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Marco Polo's Java and Locach on Mercator's world maps of 1538 and 1569, and globe of 1541.

Gerard Mercator produced a globe in 1541 showing Marco Polo's Locach, under the variant name Beach, as a promontory of the Southern Continent. He identified it with the Regio Patalis, a promontory of the Terra Australis. The set of world maps produced in Normandy and Brittany in the mid-sixteenth century, the so-called Dieppe Maps, show a similar promontory of the Southern Continent, called Lucac or Jave la Grande. The question arises as to whether they derived from Mercator's globe, or whether both derived from another common source. Mercator's 1541 globe showed a significant development of his ideas from those set out in the map of the world he produced in 1538. This world map was modelled on that of Oronce Fine of 1531. It was not a mere copy, but incorporated some significant differences, notably with regard to the two Javas, Major and Minor, and Locach. On his 1541 globe, Mercator moved Locach, under the variant name Beach, from the Asian continent where he had located it in 1538, to the Southern Continent. Beach, duplicated as the Kingdom of Locach, remained in that location on his world map of 1569, with a description of it drawn from Marco Polo. Mercator's Beach/Locach remained on the maps of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and moulded the initial perceptions of Australia when it began to be revealed following the landing on its western coast by Dirk Hartog in October 1616.


On Mercator's 1541 globe, a huge continent extended around the Polus antarcticus, unnamed but inscribed: "This is the fifth and indeed, so far as we may suppose, greatest part added recently to our world, of whose shores verily but little has yet been explored" (1) (Fig. 1.). A great promontory of this austral continent, inscribed Beach provincia aurifera (Beach the gold-bearing province) and Maletur, reached northward almost to Jaua maior. It bore the legend: "The great extent of these regions will easily be believed by whoever reads chapters 11 & 12 of book 3 of Marco Polo the Venetian together with chapter 27 of book 6 of Ludovico the Roman patrician". Iaua minor lay to the east of this Beach (Fig. 2.). Mercator's biographer, Nicholas Crane concluded that the shape Mercator gave to Beach and Maletur later gave rise to speculation that the north coast of Australia had been visited in the early sixteenth century. (2)


The 1543 world map of the Breton cartographer, Guillaume Brouscon, was also one of those brought forward as evidence of the discovery of Australia by Europeans at that time. (3) Like Mercator's globe, it shows the great promontory named terre de Lucac (the Land of Locach) as part of the TERRE OSTRALE (Terra Australis). It also shows La Iave grande (Java Major) and Iave (Java), separated from the terre de Lucac by a sound or strait called the R[iviere] grande (Fig. 3.). The Norman cartographer, Jean Cossin, also called this promontory Terre de lucac on his 1570 world map. It formed part of the Terre incongnue merionalle decouvuerte nouvellemen. (4)

The other maps of the so-called Dieppe school show a similar configuration, except for the promontory of the Southern Continent being identified with Marco Polo's Java Major. On the Harleian, or Dauphin, map of the mid-1540's, the same promontory of LA TERRE AVSTRALLE is called IAVE LA GRANDE (Java Major) (Fig. 4.). On Jean Rotz's double-hemispheric map of 1546, The Londe of Java is a vast land extending, notionally, to join to the southern continent of which a part appears to the south of the distraicts of magellane (Straits of Magellan). Likewise, on the 1546 mappemonde of Pierre Desceliers, IAVA LA GRANDE is joined to LA TERRE AVSTRALLE NON DV TOVT DESCOVVERTE. (5) In the Vallard Atlas of 1547, Terra Java is shown as a northward extension of the southern continent. And on Desceliers' mappemonde of 1550, IAVA is also separated from an unnamed part of the Terre Australle by a narrow strait, named R: Grande. In Guillaume Le Testu's Cosmographie Universelle of 1555, Grande Jave is a part of the terre australle. Similarly, on the mappemonde of Nicolas Desliens of 1566, IAVA LA GRANDE is a northward extension of the Southern Continent. In the Morgan Atlas of c.1555 attributed to Pierre Desceliers, the huge promontory of Terra Australis reaches northward, separated from Iava La grade (Java Major) by a narrow Rgrande. And on the 1583 Globe terrestre of Jacques Vau de Claye, twin peninsulas of the Terre Australe stretch northward, one toward Java, inscribed with the names Terre de Beac and Locac, the other toward New Guinea, inscribed Malletur.

