Cartographica Neerlandica Map Text for Ortelius Map No. 102

Text, first scholarly version, translated from the 1570L(ABC) and 1571L editions:

102.1. {1570L(AC)Silesia.

102.2. This region was for a long time under the rule of the Polish, until it was subjected to the Bohemian crown, taking its name from the river Schlesus, (or, as others think) from king Schlesus. It is watered by the river Oder. Its width is about a three days journey, and its length four. It extends from Hungary to Brandenburg. First its bishops see was in Neisse, later it was transferred by Casimir the first to Vratislava, the metropolis of this region.
102.3. The language of its inhabitants is German. But on the other side of the river Oder, which lies close to Poland, the Polish language is prevalent. It consists of two main counties: one in Liegnitz, which covers most ground and has the largest population. The other is in Schweidnitz, which is obedient to Bohemia, and from there they have provided a prefect, or viscount who tends to reside in the city of Lauer, and who celebrates four times a year a day of justice in that city, together with other nobility. A number of dukes who have divided the heredity of this region among themselves, divides the region into many different districts. Hence, this area incurs frequent calamities and is often exposed to robbers.
102.4. The area itself is hilly, and has many scattered woods. It is watered by many streams which originate in the Bohemian mountains, and which empty themselves into the Oder. Hence the region is very fertile. What the inhabitants drink is made of corn, and they call it beer. They also import wine from Moravia and Hungaria. Close to the city of Crosna they grow some wine too. But most of this is exported via the river Oder to Prussia and other maritime regions. They grow their own food in this region, which is cheaper than that of surrounding regions, as they say. All this is from Münster's Cosmographia. More in Pius II where he describes Europe, in Laurentius Corvinus Novoforensis, in Franciscus Irenicus, in Ennius Chapter 10, book 2 by Sabellicus, but most accurately in Georg Rithaimer. And also in Andreas Althamerus.
102.5. The main city, as said before, is Vratislavia, a large city, founded by Vratislaus the second, king of Bohemia, and was once called Budorgis. It is situated between two mountains on the river Oder, as Pius II says, splendidly adorned with private and public buildings. The river Oder (Ptolemæus calls it the Viadrus), which passes through it and which originates in the Bohemian forests, empties itself into the Swedish sea near the city of Stettin}1570L(ABC) & 1571L end here}.

The second scholarly text version, translated from the 1573L(AB), 1574L, 1575L, 1579L(AB), 1580/1589G, 1584L, 1588S and 1592L editions:

102.6. {1573L(A){SILESIA.

