1704 Isle De La Martinique
By: Nicolas de Fer
Date: 1704 (Published) Paris
Dimensions: 10.25 x 14 inches (26.04 x 35.6 cm)
This attractive and highly detailed map of Martinique is presented from a bird’s-eye view perspective and is a graphic representation of the heavily wooded island and its major geographical and topographical features, including forts, churches, anchorages, towns, rivers, mountains, bays, harbors and smaller islands.
The island is obviously rugged and heavily covered with vegetation. The key in the lower right quadrant lists more than sixty places of interest. When the map was made the island was host to numerous sugar plantations whose wealthy families’ offspring mixed their blood with European royal families, and married self-made emperors and even Ottoman sultans.
Mount Pelee, a semi-dormant volcano, is easily identifiable. The volcano’s deadly eruption on 8 May 1902 destroyed the nearby city of St. Pierre, often referred to as the Paris of the Caribbean or Antilles, and resulted in the deaths of more than 30,000 inhabitants. It is now often referred to as the Pompeii of the Antilles, though more than twice the population of Pompeii perished that day.
The history of the disaster is of interest to scientists today who use the event as an example of failure to plan and act. Though by the end of April of that year there had been signs of an imminent eruption, local officials failed to take heed even when swarms of insects, rodents and snakes including deadly pit vipers began to desert the cone of the volcano, followed by tremors and mud flows which resulted in death for a number of inhabitants nearby. Despite these warning signals municipal leaders took no action.
The separate page published with the map contains de Fer’s description of the island and its peoples, and is an unusual addition to the map itself.
Condition: The map is in B+ condition with margins added to the top and bottom edges for framing purposes. The separate page containing the description of the island is in A condition.
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