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The cartographers of the Rubeus/Russus family are Petrus Rubeus and Jacopo Russus, father and son and deduced from the dates of extant charts is a third person, another Jacopo who appears to be Grandson/Son of Petrus/Jacopo.
The cartographers of the Olives family begin with Jaume and Bartolomeu, to be followed by 11 others listed in Sigilo VI, pages 129/159 of Cartografia Mallorquina. (see appendix 2)

Preceding the Rubeus/Russus family we have Petrus Roselli who was active in Majorca, 1468-1489 and Jaume/Jac Bertran, 1482-1489. Following the Rubeus/Rusus family we have Joan Martinez who has some 34 works to his name and others attributed and was active, 1556-1591.
Preceding the Olives Family is Salvat de Pilestrina, identified also as Joan Salvat, active in Majorca 1511-1535 by extant charts.
The scope of this text is therefore to follow the natural time lines, identify teacher/pupil and understand the vast range of cities these families worked in, and perhaps, Why? But it concentrates on the Rubeus/Russus family which has a curiosity of facts around them.




Many researchers have quickly changed the Rubeus surname to Russus which is a common surname in Messina merely from the fact that the 1508 chart held in the Maritime Museum of Barcelona is endorsed thus; “Ego pietru russu composu esta carta sulla nobli civitan messina ano duo 1508”. This is probably because a chart has been missing since c1884 and only referred to and described in a single text. That chart was held by Conte Giuliano Merenda of Forli and is endorsed as follows; “Ego Petrus Rubeus de Messina composui hanc cartam (text then rotates) in civitates dicta gentilli Anno Domini —-Amen”

This chart is an enigma in that it has not been seen since it was recorded by Uzielli and Amat, appendix pages 45 and 46, dated 1884, and is endorsed as follows; ”The described parchment that is currently in the possession of my friend Conte Giuliano Merenda of Forli belonged to his ascendant who in the past century was a Knight of Malta”.

Conte Giuliano Merenda was born 30/9/1822 and died 5/5/1897 in Ljubljana where he was Vicar general of the Dominican Order for the Province of Stiria and Caringia. But in 1853 he is noted as a member of the Consiglio Provinciale de Statistica and thus obviously at times in Forli to allow Uzielli and Amat to meet and study the chart. But Robert Almagia in his 1957 text adds the following note, “Appendix Roma part II pp 45-47. Amat de S Filippo ascribes the chart to the end of the 15th century for >extrinsic and intrinsic characters<, but it is not established if it was examined personally. Attempts made to examine the chart were unsuccessful”

However, given Uzielli/Amat text and full description with comments, it surely was seen, as discussed in my previous text ChCGM/1.

Thus if their dating is correct, “end of 15th C” then it precedes the 1508 chart and thus Petrus Rubeus has written his correct name prior to the Messinian alternative.

The Rubeo name is probably Hispanic in origin, being Rubio in Catalan and there is “Rubio in Comarca of Anoia, Catalonia” and “ Rubi Comarca of vallis Occidental”, and “Rivo Rubeo” outside Barcelona. This I suggest is the basis of the name, Petrus Rubeus and he is in fact from Barcelona. Very few cartographers worked in Barcelona, but we have Jaume Bertran and Berenguer Ripol there in 1456 producing a chart and then Jaume/Jac Bertran in Majorca 1482-1489. Thus I suggest Petrus Rubeus was taken by Jaume Bertran as an apprentice and thus he was trained there by Bertran 1480-1490 and obviously saw both the work of Bertran and the Majorcan cartographers. Petrus Rubeus on finishing his apprenticeship moves to Messina and Marries c1490/1495 and his son Jacopo is born c1500. Then Jacopo is trained by his Father, 1510-1520 in Messina.

But naturally with all theories there is an alternative as Petrus Roselli, from 1468 to 1489 by extant charts was in Majorca and could equally have trained or help training Petrus Rubeus 1480-1490. Hence when we study the four extant charts the Majorcan influence is explained.


That Jac Bertran was in Majorca is undoubted as the chart held in the Biblioteca Marucelliena, Florence is inscribed;”Mestra Jac Bertran en Malorque la feta en l’any MCCCCLXXXVIIII”. The first chart of his a joint effort as stated, dated 1456 is held in R. M. Greenwich as G230:1/7, but unfortunately is slightly mutilated. It is a rather plain chart, well presented, but with little decoration. (ChMAJ/1/D04)





The second chart is dated 1482 and held in the Archivio di Stato di Firenze Italy as reference CN7, (ChMAJ/1/D05). This chart is very highly decorated and includes similar positioned figures as the Forli chart, although drawn in the Majorcan style. But the scope of this chart provides for a guide to the Forli chart by Petrus Rubeus and even Granada is marked by an Arab figure wielding a scimitar and carrying a circular Islamic shield. The Marucelliana chart, Dis.Vol.Bn237, dated 1489, (ChMAJ/1/D06) is more refined and has a single king set centrally in the Iberian Peninsula with the coat of arms surmounting the green mound of Granada, obviously indicating that it was thought that Ferdinand and Isabella would prevail as in fact they did in 1492.

In my text ChGME/1, diagram AppD17 compares the 1456 chart to the 1482 chart, confirming the transfer of the pattern/template from Barcelona to Majorca by Jac Bertran. For continuity I also compared the 1482 and 1489 charts with the consistency of Jac Bertran’s


I have overlaid the Petrus Rubeus “Forli” chart on the diagrams ChGME/1/APPD19 and D20 which are a composite of the Jac Bertran 1482 and 1489 charts.

