Slide #215

TITLE: World Map of Henry of Mainz
1110 A.D.
Henry of Mainz [Mayence]
This medieval world map apparently belongs to a family of cartographical works which may be compared with the more closely-knit members of the Beatus genealogy (Slide #207 ). This family or group, besides Henry's map, includes the tiny Psalter map of about 1230 A.D. and the Hereford and Ebstorf examples of the later 13th century, huge wall-pictures which represented, in size though not in execution, the possible 11th century original more closely than their elder but smaller brethern or cousins (for reproductions of these other 'family members', see Slides #223, 224 and 226). Lastly, the so-called Jerome maps of about 1150 A.D. may be collaterally referred to the same family, through the medium of the Mainz design.

The map shown in this monograph is to be found in the De imagine mundi of a certain Henry, probably the same person as Henry [Heinrich], a Canon of the Church of St. Mary in Mayence [Mainz], who in 1111 A.D. appeared before the Episcopal Court of Mainz; possibly he is the same as the Archbishop Henry, who ruled this church between 1142 and 1152. In any case, the map accompanies a work which was written about 1110 A.D., and was dedicated to the famous and unfortunate Matilda, wife of the Emperor Henry V, daughter of Henry I of England, and mother of Henry II. This work, also known as the Imago Mundi de dispositione orbis, a compendious encyclopedic description of the world, also containing a short chronicle of universal history in seven books, was copied and interpolated, but not originally composed, by Henry of Mainz; it was really the work of a contemporary, Honorius of Autun and was the most widely read book of its type. In fact the copy of Imago Mundi that was produced by Henry, which this world map illustrates, is older than any surviving work by Honorius himself. The map, however, is apparently the addition of the scribe Henry, and is not derived from Honorius, although Beazley and others suspect that it is based on another and older design of possibly the 11th century. The general character of the compilation is illustrated by a remark at the close of the dedicatory letter: "I place nothing in this work except that which is approved by the best authorities". According to Wright, the main source of the geographical chapters was the Etymologiae of Isidore, though the author also drew directly from Orosius. It seems likely, indeed, that the geographical chapter of Orosius served as a basis for the entire compilation and provided an outline which was embellished by copious excerpts of detail from the more elaborate writings of Isidore, Augustine, and Bede. Furthermore, it is even probable that the unknown author had a map before him. He appears to have borrowed directly from the Collectanea rerum memorabilium of Solinus his account of the marvels of India, though elsewhere he taps Solinus at second hand through the medium of Isidore.

Though indirectly made from the sources that the writers of the De imagine mundi and other medieval cosmographies utilized, it was probably not compiled directly from the De imagine mundi but rather from a large wall map. Its affinities to the immense late 13th century world disk in Hereford Cathedral make it seem possible that both had a common source. In addition to the older nomenclature, about a dozen more modern place names are to be found upon it.

The world map, preserved in a late 12th century manuscript copy in Cambridge College, England, is oval in form, of small size (about 29.5 X 20.5 cm), and contains 229 legends or inscriptions, together with a large number of unnamed cities, mountains and rivers, whose titles can for the most part be ascertained with the aid of its younger relatives, the Ebstorf, Psalter, Hereford and Jerome plans. Although the present world-scheme is apparently intended to illustrate the Imago Mundi copied by Henry, the connection between the two is but slender; for (as in the case of the Cottoniana and the text of Priscian it accompanies, Slide #210) the peculiarities of the chart are often not in the manuscript, nor are those of the manuscript usually represented in the map. In reference to this lack of correspondence between Henry's map and the Imago, one may notice the former's selection of European cities is not represented in the latter, and that the interchange of Thile and Tilos which is found in the Imago is not on the map. As for Henry's use of colors, he is in line with the traditional medieval customs: the seas are colored green, the Red Sea is red, the rivers violet, and the relief shows red-lobed chains of mountains. Major settlements are indicated using cathedrals, double towers and ramparts.