Marco Polo said in the Travels concerningMaletur (Maleyur in the 1485 Antwerp edition) that it was ubi maxima est copia aromatum (where there was the greatest quantity of spices). (6) The name derived from "Malaiur", the Tamil name for the Sumatran city of Jambi ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] malai=hill, and uru=town): it was the origin of the national name Melayu or Malay. Sumatra took its name from the city of Samudra, Sanskrit for "Ocean", the present Lhok Seumawe, on the north coast of the island. (7)


In a recent study of Pierre Desceliers' world map of 1550, Chet Van Duzer concluded that the Jave la Grande on the Norman world maps of the sixteenth century did not represent a pre-discovery of Australia but was 'merely an elaboration of the southern land mass as it appeared on Mercator's 1541 globe'. (8) This is in contrast to the conclusion reached by Nicholas Crane that the shape Mercator gave to Beach and Maletur on his globe of 1541 later gave rise to speculation that the north coast of Australia had been visited in the early sixteenth century, as Van Duzer, unlike Crane, is quite definite in saying that there was in fact no pre-discovery. (9)

On closer examination, it would appear that the configuration of the two Javas, Java la Grande and Java Petite, on both Mercator's globe and Desceliers' and the other Norman/Dieppe maps, was drawn from the 1531 world map of Oronce Fine. The difference from Mercator's globe being that, instead of identifying Beach/Locach, as he had done, with the northern part of the enormous promontory of the Terra Australis shown on Fine's map as the Regio Patalis, it was Java Major that was assigned to that location by the Normans. Terra Java in the c. 1547 Vallard Atlas is inscribed with the namepatallis (Patalis). (10) In a biography of Guillaume Le Testu, Albert Anthiaume wrote:
   Whence had the Norman cartographers drawn the idea of this
   continent [la Terre Australe]? From the bicordiform mappemonde of
   Oronce Fine (1531).... Most of the Norman cartographers, and
   particularly Le Testu, knew the works of Oronce Fine. (11)


Fine's 1531 map of the world featured a large promontory attached to the continent of TERRA AVSTRALIS and extending northward almost to the Tropic of Capricorn, called the regio patalis ("the Region of Patala") (Fig. 5.). Patala had been an ancient city at the mouth of the Indus River, conquered by Alexander the Great and mentioned in the writings of Pliny the Elder and Strabo. The city of Thatta in Pakistan now occupies the site. Patala appeared in its correct location, at the delta of Indus Fluvius (Indus River), on the 1507 world map of Martin Waldseemuller. But almost all other cartographers of his time were misled by a mistake made by Pierre d'Ailly in YmagoMundi. D'Ailly placed it under the Tropic of Capricorn, not the Tropic of Cancer: "towards the south according to Pliny is to be found habitation under the Tropic of Capricorn and beyond, for there is said to be the Region of Patala in India". (12) The Region of Patala appeared in this location as a southward extending promontory of the Asian continent, called India Superior, on the map of the world in Antoine de La Salle's LaSalade of 1444 (13) (Fig. 6.), and on Martin Behaim's 1492 globe.

The India Superior peninsula, including the Region of Patala and Province of Locach, was demonstrated not to be a southward extension of the Asian continent by the 1511-1514 voyage of Antonio d'Abreu from Malacca to the Moluccas, when his ships sailed straight across where the Region of Patala was supposed to be. Ferdinand Magellan's expedition of 1519-1522 reached the Moluccas by sailing across the Pacific, demonstrating that the India Superior peninsula and Region of Patala did not lie to the eastward of those islands. Thereupon, cosmographers like the German Johannes Schoner on his globe of 1523 and Oronce Fine on his 1531 map kept the Regio Patalis in its trans-Capricornian location, not as part of India Superior, but on the other side of the Ocean as a promontory of the Terra Australis.


Gerard Mercator produced a map of the world in 1538, inscribed:
   That the image of the world you see here, Dear Reader, is newer and
   more correct than those that have been circulated hitherto, let
   America, Sarmatia [Poland and Russia] and India testify. We propose
   with regard to the different parts of the world to successively
   treat particular regions more broadly, as we are already doing with
   Europe, and you may soon expect a universal map, which will not be
   inferior to that of Ptolemy. Farewell, 1538.

European cosmographers of the Renaissance took as their starting point and foundation the Geographike Hyphegesis (Guide for Describing the Earth) of Claudius Ptolemy, as translated into Latin by Jacob d'Angelo in Rome around 1406 with the title, Cosmographia Claudii Ptolomaei Alexandrini. To this was added the geographical knowledge in the Travels of Marco Polo and other medieval travellers. As more and more information became available from the voyages made during the Age of Discoveries, the map makers struggled to incorporate it into the Ptolemaic framework. Mercator and his contemporaries saw their task as being to improve and perfect Ptolemy's description of the Earth.

