eastern section to be a high-jacked chart probably of Portuguese origination. Firstly I do not consider a chart drawn in Spain would have had a very large vignette of the King of Portugal and the text appended referring to “El escelente Rey Don Juan, Rey de Portugal”. The rivalry would surely have not allowed this particularly as the King and Queen of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella bankrolled some exploration and there is no mention of them on the chart at all! Secondly, would a Spanish cartographer have bothered with the coast of West Africa, under Portuguese control, and clearly annotated with the Portuguese toponyms and more importantly indicating the “Padron” positions, a Portuguese mark.
If we look at the Far East, India etc it is as if the chart has been produced for further explorations into the Indian Ocean setting down the knowledge around 1495 and could thus have been a guide chart for the likes of Vasco Da Gama incorporating known continents and Ptolemaic guesses as to where the Indian sub-continent could be found.
The fact that a Portuguese chart finds its way to Palos is no different to the theft of the chart now known as “Cantino Planisphere” and copied for the Duke of Ferrara. I suspect that the border in this area was as porous as a sponge, and anything was actually for sale. Thus the threats by the King of Portugal of death should the new lands on the latest charts be exposed to Spain etc were probably useless. I think the eastern section is Portuguese.
WHENCE CAME THE DATA TO COMPILE THE 1500 CHART AND DECORATE IT?
We do not have sufficient Portuguese charts extant to determine absolutely the progression of the development of these charts, or even what the first looked like. The reason is simply that in 1755 there was an horrific earthquake south of Lisbon which caused large tsunamis and they destroyed all of the government storage facilities and offices which stored the charts and maps, but more importantly it appears the records of the exploration voyages were stored several hundred kilometres south, closer to the epicentre and thus all geographic data collected was lost.
Extant is the excellent chart by Jorge de Aguiar dated 1492 which is beautifully drawn and indicates the West African exploration to basically the Bight of Benin and Fernando Po island. This was all mapped by voyages around the coast probably up until 1485 and the residue of the southern coast followed. The chart by Jorge de Aguiar has little actual decoration as can be seen on the 1500 chart, but that is seriously overblown as can be shown.
However if we look at the development of decoration on charts, the first and most extensive is obviously the Catalan Atlas by Abraham Cresques which has the European section vignettes drawn upside down, and thus the pages would be rotated to view them properly. This is of course a major feature of the 1500 chart. Moving on to 1413 and we have the Macia de Viladestes chart which has people indicated in Africa and an upside down Europe. There are then two charts by Vallseca dated 1439 and 1440 where on the first the cartouches are rectangles and Europe is upside down and the second has Tents in Africa and again an upside down Europe. The last example is from 1464 by P. Rossell and again it has tents in Africa, Asia vignettes are turned 90 degrees and it has a full set of wind faces spread around the chart.
Thus if the 1500 chart is studied, particularly in Africa, and consider it the eastern chart only, you will see that “Rey Ethiopie” has actually been drawn twice and other persons are just copied at random. As stated it is decoration for decorations sake and could therefore be a chart formed to impress the King of Portugal, particularly with the large cartouche of that King, and set down the Portuguese lands and future exploration of the Indian Ocean and the Far East; the lands “given” to Portugal under the treaty terms. Thus as soon as Vasco da Gama sailed to India and the chart was drawn, that is the actual chart copied for Alberto Cantino in 1502, the eastern section of the 1500 chart was null and void in Portuguese exploration terms. Thus from 1497 on this 1500 chart eastern section was always about to be supplanted by a geographical rendition of the form of Africa and the Indian sub-continent etc. It thus became surplus to requirements in Portuguese eyes and could be used to create confusion in the Spanish minds and for their cartographers. Perhaps a win/win situation for Portugal until the “Cantino” chart was copied.
JUAN DE LA COSA; MASTER AND SHIP OWNER, & OR JUAN DE LA COSA; CARTOGRAPHER AND SEAMAN – PART TWO; THE HISTORY.
INTRODUCTION FOR HISTORICAL TEXT
The map or chart by Juan de La Cosa is held in the Museo Naval, Madrid and it is some 93 x 183 cms. It is signed, “Juan de La Cosa la fizo en el Puerto de S: maA en ano de 1500”. From this inscription many researchers have inferred that the “Puerto de S”, is “Puerto de Santa Maria”, which is near where the ships departed from and returned to, a small port on the bay north of Cadiz. But, the Port of Santa Maria is not the starting point for the voyages; it is Palos and Moguer on the Rio Tinto to the east of Heulva. However, as you read different texts the actual words written on the chart are not portrayed correctly, but stated as the translation and not as the chart reads. The problem being that La Cosa actually comes from Santona in Cantabria and the church there is called, Santa Maria del Puerto. His wife and children certainly lived there during his voyages, and thus any sojourn in the south was very short indeed if La Cosa travelled back home each time. But, La Cosa firstly comes to our attention in the Columbus ship lists for the first and second voyage and then for cartographical reasons much later. But little makes absolute sense!
