THE KING-HAMY CHART NOTED AS BY BAPTISTA AGNESE AND DATED TO C1554; REALLY?

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INTRODUCTION

The chart known as King-Hamy is held in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California, USA and is classified as HM45.

In my text ChKHMW/1, pages 4 &5 I carried out a cursory examination of the chart with the text headed; “King-Hamy? -/+ Influenced charts of Martellus 1491 and Waldseemuller 1507”. The text was basically centered on the fact that there are two Equatorial Lines set c5 degrees apart and obviously determining the two parts of the chart, west and east. Strangely as it may seem Jean Rotz in his “Boke of Idrography” presented to King Henry VIII of England and Ireland sets his latitudinal scales each side of the folios at a difference of 5 degrees. (See Ch BoI/1). Bearing in mind he was born c1505 and formed part of the prestigious Dieppe School of Cartography, the idea of this mis-alignment could have travelled throughout Europe from an unknown beginning.

The work of B Agnese was discussed in my text, “ChBapa/1; The Portolan Charts of Baptista Agnese or Giambaptista Agnese, 1514-1562. A complete history with problems.”

I saw no reason to query the dates of those Portolan Charts and the text contained a complete schedule and notes which are hereby attached as amended diagrams. Bear in mind the majority of Baptista Agnese’s work is unsigned and undated and it was necessary to utilize a small fact on each, that of the division of Scotland from England making it an island. Two texts by M C Andrews, from the 1920’s detail the Portolan Charts which commence with Scotland as an Island and then contiguous to England. But, note that the form of the British Isles on early Portolan Charts is far from geographical.
ChBapa/1/ D01, D02 and D03 are attached and it should be noted that in text ChBapa/1, HM45 is identified as unknown and not included in the original schedule D01 as it only sets down charts and atlases that are known with a possible timeline to cover them.

ChKH/1/D01

This chart sets down what is known and dated with the all Portolan Charts and atlases extant included. It also includes the Genoese cartographers who could have trained “Baptista Januensis” and produces a timeline from which his works can be judged. It indicates he was probably born c1490, trained c1500-1510, but of course there is much speculative work there-on. From 1514 to 1536 it appears to be a consistent workload for the charts and atlases. However after 1536 although there are only six Portolan charts noted the plethora of atlases both known and undated and a mind blowing number of atlases between 1536 and 1545.

ChKH/1/D02

ChKH/1/D03

These represent summary tables of the Portolan charts and explores their relationship one top the other. The diagrams explaining it are in the text ChBapa/1.

THE KING-HAMY CHART; A DETAILED EXAMINATION

The chart is 585 x 942 mm and from west to east commences at CUBA and ISABELLA plus segments of the north and east coast of South America. Then Europe and Africa basically as a standard Portolan Charts but with Labrador and Terre Corte-Real situated only slightly west of the British Isles. From the Horn of Africa northwards and eastwards the chart becomes a basic PTOLEMAIC layout stretching to the east coast of CHINA.

However for a chart dated c1502, post 1503 or 1554 the profile of the Mediterranean Sea Basin is quite frankly abysmal for the 16th century.

ChKH/1/D04

This is a plain copy of the HM45 chart and to understand the following text it would assist your understanding to visit the Huntington Library web site and then enlarge the chart via the slide bar thus enabling the full view of the draughtsmanship I refer to in the European section of the chart and witness its foibles.

I have here-on indicated the raison d’etre for the two equatorial lines and the dates for the exploration of the various areas. Thus it would appear that c1q500 is the cut-off date for the charts information.

ChKH/1/D05

This is a technical appraisal of the western section of the chart and it clearly indicates it is in the form of a square chart emulating the major Planispheres from C1500 to 1510. There is however a problem with the longitude of the Mediterranean Sea which scales 40 degrees from Cape St Vincent to the Gulf of Issus when geographically it is 45 degrees from 9W to 36E.

ChKH/1/D06

ChKH/1/D07

The technical appraisal of the eastern section of the chart which uses the Ptolemaic co-ordinates. It should be born in mind that Ptolemy limited his world to 180 degrees from the Canary Isles, which he place 2 ½ degree west of Cape St Vincent and thus the continuation of the “Chinese” part of the world is no doubt taken from the text which describes the work of Marinus of Tyre and is described in my texts, Mt1, Mt2 and cgMtCP/1. I will add that perhaps the work of Mohamed al-Idrist who on his map expanded the landmass eastwards may have been an influence also.

I will deal with the change of date the latest text discusses for the “Wolfenbuttel Cod Guelp 100 Aug 20 endorsed, “Baptista Januensis F Venetiis MCCCCCXIIII F Julii” from 1514 to 1554 and challenge the reasoning given for the change.

