The Medici & Maps

As travel around Europe — Charles V was crowned Emperor in three countries, and traveled to the Netherlands, Spain, England and North Africa — became more common, exploration overseas gained new cachet. Amerigo Vespucci was a Florentine who advanced the Medici’s interests in Spain, including financing Columbus’s voyages across the Atlantic. Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann, whose 1513 edition of Ptolemy’s Geography depended on the manuscript of the work that entered Europe through Florence, were the first to name the New World after the Medicean agent: America. Even the great Hans Holbein has the Medici to thank for one of his great achievements: illustrating for the first time the world revolving on its axis. He was responsible for the border of great world map that depicts angels pushing the great axial crank, and the work as a whole emerged from Johannes Huttich’s accompaniment of Charles V and Clement VII (Giulio de’ Medici) to Spain for his third coronation at Holy Roman Emperor; while there, he gained access to the most up-to-date accounts of Spanish and Portuguese explorers.