KNOWLEDGE AND TIMELINE;
From the list of persons accompanying Columbus on his first voyage to the West Indies, we read in the research by A.B.Gould published by the Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid, the following information:
First voyage in 1492;
Ship, Santa Maria
Christopher Columbus, Captain
Juan de La Cosa from Santona, Master and Owner. (ABG adds the note, “there is conflicting opinion about whether this Juan de La Cosa is the same as the Juan de La Cosa of the second voyage”)
Second voyage in 1493;
Christopher Columbus, Captain of the Flagship and Fleet Commander
Alonso Medel, from Palos, Master to Cuba and remainder of voyage
Francisco Nino, from Moguer, Pilot
Pedro de Terreros, Boatswain
Fernando Perez de Luna, Royal Notary
Diego Tristan from Seville, Gentleman Volunteer
Francisco de Morales, from Seville, Gentleman Volunteer
Juan de La Cosa, Chart maker
Inigo Lopez de Zuniga, the Admiral’s steward
We are told that Antonio de Torres, was master and owner of the Flagship, “Mariagalante”, and that Juan Nino, from Moguer, was master from Spain to La Espanola only.
It appears that this second official crew list survived as part of a declaration by crew members of the three Caravels, “Nina, San Juan and Cardera”, and is thus to be treated with circumspect. Pages 622 to 628 of the encyclopaedia contain other lists and information, but not really pertinent to the story line unfolding here.
The first quandary emanates from the fact that Juan de La Cosa was Master and Ship Owner of the Santa Maria, the main ship of the first expedition; it was lost off La Espanola on Christmas Eve 1492. Columbus noted in his log for Christmas Day 1492 that he blamed the Ship’s Master for the wreck, accusing him of negligence and cowardice. However it appears he later retracted that accusation and helped Juan de La Cosa receive restitution from the “Crown” for the loss of the ship. This is all discussed later in the text as there appears to be deliberate obfuscation and blaming as becomes apparent whenever Columbus hits a problem.
DISCUSSION AND COMMENTS
Thus we must consider the possible standing and age of Juan de La Cosa. In 1492 he owns a ship, Santa Maria, a Nao, a bulky cargo ship, 100 tons burden weight. It appears La Cosa sailed regularly to Andalusia and perhaps to the Hanseatic League ports as a trader. From that information it is but a simple step to make an assumption, that Juan de La Cosa was a merchant sailor and thus in all probability had a good business and was perhaps monetarily successful. Consider the cost of construction or purchase, the upkeep and crew costs and ask at what age he would have had sufficient funds to achieve this, unless it was a family business and he was assisted. Thus he was probably not a younger man and had worked for years to achieve the status. The corollary is of course, was he solvent in 1492 and thus a lifeline for business gains, untold riches and to be debt free was offered by this expedition? Speculation abounds of course, but there is a reason he joined the fleet; we just do not know. Why he was in Puerto de Santa Maria can only be assessed from his probable sailing route possibly from Andalucía to Cantabria carrying grain (see later) or just a merchant ship carrying southern goods to the north as it appears La Cosa just happened to be in Palos/Moguer in 1492 when the order was given to procure ships for the first voyage.
Thus the first voyage of three ships departed August 3rd 1492, layover in the Canaries for repairs to the “Pinta” and finally sailed for the West Indies on the 6th September 1492. Then on October 12th at 0200 hours the “Pinta” signalled land in sight and after dawn anchored off an island; which island is still debated today.
At this juncture I will add I have always considered the Captain or Master of all three ships, the Santa Maria, Pinta and Nina, to be complicit in the agreement to the phony log kept by Columbus where on the 1st October 1492 he states 1734 miles from Hierro but privately knew it was nearer 2121 miles, a real difference. Did none of the other five senior persons on these three ships, persons of authority and knowledge not carry out rough calculations of their own to ascertain the distances sailed. Surely this is the first and last task of the Master and Pilot to keep a good log and thus know their position at sea, even if only distance covered! How would they cope with a great storm blowing them all over the ocean if they had no basic idea of their whereabouts? How far from land and which direction was of paramount importance for survival.