Firstly, from that comparison it is obvious only the 1482 chart (in red) would equate with the “Forli” chart. They both cover the same geographical are from the Baltic Sea to the Red Sea, where as the 1489 chart, quite un-necessarily it seems stops at Cape Finisterre, Iberia and merely fills the northern area with the wind rose graticule and an excellent wind rose roundel which re-appears in a similar fashion on Petrus Rubeus, Jacopo Russus and J Martines as the diagrams clearly illustrate.

ChMAJ/1/D07 & 8

The similarity of presentation, the similar scale bars and physical features and with Jac Bertran showing he was a master of the Vignettes is carried onto the Petrus Rubeus style of cartography. It is though quite hard to reconcile the large heads of the African Kings to the small inset of Granada. It is hard to say if that head is a turbaned Arab Head, well bearded though (the Spanish King was not like this) and the Ornate crowned heads of Africa. But Granada is surrounded by its vast walls. However, considering Jac Bertran has the Spanish King on his 1489 chart it may have left Rubeus somewhat perplexed. There are also the short explanatory texts on the Petrus Rubeus chart which echo’s the Majorcan style, where-as Jac Bertran only appends titles. However the J Bertran 1482 chart does have the African Kings, Prester John and the Ruler of Constantinople, etc, which would no doubt have inspired Petrus Rubeus to show his artistic skill whilst at the same time stepping back from the overtly ornate presentation to a more refined.


ChMAJ/1/D09 & 10

In my text ChCGM/1 I found a surprising feature on the “Forli” chart, in that the wind rose graticule exactly matched the 45 degrees longitudinally from Cape St Vincent, 9W, Iberia to the Gulf of Issus in the Levant at 36E. I had not seen this before on any chart I had examined and it clearly indicated a cartographer who totally understood the distance measures and setting out of the Mediterranean Sea basin.

I completed the ChCGM/1 text with the following conclusion;
“The search I undertook to find this charts repository was thwarted by the global pandemic as I had commenced the text which will follow, ChMAJ/1, and rather naively thought it was recorded and would be readily available. Therefore until it is compared with the 1508 chart and the two BNF Paris charts to understand Petrus Rubeus and his methodology no actual conclusion is possible other than to state it is a well drawn chart with vignettes beautifully executed of both Heads and City.”


Study the Madrid 1508 chart, “Ego pietru russu compoiu esta carta inlla nobli civitan Messina ano duo 1508”. In comparison to the “Forli” chart it is poorly executed with firstly the African Kings in a style of charts drawn in the 14th and 15th centuries, and “Camels” which certainly have the hump, very poorly drawn after the figures on the “Forli” chart.

The Town/Cityscapes appear to be a copy of each other and give the impression of somebody being given a basic pattern and told to copy it a dozen times and in place of the “legs” on the “Forli” chart there are four pennant flags. Comparing the coastlines “Forli/Madrid” they are from the same pattern/template, but it is as if they were drawn by two different hands or more likely many years apart when there was no guiding hand to assist.

Thus I tentatively conclude that Petrus Rubeus whilst in “Genlilli” and drew the “Forli” chart, he was under the influence of a Genoese Cartographer and that raises many questions. As shown in my text ChGEN/1/D04, the time line chart of Genoese cartographers we have Albino de Canepa, Vesconte de Maggiolo, Nicolo de Caverio and the cartographer of the “King Hamy” chart.

It is therefore a simple conclusion that Petrus Rubeus trained in Majorca, but for the “Forli” chart travelled to “Genlilli” with his template/pattern, drew his basic chart and was influenced by the Genoese cartography he saw, choosing to portray it on his chart in their manner and forgo the Majorcan style which he reverted to for the 1508 Madrid chart drawn in Messina.

THE XV2, BNF PARIS CHART (attributed dates, 1509/10/11)


This chart is endorsed “Ego P——in la nobili citati Janue—-xpo—-Amen.”
It is a mixture of the Majorcan style for the southern portion and Genoese style for the northern portion. Venice and Genoa evolve and it becomes more sophisticated as a Portolan Chart, similar to the “Forli” chart. The “African King’s” are flamboyantly drawn and as with the Petrus Rubeus other chart there are texts included, which are basically missing from the Madrid Chart.

I comment yet again that it is hard to reconcile this chart as following immediately from the 1508 chart. However, the following chart has “Africa” different again and tends to make that comment even more pertinent.


Held in the BNF Paris as reference GE B 1425, it is a much distorted and reduced chart, due to its perilous condition. The BNF have as usual produced a PDF copy of the Recto and Verso (btv1b59062503.pdf) and have it curiously mounted on a backing sheet for protection.

However, study both recto and verso and there are many features which will allow the chart to be properly mounted and the information for that is in the wind rose construct. There is on the chart a horizontal centre line which will give a complete measurement for the wind rose square as its east and west limits are clearly shown. Thus by projecting the graticule lines and adhering to the measurements shown on the chart centre line, the east/west split can be correctly positioned as my diagram clearly indicates. Hence, the overall size of the chart can also be estimated, and the missing portions named.



But this chart has been folded and stitched together with two sets of matching stitches, A & B, which are set out very nearly symmetrically about the wind rose horizontal centre line as if to ensure the maximum amount of chart could be used. The dimensions of the chart are calculated from the BNF 580mm north/south measurement and this gives an approximate size on at least 825 x 580 mm. Study the chart and there appear fold marks basically at ¼ and ¾’s height with another fold line on the western wind rose graticule point.


Fold the western end flap first and then fold the chart according to the stitching. That is A to A and B to B, inwards towards the centre line of the chart as the diagram indicates. You will finish with a double thickness sheet c700 x 290mm, which when folded or wrapped around onto a bound set of papers would approach the typical size of books of the day.

Curiously though, study the eastern side of the chart and it is quite apparent that the folds may well have been entirely symmetrical as the missing portion is probably the equivalent of the western folded area.



