The Miller Atlas, 1519, the atlas of the first circumnavigation of the world. - YouTube
The Portuguese atlas preserved today in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, known as the Miller Atlas (1519), is an extraordinary illustration of the world on the eve of the first trip around the world.
This intriguing and mysterious atlas, commissioned by Manuel I of Portugal to convince his brother-in-law Carlos I of the unfeasibility of Magellan’s project, is a testament to the geopolitical tensions of the time. Even though it includes innovative nautical information, the purpose of this lavish work was to provide an image of the entirely discovered world, which was especially significant on the eve of Magellan and Elcano’s expeditions funded and sponsored by the Spanish crown.
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It is an incredibly beautiful and richly decorative universal atlas, but it’s also of great practical and geopolitical use, as it reflects impressive advancements in geographical discoveries thanks to the Portuguese in all the world’s oceans and seas. The atlas offers a vision of plenitude and richness in various lands; on one side, areas inhabited by exotic animals and mythological creatures (griffins, dragons), on the other, fortified cities and even the Tower of Babel.
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