I quote from page 399 item (3);
“ Wolfenbuttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod Guelf 100 Aug 2°, measuring 55 x 86cm, and signed “Baptista Ianuensis f Venetiis MCCCCCXIIII F Iulii, a normal Portolan with a high level of decotration. The date, 1514, indicated in the signature has occaisioned discussion34, in addition to the fact that we have no other evidence of activity by Agnese till about two decades later, the depiction of the morthern coast of Scotland accords with a style Agnese adopted in the late 1540’s or early 1550’s35. The date on the chart is likely an error for 1554 assuming that the “X” should be an “L”.36

In 2016 I penned a text “ChDIS/1; 10 Distorted Charts-LCN problems critiques; HOC/1/19, p380-386 & LCP p510/511”. This text looked at scribal errors which led to distortions on Portolan Charts and contained a diagram, ChDIS/1/ABS, entitled “Don’t you just love Roman Numerals”. The basic points arising from that was the fact that the “C” and “L” were the most likely to be misread and hence the number changed and only very infrequently did I find an “X”, “C” and “L” interchanged. Would Baptista Agnese not know the correct date? Thus I find the reasoning for a 40 year change in the date far-fetched with an “X” for an “L”.

ChDIS/1/D20

But, the 1514 chart, 540 x 920mm I considered to be a simpler version and earlier version of the SUB Gottingen Cod MS MAPP 9 chart which has included the date 1516 for the journey of the Sultan to Cairo and hence must be later in actual date and probably c1520.

ChKH/1/D08 & D09

I have used these two charts to compare the HM 45 chart in this text, as overlays to ChBapa/1/D04 and D05. In so doing it really drew my attention to just how poorly drawn the HM 45 Mediterranean Sea Basin was and thus could not be a mid-term chart by Agnese. My first reasoning was simply that it is dated c1502 and post 1503 and given previous researchers have agreed that Agnese was born c1500 the dates did not add up! Thus I wrote; “My starting point was the presumption that the chart held in Wolfenbuttel was the first extant chart and thus I could retrospect his early life from the norms of the age as I had fully discussed in my text ChGEN/1/ Firstly, if he was born in Genoa and departed for Venice to work then that would have occurred after his 21st birthday when he had his majority freedom. It was then logical to allow him time to establish a workshop, suppliers of Ink and Vellum and that provided the following timescale.

BORN c1490- youth until c1500- trained until 1510 and majority 1511 allowing the time required to establish and draw the 1514 chart.”

However , if he was born c1490/1500 and the first dated work, an atlas is 1536 it begs the question, what was he doing for 36/46 years? And then he produces a very poorly executed chart HM 45 which bears no relation in draughtsmanship to the 1536 Atlas. They are so far apart as to be at this stage in his life and work to be a ridiculous suggestion.

Thus it would be logical now to accept that the King-Hamy HM45 chart is his first chart drawn after his training period which would place it in the 1514 slot and the chart thought to be 1514 in the 1520 slot giving 6 years for improvement, and, time for some of the “unknown” works to be given a time slot.

Study the King-Hamy HM45 chart and note the poor littorals, the coastal shapes, the poorly drawn islands and compare it to the 1514/1525 chart as the diagram indicates.

If this was a “historical map made by Agnese to show the image of the world held by Europeans in the early stages of European expansion” then it strangely has the majority of exploration c1500 there-on. That is not the early stages, they were in the mid-15th century when the Atlantic was explored and the coast of Africa determined. But, the important item is the actual Mediterranean Sea and that has been known since Greek/Roman times and on Portolan charts from c1300. A chart drawn in the early1500’s would surely portray it correctly, not as a scribbled idea of coast and islands!

Thus if King-Hamy is dated 1514 and the next 1520 we see a seed change in the draughtsmanship, an excellent portrayal, refined presentation and vignettes of Venice and genoa plus many other features. The change is exceptional.

CONCLUSIONS
1) The King-Hamy chart, HM45, is so poorly drawn for the northern section showing the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic coast that it cannot be considered the equivalent of the charts and atlases c1536-1564. It gives the appearance of a rather organic rendition of the coast lines, all rounded and squiggly and does not portray the “geographical profiles” of coasts and islands which are the main feature of charts and atlases. If it does not portray them sufficiently accurately that a mariner could recognize the coastlines, then it is basically a useless rendition.

It is as if a “non-professional” cartographer with little experience has tried to produce a copy of a chart and indicates clearly that at this stage in any training the student is poorly prepared and would require considerable improvement if it was to be a career.

2) It is in fact a “world chart” or “Planisphere” more akin to the first planispheres drawn in Portugal, Spain and Italy in the first 10 years of the 16th century, i.e.1500-1510. That it is filled with Portuguese place names possibly indicates , as with the Jean dela Cosa chart where a Spaniard has taken a Portuguese chart and joined it to his own part chart for the newly discovered West Indies. Thus it is perhaps indicative that whomever trained Baptista Agnese obtained a Portuguese chart of Europe and Africa and obviously a copy of the Claudius Ptolemy charts being produced in Italy and set the task of Agnese drawing his own version and melding the two halves together.

3) The King-Hamy HM45 chart should be dated 1514 with the acceptance of the attribution to Baptista Agnese, but, his total works, their dates must be assessed as this text endeavours to illustrate.

MICHAEL J FERRAR NOVEMBER 2023