The cartographic historian Lawrence C. Wroth noted: "In many particulars, as in the portrayal of a Terra Australis, the double-cordiform world map of Mercator of 1538 followed the example set by Fine" (14) (Fig. 7.). Oronce Fine was the RegiusMathematicarum interpres (the King's Interpreter of the Mathematics), the first appointee to the College Royale established by Francis I (r.1515-1547). He produced a world map on a double cordiform projection in 1531 (15) which is clearly derived from Johannes Schoner's globe of 1523. Franz von Wieser, in a study of Schoner's globes in 1881, found that the derivation of Fine's mappemonde from them was "unmistakeable". Wieser said: "Orontius Finaeus took from Schoner not only the "Brasilie Regio", but the whole Austral Continent, the Strait of Magellan, and in general the whole arrangement of lands; in a word, the mappemonde of Oronce Fine is a copy of Schoner's". (16) Lucien Gallois remarked in 1890 on the undeniable "ressemblance parfaite" between Fine's 1531 mappemonde and Schoener's globe of 1533 although Gallois, writing before Schoner's globe of 1523 had been identified, concluded that it was Schoner who had copied from Fine. (17) Henry Harrisse also concluded in The Discovery of North America (1892) that Fine's mappemonde was based on Schoner's 1523 globe, and differed from it essentially only in its cordiform (heart-shaped) projection. (18) The cartographic historian Sophus Ruge concluded: "The depiction is similar to Oronce Fine's cordiform map of 1531, but Fine had probably edited Schoner's map of 1523, as elsewhere he also draws on the Nuremberg scholar's map". (19) Franz von Wieser commented that the use of Schoner's work by the French cosmographer was not surprising, as Germany was then in very lively literary contact with Paris, and Fine's 1531 map was published by Christian Wechelius, a German. In 1532, the Basel scholars Simon Grynaeus and Johann Huttich published the Novus Orbis, in the Paris edition of which Fine's map was inserted as a supplement. (20)

Fine produced another, unicordiform, world map in 1534-1536, titled RECENSET INTEGRA ORBIS DESCRIPTIO (A New and Complete Description of the World). It carried an address to the reader that says he began to design it about fifteen years before, that is around 1520, in other words, when Schoner was making his globe:
   About fifteen years since, Dear Reader, I first designed, in the
   shape of a human heart, this universal map of the world, in
   gratitude to the Most Christian and Most Mighty Francis, King of
   the French, our most clement Maecenas [patron].

The Harleian/Dauphin Map bore the arms of Francis I's successor from 1547, Henry II, as Dauphin and as King, indicating that it had been prepared for him. It is reasonable to believe that its maker was strongly influenced by the ideas of Oronce Fine, the King's cosmographer. Henry II took a keen interest in the trade and navigation his Norman subjects were developing with the New World: his visit to the province's capital, Rouen, in October 1550, was the occasion of a memorable celebration that included the staging of a mock battle of native Brazilians.

As identified by Chet Van Duzer, as his source for his description of Java on his mappemonde of 1550 Pierre Desceliers used the versions of the accounts of Marco Polo and Ludovico di Varthema published in Grynaeus and Huttich's Novus Orbis 21 This book also contained Fine's mappemonde, the Tabula Cosmographica (cosmographic map) referred to in the book's sub-title. Desceliers' legend on Java reads:
   Java is a large island in which there are 8 kings and they are
   idolaters, and do not all have the same customs, for some adore the
   Sun, others the Moon, others cows, others the Devil, and others
   whatever they meet first in the morning. They have long hair,
   maintain right and justice, [and] do not have artillery. They use
   bows and poisoned arrows. They have gold, copper, the best emeralds
   in the world, pepper, nutmeg, spikenard and galingale. They have
   the custom as the Roman Patrician Ludovico di Varthema says, of
   selling their parents when they are old to a people called
   Anthropophagi who kill and eat them.


Similarly, other cartographers of the Dieppe school, and Gerard Mercator, based their world maps on that of Oronce Fine. (22) Indicative of this is the relative positions of Java Major and Java Minor on the Dieppe maps where, as on Fine's map, Java Major is separated by a narrow strait from Java Minor lying to its north. Java Minor had been identified with the island of Madura by Antonio Pigafetta, the diarist of Magellan's expedition. (23) Pigafetta recorded that when the expedition was at Timor, just before the Victoria began the voyage of return to Spain the Timorese, responding to a query, "told us that the lesser Java was the isle of Madura and half a league near to Greater Java". (24) The version of Pigafetta's account published in Paris in 1525 said: "Java mineur est comme lisle de Madere pres de Java, mais demie lieue" (Java Minor is like the isle of Madere [Madura] close to Java, but half a league from it). (25) The Victoria was understood by Schoner and Fine to have sailed through this strait between Java and Madura cum Java Minor. Fine identified Java Minor with Madura, but left it unnamed on his map. It was identified as Iava minor on the 1542 globe by Caspar Vopell, a derivative of Fine' map which bore the same title, NOVA & INTEGRA VNIVERSIORBIS DESCRIPTIO. And on Vopell's planisphere of 1545. (26)