102.7. Johannes Crato, one of the emperor's counsellors and his principal physician, has for the benefit of those studious in geography imparted the following to us on the basis of his comments on his native country Silesia.
102.8. We should not be scrupulous about the name of the Silesians, nor derive it from the Elysian fields. From the ancient writers we are to understand easily that the same region which they now possess was formerly inhabited by the Quadi. For Quad in the Saxon or old German tongue has the same meaning that Silesium has in Polish or Slavonic. For they were a people who came here from various places. [They are] more addicted to war than to peace, destroyers rather than builders, and impatient towards any rule. The first king that ruled over them was Boleslaus, a Pole. He was born in the year of our Lord 967, his mother being a Bohemian, niece to duke Wenceslaus by her brother's side.
102.9. A son of his called Mieslaus was married {not in 1588S{in the year 1001}not in 1588S} to Rixa, daughter of Erenfrid County Palatine, niece of emperor Otho the third, by his sister Melchitis. And this man was the first who received the royal diadem from Otho the third. But after his decease the Poles, who by secession expelled the emperor's niece and his son Casimir, since Conradus the emperor reserved for himself a certain tribute, annexed Silesia to the crown of Bohemia.
102.10. This emperor was born as a Vratislavian, and probably gave the name of Vratislavia to his native city which is now commonly called Breslau. But of this matter I cannot for certain give full confirmation. This single thing is not to be doubted, [namely] that the Silesians had no affection towards the Polish {1580/1589G instead{were again subdued by Polish violence}1580/1589G instead}, {not in 1592L{which we will further discuss a little later}not in 1592L}.
102.11. There are some who assert (I do not know on what authority or opinion) that in the same place where Vratislavia {1580/1589G has instead{Breslau}1580/1589G instead} now stands, there was once the city of Budurgis as mentioned in Ptolemæus, built in former times by a prince called Liguis. It becomes clear from the historical accounts that Mieslaus, duke of Poland, who was first made a king by emperor Otho the third, and who embraced Christianity in the year 965, erected a wooden church or chapel on an island in the river Oder to honour St. Ioannes Baptist {not in 1588S{in the year 1048}not in 1588S}. From this you may understand that in those days there was not much by the way of houses at Vratislava {1580/1589G has instead{Breslau}1580/1589G}.
102.12. Moreover, Gotefridius, the first prelate of that church, being an Italian, preferred the village of Smogra above the city of Vratislauia {1580/1589G has instead{Breslau}1580/1589G instead}, since he had his school and college there [in Smogra]. Also about this time it is supposed that the foundations of the other principal cities of Silesia, namely Liegnitz, Glogau, Lüben &c. were laid. For from monuments and annals, no certainty can be obtained whereas the most ancient writings in all of Silesia are the letters of emperor Frederick the second, which were written in the year 1200, everything else having been consumed and lost, either by fires or invasions, which have been very terrible in these parts.
102.13. But by the good endeavours of Frederick Barbarossa, Silesia was both pacified and so distributed among the sons of Vladislaus, king of Poland, that it did not seem altogether to have been dismembered from that crown. But when the Polish perceived that Silesia became more and more a region full of Germans, and that the princes began to favour them, rejecting the lawful heirs, they appointed to the kingdom of Silesia a certain Vladislaus Locticus, a cruel enemy of the Germans.
102.14. On this occasion, they turned to the protection of Johannes, king of Bohemia, who, being the son of emperor Heinrich the seventh, married the daughter of Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, and was appointed to the kingdom in 1302. Thus, after the decease of this Johannes of Lucelberg, Silesia was subject to twelve Bohemian kings, one after the other, six of which were emperors of the Holy Empire, one a Bohemian, another Hungarian, four from Austria, and two Poles, but descended from Austria through their mother's side. Of Polish descent there remained as yet in Silesia the princes of Liegnitz and Teschnitz, for those from Munsterberg derive their pedigree from Georg, king of Bohemia.
102.15. Vratislauia {1580/1589G has instead{Breslau}1580/1589G instead}, the main city of Silesia burnt to ashes in the year 1341, and was so stately rebuilt from stone, that now, both for its arrangement and beauty of the houses or width of the streets, it is hardly inferior to any of the cities in Germany. Concerning other veritable ornaments of this commonwealth, I need not speak, seeing that it is manifest to all of Germany that hardly in any other region will you find so many schools, and such numbers of learned professors of excellent wit.
102.16. The gentlemen similarly, even if given to tillage [of the land] and good husbandry, are yet all in all so warlike, that no judge can indifferently deny that it is by their valour that the remainder of Pannonia is defended.
102.17. It is a region very fruitful with corn, and there are few places where corn does not grow. It abounds with fish ponds. The famous river Oder confines it to the East and North. In the South, it is separated from Bohemia by the Sudetes mountains. But the situation is depicted most clearly on the map.
102.18. About Silesia there is something written recently by Æneas Sylvius, and by others who are ignorant about this country. But Laurentius Corvinus {not in 1588S{from Novoforens}not in 1588S}{1580/1589G instead{Neumark}1580/1589G instead} could have brought more certainties to light, had not the age in which he lived been fatally overwhelmed by ignorance. So much for Johannes Crato. {1592L only{Silesia contains twelve duchies, one bishops see, whose bishop resides in Neisse, and sometimes in Vratislaua, where you find a cathedral and a college of the church. There are four baronies}1592L only}.
102.19. The chronicles of Silesia were recently recorded by Joachim Cureus, in which he has so thoroughly described its situation and the history of its towns and cities, that the studious history scholar can there find its most reliable history}1573L(AB), 1574L, 1575L, 1579L(AB), 1580/1589G, 1584L, 1588S and 1592L end here}.

Vernacular text version, translated from the 1571/1573 Dutch edition, of the 1572/1573 German and the 1572/1574, 1581 & 1587 French editions:

102.20. {1571/1573D{Silesia.

102.21. The duchy of Silesia is loaned by the king of Bohemia from the Roman Catholic Empire. This land is a three day journey wide, and a nine day journey long. It borders in the North and East on the Kingdom of Poland, in the South on Moravia and Bohemia, and in the West on Lausnitz. It is a very fertile country and provides all kinds of necessities so abundantly that food need not be imported and is not expensive. It is also a pleasant country, ornated with mountains and woods, and watered with numerous rivers which all empty into the Oder (which runs through this country). There are two duchies in it, one in Liegnitz, a mighty ruler of the land and the people, the other in Schweidnitz, kept for its ruler by the king of Bohemia, who appoints a lieutenant-colonel who keeps court in Jauer, and who organises four times a year a field day together with other noblemen of the country {1572/1574F, 1581F & 1587F only{in Schweidnitz}1572/1574F, 1581F & 1587F only}.
102.22. The capital of his Land is Breslau or Bressel (as it is called), Vratislavia in Latin, a very well-built city. The river Oder, (which originates in the Bohemian mountains and empties into the sea at Stettin) traverses it, and it seems to us to be a very pleasant city because of its location, buildings and inhabitants. Then there is Neisse (once the bishopric which has now been transferred to Breslau), Schweidnitz, Oppeln, Jägerndorf, etc. For the whole country is well covered with cities and villages, and it is also full of rich inhabitants so that in Breslau (a strange thing to say) we have seen the farmers bring butter, cheese, milk and other produce of the land to the market and hawk it while they were dressed in velvet and ornated with golden chains like noblemen.
102.23. The land does not yield much wine, but this is imported from Hungary and Moravia. Otherwise they mostly drink beer, among which a sort of beer is brewed called sceps, which is so strong that hardly any wine exceeds it [in strength]. The language of this country is German, particularly in the cities, and here and there {1572/1573G has instead{in the villages}1572/1573G instead} they speak Windisch or Polish}1571/1573D, 1572/1573G, 1572/1574F, 1581F & 1587F end here}.

Bibliographical sources

For questions/comments concerning this page, please e-mail