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Olaus Magnus' 16th-Century Map of Scandinavia

About Olaus Magnus

Creating the Map and Writing the Book

Olaus Magnus p. 98

Olaus Magnus, p. 98

In 1527 Olaus began working on a map of the southern Baltic coast. This quickly evolved into the creation of his wall map, the Carta Marina. From 1530 to 1537 Olaus and Johannes were traveling or living in Danzig, where they became pensioners of the Polish archbishop and the city council (Magnus 1996, I:xxx-xxxi). In 1537 the brothers moved to Venice, where from September, 1538 to the end of 1540 they were guests of Hieronymo Quirino, the Patriarch of the Republic of Venice. The Carta Marina was finally printed there in 1539 with the financial support of Quirino, to whom the map was dedicated. Apparently only a few copies of the map were completed, possibly because the 440 ducats allotted for woodcutting and printing did not pay for many copies.

Olaus Magnus p. 154

Olaus Magnus, p. 154

Immediately after the publication of his map Olaus began work on his Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus. At first the book was intended to be an elaboration of the explanations he had made of the map. But it kept getting bigger. In 1541 Olaus and his brother moved to Rome; Johannes died there in 1544. Following the death of Johannes, Olaus became the Archbishop of Uppsala, the last one–and a hollow appointment since he could not go there. In 1550 Olaus moved to the St. Birgitta Convent in Rome. In 1555 the Latin edition of the Historia was published in Rome. It was a large, folio edition containing a much-reduced version of the Carta Marina. Olaus died in Rome 1557, at age sixty-six years old. He was buried next to his brother.