With only four charts extant, two drawn in Genoa and two possibly in Messina ( one definitely), it all depends on the attribution date for the mutilated chart just discussed to determine where Petrus Rubeus actually spent most of his time as a cartographer. Thus we could be looking at a different actuality of the 1508 MMB chart drawn in Messina being the first and the BNF/”Forli” charts being drawn in Genoa in a short period from 1509-1512, to return to Messina for his sons training there. The chart given as 1511 is noted as “Ego P. R—–in la nobili citate Janua—-in —-ano XI—-Jesu Xto amen.”

It is a if Petrus Rubeus/Pietro Russu has two personalities, one in Messina and the other in Genoa. In Messina his Majorcan training influence is to the fore, but in Genoa he encompasses their tradition of cartographical expression.

The subtlety of the Forli and the BNF(1511) charts against the 1508 Madrid charts rather OTT vignettes of the northern cities is at least partly returned on the BNF GE B 1425 chart, although the African section reverts to the standard Majorcan “Kings” without text and two poorly drawn animals, a Camel and an Elephant with Castle. This last chart also has the Levant removed as discussed probably another fold line. However the roughly drawn Atlas Mountains certainly follow Majorcan Chart styles.

My final comment now is that if these charts were all undated I think perhaps, “Forli” and GE B 2241(2126), both Genoese charts would be placed together, then Madrid 1508 and GE B 1425 would be placed together, thus the logic of their different traditions would follow a natural pattern of timescale/place of production.


The Cartografia Mallorquina page 93 commences the listing of the works by Russo, Giacomo (=Jacobus) (Messina) (1520-1588) with the following text;
“Although we do not admit the theory of some Spanish Historians who derive Russo de Ruiz, we include in this section his works because of the marked influence of the Mallorcan School that is noticeable in all of them.
Hamy, faced with such a long period of activity (68 years) and the contrast between his works of 1557 and 1565 with undoubted signs of fatigue and the brilliant work of 1588 suggest the idea that two different people respond to the same name as Jacobus Russus.”

Thus my analysis on Diagram ChMAJ/1/D01 by the standard life spans, indicated in text ChGEN/1 in all probability the charts dated 1570, 1580 and 1588 are drawn by Jacobus II Russus, son of Jacobus I Russus who would have been 85 years old drawing the latest extant chart.

I have previously investigated the 1533 chart drawn in Messina as text ChJRS/1: Jacobus Russus, 1533 chart: Chaos Theory, NO! Experimental and evolving draughtsmanship, YES!


The abstract of that text is as follows;
The chart is obviously an excellent example of the genre, but it is also obviously an amalgam of two schools; Claudius Ptolemy and a LC de N derived Portolan Chart. The western section from Britannia southwards through France, Iberia to N. Africa is drawn to the Ptolemaic dictum as expressed in the prologue to Book 2 of “Geographia”, a simple proportion and rectangular graticule. But this only applies from 9W to 3E where the L C de N format then becomes apparent and the usual errors around 9E longitude skew the chart to fool some researchers into the magnetic declination school of thought. However the main problem can be observed at Bugea (Bejaia) on the N. African coast where the distortion is so apparent.

The eastern Mediterranean Sea is drawn quite accurately but expanded to agree with the L C de N Black Sea over length such that the chart is in proportion at this point.

The chart is an exceptionally well presented Portolan Chart which indicates a growing knowledge of the mathematics involved and the greater accuracy of measurement. Thus the cartographical draughtsman can experiment with the latest (although 100 years earlier) ideas as promulgated by Claudius Ptolemy in the then translated “Geographia.” But it should be borne in mind that the whole genre of Portolan Charts has always in its background had the Roman measurements and Ptolemaic proportion within the makeup of the chart. However, still after +200 years it is evident that the “Portolani” texts are obviously still being used.

Unfortunately, the Butterfly did flap its wings to cause enough Chaos in the finished chart to be noticeable, which is actually a sad occurrence for a thing of some beauty.

I have chosen to juxtapose this chart with a short text regarding two charts, Jorge de Aguiar, 1492, and Pedro Reinal, 1504, which show the partial development of the Iberian Peninsula as a rectangular graticule. The Pedro Reinal chart has the fully formed latitude scale in a similar position to the Jacobus Russus chart and thus they can be compared. This text was originally indexed as ChMES/1and has 7, A4 pages and 6, A4 diagrams.

I am including a copy of page 225 of HOC/3/1 Ch7 in which Professor Corradino Astengo details the Russus family, but also to show the problem of the possibility of “two” Jacopo’s and the 1521 Atlas.


I am also including a short text regarding the work of R Almagia where he discusses the works of P & J Russus


That Jacobus Russus was active in Messina is borne out by his charts attributions, but, there are several very large gaps in our dating for extant charts; 2 of 12 years; 1 of 7 years and 1 of 5 years. If the second Jacopo is his son then perhaps marriage etc., is a reason for one gap, although they seem overlong for the profit from so few extant charts to survive.

Given he was born in Messina c1500 and trained by Petrus Rubeus his father, c1510-1520 it is necessary to look at the dates of Joan Martinez, born c1530, trained c1540-1550 and thus in all probability by Jacopo I Russus it is then a distinct possibility both Jacopo I and Martinez trained Jacopo II. The life line diagram clearly indicates this possibility. Joan Martinez was a prolific chart and atlas cartographer and moved to Naples when appointed Royal Cartographer to Philip II.


The 1520 chart is held in the Archivio di Stato, Firenze as Carte Nautiche 12. The last chart we have, if dated 1516 as by BNF Paris by his Father Petrus Rubeus is the closest to this chart. However, a visual comparison of the two clearly indicates they are not from the same cartographic genre. Nor do the preceding Petrus Rubeus charts afford a comparison which would indicate a Father/Son progression. This raises questions which are discussed later in a special text section.