Moving on, in December after explorations we find the ships off the north coast of La Espanola; it is Christmas Eve, a day which would be auspicious for the wrong reasons. It appears from the log of Columbus, both he and the crew retired for the night, as then did the Officer of the Watch Juan de La Cosa who apparently left the ship in the charge of one of the Ship’s boys. As the night wore on the Ship’s boy noticed nothing but suddenly the rudder stuck fast. From here onwards the storyline reads like a comedy of errors; Juan de La Cosa jumps into a ships boat with others and rows to the “Pinta”, only to be refused boarding! Was he looking for help or running away? Was he tasked with dropping an anchor astern or similar rescue precautions?
Query, you are Master and Owner of the Santa Maria, and this is probably your biggest asset and without ascertaining any damage, is the ship salvable, can it be pulled from the reef, you cut and run? Hence the cowardice charge which was later withdrawn and can be seen as Columbus protecting his back. Is this story line really believable? Fast forward to February 1510 when one Juan de La Cosa is fighting the natives hand to hand in effect and is killed by arrows. Are the two sets of facts compatible given the propensity for face saving in the hierarchy?
However, the homeward journey began on 16th January 1493. On February 18th the Nina had reached the Azores and left again on the 22nd February and arrived at the mouth of the Tagus, 4th March and anchored. Sailing once more the Nina left and on March 16th crossed the bar of the Saltes and anchored in the harbour it left from. The Pinta arrived shortly afterwards.
Unfortunately Ship Owner and Master of the Santa Maria, Juan de La Cosa slipped quietly into history, unless the listed “Chart maker” named Juan de La Cosa sailing on the Nina for the second voyage commencing 25th September 1493 is the same person? Thus 6 months after returning home it is shown that a Juan de La Cosa signed on in a lowly position to start again. He had not in this period been repaid for the loss of the Santa Maria. Thus he could only begin earning a living as a sailor, and signed on again. Does that indicate no family money?
It is important to note that Columbus in his letter to their Majesties concerning the voyage did not mention Juan de La Cosa, even though he mentions the ships and masters from Moguer.
Columbus praised the Santa Maria even though it was cumbersome and not suited to the work of discovery close to shore; would that he had recognised that fact before sailing close to La Espanola. However for the second voyage he sailed in the “Mariagalante”, another Naos of up to 200 tons burden, owned and mastered by Antonio de Torres. Query, if a Nao of 100 tons burden was not really suitable, how is it a Nao of 200 tons burden is applicable to the job in hand? It could only be considered a beast of burden therefore. The second fleet departed 25th September 1493 and sighted land in the West Indies 3rd November 1493. The first island was Dominica and then they sailed through the islands as the maps indicated, finally sailing along the southern coast of Cuba. April 24th sees him leaving La Espanola in the Nina with the chart maker Juan de La Cosa noted as a seaman. The route sailed indicates that from La Espanola to Cuba, Cape Alpha and Omega, looking south it may have been possible to discern a bay or gulf on the western end of La Espanola and thus on the c1500 chart it could have been shown as an indent. But was Juan de La Cosa just a seaman now and cartographic endeavours were not possible. We know that Columbus made sketches of the coasts etc., but what did La Cosa do? Likewise on the return voyage from Cuba to the south coast of La Espanola, another view may have been possible. I asked myself at this juncture if Juan de La Cosa was merely a seaman now and not even noted as “chart maker”, firstly would the Ex owner/master of the Santa Maria be satisfied with this and would his duties on board the Nina have afforded the time to plot the coastlines observed, and would the new owner/master allow it? To do so he would have had to work hand in glove with that person for distances and bearings and sketch what he saw. Typically questions without resolution. But Columbus was obviously doing precisely that!
We now meet the Cuba problem head on as Columbus believed Cuba was a mainland or continent and in a declaration drawn up on board the Nina, dated 12/06/1494 and signed by those that could, they affirmed and witnessed; “that he had never heard of nor seen an island having an extent of 335 leagues of coast from east to west, without having got yet to the end of it; and that he now perceived that the Mainland turned towards the S. SW. and SSW; that he had no doubts about its being a mainland, but, on the contrary believed and would maintain that it was a mainland and not an island; and that before one had gone many leagues, sailing along the said coast he would find land inhabited by civilised people instructed, and with knowledge of the ways of the world, etc..” Thus being signed by Juan De La Cosa we must wonder the verity!
Interestingly, in November 1494, Antonio de Torres Master and Owner of the “Mariagalante” having been sent back to Spain arrived in La Espanola with four supply ships and with the letter Columbus had sent to Ferdinand and Isabella. They had appended comments and asked Columbus to return to help draw up the “Line of Demarcation” agreed that June. Columbus was apparently too ill and sent his brother Diego in his place. My text MsFER/1 discusses this line and its “determination”.