On Jean Rotz's map of 1546, The lytil Java is separated from The Londe of Java by a narrow strait, as Madura is separated by a narrow strait, "one and a half leagues wide" as Pigafetta said, from Java. As the Victoria was understood to have sailed to the north of Java (and not, as was actually the case, to its south) it was open to cartographers like Rotz and his fellow Dieppe mapmakers to attach Java Major to the Austral continent. On the Harleian map, IAVELA GRANDE (Java Major) is separated from IAVE (Java Minor) by a narrow strait called the R[iviere] grande. On Desceliers' mappemonde of 1546, IAVA PETITE is separated by a narrow strait named R: Grande from IAVA LA GRANDE, which is joined to LA TERREAVSTRALLENONDVTOVTDESCOVVERTE, Fine's title for the southern continent. (27) And on Desceliers' mappemonde of 1550, IAVA is also separated by a narrow strait or sound, named R: Grande, from an unnamed part of the Terre Australle.


In his 1555 atlas, Cosmographie Universelle, the Dieppe cartographer Guillaume Le Testu inscribed a note against LA GRANT IAVE that admitted that its depiction was imaginary:
   This Land is part of the so-called Terra Australis, to us Unknown,
   so that which is marked herein is only from Imagination and
   uncertain opinion; for some say that La grant Jave [Java Major]
   which is the eastern Coast of it is the same land of which its
   western Coast forms the Strait of Magellan, and that all of this
   land is joined together. (28)

Le Testu seems to have drawn on the definition of Java Major by the Franco-Portuguese navigator and cosmographer, Jean Alfonse (or Alfonce). In his 1545 work, La Cosmographie, Alfonse identified Java Major as part of the continent of Terra Australis, which extended as far as the Antarctic Pole and the Strait of Magellan. He wrote:
   La Grand Jave is a land that goes as far as under the Antarctic
   Pole and from the Terre Australle in the west to the land of the
   Strait of Magellan on the eastern side. Some say that it is islands
   but from what I have seen of it, it is terre ferme [a continent].

Much of Alfonse's Cosmographie was taken from Martin Fernandez de Enciso's Suma de Geographia, published in Seville in 1518 and 1530. (30) The passage quoted was taken word for word from Enciso. (31)

PETITE IAVE was identified by Le Testu with the island of Madura in accordance with Pigafetta's description, and separated from LA GRANT IAVE by a channel or strait one and a half leagues wide called the Riviere Grande. PETITE IAVE's northern coast bears the names of actual Javanese ports and towns visited by Portuguese navigators:palinbam (Palembang), Conda (Sunda), Agalomny (?), Chanbab (?), Capare (Jeparit), Agacin (Gresik), Cherebane (Cheribon) and Sugramaie (Surabaya). (32) These names are similar to those given in the 1515 Suma Oriental of Tome: Pires. (33) They are also found on the Harleian mappemonde of c. 1546-7, on Pierre Desceliers' 1550 mappemonde and on Mercator's 1541 globe (34) but they have been displaced from the actual Java, so that PETITE IAVE is an amalgam of Java and Madura bearing Marco Polo's name for Sumatra, Java Minor. Madura appears, unnamed, off the north coast of PETITE IAVE on Le Testu's map and, as Amadura, on Mercator's, the Harleian and Desceliers'.


While Mercator's 1538 map of the world was modelled on Fine's of 1531, it departed from Fine's by showing the austral continent much smaller, unnamed and with a hatched instead of an unbroken outline indicating its hypothetical status. It bore the legend: "It is certain that there is a land here, but its size and the limits of its boundaries are uncertain". (35) The outline of Fine's Regio Patalis, though shown as a promontory of this smaller austral continent on Mercator's 1538 map, was likewise unnamed. Perhaps influenced by Gemma Frisius, Mercator's map also departed from Fine's by not showing America joined to Asia as the India Superior peninsula. (36) America, the name given the New World by Martin Waldseemueller in 1507, was now for the first time divided into northern and southern parts: Americae pars septentrionalis, North America, and Americae pars meridionalis, South America. India Superior was shown on Mercator's map as a much reduced peninsula of Asia that did not project into the southern hemisphere.

