Charting New Netherland, 1597-1682

2)  Norumbega et Virginia, from Descriptionis Ptolemaica Augmentum, 1597, Louvain.

Mapmaker: Cornelis Wytfliet

This first atlas devoted entirely to the Western Hemisphere is aptly named after Ptolemy, the Ancient cartographer whose Geographia was rediscovered in the Renaissance and first reprinted in Bologna in 1477. Wytfliet’s atlas, a compendium of information from others' maps, is a history of the New World to date, including discovery, history, geography, natural history, etc. The 19 maps focus on the continents’ coastal regions, leaving the clear message that information about the unknown interiors was pure speculation. (The Victorians were not the first to need to fill empty spaces!) One of the maps, Norumbega et Virginia, represents the best information about the area to date. It also continues the omissions and errors of de Jode and Quad: no Hudson River, no New York Bay, still no Long Island.

Norumbega is a mythical place, a name possibly taken from an Abenaki Indian word for quiet water between two falls or rapids. The name first appeared on Gestaldi’s map of New Spain, 1548.  Venice, the city recorded on the map, stands at the head of today’s Penobscot Bay, Maine. Champlain journeyed there to find it, without success.

Still not much information here to encourage one about the yet-to-be New Netherland, but the ship in mid-ocean reminds us that we are on our way (although it is not a seaworthy vessel)!

About the New Netherland Institute

For over three decades, NNI has helped cast light on America's Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center, with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. NNI is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. More

The New Netherland Research Center

Housed in the New York State Library, the NNRC offers students, educators, scholars and researchers a vast collection of early documents and reference works on America's Dutch era. More


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