Sebastian Munster (1488 - 1552)

Sebastian Munster (1488-1552) was an important German cartographer, cosmographer and Hebrew scholar who is best known for his 1540 Latin translation and publication of Ptolemy’s Geography titled, Cosmographia. Prior to the introduction of printing for books, of works such as Ptolemy’s groundbreaking Geography, they could only be copied individually by scribes, consequently this slow process inhibited the dissemination of geographic knowledge to a wide audience. As information became available especially of the new world, Munster found that Ptolemy’s theories were contradicted by these new discoveries that were related to him by ships captains and explorers. One such theory was a land locked Indian Ocean which Ptolemy had shown in his Geography and which was being disproved by the trading ships returning from China and the Spice Islands with their precious cargos.

As a result Munster began to add new maps to his own Cosmographia that reflected these new discoveries and made available to a wider audience this changing knowledge of the world.

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