Columbus departed 10th March 1496 on the Nina and finally left the Islands in April, arriving off the Portuguese coast and making Cadiz on June 11th 1496, after some 33 months exploration. But what of Juan de La Cosa, the Seaman or Chart maker and any maps or charts he may have constructed; we do not read of him until much later. The third voyage of Columbus explored the South American coast adjacent to Trinidad and the fourth voyage, the Nicaraguan coast from Bonacca Island south to Mosquito point. Thus even with these voyages there was an incomplete picture of the northern coast of South America from Trinidad westwards as it was unexplored and hence could not be mapped. Columbus drew maps and charts as his notebooks illustrate with sketches of coastlines and contains his latitude readings which appear to be used on the Cosa chart for the West Indies. Were these sent back to Juan de La Cosa for a fuller record of his achievements but as the fourth voyage commenced on May 9th 1502 and Columbus arrived home November 7th 1504, dying May 20th 1506, the timescale for the issuance of data to be used for a chart, or, the data is not from Columbus, or the date on the Juan de La Cosa chart is incorrect.
The text of JB Harley and David W Tilton (p213-215) states clearly that Juan de La Cosa from June 1496 “upon his return from the second voyage he remained in Spain until 1499”. That is three years in which to perhaps draw and complete charts, but where did the information come from as little exploration had taken place by then to complete it. But, some authors assert that La Cosa resumed his former life on the coast of Biscay and Guipuzcoa; while others say he went into business with the money he had received in 1494 from the Castilian Monarchs as an indemnity for the loss of the Santa Maria. The Royal Treasury accounts have the following
;”Juan de La Cosa, seaman; to his credit 1000 maravedis each month on board of the ship ‘Colina’ in which he served from the 20th August 1493 to 11th June 1496, when he returned from the Indies to Cadiz, 33766 maravedis. He has received 15000 maravedis; remaining to his credit 18766 maravedis”.
However in mid-May 1499 he signed on as chief pilot for Alonso de Ojeda and explored the North Coast from Boca de la Sierpe (Serpents mouth, the southern entrance to the Gulf of Paria near Trinadad) to Cabo de la Vela on the Guajira Peninsula. But on page 523 we read Ojeda made use of a chart drawn by Columbus during his third voyage for this part of Ojeda’s voyage and actually discovered en-route the islands now known as Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba. The ship returned to Cadiz in June 1500 with all on board. Thus it is the Charts drawn by Columbus which appear to be significant, and none by Juan de La Cosa. But in February 1501, Juan de La Cosa sailed to Tierra Firme, as pilot for Rodrigo de Bastidas, where they coasted along northwest Columbia and then along the east coast of Panama to near Puerto del Retrete and finally arrived back in Spain, September 1502.
“Juan de La Cosa is thus from Mid-June 1500 until February 1501 in Spain and in this short period supposedly draws or completes a “World Chart” as we now see some 38 x 72 inches, which in old terms is 6 feet long, the height of a tall man. Assuming he took a few weeks to re-establish himself in Spain, perhaps visiting Santona and his family and required time to prepare for the next voyage, he has available 7 months to achieve this masterpiece and everything else. But of course it could have been started and copied from extant Portolan charts between 1496 and 1499, but added to as information arrived in Spain for the east and west, and thus to complete the second half.”
The following text is abstracted directly from page 214 of the encyclopedia as it is quite succinct in its description and information. “Cosa was held in high regard by the Spanish Crown, —- in 1503 (Isabel) excluded the natives of Cartagena and Uraba from Royal protection. Her decision offered the prospect of riches for Cosa, who had recently been appointed alguacil mayor (chief constable) of Uraba, granting him a share of the potentially lucrative slave trade. Perhaps in return for such favours, he supposedly undertook a secret mission to Portugal in 1503 to investigate suspected Portuguese infringements on Spanish territorial claims to Tierra Firme. His mission was discovered and he was imprisoned for a short period of time. Following his release, Cosa prepared to claim his appointment— but did not reach Uraba until late 1504. In 1506 with death and disease and combat taking its toll Cosa was in Spain by March 1506.”
Having returned La Cosa paid 491708 maravedis to the treasury of the Crown that being the 20% part due to them. That of course means the share for La Cosa was in the order of 1966832 maravedis! Then in 1507 he was given command of two caravels to investigate shipping, particularly to Portugal to ascertain if the Line of Demarcation agreement held.
