Jerusalem Civitas Sancta

Sebastian MUNSTER

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(HOLY LAND) MÜNSTER, Sebastian. Jerusalem Civitas Sancta, Olim Metropolis Regni Judaici, Hodie Vero Colonia Turcae. [Basle: Heinrichum Petri, circa 1550]. Single double-page sheet of laid paper (16 by 12-1/2 inches), window-framed (entire piece measures 18-1/2 by 15 inches).

First or early impression of Münster’s striking woodcut bird’s-eye view of Jerusalem, translated, “Holy City of Jerusalem, once capital of the Jewish kingdom, today a colony of Turkey,” extracted from the an expanded 1550s edition of his famous Cosmographia Universalis.

“Sebastian Münster’s Cosmographia was an immensely influential book that attempted to describe the entire world across all of human history and analyze its constituent elements of geography, history, ethnography, zoology and botany. First published in 1544 it went through 35 editions and was published in five languages, making it one of the most important books of the Reformation period” (Matthew McLean). Münster’s academic contemporaries thought of him as a Hebraist— there is no evidence that he ever taught geography or the mathematical sciences (see Burmeister). He attained a reputation as a geographer only after the publication of the definitive 1550 edition of his Cosmographia, which included a large number of additional town prospects, among them this splendid prospect of Jerusalem. “The central view is of the Temple Mount, seen from the east, from the Mount of Olives, with north to the right… Since the gate in the eastern wall known as the Golden Gate is depicted in ruins, this view may derive from ones earlier than 1538, when the Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in the manner we know them today” (Arnold vander Nat). Text in Latin and Hebrew. This view was first published in the 1550 edition in Latin of the Cosmographia, pages 1016-19. Latin editions were published in 1550, 1552, 1554, 1559, and 1572, but the 1572 edition was paginated differently (with the view of Jerusalem appeared on pages 1176-77), so this clearly comes from an edition from the 1550s. An early pencil note on the lower right corner of “1559” suggests that it may have been extracted from a volume published in that year. Tooley, Mapmakers, 26. See Shirley, Maps in the Atlases of the British Library T.MUN-1a through T.MUN-1i.

Early paper repair to joining on verso, light embrowning. An extremely good copy.

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