Cartographica Neerlandica Map Text for Ortelius Map No. 141

Text, scholarly version, translated from the 1570 Latin (ABC), 1571 Latin, 1573 Latin (AB), 1574 Latin, 1575 Latin, 1579 Latin (AB), 1580/1589 German, 1584 Latin, 1588 Spanish, 1592 Latin, 1595 Latin, 1601 Latin, 1602 German, 1602 Spanish, 1603 Latin, 1606 English, 1608/1612 Italian, 1609/1612 Latin & 1609/1612/1641 Spanish editions:

141.1. {1580/1589G, 1602G & 1608/1612I only{The island of}1580/1589G & 1602G only} and kingdom of}1608/1612I only}{1570L(AC){SICILIA.

141.2. There is no one among either the ancient historians or [the] cosmographers who has not mentioned this island, or [who has not] described it diligently, [and this is] especially [true for] Strabo, Plinius, Solinus and others. {1573L(A){Diodorus Siculus calls it the sovereign of all other islands. Solinus in a similar manner writes about it that whatsoever this country produces, either by the nature of its soil or [through] invention of man, is hardly inferior to those things which are considered to be of the greatest value}1573L(A)}.
141.3. Of the modern writers, someone {1570L(B){ [specifically] Vadanius}1570L(B)} has thus published [about it]: SICILIA, not only for the richness of its soil, (for which reason it was by the ancients dedicated to Ceres and Bacchus, {1580/1589G & 1602G only{gods of corn and wine}1580/1589G & 1602G only} and was considered the granary of the city of Rome) but also for the multitude and antiquity of its towns, {not in 1606E{commodious rivers}not in 1606E}, famous deeds, victories and quarrels between the Romans and Carthagians, both contending for its rule, is more famous than any other island whatsoever.
141.4. In Plinius time there were 72 cities. At this day they report it to contain twelve bishoprics, with large dioceses. The dukes of Suevia [Bavaria] possessed it for a long time. It was assaulted and occupied by the English and the Lorrainers, particularly at that time when they made their voyage[s] to the Syria {1606E instead{Holy Land}1606E instead} [to fight] against the Saracens. Finally, it came into the hands of the kings of Arragon {not in 1606E{of Spain}not in 1606E} and so at this day it remains under the obedience of Spain. Nor is there any other island I know in the whole world that both the Greeks and the Romans have each, partly due to the excellence of its soil and location, partly because of the important events that took place here, made more famous [than Sicily] in their writings.
141.5. He that would like further satisfaction about its details is advised to read Benedictus Bordonius, who in one book has compiled a discussion on all the islands of the world. Leander Albertus, Dominicus Niger, {1570L(B){Franciscus Maurolycius}1570L(B)} [and] Marius Aretius have all most learnedly described it. Finally [read] Thomas Fazellus of Sicily, who has most diligently described the true situation of his native soil.
141.6. You shall find there the specific story of mount ∆thna {1606E only{(now called by the Arabic name of {1608/1612I onlyMonte Gibello)}1606E & 1608/1612I only} about which Petrus Bembus has also published a separate treatise. {1573L(A){But also read Ciceros Orations to Verres}1573L(A)} {1606E has instead:{Tullius has written something about this island in his orations to Verres}1606E}. {1573L(AB) but not in 1574L & 1575L}{And Thucydides}1573L(B){in his sixth book has very well put in writing the history of its origins and its first inhabitants}1573L(A)but not in 1574L & 1575L}, {1595L, not in 1602G{as Diodorus Siculus has done in a similar manner in his fifth book}1595L, not in 1602G}. {1579L(A){Hubert Goltzius has shed clear light on the histories of this country on the basis of old coins}1579L(A)}.

141.7. {1580/1589G, 1602G & 1608/1612I only{The isle of}1580/1589G, 1602G & 1608/1612I only} SARDINIA.

141.8. Sebastian MŁnster has an excellent description of this island {1606E only{in his Cosmography}1606E only} based on Sigismundus Arquerus Calaritanus, a Sicilian. It is also described by Albertus Leander, Benedictus Bordonius {1573L(A){and Nicolas Leonicus}1573L(A)}, next to what you may read in old writers {1573L(A){among whom Pausanias has written some things that are not well known}1573L(A)}. When the state of the Roman empire was decaying, this island came into the hands of the Saracens, from whom it was taken again by the inhabitants of Pisa. Now, together with the kingdom of Sicilia, it is governed by the Spanish.

141.9. {1580/1589G, 1602G & 1608/1612I only{the isle of}1580/1589, 1602G & 1608/1612I only} MALTA, formerly called MELITA.

141.10. Quintinus Heduus has described this island elegantly, and has published a specific treatise on it. {not in 1608/1612I{The landing of Saint Paul and his shipwreck here upon its coast has made this island famous}not in 1608/1612I}. But not many years after, it was made even more famous by the knights of Jerusalem who [won] eternal fame by overthrowing the huge Turkish navy and by courageously defending their assault. {1573L(A){See also Fazellus about this isle}1573L(A)}.