The 1520 chart is a “full on” Majorcan Style chart full of vignettes and decoration. Even the Wind Rose Roundels are decorated in their centres and are stylistically a separate format. The vignettes of Venice and Genoa are excellent and Granada still sits on a green mound with the city and Spanish Monarch atop. However, the Atlas Mountains are again a singular form, a straight line across the chart and further south than normal. The four Kings and Prester John are featured as well as “Constantinople”, but also there are three extra Kings in North Africa adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea.

Europe has three Monarchs and a very Island full Baltic Sea.

The 1521 Atlas,






But, now compare this 1520 chart to the 1521 Atlas and again we are looking at a totally different presentation, but many similarities also. The most striking similarity is the vignettes of Venice and Genoa. Venice is now clearly based upon St Mark’s, the piazza and the Campanile (although drawn by a person who has not seen it). Genoa is similar to the 1520 chart and the towers are the basis of the Campanile of Venice.

Granada is a mystery and in fact could be a red mound drawn atop of a city form which appears as black lines under the mound. The Red however, being only 29 years after the Spanish conquest of the city may have a sinister significance.


By now, 1521, Messina has received the geographical details from Portugal, by maps or charts to enable the west coast of Africa, Gulf of Guinea and the coast of Africa via “cavo de bona speranta” to East Africa and the “Isola de Santo Laurento” or Madagscar.

The two charts of the Red Sea are sparse in their detail but provide for a link to the last chart with India and the Malay Peninsula, plus a very rectangular “Sumatra” aka “Taprobane” and the explanatory text there-in.

The vignettes of Ships are excellently drawn with flags which generally appear to be Portuguese, except for two flying pennants, red and blue.


COMMENT; If Jacobus Russus was born c1500 in Messina, trained c1510/1520 and immediately produced the 1520 Chart and 1521 Atlas, there must have been another cartographer on the Island to introduce him to a different methodology of presentation, or suddenly Charts were appearing on the Island from other sources for him to see and copy!

Diagrams ChDV/D02, D03 and D04 in Appendix 3

My research indicates that the heading is correct, but for the purposes of this section of text it matters not if you consider the texts by others to be correct and He was born in Messina. The questions arise in two forms;

A) Did Petrus Rubeus leave Majorca for Messina because;
1) he was invited by another client/cartographer, even though newly qualified, because there was no other person available?
2) he was born in Messina and trained by this anonymous client/cartographer in the art and set up shop there accordingly?

B) Why is there no record of a cartographer in Messina prior to Petrus Rubeus?

When I wrote my text regarding Domenico Vigliarolo and his work; he being trained in Messina c1567/1574, I found that by setting down a timeline chart of extant charts and their cartographers, in fact Sicily was a desert, no cartographers. It clearly indicated that Jacopo Russus was until c1550 the only practising cartographer in Sicily when Joan Martinez and Jaume/Bartolomeo Olives arrived on the scene with Banet Panades also.

Thus reverting to the period 1500/1550 there is only Petrus and Jacopo producing charts in Sicily. Obviously Father trained Son, but who trained the father if it was not Jac Bertran in Majorca? I have shown that Petrus Rubeus has two distinct styles, Genoese and Majorcan, but what encouraged him to Genoa twice from Messina.

Was it that there was no necessity for a cartographer in Sicily, that is no clients, and did he require ensuring a market for his work and thus earning a living? Was it that the mysterious lost cartographer of Messina was taking all the clientele? Then did a market in Messina gradually expand to give Jacopo I a living, (although the major time gaps speak otherwise) and did Jacopo II only continue as Joan Martinez was trained and became a prolific cartographer with various other cartographers arriving for short periods. What happened to suddenly change the market to support so many charts and atlases. Hence we see later the Olives family constantly moving around the cartographic hotspots to ply their trade, indicating limited markets in the various centres which changed over the years.

I have not been able to answer these questions as yet, there being no documentary evidence available on Sicily that I can find. I even could not trace the churches Domenico Vigliarolo may have held a post in to allow his training as a cartographer. Nobody answered questions.


The four charts all supposedly by Petrus Rubeus/Russus are certainly not a logical set by one cartographer. As already stated they appear to fall into two camps; Messina as Majorcan/Catalan and Genoese. It might be a suggestion too far, but are they the same person or does Petrus Rubeus have an alter ego. The dates are fraught with problems which seem to indicate the two camps or schools may be more than a possibility, but as they only appear to cover a maximum 20 year period, normally a cartographers output would be very similar. Also this short period leaves a period after 1516 when we should expect charts drawn until at least his 60’s. It could be a 24 year gap of extant charts.

The Jacobus Russus period commences with a chart dated 1520 and his last extant chart is 1565, with very large and unaccountable gaps in the works.

Finally we have another Jacopo Russus, with charts from 1570 to 1585 and to emphasize those dates Jacopo I Russus would have been 70 years old in 1570!

I have theorised on Petrus Rubeus beginnings and the Majorca connection with Jac Bertran, which exposed the possibility of Petrus Roselli being involved and the fact that it is quite possible that Jacopo II Russus trained Joan Martinez.

There are many “IFS and BUTS” in the story line of Rubeus/Russus and unfortunately a myriad of loose ends and questions unanswered and in fact unanswerable. But I have endeavoured to open up the discussion as I am sure other researchers may have some nuggets of information to solve part of it.

Michael J Ferrar May 2022.

APPENDIX, DIAGRAMS ChMAJ/1/ D28 ; D29; D30 and D31





Michael J Ferrar May 2022.


