Orgins of Polish Cartography - Bernard Wapowski and Wacław Grodecki

Bernard Wapowski (+1535) has already been mentioned here in relation with the cartographic works by Marco Beneventano, who co-operated with the Polish researcher and used information provided by him when working on a new version of Nicolaus' of Kuza map of Central Europe, which he then placed in Roman editions of Ptolemy's Geographia of 1507 and 1508. At that time, Wapowski was still in Rome. In 1515 he returned home to become a secretary of king Zygmunt I Stary (Zygmunt I the Old) (1467-1548), and immediately began work on the map of Sarmatia. Soon, he delivered two originals of his map to printer Florian Unger of Cracovia who issued them in 1526 as woodcut copies. Wapowski used graticule and trapezoid mapping to show the part of Europe between Torun and Constantinopole and Poznari and the mouth of the Don river on one of the maps and the northern part of Poland towards Livonia and Lithuania, with a small part of Sweden in the East. It does not seem probable for Wapowski to pay personal visits to all the countries presented on the map; he must have availed of the assistance of other persons who were well acquainted with those parts of Europe. Regrettably, it is impossible now to trace his fellow researchers. However, Wapowski must have been skilled and talented in combining, sorting and analysing the collected data in order to use them in his work. It is impossible to re-create his method. However, analysis of his working materials, of which only fragments of the "southern" map were preserved until our times, shows that he was a highly professional researcher. It is unknown, whether it was his own idea to draw the maps, or they were made to order of the King or some influential person at the court. The last mention of the two maps is Wapowski's correspondence with Jan Eck, publisher from Augsburg, who received the maps, probably in order to make matrices. An analysis of a mention about Eck in a let-ter to Dantyszek (July 1st, 1530) suggests that both maps were in fact combining into one map - the first map of Poland and neighbouring countries in history - and, what is more, created by a Pole. Fragments of a copy of the southern chart of Wapowski's Map of Sarmatia were discovered by chance in the Archive of Historical Documents in War-szawa by dr Kazimierz Piekarski, in 1932, Karol Buczek says. The maps served as a cover of a ledger. Buczek not only edited the maps, but also suggested that the two Warsaw charts are the only copies of the lost two-chart map of Sarmatia by Wapowski. In order to determine the area covered by the northern part of the map, Buczek made use of the Royal Charter, but he does not specify, where the text of the Charter could be found. Regrettably, no re-makes or versions of the northern chart have been discovered. Undoubtedly, that chart was a valuable source of information for cartographers working on the maps of the Baltics and the northern districts of the Kingdom of Poland.

It seems that Wapowski's map was well known to the elite of European cartographers of that time and it was used as a source of information about the south-eastern and north-estern parts of the Continent, including the area of Poland and Hungary. These followers include Gerard Mercator, Henry Zell, Caspar Vopelius, Jacob Gaspaldi and Olaf Magnus, who authored an interesting map of Scandinavia. It is also highly probable that the map Polonia et Ungaria, included by Sebastian Muenster into his Base l edi-tion of Ptolemy's Geographia and Muenster's own work Cosmographia, was a reduced and simplified version of the "Southern" map by Wapowski. Afterwards, it's various versions were copied into many works. Giacomo Gastaldi, one of the leading Italian cartographers, placed his version of that map, very carefially woodcut, although small in size, in his edition of Geographia of 1546. The "Northern" map was probably used by Mercator for his version of the map of Lithuania and was published in various editions of his Atlas in the years 1595 - 1630.

The twin-chart map by Wapowski is surprisingly precise while specifying the coor-dinates for the mouths of the Dnieper and the Dniester, as it corrects the error by Ptole-my. Ptolemy's map moves the Black Sea by 4 degrees westwards and extends it unnaturally, which makes the whole continent rather oblong. Regrettably, the next generations of cartographers did not follow Wapowski, modelling their works after Mercator, who for unknown reasons continued to place the mouths of the Dnieper and Dniester respectably by 3 and 1/2 degree and 2 and 1/2 degree farther eastwards, even after Wapowski's map was published. Wapowski's map, however, failed to show an accurate reflection ofthe regions of Polesie, Wolyn' and Grodno, where the author placed large, non-existent bogs of Amadotia, Sarmatia and the Cronos Lake. and also many rivers flowing therefrom. It seems that Wapowski did not support the theory that rivers have to spring from mountain tops.

In the first half of the 16th century, the Polish cartographer published a map of Poland in the scale of 1:1000000, which covered a slightly smaller territory than his twin-chart map of Sarmatia. This map provided a basis for G. Mercator and G. de Jode for their presentations of the territory of Poland. This map, reduced to 75% was used by Waclaw Grodecki for his map, published in Leipzig in 1557, and first issued by Jan Oporin in Basel in 1562. It will be discussed later in more detail. While working on his "million map", Wapowski was supported by Nicolaus Copernicus, who provided data on north-eastern Poland and on Western Prussia. Copernicus, together with many scien-tists form Cracovia University, provided Wapowski with results of their astronomic measurements, which allowed him to give surprisingly precise coordinates of many localities in his pioneer work. Regrettably, he had no followers. His grand work, which probably found no match in Europe in the quality of information, number of measure-ments and cartographic and astronomic research involved, had not been amended or modernised. The image of Poland, as presented on Wapowski's maps, remained unachanged probably until mid-18th century. The maps issued in the 16th century' in Italy, Germany or Holland, were much better in quality of print than Wapowski's work. Crude lines in  wooden blocks could not match them in precision. In spite of this, the "million map" was one of the most interesting country maps done in the Europe of those times.

The standstill in Polish cartography that occurred on the turn of the 15th century was caused by social and political changes which resulted in the degeneration of cities and halt in the vigorous development of science (slow downfall of the University of Cracovia). Polish researchers showed no interest in the work on improving the cartographic presentation of their country; they limited themselves to copying or remodelling Wapowski's maps. The most famous version was the map by Czech cartographer and monk Waclaw Grodecki. A version of Grodecki's map, in turn, was placed by Dutch cartographer and publisher Abraham Ortelius in his atlas and, reduced, by Martin Kromer, in his chronicle - Polonia (Koln 1589). This map, however, shows more territories than Wapowski's "million map," but it is unknown how and from whom Grodecki collected data on the areas outside his model map. It seems possible that he used as his source some other works by Wapowski. On 1569, Andrey Pograbka of Pilzen made in Padun a version of Grodecki's map, basing also on Gerard Mercator's map of Europe. In spite of some amendments, numerous corrections and a lot of new data on cities and some roads, his map did not play any significant role in the history of Polish cartography. Another stage of development was Mercator's map Polonia et Silesia - a combination of all the earlier maps of that territory. It was subject to many amendments and published in numerous atlases, as in the 17th century it was the best source of geographic and cartographic knowledge about Poland.