Germany, Schwaben – De Suobe; S. Münster – 1552

Sebastian Münster (1488 – 1552) / Heinrich Petri(1508–1579)

Antique map of Schwaben. Woodcut from the Cosmographia, the most important and famous cosmographical work of the Renaissance by Sebastian Münster.


1 in stock



  • Type: carthografic print
  • Title: De Suobe & des principales citez & pais icelle, aussi de la fertilité de la terre.
  • Composer/Author: Sebastian Münster
  • Publication: 1552
  • Technique: woodcut, later coloring
  • Carthographer:
  • Publishe in: La Cosmograpie Universelle: contenat la situation de toutes (..) [Cosmographei oder beschreibung aller länder] by Henry Pierre in Basle
  •   21.0 x 14.0 cm.
  • 33.5 x 20.5 cm
  • Verso: French text
  • M0230E
  • Bron: Rücker/Palm (facsimile edition 1628), Meurer 2.7.0, Nordenskiöld Early history of carthography VII 34 pg. 108, Blonk-Van der Wijst p. 72-73, Burmeiser 92.


Condition: A

Very good, given age. Nice clear print with bright colouring. General age-related toning and/or occasional minor spots and defects from handling.

Sebastian Münster (1488 – 1552)

Sebastian Münster was a German cartographer, cosmographer and professor. He was born in Niederingelheim, as a farmer’s son. In 1505 Münster became a Franciscan monk and studied philosophy and theology at the university of the order in Heidelberg. In 1507 he continued his education in Löwen, where he studied mathematics, geography and astronomy. After a transfer to Freiburg, he also began to study Hebrew, which he continued after entering the St. Katharina monastery in Rouffach/Alsace in 1509 to study under Konrad Pellikan, the important German humanist. Beyond theology, Pellikan was a teacher of Hebrew, Greek, mathematics and cosmography and Münster became interested in these subjects. In 1511, when Pellikan moved to Pforzheim, Münster duly followed him. In 1512 Sebastian Münster was ordained as a priest in Pforzheim. From 1514 to 1518 he taught as a lecturer of philosophy and theology at the university of his order in Tübingen and conducted astronomical-mathematical and geographical studies.

After Münster moved to Basel in 1518, he published his first text, a survey of Hebrew grammar Epitome Hebraicae Grammaticae, which was one of the first-ever language books on Hebrew published in Germany. From 1521 to 1529 Münster worked and taught in Heidelberg, published numerous Hebrew texts and wrote the first books written in Aramaic ever to be published in Germany. His permanent cosmographical interest is reflected by his lectures at the university and his published map of Germany in 1525, as well as his treatise on sundials in Erklerung des newen Instrument der Sunnen in 1528.

Being a Franciscan monk, he subsequently became a friend of Martin Luther and in 1529 Sebastian Münster converted to the reformation and took over the chair of Hebrew at the University of Basel, where reformation had just been established. A little later he married Ana Selber, the widow of his book printer. Münster’s stepson Heinrich Petri from then on published most of his books. In 1534-1535 Sebastian Münster finally published his main work in Hebrew, which met with international acclaim: a two-volume edition of the Old Testament “Biblia Hebraica” with a Latin translation and annotations.

In 1536, Münster was the first to make a map of Europe on one sheet. Moreover, it is oriented to the south, a novelty following Waldseemüller and Ertzlaub. These mapmakers were able to improve the common Ptolemy maps and shape the new world. From 1540 to 1552 Münster published the Geographia with Ptolemy maps and a number of modern maps. From 1544 Münster published the Cosmographia with maps and extensive descriptions of the world. The impact of this innovative book was so great that we can consider Münster as one of the most important scientists in our history.

In the May of 1552, Münster died of plague in Basle and was buried in there, but his works remained influential in the period of the next generation of great modern map makers. After the death of Heinnrich Petri in 1579, his son Sebastian Henric Petri continued publishing.


The Cosmographia of 1544 was the earliest description of the world in the German-language and it was the most important and famous cosmography of the Renaissance. It contained more than 600 pages. It was made in the tradition of Martin Waldseemüller’s Geographia, who was the first to publish the Ptolemy’s maps with a section of modern maps in 1510. In its first intent Münster’s project was the correction of erroneous cartographical data through uniformly conducted empirical research. Yet, as he travelled, measuring and mapping over years, the idea evolved. Münster’s knowledge increased, he amassed ever-more and more varied information, and his understanding of the value of geography to man deepened. The cartographical fruits of his work became increasingly conjoined with the history of the places shown, and those places and their histories were increasingly shown in relation of the whole: the geographical and historical ‘big picture’ (McLean, 2007)

It had numerous editions in different languages including Latin, French, Italian, English, and even Czech. The Cosmographia was one of the most successful and popular works of the 16th century. It passed through 24 editions in 100 years. This success was due to the fascinating woodcuts (some by Hans Holbein the Younger, Urs Graf, Hans Rudolph Manuel Deutsch, and David Kandel), in addition to including the first to introduce separate maps for each of the four continents known then – America, Africa, Asia and Europe. The first editions from 1544 to 1548 bear the Latin title Cosmographia, the editions from 1550 to 1614 the German title Cosmographei oder beschreibung aller länder, herrschafften, fürnemsten stetten, geschichten, gebreüchen, hantierungen (…) oder Cosmographey. The editions from 1615 to 1628 are again entitled Cosmographia. The last German edition was published in 1628, containing more than 1800 pages.

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