1) a text of June 2019 regarding the work of Jac Bertran and the cartographers of that period who may be part of the story line.

When studying their 1456 Portolan chart, drawn in Barcelona, I was struck by several curiosities. The most obvious is that the Island of Hibernia was missing, although a note in another text states “falta irlanda por deterioro, restaurado actualmente”, and, they have surrounded the chart by a scale bar as if accentuating its importance; there are also rather misplaced ornate Windrose letters for Sirocco and Greco and the written attribution panel with their names Jachobul bartan and Berenguzig zipol slightly awry as well as a different, that is not normal for a portolan charts date definition.

Thus my first task was to actually identify both persons and particularly J Bertran.

The attribution panel appears to be as follows;
Jachobul bartan et berenguzig zipol composines sxanch in civitas barchias anno anativitate dni m.cccc.L sexto—- (1456)


Quite strange as it appears to use a mixture of Catalan, Spanish and Portuguese within and the names of the two cartographic draughtsmen are written using medieval cursive shorthand script rather than plain spelling. The names are normally given by researchers as Jaume Bertran and Berenguer Ripoll. But the first is actually written jachobul bartan; the jacobus being a Hebrew given name, originally “Yaakov”, latinised to Jacobus/Jacob,(which is confirmed by his son on his death, see later) and then translated to the Catalan male given name of Jaume. But Bertran is also an original given name and thus part of the Jewish methodology as we read with Cresques Abraham and his son Jafuda Cresques. However it then becomes a patronymic surname in the far north of Spain, Catalonia and Andorra.

The second person, normally given as Berenguer Ripoll is in fact written Berenguzig zipol (the z being elongated) and in cursive script can be transcribed as a gh or y and printed as the elongated z. But Berenguer as a personal name is the Catalan version of the Germanic Berengar, although it was probably a Norman French transfer here. It was also a surname in 1137, Ramon Berenguer, Count of Barcelona. If we then look at the surname zipol or Ripoll we find it is a town some 80km due north of Barcelona and along with Vallfogona de Ripolles 10km east it is close to the French border of today.

Hence at this juncture it appears both cartographic draughtsmen could be natives of Catalonia and possibly had no contact with Majorca. That opinion is further amplified by the usage of the term “anno anativitate domini” which is both Spanish and Portuguese and translates as “in the year of the Lords birth”, and is in effect a double statement of the same fact. But, the possibility of a Majorcan base is still there.

Rey Pastor and Garcia Camerero in their “Cartografia Mallorquina” text, page 82 make the following point; Collaborating with Berenguer Ripol in his chart of 1456, dated in Barcelona, but Bertran is resident in Majorca, where he worked in 1482 and 1489. One can assume that the Mallorcan teacher was in his youth to teach his art in Barcelona, where the cartographic technique did not bloom much and Ripol being one of his disciples.

I develop this dating and age problem later as it impinges upon many other ideas in texts concerning Jaume or Jacob Bertran as now follow.

In HOC 1, c19, page 433, note 432 the following can be read; Cortesao, History of Portuguese Cartography, 2:212 (note 3); An even more tentative identification is suggested by an unsigned entry in the Diccionari Biografic, 4 vols (Barcelona:Albert) 1966-70, vol1, s.v. Jaume Bertran. This Bertran was a mariner who captured a pirate off Majorca in 1453. Another scholar records a Jacme Bertran as patron of the Majorcan Galley both in that same year and in 1455; see Carrere, Barcelona 2;638, 926 N I (note 285). About the middle of the 15th C, Jacme who belonged to a family of converted jews settled in Majorca and Valencia, went to live in Genoa (Carrere, Barcelona 2;584).

In 1456 Jachobus Bertran signed the first of his 3 known charts, Although the surname was a fairly common one at the time, the possibility that the chart maker was a seaman finds an echo in the suggestion by Rodolico that the prefix “Mestra” on his 1489 chart might denote (as with Juan de la Cosa, 1500) the status of a pilot. See Niccolo Rodolico, “Di una carta nautical di Giacomo Bertran, maiorchino” ; Atti del III Congresso Geographico Italiano, Florence 1898, 2 volumes (1899) 2; 544-550, esp 545.

A similar suggestion is made in an unsigned entry in Enciclopedia universal ilustrada Europeo-Americana, 70 vols and annual supplements (Madrid and Barcelona; Esoasa-Calpe, 1907-83), 68:1187, that the Matias Viladestes who commanded a galley belonging to Frances Burges, 1415, should probably be identified with the Macia de Viladestes who signed the 1413 chart. In the same work (66:838-39) Gabriel Valesca is also termed a navigator.

In the following text I clearly indicate the timescale and thus improbable idea that Jaume or Jacob Bertran was a seaman or pilot, and that he should be addressed as Jacob.

To continue, the normal attribution is also given apropos where the chart was drawn, “ sxanch cartam in civitates barchias”, which we may take as their “slang” name for Barcelona and could be a contraction of one of many variant names for the city in the middle ages.

Thus a curious situation arises in that the only knowledge we have of Portolan Charts being drawn in Barcelona is in c1400 when Jafuda Cresques and Francesco Beccari were supposed to draw four charts; only one was completed and both departed, one for Majorca the other for Savona/Genoa. Another text suggests that two charts were in fact completed.

Did the Pattern/Template of one or both remain in Barcelona to be used again in 1456? It should be noted that the Crown of Aragon in 1375 and afterwards used Majorcan based cartographic draughtsmen, Cresques Abraham and Guillem Soler, and not residents of Barcelona for their Charts and Atlases.