On this India Superior peninsula appeared Locat (Fig. 8.). This was Locach, a southern land Marco Polo described in the Travels. Locach was mistakenly located in the Travels on a mainland 750 miles to the south of Java. Book III of the Travels described his journey in 1292 by sea from China to India by way of Champa, Pulo Condur, Locach, Bintang and Sumatra (Java Minor). After a chapter describing the kingdom of Champa there follows a chapter in which he describes Java, which he did not visit. The narrative then resumes, describing the route southward from Champa toward Sumatra, but by a mistake in the text of Marco Polo's Travels, Java Major was substituted for Champa as the point of departure. The locations of the places subsequently mentioned, Sondur and Condur (the Pulo Condur islands), Locach, Pentan (Bintang) and Java Minor, were mistakenly displaced far to the south of Java. Java Minor (Sumatra) was located 1,300 miles to the south of Java Major. Locach was mistakenly transcribed Boeach in the version of Marco's Travels published by Grynaeus and Huttich in OrbisNovus:
   Leaving the island of Java, he counted seven hundred miles to the
   two islands of Sondur and Condur, proceeding beyond them to the
   south-west five hundred miles to the Province of Boeach which is
   very extensive and very wealthy ... and it has many elephants, and
   plenty of gold. Certain small lumps of gold are used by the
   inhabitants as money. Few are those from foreign regions who visit
   this province because of the incivility of the inhabitants. (37)

Loach, Luhac, Laach, Lucat, Boeach and Beach were just some of the numerous variants of the name. Locach was Lavopura, now Lopburi in Thailand, but in Marco Polo's day the western part of Kamboja, the Khmer empire (Cambodia). (38) Polo's description of Locach was very similar to that of Wang Dayuan, a Chinese traveller to Southeast Asia during 1330-1339; both descriptions were apparently drawn from a common original Chinese account. (39) The name Locach came from Lohuk, in Polo's day the Chinese pronunciation of Lavo, the first syllable of Lavopura, the "City of Lavo", named after Lava, the son of the Hindu god Rama (the pronunciation is Luohu in modern standard Chinese). In Vietnamese the pronunciation is Lo Hac, close to Marco Polo's Lochac and the medieval Chinese from which Sino-Vietnamese derives. (40) Lavopura was the emporium of the Khmer empire and its name in the form Lohuk was used by the Chinese of that time as a metonym for Cambodia. This was not known in Europe, which contributed to the confusion regarding the location of Locach. The early sixteenth century Portuguese visitors to Southeast Asia did not realize that the city they called Udia or Odia (Ayutthaya), the capital of Siam, was Marco Polo's Locach. (41)

The c. 1491 world map of Henricus Martellus represented the latest conception of the world prior to the discoveries of Columbus, combining Ptolemy with Marco Polo. (42) In accordance with the faulty text of Marco Polo's Travels, the ProvinciaLoccach (Locach) was shown on Martellus' map south of the Equator on the India Superior peninsula, the actual Indochina peninsula.

The location of Locach had been a difficulty for Oronce Fine, because, as noted above, the India Superior peninsula had been demonstrated by the respective voyages of d'Abreu and Magellan neither to be a southward extension of the Asian continent, nor to lie to the eastward of those islands, unless America was identified with that peninsula. By following Schoner in joining America to Asia, Fine implicitly did make that identification. Schoner explained this in the Opusculum Geograpicum:
   After Ptolemy, many regions beyond the longitude of 180 degrees to
   the East were actually discovered by the Venetian Marco Polo and
   others, but now the coastal parts of these lands have been
   discovered by the Genoese Columbus and Americo Vespucci steering
   from Spain across the Western Ocean who, thinking that part of the
   world to be an island called it America, the fourth part of the
   globe. But in fact from the most recent voyages made in the year
   1519 after Christ by Magellan.... to the Moluccas Islands.... they
   found that land to be the continent of India Superior, which is a
   part of Asia. (43)

Despite this, Locach did not appear anywhere on Schoner's globes of 1523 or 1533, or on Fine's map. Mercator put Locat (Locach) on his 1538 map, by accident or design, in its correct location on the Indochinese peninsula immediately south of Ciamba (Champa), although he mistakenly placed the Lequeos populi, the 'people of the Liukius' (Ryukyu islands), on the mainland as its southern neighbours.