Now a rather climactic for La Cosa occurred as in 1508 “Cosa’s status as the most experienced navigator in the West Indies was acknowledged by his participation (along with Vespucci, Pinzon and Juan Diaz de Solis) in the Junta de Burgos”, which was called by Fernando, Junta de Navegantes, to stop the advances of the Portuguese in the Far East, Las Islas de las Especias (The Mollucas) by examining the line of demarcation set out in the Atlantic Ocean and thus considered to have an equal and opposite line 180 degrees away. There is a Spanish website at www.historify.net which amply describes the 1508 junta de Burgos.
It appears that La Cosa may have traced out a Royal Plan or General Marine Chart at the Trading Department in Seville before the next expedition, but that is perhaps only speculation, and is only part of the speculation surrounding the actual drawing of a chart or charts by La Cosa. Surprisingly none appear to neither survive nor be actually catalogued in the archives.
But whilst Juan de La Cosa was engaged in that Junta another expedition departed led by Nicolas de Ovando which included Andres de Morales. According to Pietro Martire D’ Angheria in 1508 Nicolas de Ovando as Governor of Hispaniola (1502-1509) commissioned Morales to explore completely Hispaniola and map the island. Later in 1511 Pietro Martire D’ Angheria caused to be printed in his “History of the New World”, a map which reflects the discoveries of the Yucatan Peninsula by Pinzon and De Solis in 1508 and the legend of the Isle of “Bermendi”, north of Cuba. It is a remarkable map of Hispaniola and Cuba with South America. But there is purportedly a comment dated to 1501 by D’Angheria to the effect that “there are many who affirm they have sailed around Cuba”. I find that intriguing for several reasons; the first being that there is no record of these voyages and secondly the north coast of Cuba is so very different from the south coast and I would have expected comments to have been made about its format and the fact that its shape is rather feline and not humpbacked as the charts indicate.
Following the career of Juan de La Cosa, we then learn that he interceded in favour of Ojeda and won for him the post of Governor of New Andalusia, an undefined area including what is now the Caribbean coast of Columbia. We are also informed that at his own expense (slave trade money?) as he had paid another 100000 maravedis to the Treasury, meaning La Cosa had 400000 maravedis, three ships were fitted out in which he sailed for La Espanola in 1509 with about 200 men (see p514). This was doomed to failure and he was killed fighting the native Indians in 1510.
The Crown had finally given Juan de La Cosa compensation in late 1493 and 1494 by awarding him the right to transport “docients cahices de trigo, (200 cahices circa 15 bushells each) from Andalusia to Biscay and exempted him from certain tax duty, and awarded him a pension. Are we therefore witnessing the fact that Juan de La Cosa had other ships to transport this grain (query a family business) and thus continued this trade during his sojourn in Spain from June 1496 to 1499 and gathered enough cash to outfit three vessels? If so why sign on as a seaman; surely only for the untold wealth that was available from slaves as is evinced by the maravedis given to the Crown as their 20% share. We are also informed that on his death his wife and daughter lived in Santona and they were given 45000 maravedis as a bridal gift for the eldest daughter. Did that mean that La Cosa used all of the maravedis on these expeditions and did not provide for his family.
Thus at this stage it is pertinent to ask several questions. Is this the same “cowardly person” who supposedly cut and run from his own ship in distress? If it is the same person was it just sheer greed which allowed him to join the second voyage in a lowly position? Just how much surveying and cartographical work was undertaken in the course of these years? Are we just seeing a misdated (deliberately?) chart which is the work of many other persons, Ship Captains sketches, Pilots sketches and even the work of Columbus pulled together in one very large chart which was supposedly drawn, after no doubt acquiring the basic skins, which could be a slow process, and achieved all of this in seven months? The chart is 93cm x 183cm, the height of a tall man, even though it is on two sections of calf skin joined together, that would be some achievement, as I have already opined in the previous comment section.
In reviewing the numerous texts written I found so many holes in the story lines and obvious exaggerated textual knowledge that this text was necessary, but still found no resolution to the identity of Juan de La Cosa. I can only finish with one such section of text from page 215; “Juan de La Cosa sought wealth and found death in the New World. He was recognised by his contemporaries for his skill but condemned for his cruelty. Las Casa claims that he was the most experienced navigator in the West Indies. Pietro Martire de Anghiera states that his maps were the most value of their day. The world map of 1500 survives as one of the foundation documents in the early history of America. He left a widow and at least one daughter.”
Where are these maps, why do we not read of them, their content and why does the question of the misdating of the 1500 chart still resonate so highly within cartographical circles? Even now, most researchers consider Juan de La Cosa did not draw this chart, with one stating quite clearly, “so far from being a cartographer Juan de La Cosa of 1500 was a shipman with lettering so crude that it could not be deciphered by his draughtsman or anyone else”. I do not think a final resolution to this enigma will be achieved and thus finish here with no conclusion.