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Mercator, Africa Ex magna terre... Duisburg, 1595 (1613). 14 x 18. Original color. Marginal tears reinforced, else VG+. The geography is from Mercator's great world map of 1569. "The shape of Africa ...is based on...Portuguese discoveries and its high degree of accuracy was unsurpassed...in the 16th century." [Klemp] However, the interior relies on older sources. Prester John "the Great Emperor of Abyssinia" is seen enthroned and holding a cross. The Nile rises from two unnamed lakes north of the Mountains of the Moon. Karrow, Mapmakers of the 16th Century 56/17.11; Klemp, Africa on Maps #16, Koeman, Atlantes Neerlandici Me 22; Norwich #21, Tooley, African Continent, p. 75; pl. 55; van der Krogt, New Koeman 8600:1A. Sold

For centuries European monarchs dreamed of joining forces with a fabled Christian king supposedly in Asia. Ideally their combined efforts would defeat Islam and regain the Holy Land. When no such support was found in Asia, Europeans hoped to find their ally in a Christian kingdom in Africa. Prince Henry the Navigator proposed expeditions to the "Western Nile" (the Senegal) which was presumed to connect with the old Nile, thus reaching Prester John. The Portuguese eventually made it to Abyssinia, albeit the long way around Africa. Mercator's map is relates to this myth.

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