141.11. {1580/1589G, 1602G & 1608/1612I only{The isle of}1580/1589G, 1602G & 1608/1612I only} ELBA, anciently called ILVA.

141.12. In these days of ours, this island is subject to the dukes of Tuscany {1606E instead{Florence}1606E}, and by a strong castle, recently built, it seems to be very defensible and safe against the invasions of the Turks. Read in Cślius Secundus' history of the wars of Malta about the new order of knighthood with the name knights of Saint Stephen (similar to those of Jerusalem in Malta), instituted in the year 1561 by Cosmus Medice, {1595L, not in 1602G, 1602S & 1609/1612/1641S only{duke of Etruria}1595L, not in 1602G, 1602S & 1609/1612/1641S only}.
141.13. {1573L(A){That this island had many veins of metal becomes clear from the report[s] of ancient cosmographers. And now Leander says that it has a rich iron mine, where the loadstone [compass] is found too, as he writes. Mathiolus tells that from here liquid alume is brought and conveyed to us}1573L(A)}. {1595L, not in 1602G{Diodorus Siculus in his fifth book has an elaborate description of this island, where he calls it by the name of ∆thalia}1595L, not in 1602G}. {1608/1612I only{It has two large harbours, one at the foot of a stronghold, the other close to Piombino, of Longone; it has excellent wines and stone quarries, from which the Romans obtained fine columns for their buildings}1608/1612I only}.

141.14. {1580/1589G, 1602G & 1608/1612I only{The isle of}1580/1589G, 1602G & 1608/1612I only} CORCYRA, now CORFV [Kerkyra].

141.15. This is an island in the Adriatic sea subject to the state of Venice. It has a very strong castle with the same name, where a garrison is maintained continually against the Turks. Next to the ancient geographers, these later writers [viz.] {1573L(A){Volaterranus}1573L(A)}, Benedictus Bordonius and Nicolas Nicolai in his Eastern observations, &c, {1606E only{and also others,}1606E only} have described this island.

141.16. {1580/1589G, 1602G & 1608/1612I only{The isle of}1580/1589G, 1602G & 1608/1612I only} ZERBI [Djerba], {1606E only{by ancient writers called LOTOPHAGITIS}1606E only}.

141.17. The overthrow of the Christian navy near this island which occurred in the year of Christ 1560 has made this island more famous. About its location, size and the governors of this island, read Iohannes Leo Africanus in the fourth book of his description of Africa.}1570L(ABC), 1571L, 1573L(AB), 1574L, 1575L, 1579L(AB), 1580/1589G, 1584L, 1588S, 1592L, 1595L, 1601L, 1602G, 1602S, 1603L, 1606E, 1608/1612I, 1609/1612L & 1609/1612/1641S end here}.

Now follows the vernacular text version, translated from the 1571/1573 Dutch, 1572/1573 German, 1572/1574 French, 1581 French, 1587 French, 1598 French & 1598/1610/1613 Dutch editions:

141.18. {1571/1573D{Sicily.

