Origins of Polish Cartography

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 Fragments of a copy of the southern chart of Wapowski’s Map of Sarmatia were discovered by chance in the Archive of Historical Documents in War-szawa by dr Kazimierz Piekarski, in 1932, Karol Buczek says.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.