However, if we study the “references to nautical cartography in medieval documentation” as set down by Ramon J Pujades, LCP, pp428-431, covering a period from October 6th 1315 to December 4th 1453, basically Catalonia/Barcelona, we read of 73 “charts”, 2 “portolans” and 17 “mappa mundi”. But, what is a chart; basically it could be a single small sheet covering a specific part of the Mediterranean Sea; what is a “portolan” in this context and just what constitutes a “mappa mundi”. The correspondence from June 7th 1399 to May 28th 1400 regarding the Cresques/Beccari work states 7 or more Mappa Mundi and we have the maps of those individuals to judge what they were. Then in 1410 the Royal household has a mappa mundi, a portolan chart and an atlas, thus the possibility of Bertran/Ripoll being able to copy a chart and not rely on the use of a Pattern/Template is there, but is it likely?

Then in 1478 the advent of the Spanish Inquisition begins and the expulsion of the Jewish population begins. We know this expulsion came later to Majorca and Jac Bertran signed two charts, one in 1482 and the other 1489 as drawn in Majorca and thus was probably a “converso”, as with so many other Majorcans, Jewish cartographic draughtspersons.

To investigate this chart fully and then make the necessary comparisons I will first quote page 493 from LCP by Ramon J Pujades;
“The case of Juame Bertam is somewhat different, since he has left us several charts signed during the second half of the 15th century101. Only one of these belongs to the period covered by this study (pre 1470) namely the chart he made in Barcelona in collaboration with Berenguer Ripoll in 1456. Although we cannot be absolutely certain as to the contribution Berenguer Ripoll made, I believe we can attribute the decoration of the chart to him and exclude the toponymical lettering, given on the one hand the disparity of styles between the ornamentation of this work and that of the other two charts signed by Jaume Bertram, and on the other the fact that the lettering of the toponyms is by the same hand as that of the chart signed only by Jaume Bertram in 1489, now preserved in the Biblioteca Marucelliana in Florence. Whatever the case, his cartographic model was obviously Beccarian (although his technique was poor) is revealed by the rest of his extant works”

(101= Greenwich NMM G230 :1/7 (1456): Florence AS CN7 (1482) and Biblioteca Marucelliana s.s. ( 1489))
That text of course raises a considerable dilemma; Battista Beccari was in Genoa and moved to Majorca, producing a chart there in 1435, that is 21 years in advance of the chart under consideration. If Jachobus Bertran was on Majorca and trained there as a cartographic draughtsman he would have of necessity been at least 21 years old in 1456 in order to comply with the ages for childhood and training in the art, but he would also have required several years to establish himself in Barcelona and meet Berenguer Ripoll and thus be at least 25 years old and capable of instructing a “disciple”. That would mean he was at least 60 years of age in 1489 and still drawing! Is that why the comment of poor technique was made? But Jacob Bertran died on the 7th September 1500, and by then would have been c71 years old and this is the typical lifespan of the age as my previous texts have clearly shown and thus he was a youth in Barcelona. If he was the Patron of a galley in 1455, his age and sudden appearance in Barcelona, ready to take on a “disciple” and draw a chart beggar’s belief and thus I conclude given that the Bertram surname is quite common there are several differing personalities in the storyline.

Jacob Bertran was resident in Majorca and had a residence in the Parish of Santa Cruz where he lived with his family who had difficulty with their paternal inheritance as documented in “ARM. Prot. Nic. Costa, n. 4494, f.45”. There-in the son, Johannotus Nicholaus Bertran, filius Jacobi Bertran buxolerii quondam,

discussed the distribution of his father’s goods. I think the son would have described his father correctly and thus conclude that Jacob Bertran learnt his art as I have described as a cartographic draughtsman and thereafter had the time to make acquaint himself with Barcelona and take on a disciple.


The whole chart is as ChGME/1/APPD01, but I have redrawn it and have appended various distance measures and graticular lines there-on which indicate clearly via the scale bar units it is a Miliaria scale.(Diagrams ChGME/1/APPD04 & ChGME/1/APPD05). But firstly Diagram ChGME/1/APPD06 illustrates that the Windrose is a simple expansion of the 92 units and thus we have 14 x 92 or 1288 scale bar units per quadrant. This produces from the 35/30/20/7 subdivisions distances of 490/420/280/98 scale bar units or Miliaria and is so very easy to draw. But was it drawn thus?


On Diagram ChGME/1/APPD06 from the major lines of the wind rose graticule it can be shown that in fact it is a geometric construct based upon the four square Windrose which itself then produces the north/south distance between the scale bars and the east/west extensions through simple alignments. The outer scale bar frame is thus dictated by the inner workings of the Windrose. But it is obvious the vertical centreline was mis-placed and thus a non-symmetrical layout was achieved and by accident no doubt this mis-placing led to the alignments from the centre point to the north-east and south-east corners of the overall diagram being used instead of the actual 45 degree alignment which is the natural wind direction for Sirocco and Greco. Thus to the west we have; NW = Maestro; W = Ponente; SW = Libeccio and of course although not identified, N= Tramontana and S= Ostro, all correctly positioned. But, Greco to the NE and Sirocco to the SE are misplaced wind circles, and that was a very simple draughting error to make.


The basic latitudinal measures vary from 68/72/86/90 Miliaria on the Atlantic coastal area, but the 90 Miliaria measurement continues easterly gradually expanding to 100/110 miliaria with the continual problem on Portolan charts of the Aegean Sea from 36N to 40N always drawn as 5 degrees latitude, that is 4 x 110 Miliaria ( 5×90). But importantly the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula is for once drawn correctly to scale as a proper latitudinal degree. However when I started to compare this chart to contemporary charts thus possibly establishing both antecedent and descendants, the distance measures of the Iberian Peninsula indicated that at last perhaps a cartographic draughtsman had realised the original error made over a century ago from a mis-interpretation of the Roman Mile latitudinal degree and its Miliaria counterpart.

