World Map, 1566


This portolan world map, drawn by Nicolas Desliens in 1566, synthesizes Norman hydrographic knowledge in the mid-16th century. It is one of two world maps by Desliens known to exist; the other dates from 1541. The map is oriented with south at the top and north at the bottom, giving it an upside-down look to the modern viewer. La Nouvelle France occidentalle (Western New France) is written in large letters over an arc-shaped North America. The map shows all territories of the world except part of the western coast of North America, which extends beyond the edge of the map. Most of the Pacific Ocean is not shown. The map reflects the political affiliations of newly discovered lands. The territories claimed by France are indicated by flags with fleurs-de-lis, in Canada (Labrador), Florida (on the May River), and Brazil (on the Rio de la Plata). Desliens is known only from his work and inscriptions on his maps indicating that he worked in Dieppe and Arques; no biographical information about him survives.

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Physical Description

1 map : manuscript, color, on vellum ; 27 x 45 centimeters

Last updated: August 19, 2015