Jesuit Cartography, Americas
Jesuit Cartography of the Americas: comparative case study of Baja California, Tarahumara and the Amazon by Mirela Altić
The maps that existed at the time of arrival of the first Jesuits to the American continent had already established the coastal outlines of the Americas. Thanks to the joint effort of sailors, cartographers and cosmographers, during the 16th century distinctive contours were given to Americas. However, within this vast landmass almost everything remained to be done. How did cartography came from the first outline maps of the American continent, published in the cosmographies to detailed regional maps that appeared in late 17th and 18th century? It is a Jesuit mapping based on their field work that link these two stages of cartography. The maps Jesuits produced were very different, depending on regional historical context and the conditions in which the Jesuits were acting in the certain countries.
Here presented selection of the maps illustrates a comparative case study of three regions in which Jesuits had a crucial role in its mapping: Baja California, Tarahumara (present-day Chihuahua) and the Amazon. Their activities in these regions resulted in mapping very different by it purpose: in Baja California it was to make final prove of its pensularity, in Tarahumara mapping ensured stability of the new missions while mapping of the Amazon course was aiming to mark the new Spanish-Portuguese border established after the Treaty of Madrid (1750).