On his 1541 globe, Mercator transferred Ciamba (Champa) to the northern part of South America, which seems to indicate he agreed with Fine's and Schoner's identification of America with India Superior. But he identified Locach (the Locat of his 1538 map), with Fine's promontory of the Terra Australis, the Regio Patalis, re-naming it, "Beach the gold-bearing province". He inscribed over Terra Australis: "The great extent of these regions will easily be believed by whoever reads chapters 11 & 12 of book 3 of Marco Polo the Venetian together with chapter 27 of book 6 of Ludovico". On this globe, Jaua maior was located to the north of Beach, separated from it by a strait. (44)

Martin Fernandez de Enciso described Locach, under the name Jocat, in his 1518 Suma de Geographia. Mercator mentions Enciso as a source on his world map of 1569; although there is no such acknowledgement on his globe of 1541, the location he gives to Locach is similar to that given by Enciso, who wrote of it:
   beyond Java eighty leagues to the southeast is another island
   called Jocat, where there is gold in great abundance and many
   elephants and monkeys, and many sea snails which are used in a
   number of countries as money; and from what is written of Solomon
   taking the gold for the temple from Ophir, it is believed that this
   is Ophir, because here there is a great abundance of gold and of
   the other things that were brought to Solomon.... Thirty leagues
   beyond this island of Jocat, near Cattigara, is Java Minor, which
   is the land where unicorns [rhinoceros] are raised. (45)

Mercator's contemporary, Abraham Ortelius explicitly identified the Regio Patalis with Locach as a northward extension of the Terra Australis on his world map of 1564. (46) He inscribed on the eastern side of the northward extension of the Southern Continent: "This tract is called by some Patalis". The western side of the same promontory, he inscribed: "The Region of Locach seems to be placed here by M. Polo the Venetian". Ortelius joined his Patalis/Locach promontory, not with Java but with the newly discovered New Guinea.


Mercator was adamant that Ptolemy's authority must be not shaken, for as he wrote on his world map of 1569:
   Should we, at the first incidental occasion, transpose, modify or
   discard the discoveries of the ancients, not only will we not
   improve but, by correcting a single error we will alter a hundred
   truths and, in the end, we will have an extremely confused mass of
   lands and names in which neither the parts will appear under their
   true names nor the names on their proper parts.... For it is most
   clearly evident that the representation was not compiled in a
   superficial manner by Ptolemy but that it received the form which
   has been given to it since the time of Alexander the Great thanks
   to the expeditions of numerous travellers by land and sea and to
   many observations. (47)

On this map, Beach remained in the same location on the northern part of a promontory of the Terra Australis, with the description, quoting Marco Polo, "Beach the gold-bearing province, wither few go from other countries because of the inhumanity of its people" (48) (Fig. 9.). For some unexplained reason, it was also shown under its duplicate name as Lucach regnum. Mercator's belief that a promontory of the Austral continent extended far to the northward, making a strait with Java Major, was set out in the inscription on the map titled, On the approach from the Southern Continent to Java Major:
   Ludovico di Varthema, in Bk.3, on India, Chapt.27, reports that on
   the southern side of Java Major, to the southward, there are
   peoples who sail with their backs to our stars of the north until
   they find a day of but 4 hours, i.e. to the 63rd. degree of
   latitude.... As for Marco Polo, the Venetian, he saw opposite this
   continent some provinces and several islands and he noted the
   distances to Java Minor.... he says that it runs so far to the
   southward that neither the Arctic Pole nor its stars, i.e. the
   Little Bear, may be seen therefrom; therefore, considering the
   circumference of the island, which [Marco Polo] states to be 2000
   miles, it is certain that its northern extremity goes beyond at
   least the 20th degree of southern latitude. Thus we conclude, there
   from, that the Southern Continent extends far to the northward, and
   effects with Java Major a strait.

The world maps of Petrus Plancius of 1590, 1592 and 1596 were based on Mercator's of 1569, although Plancius abandoned Mercator's innovative projection of parallel meridians in favour of the cylindrical projection of the Portuguese cartographer Pedro de Lemos. (49) Plancius was the first hydrographer of the United East India Company (VOC) and his maps were prepared to assist his project of encouraging Amsterdam merchants to engage in the spice trade by undertaking voyages to the Moluccas. They show Beach, Lucach and Maletur in the same locations as did Mercator. He resolved Mercator's confusion concerning Java Minor by identifying it beyond question with Sumatra: "that the island of Sumatra both from its position and its distance from other places, and from other circumstances, is the Java Minor of M. Polo the Venetian, will be more than sufficiently evident to the attentive Reader". (50) He prepared the map of China and Southeast Asia which was published in Jan Huygen van Linschoten's Itinerario of 1596, a book that was written with the aim of encouraging Dutch merchants to undertake trading voyages to the East. (51) The first edition of Linschoten's Itinerario, however, contained a copy of Plancius' world map published by Joannes Baptista Vrients, Orbis Terrae CompendiosaDescriptio, engraved by Arnold and Hendrik van Langren. (52) This showed Beach, Lucach and Maletur in the same locations as did Mercator and Plancius (Fig. 10.).


