Islario general de todas las islas del mundo (General atlas of all the
islands in the world) is the greatest work by Seville cosmographer
Alonso de Santa Cruz (1505–67).
The atlas was begun during the
reign of Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain Charles V and finished in
that of his son King Philip II, to whom it was dedicated. It consists of
111 maps representing all the islands and peninsulas of the world, and
showing all the discoveries made by European explorers from 1400 to the
mid-16th century. The atlas begins with a letter by Santa Cruz to
the king, in which he justifies his work and explains different
Preceding the maps is “Breve introducción de la
Sphera” in which Santa Cruz makes a cosmographic description,
illustrated by 14 astronomical figures. The maps are organized in four
parts: the first deals with the North Atlantic; the second, with the
Mediterranean and adjacent areas; the third, with Africa and the Indian
Ocean; and the fourth with the New World.
The maps include scales
in latitude and some in longitude and bodies of water with varied scales
and oriented with compass roses.
The Islario general is the
earliest atlas in which paper is used, instead of the parchment that was
previously most commonly used for such charts. The design of the maps is
more functional, with less attention to aesthetics and more to
geographic detail than in the late-medieval portolan maps and atlases.
Scholars have determined, on the basis of the dates that appear in
the descriptive texts on the islands, that the maps were made beginning
in the fourth decade of the 16th century, around 1539, and that the
entire atlas was completed circa 1560. It is highly probable that the
Islario general was a part of a Geografía Universal that Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz was one of the key figures of the Casa
de Contratación (House of Trade) in Seville. One of his first works was
a set of the spherical charts of the New World. He created various other
works on cosmography and geography, such as the Libro de longitudes; and
on historical themes, including Crónica de los Reyes Católicos
(Chronicle of the Catholic kings) and Crónica de Carlos V (Chronicle of
Following Santa Cruz’s death, his successor, Andrés
García de Céspedes, attempted to claim credit for this work. On the
cover the name Alonso de Santa Cruz has been erased, García de
Céspedes’s name is inserted as if he were the author, and the work is
dedicated to King Philip III. In the manuscript itself, apocryphal texts
have been superimposed over the originals, with the aim of disguising
the real authorship and date of creation.
View our other maps from the General
Atlas of All the Islands in the World:
Brazil & Peru
Greece & Asia
India & China
North & Central America
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All reproduction prints are
printed as "museum quality", using advanced ink formulas and durable
museum quality paper. The reproduction prints reflect the state of
repair of the original conserved document. Stains and imperfections
reflected in the original map at the time it was collected for
conservation are left un-retouched, as they reflect the character and
charm of the vintage original. Some major imperfections, such as dark
fold lines have been removed when possible. Maps are printed as ordered
and are not returnable unless received damaged.