Socotra, the Glorioso Islands, Mauritius and Madagascar

By METELLUS, Johannes, 1601 

Mare Arabicum et Indicum / Insulae et Ars Mosambique / Madagascar que et S. Laurentn Insula dicitur / Maurity

Africa Eastern Africa
  • Author: METELLUS, Johannes
  • Publication place: Coloniæ Agrippinaæ
  • Publisher: excudebat Ioann. Christophori
  • Publication date: 1601
  • Physical description: Engraved map
  • Inventory reference: 3380

Notes

Four maps showing (clockwise): the archipelago of Socotra, the Glorioso Islands, Mauritius, Madagascar. Mauritius was revisited by the Dutch East India Company in 1598 prior to establishing a small colony there, both to act as a base and in the hope of finding profitable natural resources. The expedition, led by Admiral Wybrand van Warwyck, renamed the island after Prince Maurits of Nassau, as outlined in the caption on the map.

These maps appear in the Insularum orbis aliquot insularum’ by Johannes Metellus. It stands out as a northern European contribution to the tradition of isolari’, or island books’, that has its origins in the manuscript Mediterranean chart books of the fifteenth century, and in the printed works of Sonetti, Bordone, and Porcacchi.

Johannes Metellus (Jean Matal) (1520–1597) was a Burgundian scholar in law and geography. He originally worked in Bologna, where he assisted with the publication of Lelio Torelli’s encyclopaedia, before travelling over Europe, meeting the cartographer Abraham Ortelius in the process, and settling in Cologne by 1563. Through his connection with Ortelius and the publisher Christophe Plantijn, Metellus contributed to some of the most important cartographic works of the period. He provided material for a new edition of Ortelius’ best-selling atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum;, passed Gerard Mercator information in 1577 about an expedition to Mexico, and is thanked in the introduction to Michael Eitzinger’s famous Leo Belgicus’. He also wrote the description of Lyon in the first volume of Braun and Hogenburg’s Civitatis Orbis Terrarum’, and a preface to volume two of the same work.

By the time his isolario was published in 1601, the genre had developed into a complex mixture of atlas, travel narrative and tourist guide. Despite the publication of more comprehensive cartographical works like Ortelius’ atlas, they remained resolutely popular, although the extension of the range of Metellus’ work beyond the traditional Mediterranean limits suggests an attempt to follow contemporary interest. His own work borrowed heavily from the Italian cartographic tradition of the so-called Laferi School’. This is particularly evident in the present work – his final atlas, where at least half of the maps are not very well disguised copies of those of Giuseppe Rosaccio.

Bibliography

  1. Zacharakis 2171–2184.
    • Zacharakis, C. (1982). A Catalogue of printed maps of Greece 1477–1800. Nicosia: AG Leventis Foundation.