In 1612, Hessel Gerritsz, Plancius' successor as the VOC's chief hydrographer, had issued the eighth memorial of Pedro Fernandez de Queiros, which described Queiros' claim to have discovered the Southern Continent in 1606 (53) (Fig. 11.)--although Queiros had actually only found the islands of Vanuatu. Gerritsz' version of the memorial included a world map, with an unnamed peninsula of Terra Australis occupying the same location and northward-pointing orientation as Beach/Lucach on Plancius' and Mercator's maps.

In October 1616, Dirk Hartog, master of the VOC ship Eendracht bound on a voyage from Cape Town to Macassar, landed on the coast of what was subsequently called, after his ship, Eendracht Land, so becoming the first European known to have visited the west coast of Australia. Subsequently, the VOC merchant Frederick de Houtman reported that in July 1619 on a voyage from the Cape of Good Hope to Batavia he had reached "the South land, Beach ", which was "the land discovered by the Eentracf. (54)

The land found by Dirk Hartog was revealed as t 'LandEendracht in 1626 on another Gerritsz map, a small world map published on the title page of the Iournael vande Nassausche Vloot (Journal of the Nassau Fleet) (55) (Fig. 12.). It is shown as a north-westward-pointing peninsula, in place of the Plancius' and Mercator's north-pointing promontory of Beach/Lucach, and is outlined definitely in a black line, as part of the larger southern continent which is unnamed and outlined more faintly with a dotted line. (56) A very similar depiction, but without the name Eendracht Land, was contained in Jacob Le Maire's Spieghel der Australische Navigatie in 1622 (Fig. 13.). T'Landt van Eendracht was also inscribed on the revised version of Plancius' world map published c. 1625 by Hendrik van Langren, making a rare joint appearance with Beach and Lucach regnum (57) (Fig. 14.). Between them, the 1625 and 1626 maps alerted the world that the fabulous land of Beach had at last been discovered.

In 1642, the Council of Batavia despatched Abel Tasman in command of an expedition of which one of the objects was to obtain knowledge of "all the totally unknown provinces of Beach". (58) Tasman circumnavigated the continent upon which Dirk Hartog had landed from the Eendracht and so proved that it was not in fact part of the circum-antarctic Terra Australis. The voyage also established that the province of Beach as described by Marco Polo was nowhere to be found. Joan Blaeu's world map of 1648 showed the land revealed by Tasman's voyage as HollandiaNova. (59) A final verdict was given by the French geographer Michel Antoine Baudrand, who in 1694 placed "Beach, an extensive region, put on many maps as part of the Terra Australis", among the "fictitious cities, regions and other parts which either do not, or have not ever existed, although they are often noted on many geographic maps". (60)


Gerard Mercator's cartography undeniably had great influence on the maps and globes of his 16th century contemporaries and beyond. (61) But he himself was indebted to his contemporaries and predecessors. His approach was always careful and conservative: he was most reluctant to completely discard a feature that had found its way on to their maps, preferring if at all possible to incorporate it into a revised map. The globe he produced in 1541 showed a significant development of his ideas from those set out in the map of the world he produced in 1538. This world map was modelled on that of Oronce Fine of 1531, but with significant differences, notably with regard to the two Javas and Locach. The 1541 globe showed Marco Polo's Locach, under the variant name Beach, as a promontory of the Southern Continent. Mercator had moved it from the Asian continent where he had located it in 1538 to the Southern Continent, identifying it with Fine's Regio Patalis. The Dieppe maps show a similar promontory of the Southern Continent, called Lucac or Jave la Grande. Mercator, Fine and the Dieppe mapmakers drew upon the compendium of travellers' accounts in the 1532 Novus Orbis as a principal source. Fine's world map was published with this book. There are undoubtedly similarities between Mercator's globe and the Dieppe world maps, but the evidence indicates that it is more likely that both based their work on Fine than that the Dieppe mapmakers relied on Mercator. Beach, duplicated as the Kingdom of Locach, remained in the same location on Mercator's world map of 1569, which was copied by the cartographers of the United East India Company (VOC). When the west coast of Australia was discovered by Dirk Hartog in October 1616, it was called Eendracht Land after his ship and identified with Mercator's Beach/Locach. Mercator's cartography thereby influenced the initial understanding and depiction of Australia. Rather than Mercator's cartography reflecting an early 16th century discovery of Australia, it was his theoretical cartography that moulded the perception of New Holland/Australia when it was discovered.


