Suma de Cosmografía de Pedro de Medina

Suma de Cosmografía de Pedro de Medina – Ediciones Grial – Ms. Res. 215, ff. 2v-3r – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)

Spain — Mid-16th century

Intended for a non-scientific audience: 16th century geography and plentiful information on astrology, philosophy, and navigation

  1. Pedro de Medina (1493–1567) compiled his most important cartographic findings for a non-scientific audience

  2. Unfortunately, this 1561 manuscript with texts on astrology, philosophy, and navigation was never published

  3. The manuscript's artful maps represent the latest geographic knowledge of the mid-16th century

Suma de Cosmografía de Pedro de Medina

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Suma de Cosmografía de Pedro de Medina

With the 1561 Compendium of Cartography, the royal cartographer Pedro de Medina (1493–1567) succeeded in preparing the most important information from his important publication El Arte de Navegar for a non-scientific audience. Unfortunately, this manuscript with texts on astrology, philosophy, and navigation was never published. All told, eleven outstanding astronomical figures, a two-sided Mappa Mundi with delightful details, and numerous carefully drawn initials in gold enrich the parchment manuscript in folio format.

Suma de Cosmografía de Pedro de Medina

An impressive Compendium of Cartography originated from the Seville-born Pedro de Medina (1493–1567). The unpublished manuscript from 1561 contains plentiful information about astrology, philosophy, and navigation. Written for a non-scientific audience, it communicated the new findings of the royal cartographer in an understandable way. As a finishing touch, the text is appended by a two-page Mappa Mundi representing the known world. As a whole, the compendium is an extract from Pedro de Medina’s famous manuscript The Art of Navigation, which he already published in 1545.

Astronomic Figures and the Mappa Mundi

The splendid parchment manuscript in folio format is furnished with eleven gorgeous astronomic figures, a very detailed Mappa Mundi, as well as a numerous initials highlighted with gold. The medieval world map at the end of the manuscript mirrors the state of geographic knowledge in Spain and Portugal at this time. Thus, for example, the boundaries of the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas between the territories of the two sea powers is clearly defined. Furthermore, the richly detailed ships on the seas, or the small trees, mountains, and river courses on land enlivening the medieval map are all also very lovely.

A Pioneering Role for Europe

In the year 1545, Pedro de Medina published his manuscript El Arte de Navegar, the first work on compass navigation in Europe. The work provided an overview of the existing knowledge on this theme and disseminated thanks to numerous translations across Europe. With this great success, the cartographer made an important contribution to the development of navigation on the high seas and influenced the famous mathematician Pedro Nunes (1502–1578) as well as the Flemish cartographer Michel Coignet (1549–1623).

Spain’s Royal Cartographer

Despite the great importance, which Pedro de Medina achieved for science, there is little known about his life today. It can be assumed that he was a cleric, who also worked occasionally as a librarian for the Dukes of Medina-Sidonia. Charles V bid him time and again to create diagrams and other navigational aids, wherefore he was named honorary cartographer in 1549.


Alternative Titles
World map from the "Suma de Cosmographia"
Size / Format
1 map / 82.0 × 59.0 cm
Mid-16th century
Square capitals
World Map

Available facsimile editions:
Suma de Cosmografía de Pedro de Medina – Ediciones Grial – Ms. Res. 215, ff. 2v-3r – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Ediciones Grial – Valencia, 1999
Limited Edition: 921 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Suma de cosmografía de Pedro de Medina

Ediciones Grial – Valencia, 1999

Publisher: Ediciones Grial – Valencia, 1999
Limited Edition: 921 copies
Commentary: 1 volume by Luisa Martín-Meras
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
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