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The Catalan Atlas of 1375


During the 14th century, Mallorca was particularly renowned for its cartographers, mapmakers and makers of portolan charts. The most famous ones were Abraham Cresques and his son, Jafudà (shown in my photo in an artist’s impression). They lived in Palma and they were Jewish. After the Aragonese persecutions of 1391, Jafudà Cresques had to convert to Christianity, at which time he took the name Jaume Riba (Latin: Jacobus Ribus).

It is believed that the King of Aragón y Cataluña, Pedro IV instructed Abraham Cresques to draw a Mapamundi, showing the world as it was then known, emphasizing “a saber imagen del mundo y de las regiones que hay en la Tierra y los diferentes pueblos que la habitan”. The map, also known as ‘Atles català‘ was reportedly finished in 1375. In 1381, the King made the masterpiece a present to his cousin, the French King Charles VI. Pedro IV’s son and successor, King Juan I ordered another map from Jafudà Cresques in 1387, the year in which Cresques senior had died; that map was completed in 1389. This latter Mapamundi is presumed lost. The first one, the Catalan Atlas of 1375 shown below, is on display at the Bibliothèque National de France, in Paris.


The Fundació Bartolomé March at the Palau March in Palma owns a significant collection of Medieval maps of the Escuela Mallorquín but curiously, does not own one from the hand of either one of the Cresqueses. Still, a visit there could be rewarding, if one was interested in the subject. Visiting times at the Palau March museum are Monday to Friday (09h30 – 14h00), and Tuesday to Thursday (16h00 – 20h00) before July 14th, after which there is no afternoon session until September 16th. Entry admission is 3.60 €.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The date: September 19th, 2008. The time: 16:01:11. The sculpture of Jafudà Cresques is by the artist María Isabel Ballester, from the year 2007. Its location is in Palma de Mallorca, in Plaça Temple. The Mapamundi map (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of Valdeperrillos. Gracias.

2 replies »

  1. Pedro IV, the King of Aragón y Cataluña?????
    Pedro IV King of Aragón, Valencia, Cerdeña and Córcega and Count III of Barcelona (1319-1387).
    Count of Barcelona, Cataluña don’t exist.

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