141.19. Sicily which formerly, as some ancient writers say, was connected to the mainland of Italy, has always been considered, and is still regarded as the best island of the Mediterranean sea. It is very well known for its fertility, so that it used to be called the granary of Rome. It has also been very well known for the serious and long lasting wars which the Romans and the people from Carthago fought here. The amazing and always burning mountain Etna (now called Gibello) has made this island known to everyone. About this mountain all philosophers and poets had much to say and write, because of its steady emission of fire and smoke, as still happens today.
141.20. This mountain has a height, (according to Fazellus who has described it with great industry and diligence) of more than 30 Italian miles, and at its foot a circumference of about 100 miles. Next to this steady fire which never stops, it may also in gusts emit such enormous blasts of fire that the country around it is burned and destroyed. How often such eruptions have happened is something about which the ancient writers have left no record, but to the extent that information on this can be found in their writings as well as the modern ones, we will report now from Fazellus.
141.21. In the year 350 after the foundation of Rome, it emitted so much fire that with its lava and eruptions it burned many fields and villages. Something similar happened 250 years later again, and 37 years after that it emitted so much ash that the roofs of houses of the city of Catania (lying at the foot of this mountain) have collapsed under the weight. In the time of emperor Caligula it has again inflicted great damage. And again on the first day of February of the year 254. In the year 1169 it has through huge blazing fires razed mountain rocks to the ground, and caused such an earthquake that it destroyed the high church of Catania and crushed the priests and congregation in it.
141.22. In the year 1329, on the first of July, it made a new crater and from this, with fire and earthquakes, it has destroyed many churches and houses on the mountain slopes, dried up fountains, thrown many ships back into the sea that had been drawn onto the coast. At the same time, it also burst open in three other places, and with such tremors that it threw rocks all about, and squashed entire valleys and forests, and has spewed such amounts of fire and lava from its four infernal mouths that it ran down the mountain like a river, and swallowed whatever stood in the way, covering the entire scenery with ash coming (from its four mouths at the top of the mountain), and has suffocated many people and much cattle, so that also as far as Malta, which lies at a distance of 160 Italian miles from this mountain, (the wind then blowing from the North), this ash and the smell of sulphur could be perceived.
141.23. In the year 1444 it again spewed fire and stones. After that it was for a long time without fire, and even without smoke, so that it was thought that its fire had died altogether, but this spell of nice weather, so to speak, did not last longer than until the year 1536, when on the 22nd of March, it resumed it former habits, spitting fiery brooks which washed away anything in their way. The church of St. Leonis, lying in the woods there, first collapsed because of the tremors of the mountain, and was then covered by the fire to such an extent that now nothing is left of it but a heap of burnt stones. This was a horrible event, but nothing compared to what happened next on the first day of May in 1537..
141.24. The entire island of Sicily was then first shaking and trembling for 12 full days. After that, there was a terrible thundering and cracking as if there was artillery firing, and as a result many houses on the whole island collapsed. This went on for eleven days. Then it burst open in many places and from these holes and fissures emitted such a horrendous power of lava and fire, which ran down its slopes that in the time span of four days it flooded everything for about 15 miles around, destroying whatever there was, swallowing entire villages. In Catania and other cities, the inhabitants left the city and went into the fields.
141.25. After that, the topmost hole has for three days emitted so much ash that not only the entire mountain was covered with it, but that it could be found on the farthest point of the island, and across the sea to Calabria, which was covered with ashes as well. Ships travelling from Messina to Venice, about 300 Italian miles from this place, were also covered with these ashes. So far this sad story written by Fazellus in Latin, though it is much longer. But we have abbreviated much of it, since there is no more space here. It is now two or three years ago that we heard here in Antwerp that it has again inflicted lamentable damage with its brooks of burning lava. Here on this island, there were excellent cities in antiquity, such as Syracuse, Girgenti, and more. Nowadays Messina and Palermo are the main cities.

121.26. Sardinia.

141.27. This island was formerly well known on account of a marvellous herb called sardonica, which kills people while they keep laughing. You also find an animal here which is not found anywhere else, which they call muflo, and it is a kind of goat with the skin of a deer, but smaller, with its horns curved towards its back. It also yields much alume. The air is very unhealthy and pestilent here. Towards the South the land is very flat and moorish, towards the North mountainous. Its capital is called Cagliari.

141.28. {in 1572/1574F, 1581F, 1587F 7 1598F the last island discussed is Malta)

141.29. Malta has always been very well known because of the shipwrecking of St. Paulus that occurred here, and the snake which he handled here miraculously, without getting hurt. This is the reason why it is now generally believed that this island has no venomenous animals, {not in 1572/1574F, 1581F, 1587F{and that its snakes are not poisonous}not in 1572/1574F, 1581F, 1587F}. Children play with scorpions here. Quintinus Heduus writes that he saw children eating them. Also, the earth from here will kill snakes elsewhere. In Italy we observed quacks selling it there for that purpose, {1572/1573G{calling it the grace of St. Paul}1572/1573G}.
141.30. The main produce of this land is cotton for the soil is very barren, so that it might be called rocks rather than fields. The knights of Rhodos who occupy this island since 1565 have achieved immortal fame by defending themselves so courageously against the Turks, who besieged them with such a force that it may be called a miracle that they did not win}in 1572/1574F, 1581F, 1587F & 1598F the last piece of text, thus ending here}.

141.31. {in 1572/1574F, 1581F, 1587F & 1598F after Zerbi{Elba

141.32. The duke of Florence rules this island, and has in our times built a new fortification against the attacks of the Turks, called Cosmopoli. And he has given it in custody to a new order, instituted by him in 1561, called the order of St. Stephanus. It is an order like that of Rhodos, but instead of wearing a white cross, they have one in red and gold. Also, they may marry once in a lifetime, which is something not allowed for the order of Rhodos}in 1572/1574F, 1581F, 1587F & 1598F after Zerbi}.

141.33. {in 1572/1574F, 1581F, 1587F & 1598F after Sardinia{Corfu.

141.34. Corfu belongs to the Venetians, who have built an invincible fortress on top of a rock, always well provided with garrisons. The island, (as Bordonius writes), is 300 Italian miles in circumference, and 40 in length. Here grows little corn but you do find olive oil, wax and honey}in 1572/1574F, 1581F, 1587F & 1598F after Sardinia}.

141.35. Zerbi.

141.36. The loss and grave defeat of the ships and galleys which the Christians suffered here in the year 1560 have made this island famous. Further, it has no great reputation. It has a sandy soil, and there is not much that will grow here, except dates and olives. Other things needed will have to be imported from outside}1571/1573D, 1572/1573G end here}.

Bibliographical sources

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