By: Giovanni Maria Cassini
Date: 1796 (dated) Rome
Dimensions: 14.25 x 19.5 inches (36.2 cm x 50 cm)
Cassini’s splendid map depicts Iceland at the end of the eighteenth century. Though Iceland was geographically isolated from the European continent, for centuries it was in most respects an integral part of Europe, with the primary differences being the notable lack of cities and a European-style nobility.
By the time Cassini created this map, urbanization had become government policy and a defined elite class had emerged. The map shows great topographical detail, including mountains and volcanoes, rivers, bays and lakes. All settlements, towns and cities are delineated, and Cassini took great pains to name all geophysical features. It also shows the four early divisions of Iceland.
Due to its remoteness, Europeans were not well-informed about Iceland, but in the spirit of the Enlightenment, Danish and French expeditions were sent to the island, and British scientists began exploring it in earnest. The result was that by the early nineteenth century fairly reliable accounts were available of Iceland in all major European languages. Icelanders felt increasingly close to Europe and by the beginning of the nineteenth century had even adopted fashionable European dress. This map contributed significantly to Europeans’ knowledge of Iceland.
Eighteenth century Iceland had seen plague, which decimated approximately 25% of the population, and volcanic events such as the eruptions from the Laki fissures, which caused the deaths of large numbers of livestock, not only in Iceland but in Europe as well. Deadly gases from these events impacted vast areas, contributing to high death rates in people and animals. The meteorological impact of Laki continued for some time, causing several years of extreme weather in Europe. In France, the sequence of extreme weather events caused poverty and droughts, bad winters and hot summers. These events contributed significantly to an increase in poverty and famine which might even have contributed to the political turmoil which resulted in the French Revolution.
Condition: This map is in A condition. A fine, bold impression on heavy paper.
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