Map of Caribbean

Date: 1592
Owner: John Carter Brown Library, Brown University
Source Type: Maps


This Italian made map of the Caribbean and parts of North, South, and Central America includes several elements typical of portolan charts, like the location of settlements and colored banners to depict the allegiance of various regions. In 1592, when this map was produced, most of the banners indicate Spanish territories (with red and white striped flags) such as Peru, Mexico, and Florida. Since the chart is mapping a relatively small area (the Caribbean Sea), problems with portolans, such as the curvature of the earth, are less pronounced, making this map a fairly reliable navigational tool. Although this map does not employ a graticule, there is a latitudinal marker (with north located on the right hand side) running along the bottom of the chart. Many extant sixteenth century portolans were made by Italians as composites of existing charts. The Iberian portolans, like the Padron Real, were closely guarded secrets and thus few were produced and even fewer survive.
CITATION: O'Doria, Hercules. [Map of the Carribean]. 1592. Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.