Novus Orbus


Martyr, Peter 1457-1526


This map was published in Peter Martyr's Decadas (eight descriptions of New World information). The information he widely publicized in these Decadas was derived from personal interviews or other direct evidence from the explorers who returned to Spain, Portugal and Italy. The islands of Hispanola and Cuba (or Isabella) are shown in a position similar to other maps but there is a land north of there depicted as a flat east-west coast labeled "Beminie". This may have been based on information from the Taino Indians of Cuba who traded with the Florida peninsular Indians (Tequestas and/or Calusas). The existence of this land mass was what motivated the former Spanish governor of Puerto Rico, Juan Ponce de Leon, to sail there to claim the land for himself and look for gold and perhaps slaves. The King of Spain granted him the privilege to do so at his own expense after having removed him as the head of the island of Puerto Rico (sometimes called Juana). The myth that Ponce de Leon was seeking a fountain of youth has been used as the explanation for his motivation to seek this land. Fontenadas Memoires of 1579 do however also mention such a myth but it was said to be a river Jordan in a more northern location of the mainland.


Image from: McNutt, Francis Augustus. De Orbe Novo: The Eight Decades of Peter Martyr D'Anghera. G.P. Putnam Sons. New York and London. 1912. Vol. II.

Coverage Time: