Earliest Known Map Showing Florida

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Published in 1511, the first map to show the peninsula of Florida is also a map of other firsts. Known as the “Peter Martyr” map, the cartographic work shows the Caribbean Basin including the islands of Hispaniola, Cuba, Jamaica, with the coast of Florida and Central America. In addition to being the first map to show Florida, the Peter Martyr map is also the earliest recorded map of Bermuda, the first map to name Cuba, and the first map specifically of the Americas.

The map is the work of Peter Martyr d’Anghiera, an Italian cartographer working at the service of Spain. The map was based on voyages to area prior to 1508 and published in his Legatio Babylonica of 1511. The publication of the map predates the official discovery of Florida by Ponce de Leon in 1513 by two years, lending support to some researchers’ contention that the peninsula had been discovered earlier.

Map of the Caribbean published in Legatio Babylonica, 1511 by Peter Martyr d'Anghiera.  Digitized image from John Carter Brown Library, public domain.
Map of the Caribbean published in Legatio Babylonica, 1511 by Peter Martyr d’Anghiera. Digitized image from John Carter Brown Library via Mediawiki Commons, public domain.

References

(Map of Florida, Caribbean, South America, &c). (n.d.). Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc. https://www.raremaps.com/gallery/detail/46666/map-of-florida-caribbean-south-america-c-martyr-danghiera


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