The Radziwiłł Map of the Duchy of Lithuania

Prince Michał Radziwiłł "the Orphan", son of Mikołaj "the Black," voivode of Troki and Vilnius, recorded his eventlful pilgrimage to the Holy Land in Peregrination or Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a book written in vivid, rich Polish. Around 1585, Radziwiłł began co-ordination of the work on the Grand Map of the Duchy of Lithuania. He put a lot of effort in organising a team of experts who would be able to perform such immense work. Among others, he hired King's cartographer Maciej Strubicz the Silesian, or "Slązak." Earlier, during the reign of king Stefan Batory, Strubicz began work on editing and re-working maps of the territories subject to the King of Poland, particularly the map of Lithuania. The Mercator map, the best available presentation of Lithuania and Livonia at that time, was not satisfactory. The amount and quality of the data on that part of the Kingdom required devotion to the work on that map exclusively, which was Strubicz's intention. Correspondence between Strubicz and Chancellor Jan Zamoyski, in which the cartographer asks Zamoyski for support in obtaining from the King materials relating to the Duchy of Lithuania, proves that the work on the maps was well advanced in 1579: "I am positive that there exists a more reliable and precise description ofthose Lithuanian Lands, made in the times of war, without which I started my work, but am not able to complete it, I would be much obliged to Your Excellency for Your support to my earlier pledge to His Majesty the King, to lend me for a short time such description of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania". Strubicz's own descriptions of Lithuania did not meet his requirements as materials for the new map. Such was probably also the case with the map for which he was asking, as in all likelihood it was the work by Stanisław Pachłowiecki, engraved in Rome, and made on the basis of data and materials collected during the Polock military campaign. Although being the first example of military cartography in Poland, the map did not meet Strubicz's expectations. Therefore, the cartographer finally decided to work in co-operation with Mikołaj Krzysztof Radziwiłł, hoping that the latter's energy and spirit of enterprise may lead to the publication of a highly accurate map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, as planned. As the starting point for research, Strubicz began collecting his own earlier works which he has been drawing since his appointment to the Royal Chancellery in 1559.

Diligent and precise as he was, Strubicz probably was not the sole author of the map; it must have been a result of team work. However, the composition of such team would be extremely difficult to re-create now. Judging by surprisingly precise location of places where Jesuit colleges were, it seems that members of that order were involved in.the work. Radziwiłł maintained close relations with the Society of Jesus, he even built a college for Jesuits in his hometown Nies'wież. The sciences were held in great esteem among members of that order, so in all probability, many measurements were made with state-of-the-art instruments and based on mathematical and astronomical calculations. It is known. that outstanding Jesuit mathematician, Englishman f. Jacob Bosgrave was visiting Lithuania at the time when the map was created; some sources say that he was the founder of the mathematical department of Vilnius Academy. It seems therefore probable that Bosgrave contributed to the work of the editorial team, which was perhaps headed by the Prince himself. Bosgrave could have commissioned some work with his students at the mathematical department, as he was very complimentary about them in his letters to General of the order Claudius Aquaviva. Regrettably, nothing else is known about that group of young promising mathematicians.

An analysis of Radziwiłł's correspondence allows to assume that the Prince sought assistance in the work on the map with Lithuanian, Belorussian and perhaps even Ukrainian magnates, and also with personalities at the Court. This clever strategy allowed thes enterprising Prince to make use of various influences and support to execute his ambitious task in minute detail. One of such mighty assistants could have been voivode of Kiev, prince Konstanty Wasyl Ostrogski, to whom Radziwiłł wrote in order to collect data on the lower course of the Dnieper.

It seems that the work on the map was completed in 1599, and Strubicz began thorough search for an engraver and a publisher of the final draft. Herewith an excerpt from Strubicz's letter to Radziwill, written during the former's trip to Gdansk, where he tried to publish the map and commission the engraving with goldsmith Jan Kolner (Kolner's company actually existed at that time and was listed in the records of Gdarisk goldsmiths of that period). Strubicz, along with father rector Jan Uberus, was accompanying Radziwiłł's sons in their journey there: "..so that we could meet 'perfectum sculptorem et expertum artificem,' who could accept the commission and engrave that map done by Your Excellency with due care and skill Here in Gdan'sk we happened to find an 'artifex' who would undertake the work: a Joannes Kolner. He only wishes to see the drawing of the map, ready for engraving. Therefore the Rector suggests to send here the descripta for the engraver's inspection, as it may be God's wish to have it made and prepared here in Gdańsk. I would be infinitely grateful if Your Excellency could let me know his mind in this respect..."

In 1604, the cartographer's son Samuel Strubicz sent a message from Augsburg to Radziwiłł, informing him that his exlibrisses for the maps are ready to be stuck on the maps there: "...[I had] an excellent sculptor engrave Your Excellency's coat of arms on a copper plate, in order to stick it on the map which are here...". However, it is unknown, whether the maps had been made in Gdańsk, or in Augsburg. Samuel Strubicz fails to give in his letter the name of the engraver, from whom he commissioned the exlibrisses. Augsburg of those times was an important centre of cartographic and publihing business, and therfore it is difficult to indentify the engraver of Strubicz's letter, and to determine, whether that "sculptor" also had done the maps.

The best known edition of 1613 was done by Hessel Garrits (Gerard) of Amsterdam, known for his edition of the maps of Russia. Thanks to him, a theory appeared, that only the name of Tomasz Makowski should be associated with the concept pf exclusive authorship of Radziwiłł map of Lithuania. This concept, however, seems to be more than controversial. Makowski's knowledge would not be sufficient for him to perform such immense task on his own. As far as we know, Makowski was primarily, and perheaps only, an engraver. However, the final draft of the map was made by an expert engraver and artist. Diverse presentation of the antropogeographical elements and highly original design of the final version. Undoubtedly, the engraver made all in his might to highlight his name, and achieved this aim with the assistance of Hessel Gerrits, whom he propably knew well. Gerris even speaks about Makowski being a geographer, which does not seem propable.

Some versions of this map are found in the Polish Library in Rapperswil, while the oldest known copy, propably its second edition, is owned by the Library of the University of Uppsala. A letter of the curator of the cathedral chapter of Warmia, father Tomasz Treter, to Prince Radziwiłł, allows to date the first edition of the map back to the before 1607. The above mentioned letter of Samuel Strubicz, sent from Augsburg, suggests the year 1603. A true copy of the map, as complete version of the 1613 edition was placed by Jean Blaeu in his atlas in 1631. Bleau used Gerrits' original matrices, but differently designed the descriptions, removed the charts of the middle and lower course of the Dnieper. The graticule's longitude is measured from the zero meridian drawn through the Pic de Teide on Tenerife (Canary Islands). A reduced in size version of this map was placed in most of the significant Dutch, French, German and English atlases.

The Radziwiłł - Makowski map, supplemented with brilliant, detailed chart of the lower course of the Dnieper and an exhaustive descrition in Latin, signed with the initials T.M.Pol, became one of the milestones in cartography of that part of Europe, leaving far behind the presentations of other parts of Poland. For more than 150 years it was the sole source of information on on Lithuania and neighbouring areas. Even today, it surprises experts with oustanding graphic rendering and the amount of geographic and histrorical data included. Due to the modest decorations, the map is not commonly known; even experts sometimes pay more attention to the aesthetic values and the number and quality of vignettes and cartouches than to the actual cartographic contents of the map.