1540 Map Essay

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This quote is certainly true for the 1540 Map of the Western Hemisphere from the Princeton Exhibition: The Pacific Ocean: 250 Years of Maps. Indeed, the map is full of various clues, images, and labels that help to make sense of the colonial world, and help to see the world of colonial South America in a new light. From this map, the confidence of the Europeans, despite their lack of knowledge and limited exploration of the New World, becomes clear. Indeed, this contrast is the most significant take-away from this image: the arrogance of the European colonizers in the face of their arrival to the newly unexplored continent. Through careful analysis of the size of the oceans and landmasses, the orientation of the map, and numerous added …show more content…

From this map, it would appear that traveling across the ocean, with the size of their ships, would have only taken a few weeks, with stops at islands along the way. While this was certainly not the case, the map eschews the self-assurance that such a feat was possible. Indeed, the choice to draw the oceans this way was not for a lack of knowledge. Instead, it was the remarkable self-confidence of the Europeans. By drawing the oceans as a minor part of the map and the ship as much larger and more noticeable, they were able to stress their navigational might and show that they had control over much of the world. The island in the far southwestern corner of this image is another example of this European confidence: the island labeled as Calenfuan, also known as Calensuan. The Europeans had never discovered this island, and indeed, this island has never actually even existed. However, the European explorers were sure that this island was real and, due to that fact, they felt compelled to label it on their map as if it truly existed. This self-assuredness on their part is unmistakable. Moreover, it can be seen more generally in their naming of the various islands and landmasses, even those that they had not yet explored, and their placement of their flags on the lands that they had already claimed. Indeed, the large flags are exceptionally obvious on the map, brazenly proclaiming their sovereignty over these islands. Despite the fact that quite a few of these islands

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