Map of the Atlantic Ocean, 1613


This 1613 map of the Atlantic Ocean and of parts of Europe, Africa, and North and South America was made in the French port city of Havre de Grace by Pierre de Vaulx, a cartographer and pilot in the French royal navy. Richly illuminated, the map is in the great tradition of Norman cartography that began in the previous century. The de Vaulx family, originally from Pont-Audemer, settled in Le Havre soon after King François I founded the city in 1517. Jacques de Vaulx produced a compilation of contemporary works on nautical navigation entitled “Les premières oeuvres de Jacques de Vaulx,” as well as a number of important maps. Pierre de Vaulx was the younger brother of Jacques; the map presented here is his sole extant work. It shows the coasts of Europe from L’Escaut (the Scheldt River) to the Dalmatian coast; Africa from Libya to Cape Fria (Namibia); and North and South America from Labrador to Rio de Janeiro on the Atlantic and from Acapulco to Anegada Point in Chile on the Pacific. The many decorative elements on the map include colored drawings of ships and mermaids on the sea and illustrations of people, houses, and animals on land. The map prominently shows the Amazon River and French Antarctica, a French colony that was established in Brazil in 1555 and that was later conquered by the Portuguese. The names of Indian tribes in New France (present-day Canada) are indicated, and include Montagnais, Iroquois, and others. The map is from the Navy Hydrographic Office Collection in the National Library of France, which was deposited in the library in several stages between 1942 and 1965. The collection derives from the French navy’s General Repository of Maps and Plans, Journals and Memoirs, which was established by King Louis XV in 1720 in order to collect the documentation needed to produce reliable nautical maps.

Date Created

Subject Date


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map : on vellum ; 96 x 68.5 centimeters


  • Scale about 1:16,000,000


  1. Sarah Toulouse, “Marine Cartography and Navigation in Renaissance France,” in David Woodward, editor, The History of Cartography, vol. 3, Cartography in the European Renaissance (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

Last updated: August 19, 2015