Ships on maps in the sixteenth century were signs of European
conquest of the seas. Cartographers commemorated the new found
dominion over the oceans by putting the most technically advanced
ships of the day all over oceans, estuaries, rivers, and lakes on
all kinds of maps. Ships virtually never appeared on maps before
1375. The dramatic change from medieval practice had roots in
practical problems but also in exploration and new geographical
knowledge. Map makers produced beautiful works of art and decorated
them with the accomplishments which set Europeans apart from their
classical past and from all the other peoples of the world.
Ships on Maps investigates how, long admired but little
understood, the many ships big and small that came to decorate maps
in the age when sailors began to sail around the world were an
integral part of the information summarizing a new age.