According to scholars such as Beazley, Santarem and Miller, the Mainz design is obviously related to the Hereford map, as an elder to a younger brother; and the similarities of detail in these two works may be traced in almost every part of the world and in nearly every important feature of the draftsmanship. Santarem has well pointed out, and Beazley seems to agree, that the Hereford scheme was a working up of Henry's design. As to this, we may compare the varied outline of the coast, on the north of Europe and Asia, and the position and outline of the Baltic Sea, of the Scandinavian peninsula, of the Caspian, and of the lands of the Gog-Magog, the Hyperboreans and the Dog-headed folk. The coastline near Paradise may also be compared, and the islands adjoining this coast, such as Taraconta, likewise the position and outline of the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the island of Taprobane. The peninsular form of Italy is more developed on Henry of Mainz than in the Hereford, but the delineation is not dissimilar. Thus both maps have the same widening of the Mediterranean at its eastern extremity, the same projecting horns to represent the angles of the Levant, the same elongation of the Black and Azov Seas, the same approximation of the last to the Northern Ocean.

The Nile of Henry of Mainz resembles the Cottoniana map, as well as the Hereford in adopting the theory of three sections, (a) a short one springing from a lake (Nilidis Lacus) near the Atlantic; (b) a long stretch from a larger lake (Lacus Maximus) running parallel to the Southern Ocean, to a second point of submergence (hic mergitur); (c) the Nile of Egypt, springing from a Fons Fialus near the Red Sea, penetrating the Montes Nibiae [i.e., Nubia], and thence flowing in a southwest direction to the Mediterranean. Both Hereford and Henry of Mainz also introduce a Lake and River of Triton flowing into the Middle Nile (in a southwest direction) from the Altars of the Phileni, which are wrongly placed, far from the Mediterranean.

In Central Africa Orosius is probably the source of Henry of Mainz' (and Hereford's) Euzareae Montes. To the east of these are the Montes Ethiopiae, Mount Atlas being near the Atlantic, and Mons Hesperus further south. Henry of Mainz also agrees with the Hereford in the mountains of Syria, East Asia and Bactria and in the Caspian Gates.

The rivers of Asia also agree closely, for example the Hydaspes, Acesines and Hypanis (drawn as independent of the Indus); the Ganges, on the other side of Paradise, towards the north, flowing due east); the Acheron and Oxus, flowing into the Caspian); the two unnamed rivers on the west side of the Caspian; the Pactolus, flowing into the Euxine; and the Cobar [Chebar ?], flowing into the upper Euphrates.

Among other coincidences are: (a) in Asia - the wall shutting off the peninsula of the Gog-Magog and the description of the same people as unclean; of the Hyperboreans as untroubled by disease and discord; of the Gryphons, Griffons, or Griffins as most wicked; and of the Dog-headed folk as adjoining the Arctic Ocean; also the notices of Amazonia, the Golden Mountains (reference the Cottoniana map), the Port of Cotonare, Mount Sephar on the Indian Ocean, and the Tower of Enos just outside Paradise; (b) in Africa - the Burning Mountain and the Seven Mountains (here also reference the Cottoniana map); the Troglodytes near the Middle Nile; the River Lethon near Cyrene; St. Augustine's Hippo; the Basilisk between Triton and the Nile; the horseshoe-formed Temple of Jupiter-Ammon; the Monasteries of St. Antony, near the end of the Middle Nile; and the Pepper Wood near the Red Sea; together with other oddities which are common in medieval cartography, i.e., the Pyramids as barns, etc.; (c) in Europe - the Church of Santiago at Compostella, and near it a Pharos [of Brigantia ?]; the Danus, tributary of the Ebro, unnamed in ancient geography; the boundary of the Danes and Saxons; and the heart-shaped town of Cardia near Constantinople.

As to islands, Taraconta, Rapharrica and Abalcia, on the north coast of Asia, are from Aethicus; Ganzmir [for Scanza or Scandinavia] is a remarkable misreading, also in the Hereford. Hister, Asia Minor, Galilea, Sinus Persicus and some other names, wanting on Hereford, but supplied by Henry of Mainz, are probably from the common original.

