Cartographica Neerlandica Map Text for Ortelius Map No. 55

Text, scholarly version only, translated from the 1608/1612 Italian, 1609/1612 Latin & 1609/1612/1641 Spanish editions:

55.1.{1608/1612I{Lacus Lemannus {not in 1609/1612/1641S{and its borders}not in 1609/1612/1641S} 1609/1612/1641S additionally{or about the area of Lausanne}1609/1612/1641S additionally}.

55.2. I received from Abraham Ortelius something splendid: a description of Savoye by the Belgian writer Ægidius Bulonius, but only a brief one, which contains no reference to Lac Leman, which is why we add that here, together with the surrounding area, excellently pleasing the curiosity of those studious to learn.
55.3. The river Rhône (whose modest sources, springing from snow and melting ice, swell after an insignificant distance through the large influx of brooks, riverlets and streams from the crevices in the mountains and the bottoms of precipices), descends from the highest mountains of Valois and soon forms a very large lake which the ancients used to call Lemanus and which is nowadays, after the cities Lausanne and Geneva which lie on its banks, called Lake Lausanne or Lake Geneva. It used to separate with stable borders or walls the Swiss, or rather the Helvetians from the Allobrogians (that we now call Savoies).
55.4. And although in the course of time the rights of the rulers of Savoye have been extended to include the lake itself towards the Helvetians, in ancient times Helvetia extended until the banks of the lake and to Geneva. Lake Leman receives the river Rhône from the Veragrian people, nowadays called lower Valesians, and their habitation extends in a curve to Lausanna and from there to Geneva for a distance of eight or nine German miles, and a width which varies between two and three miles. It has at least 16 harbours, {not in 1609/1612L{as Münster tells us}not in 1609/1612L}.
55.5. The air in the region around the lake is pure, and the soil is fertile, particularly at the bank extending to the Swiss. It is a lovely region, rich in vines yielding good wine called Ripalium or Rivalium after the Ripa [bank] of the lake of Lausanne. Its pastures provide abundant food for all sorts of animals. The soil is particularly fertile around the Graic Alps, now called the lesser Saint Bernard mountain range, caused by the sun obliquely casting its rays at this mountain range at sunset.
55.6. Beyond the Alps, towards Mount Cinesius, there are no pastures, nor any grassy areas, for there the mountains are covered by eternal snow, (after its whiteness giving the Alps their name) and with its high peaks pierces towards the sky, forever cold and inaccessible. The rivers crossing this duchy of Savoye are the following: Doria, Arbua, Isara, Danius and Araris, vulgarly called Saône, which empties into the Rhône which waters these grounds as well, as we said before. The entire mountain area is rough, with the mountain ranges Claudius and Iura rising up above the Antuati people. The Pennine Alps, nowadays called the Greater Saint Berhard mountain range and Silvius or Waldberg, rise miraculously steeply around Veragren.
55.7. In between these, in the county of Morienna, are the Cottic Alps, nowadays by the French called Senis or Sinesius, anciently Vesulus and peak Agnellus. It has openings in the rocks allowing passage from France to Italy for whoever wants it. This mountain range has mostly so many bare peaks, that they carry trees nor shrubs, but quiver because of the snow and eternal cold.
55.8. Some (including Berosus) say that the name of Alemannia has been derived from Lacus Lemanus, about the location of which he says that there are various explanations, but most authors agree that this concerns the Lake of Geneva, bordering on Savoye. But it is not clear to me how Germania could derive its name from a lake which lies outside its realm of influence. The rulers of Savoye have for a long time possessed these regions, together with the bishop of Lausanne, until the Burgundy war, when the Swiss brought this land under their rule, all the way to Geneva.
55.9. But when after that duke Carolus {not in 1609/1612L{of Burgundy}not in 1609/1612L} suddenly entered this region, he simply subdued its inhabitants, and conquered the Valois people. But when this same Carolus was subsequently defeated in the battles of Murtus [Murten] and Granza [Granson] in the year 1476, the ruler of Savoye retrieved it for a large amount of money, and he retained it until 1536. One mile from the end of the lake, not far from the banks of the river Rhône, lies the pretty village of Alona, fortified with a castle, with its own prefect, once a dukedom related to the lords of Savoye, but later taken by the inhabitants of Valois, who in turn handed it over to the inhabitants of Bern in exchange for the prefecture of Gundes.
55.10. Lausanne is a bishop's see, which was transferred to this place in the year 590 from the hamlet of Aventicum. Its location is remarkable, as it comprises two hills and the valley in between. Its cathedral and the dwellings of the clergy are on the northern hill, whereas from the opposite hill, the lake can be reached after a steep descent. The bank of the lake extending at Lausanne comprises other places towards Geneva, such as Rolletum, in ancient times Rotulum, further Noviodunum, Morgesium and Copetum.
55.11. Geneva is fairly old, for Cæsar mentions it in his Reports on the French War, Book 1. In our times it is as it were two cities, namely the banks of the river Rhône, connected by a pile bridge. Emperor Aurelius restored the city and attempted to rename it Aureliana after him. It is approximately located in the middle of Savoye. It used to have its own bishops, who had transferred their see from Nicea. I can add the following words of praise: although Savoye, by occupying many places and regions (among which the county of Augusta or the Prætorian one, being the princedom of Piemont), partly acquired through war, partly through marriages and inheritance as part of the Savoyan families, and although it grew considerably in size, yet, its counts have never adorned themselves with the title of duke. They remained satisfied with their old title, which was sufficiently important for them (since under the counts of the Roman Empire, initially only four in number, the counts of Savoye were comprised as well).
55.12. This was the situation until Amadæus, the eighth of that name, was graced by emperor Sigismundus at the council of Constantia, well attended by prelates and other dignitaries, with the title of duke. Bouillus adduces another reason why Savoye received the prerogatives of a duchy, but these seem improbable. The very learned Lambertus Vanderburchius, deacon of the church of our Holy Lady [Maria] of Ultraiectum, published not long ago two books about the history of the House of Savoye, to which we refer those who want a more detailed description of these matters}1608/1612I, 1609/1612L & 1609/1612/1641S end here}.

Bibliographical sources

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