The misunderstanding of science

Map of the World, 1555
Map of the World, 1555

Novus Orbis Regionum is a book attributed to Simon Grynaeus (1491-1553). The book contains a map, “Typus Cosmographicus Universalis”, which shows the understanding of the world within that era. The map illustrates the misunderstanding of scientists and geologists at that time, as it shows an oval shaped earth with disfigured continents. As you can see in the image above, North America as we know it is not present. In its place is a thin land-mass labelled as Cuba. The map is framed by images of “outlandish” animals, people and customs from throughout the known world. In the bottom left hand corner is an illustration of “Canibali”, the cannibals believed to live in [South] America. The outstanding quality of the woodcut map has led many to believe it is the work of Hans Holbein the Younger, who was linked with a number of publishers in Basel, Switzerland, where this book was published.

A copy of the 1555 edition of the book can found be in St George’s Chapel Archives and Chapter Library (SGC G261).

Matthew Alexander, Matthew Bush (Windsor Boys’ School)

The King's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.