Once more, in summary, both the Hereford and Henry of Mainz maps have practically the same Nile system and the same representation of African mountains, Asiatic rivers and oceanic islands; both give the boundary between Asia and Africa in much the same way; both omit to specify any definite boundary between Asia and Europe; both agree in their arrangement of the surrounding sea, in their drawing of the chief parts of the continental coastline, and in many other details.
Various peculiarities of nomenclature, i.e., Mene Island, Jabok, etc., are also common to both works; but of course the Hereford map is far larger, and contains much more detail, especially in relation to classical material. The 229 legends of the one are overshadowed in the 1,021 of the other. In the same way, among the other relatives of Henry's map, Ebstorf (a work on the scale of Hereford) dwarfs its elder cousin of Mainz with 1,224 legends; Jerome supplies 407; while the little Psalter map, Henry's younger brother, in spite of all its crowding, can only supply 145. One may notice that, among other works of a similar nature, the Cottoniana map gives us 146 legends; Lambert of St. Omer, 180; Matthew Paris' world map, 81; the Beatus group, 477; while the vast scope of the Peutinger Table offers 3,400 inscriptions (Slides #120, #207, #210, #217, and #225).

It is plain from the great number of nameless rivers, mountains and cities in the Mainz example, that the work may well have been taken from a larger original, probably a great wall map of the 11th century. Of this original, Henry's transcript is more accurate but less complete due to size constraints. There is, however, another proof of the same in the eight half-circles which occur (apparently without reason) along the oval margin of Henry's ocean; from other works we may recognize these as representing the places of the eight intermediate winds.

The Hereford, fuller but considered less 'true' and 'scholarly' by Beazley, probably departs from the original, as well as Henry of Mainz, in making Jerusalem the center of the world, and in adopting an absolutely circular instead of an oval form.
The relationship between Mainz and the so-called Jerome maps is almost as close as that between Mainz and the Psalter. Only the eastern part of the Orbis antiquus in the Jerome examples survives, but here the likeness is marked; while the treatment, in the Mainz design, of the Twelve Tribes and their settlements corresponds with the well supported tradition that the celebrated and sainted editor of the Vulgate, who passed so many years in Syria, himself composed a separate treatise and map upon the subject.

In the draftsmanship of Asia Minor, the Gulf of Issus, and the Black Sea, the most striking analogies may be found between Henry and Jerome; and from a study of these particulars we may feel practically certain that some correspondence may be assumed. The agreement of the two maps is only, of course, partial, even in the eastern world; but it is far closer than the likeness between Jerome and the other members of the 'family' - the Hereford, Psalter or Ebstorf maps; and Beazley believes it to be a true and conscious relationship.

The details in the Mainz design which are foreign to the Jerome tradition may be divided into three classes, respectively based upon Aethicus of Istria, upon Solinus and upon the contemporary knowledge of the central medieval period. Among these last we may notice the references to the Turks, the Danes and the Saxons; the mention of the Lake of Nile; and the names of Rouen, Pisa, Iceland, Lombardy, Frisia and the Mare Veneticum [Gulf of Venice, unique in medieval maps]. Among these names the first three are in Aethicus; the fourth in Solinus; the last six belong to Henry's own time more especially.

In the four corners, instead of winds or wind-blowers, are four angels, whom Santarem regards as pointing to Gog-Magog land and to Paradise, and blocking the way through the Straits of Gibraltar perhaps too elaborate an explanation. However, the angel in the left-hand top corner is certainly pointing to Gog and Magog, an unclean race. All of these angels have golden halos, and are variously colored in green and red; while the figure on the upper left hand carries something which has been variously interpreted as a cube or die, a box, or a church. His clothes are green, except for an upper loose cloak, which is red like the wings. Exactly the opposite arrangement of color is adopted with the angel that fronts him on the right. All of the seas, save the Persian and Arabian Gulfs, are light green; the Red Seas, the mountains and certain of the more important names, are rubricated. Excluding the Jerome maps, this is perhaps the richest in content and the best preserved among the 12th century examples of European cartography. However, the Chinese, during the same century were further developing their scientific tradition while Europe was still basically dominated by religious cosmography (see Slide #218).

LOCATION: Corpus Christi College, MS. 66, p. 2, Cambridge, England.


*Beazley, C., The Dawn of Modern Geography, volume II, pp. 563 - 567; 614 - 617.
*Destombes, M., Mappemonde: A.D. 1200-1500, #25.3
*Harley, J.B., The History of Cartography, Volume One, pp. 312, 327-28, 340-41, 349, Figures 18.42, 18.59.
Wright, J.K., The Geographical Lore of the Time of the Crusades, pp. 103, 124-125.


Index of Early Medieval Maps