ABSTRACT

In about 1568, Richard Hakluyt the Elder, lawyer and cousin to the Elizabethan colonial promoter who shared his name, composed a letter to the Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius requesting that Ortelius make a new world map. Hakluyt imagined a map that was both large enough to include details relevant to scholars, lawyers, and merchants, and yet compressible into a form compact enough to fit into the small spaces where such men worked:

For as much as men usually live in houses which are neither spacious enough nor light enough [aut non adeo spaciosa aut tam lucida] within for them to be able to place or spread out conveniently a large world map in them, it will be most gratifying to many to have a map thought out on the following lines: namely that when spread out to its full extent it is quite fit and suitable [bene quadret et conveniat] for a hall or other spacious place of that kind, and also when rolled up at each end on two smooth revolving rods it lies conveniently on a table about three or four feet square.1