Ancient Publicity Wars in Cartography
A tale of two Kings - The hidden propaganda within classic maps.
One of our motivations for drawing maps was a desire to avoid politics and simply dedicate ourselves to the production and redrawing of classic map images. When we started to redraw many classic images for our modern day map of the Americas we soon realized this was not going to happen.
The 1562 Gutierrez map of the Americas is one of the most iconic maps of the renaissance era of maps and is well known for its incredible sea monsters and classic imagery of sea battles. However it also contains a publicity campaign designed to bestow one nations king with a divine status along with a rather offensive representation of his rival.
Maps do not get made for free and the more we learnt about the Gutierrez map of 1567 the more we saw how biased it is. The map was commissioned for the royal court of Spain and this influence can be seen in the Latin texts declaring the vast majority of the Americas as rightfully belonging to Spain. The inscriptions include declarations of the ‘discovery’ of the land by Columbus in the name of the royal family of Spain. Additionally a clear indication of the political bias within the map can be seen in how two kings are represented on the map.
The King of Spain is portrayed as riding across the Atlantic in a sea chariot pulled by horses and the sea god Neptune. For good measure he has angels above protecting him. The portrayal of the King of Portugal is not so complimentary he is represented as the old man of the sea riding a sea monster and holding a shield of Portugal. His position on the map is designed to indicate the thin sliver of the americas assigned to him by the pope on the line of demarcation known from the treaty of Torsedillas.
We are sure you can imagine that this map was not a favorite one for the royal courts of Portugal. Whilst the images are now admired as some of the most popular of all map images their original significance has been overlooked by many map collectors.
Along with sea monsters and treasure ships these two portrayals of the king of Spain and Portugal are some of the best liked images according to customers buying our map of the Americas.