That change from 75 to 90 scale bar units is amply illustrated on the preceding diagrams ChGME/D32/33 where Charts LCP C58 and LCP C22 are compared. Thus it is necessary to investigate if this correction is nothing more than an aberration or an intentional redrawing of the Peninsula to a correct set of distance measures.

Given that it is suggested that the Bertram/Ripoll chart is aligned to the Battista Beccari chart of 1435 which was drawn on Majorca when Beccari first arrived, we can overlay the two and indicate just how close they are or are not. Diagrams ChGME/1/APPD07 & ChGME/1/APPD08 apply. They certainly are in all probability drawn from the same Pattern/Template with great similarities, but, as the Bertran/Ripoll chart was executed in Barcelona, some 21 years after the Beccari chart, the likelihood of an intervening copy of the Pattern/Template is high.



To indicate just how extraordinary this chart compares with the Iberian Peninsula drawn correctly dimensionally, I have matched the scale bars to a geographical chart of scale 1:10million and used a Conical with two standard parallels geographical plot to mimic the distortion inherent in the Portolan Charts. That distortion actually stems from the Iberian Peninsula having its west coast drawn as 6 x 75 Miliaria latitude degrees instead of the 6 x 90 Miliaria we are now discussing. The slew is no doubt from the original Roman Template with a 12 degree Ecliptic slew. Diagram ChGME/1/APPD09 indicates the resulting overlay.

However, we can only answer the question concerning the change from 75 Miliaria to 90 Miliaria being a deliberate act, a known problem solved, by looking at the later charts drawn in 1482 and 1489 by Jac Bertran to ensure continuity of measurement.

As I was not convinced of the link to Battista Beccaria, even though I could show that the two charts shared a great similarity and thus possibly a joint Pattern/Template it was necessary to test the 1456 chart against another and I randomly chose the chart of Mecia de Viladestes, 1413 chart, BnF AA 566 as the check chart. That chart is shown on Diagrams ChGME/1/APPD10 , ChGME/1/APPD11 and ChGME/1/APPD12. The comparison can be viewed on Diagrams ChGME/1/APPD13 and ChGME/1/APPD14. They show both similarity and the disparity of the Iberian Peninsula having two latitudinal measures, 75 and 90 Miliaria per degree. The residue of the chart indicates clearly a similar Pattern/Template as has been found in these researches.





The collection in the State Archives was formed in the second half of the 19th century after Grand Duke Leopold II of Lorraine had founded it in 1852, for the Central Archives of the State of Florence to assemble in one place and to preserve the historical archives of the Tuscan State. As a consequence, all nautical charts, at the time scattered in several important archive, were gathered here to fulfil the needed conservation.


This chart is reference CN7 and is 1023 x 668mm and is similar to the 1456 chart except that where-as the 1456 chart has a multitude of vignettes (? drawn by Berenguer Ripoll) of cities and no life like figures at all, (which begs the question who it was drawn for), the 1482 chart has various Kingly figures seen on so many Portolan charts and the vignettes of the cities are well drawn. In the years between 1456 and 1482 it is quite open to opine that Jacob Bertran could have become an expert miniaturist, or, that Berenguer Ripol was actually no more than his first apprentice, a disciple if you wish, and assisted enough to be named on the chart, but took complete instruction from “Jachobus Bertran” who carried out most of the drawing work on the chart. I therefore question the previous researcher’s interpretations.

The inscription reads; “Jac Bertran en Malorques al fe …. L’any MCCCCLXXXII.


If we now measure the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula from 37N to 43N the latitudinal degrees are 90 Miliaria which follows through to the 9E longitude and also from 31N to 36N in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Hence we are looking at a different Pattern/Template to that used in Barcelona 1456AD, but only by addition of the northern Baltic Sea area. But, being 26 years after the 1456 chart as already speculated there could be one or two redraws of the Pattern/Template with the Baltic Sea additions and of course Hibernia included. This information was readily available on Majorca to make the adjustments and produce a full Portolan Chart of the Mediterranean Sea Basin and the North.

A comparison between the 1456 and 1482 charts show that the two charts have the same Pattern/Template as illustrated on Diagrams ChGME/1/APPD17 and ChGME/1/APPD18.



However we now have a serious problem apropos the journey of the 1482 chart from Majorca to Florence and the State Archives.

The whole of the southern Mediterranean coastline of this chart, starting in Africa and then wending its way via the Levant through Turkey is covered with Arabic script no doubt denoting the translation of the Catalan text into an Arabic language. When or how was this chart available to an Islamic/Arab person to endorse it as we now read? The fact that it is covered with non Islamic features, that is the human form which have not been erased is possibly a pointer to an educated person who understood the value of the chart, its accuracy and the fact that few Arab/Ottoman charts, realistic charts were actually available.

There are several known Ottoman charts, Portolan charts that compare with the Genoese and Majorcan genre. They date from 1413, 1461 and 1570, not including the Piri Re’is chart.


The Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation was kind enough to assist me in the possible provenance of the over-writing to establish the charts travels from Majorca to its resting place in Florence. This is a copy of those notes;

The Arabic script is Naskh (not Magrebi) which indicates a Middle Eastern provenance of the notes. The language is classical Arabic, and even the correct diacritics are kept as they should (so not much influence of Middle Arabic). The notes could have been most likely made by someone from Syria, Egypt, Lebanon or Palestine. However, mobility of books and travellers was quite a common phenomenon in the area, so based on the script it is difficult to pin point exactly which country this came from, as during the Ottoman period there were no nation –state like boundaries, but provinces of the Empire. For the time-frame, the term “Sultan” for the Sultan of Egypt that is used in the map is an Ottoman term and the Ottoman Sultanate started in 1517 in Egypt. On the chart, Sultan Misr = Sultan of Egypt and Samsun = Samson, as examples.
Naskh is a sans-serif script meaning characters lack “hooks” on the ends of ascending and descending strokes. For example the alif is written as a straight stroke, bending to the lower left. Naskh differentiates various sounds through the use of diacritical points, in the form of 1-3 dots above or below the letter, which makes the script more easily legible. Naskh uses a horizontal base line; in situations where one character starts with the tail of the preceding letter, the base line is broken and raised.

