The maps in this case and the adjacent wall range from a serene view of the whole solar system to maps and an atlas focused on the details of human conflict. Johann Baptist Homann depicts the solar system with the sun at its center, according to the “hypothesis” of Copernicus, and we descend to the earth only in the lower left corner, where a diagram shows the solar eclipse of May 12, 1706, casting its shadow over Nuremberg, where Homann lived.
Abraham Ortelius’s Map of the Empire of the Turks first appeared in the 1570 edition of his atlas; the great fear caused in Europe by the Turks’ expansion finds expression in the quotation below the map’s title: “Through peace small things grow, but through discord the greatest things are ruined.” Jacques Callot’s spectacular view-map of the Île de Ré on the western coast of France shows the island under assault by an English force of force of 100 ships and 6,000 soldiers led by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, in 1627. Here we see the siege in full swing, but after three months a French relief force managed to repel the attackers.
Finally we have a mystery. An anonymous atlas of hand-drawn charts, made in about 1628, shows nine European ports with very little emphasis on the towns, but much on the fortification and topography. This leads one to suspect a military purpose to the compilation, but determining the cartographer’s specific intentions will require further investigation, particularly of a logbook, (not displayed), which may or may not have been written to accompany the atlas. The map shown depicts the Puerto de Pasajes, just east of San Sebastián on the northern coast of Spain, in a bird’s-eye view.
—Narrative by Chet Van Duzer, Independent Scholar