In 16th century Constantinople Seyh Hamdullah (1429-1520) redesigned the structure of Naskh, along with the other “Six Pens”, in order to make the script appear more precise and less heavy.

Thus we may consider our chart travelled from Majorca through the Middle East well after it was drawn to arrive in Italy, Florence by the 19th century.


The basic structure of this chart is as per the 1456 and 1482 charts in that it is quite obvious the Pattern/Template is virtually the same as the overlay between the two clearly confirms. The actual coastal features being one and the same, but, obviously not identical as each chart is an individual creation even though based upon a single Pattern/Template.

Therefore from 1456 to 1489, Jac Bertran maintained his basic tool in a state that was capable of producing a very good example of a Portolan chart, even though I have surmised it was probably redrawn to maintain that structure.

However it is much more than a chart, it is an expression of Jac Bertran’s skill as a miniaturist with 15 oversized vignettes of cities, all beautifully drawn as well as the Madonna and Child adjacent to his attribution text. A very “Christian” feature for a “Jewish” person, which could be interpreted as a nod towards the client particularly as the only human figure drawn is the Spanish Monarch, King of Castile, complete with Family crest shield and crown.



However this chart is dated 1489 and the historical facts require elucidating. In Spain the union of Castile and Aragon took place in 1469; the Spanish Inquisition and expulsion of the Jews started in 1478 but it was not until 1492, January 2nd that the Reconquista is complete with the conquest of the Muslim emirate of Granada. The Kingdom of Castile held nearly all Spain (except Aragon and its territories), thus we see that Jac Bertran has anticipated the downfall of the Emirate of Granada and with the “Christian” iconography perhaps we can assume this chart was bound for a client in Spain as many of the charts drawn in Majorca were in times past.

I have compared the 1482 and 1489 charts as Diagrams ChGME/1/APPD19 and ChGME/1/APPD20 indicate. Again it clearly shows that Jac Bertran had kept his Patter/Templates even though he amended one for the 1482 chart to show the Baltic Sea area.

NICCOLO RODOLINO, comments upon the 1489 chart, in an 1898 text.

Di una carta nautical di Giacomo Bertran, maiorchino,
This text is similar to most cartographic historians texts and merely describes the content in some detail.
The discussion apropos “Mestra Jac Bertran en Malorque La Feta en Lany MCCCCLXXXVIIII, wobbles between the “Master” being a cartographer and a Ship’s Officer as he compares it to the attribution on the J. de la Cosa chart of 1500 which he states has, “Maestro de hacer cartas”.

He also comments upon the port of Varna on the Black Sea being at the same latitude on the chart as Venice, but states correctly they are 2 degrees apart. This he puts down to the lack of knowledge of the declination of the needle of a compass. He also states that the needle of the two wind rose compasses on the main wind rose centre line are coloured Blue to indicate perhaps the tip of the magnetized needle. Thus we may conclude that He was a man of his age who had not, as so many have not, dissected the chart correctly and even determined the scale bar as Miliaria.


Having produced overlays of the various charts and confirmed they are drawn from the same or very similar following Pattern/Templates, it only remains to discuss the changes in the depictions on each chart as they are perhaps the most intriguing features.

The 1456 chart (APPD01) is very plain containing only vignettes of various cities and in the northern section what may clearly be stated as the same city drawn at least 8 times to infill a rather large void in the north devoid of rivers, mountains etc. Genoa and Venice are by far the most impressive vignettes even though Venice appears to be a luscious land-based city and Genoa is given a magnificent harbour. But look at the buildings; they are all so very similar in design to the extent that even Cordoba/Granada in Spain looks like the northern cities. It is therefore open to opine that perhaps Jachobol Bertran carried out the majority of the drawing work and gave his “disciple” Berenguer Ripol a building design to copy many times over onto the chart to hide the open spaces and hence it could be argued that both persons produced the chart, with the student doing the “donkey” work.

The 1482 chart (APPD02) drawn after a gap of 26 years, a gap in his life story for which we have no knowledge except that he returned to Majorca and started a family. Here we see a blossoming of exotic design, warrior Kings with sword in hand; the Baltic Sea with a dozen vignettes all similarly drawn cities on its southern shore and many other city vignettes scattered over the chart. In fact the chart is so full of cities and people that the northern section is not easy to read at a glance, but requires detailed study.

At this stage in my research I opine that Jacob Bertran was at the peak of his career as a cartographic draughtsman, which at the projected age of 60 years is no mean feat. But, at least being on Majorca he did have a wealth of historical draughtsmen and their excellent charts to follow. I am not enamoured with the comment that this chart is perhaps not very good and find it compares well with the others of the age.

The 1489 chart (APPD03) is more subdued having only major city/places vignettes with flags at the other important cities. There is only one figure, the Spanish Monarch within the chart, but a well drawn Madonna and Child are set adjacent to the attribution panel. The chart is covered in toponyms, probably far more than normal and its state of preservation allows for minute details to be readily seen. But again it is devoid of the northern lands and the continuation of the West African coast south from the strait of Gibraltar. It is certainly meant for a “Christian” and appears to have travelled little in its life time, hence its remarkable condition.

M J Ferrar, June 2019.