I greatly appreciate the privilege of being able to use the facilities of the Petherick Reading Room of the National Library of Australia, and in particular the assistance of Maps Curator Dr. Martin Woods and his colleagues in the Special Collections Reading Room.


(1) QVINTA haec, et quidem amplissimapars, quantum coniectare licet, nuper orbi nostro accessit, verum paucis adhuc littoribus explorata.

(2) Crane, 2002, p.345, n.14.

(3) Herve, 1982, pp.16, 81-87 ; Michea, 1995, p.116-117; & Michea, 2013, pp.7-8. 31387_journ--e-Carto.pdf

(4) 'the newly discovered unknown South Land'.

(5) 'Terra Australis, not fully known'; John Rylands Library, Univ. of Manchester, Rylands Collection, French MS 1*. Online at: kSearchA&pgs=50&res=1

(6) Grynaeus & Huttich, Novus Orbis, Basel, 1532, 351, Liber III, cap. xii, De insula Petan. Online at : 532&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Grynaeus%20%22Novus%20Orbis%20%22%201532&f=false ; Polo, 1485/1949, cap.10, Liber III, cap. xii, "De insula pentayn".

(7) Yule, 1921, v.II, pp.280-283.

(8) Van Duzer, 2015b, p.72.

(9) Crane, 2002, p.345, n.14.

(10) Terra Java in the Vallard Atlas (1547). Huntington Library, Digital Scriptorium Database, Huntington Catalog Images, HM 29, f.3. Online at:

(11) Anthiaume, nos.1-2, 1911, pp.135-202, p.176.

(12) versus austrum secundum Plinium invenit habitationem esse sub tropic capricorni vel ultra, nam ibi dicitur esse regio pathalis in india; Alyaco, 1483, cap.xix.

(13) La Salle, [mappemonde], at:

(14) Wroth, 1944, p.169.

(15) Crane, 2002, p.109; Schilder, 1976, pp.15 & 258.

(16) Wieser, 1881/1967), pp.67 & 79-80.

(17) Gallois, 1890/1963, p.92; Wieser, 1881/1967, p.65.

(18) Harrisse, 1892/1961, pp.582-584.

(19) "Die Darstellung [Schoner, 1533] ist ahnlich wie bei Oronce Fines Herzkarte von 1531; aber Fine hat wohl nach Schoners Karte von 1523 gearbeitet, wie er sich auch sonst auf den Nurnberger Gelehrten stutzt": Ruge, 1892, Erganzungsheft, No.106, p.42 (repr. 1962, p.54).

(20) Grynaeus & Huttich, 1532; Harrisse, 1892/1961, pp.296 If; Wieser, 1881/1967, p.68.

(21) Polo, Lib. III, cap.X et XII, Java minor, Java maior; & from Ludovico, Cap. xxviii et xxviiii. Van Duzer, 2015b, p.71.

(22) King, 2015, pp.12-52.

(23) "Et ancores nous dirent comme Java la petite estoit lisle de Madura et pres de Java la grande a demye lieue"; Pigafetta, 2010, p.251; King, 2016.

(24) Pigafetta, 2010.

(25) Pigafetta, 1525, f.71r.

(26) Vopell, 1545. The 1558 Venice re-print is online at: 1196240?buttons=y

(27) "Terra Australis, recently discovered but not yet fully known". The Rylands Desceliers 1546 map is online at: hA&pgs=50&res=1

(28) Le Testu, 1555/2012, fol.34.

(29) "Cest Jave est un terre qui va jusques dessoubz le polle antarctique et en occident tient a la terre Australle, et du couste d'oriant a la terre du destroict de Magaillant. Aulcuns dient que ce sont isles. Et quant est de ce que j 'en ay veu, c'est terre firme ... Cest Jave tient en occident au destroict de Magaillan, et en orient a la terre Australle ... J'estime que cest coste de la mer Occeane qu'est dicte coste Australle se va rendre en Oriant, a la Jave, du couste d'occident de ladicte Jave"; Alfonce, 1545, 150v, 147r, 159r, in Musset 1904, pp.399 & 427; also quoted in Margry, 1867, pp.316-7. See also "Jean Alfonse", in Dictionaire de Biographie frangaise 1932, p.1491.

(30) Wallis, 1988, p.51.

(31) Enciso, 1518 (1530 ed.), fol.50.

(32) Compare the names on the map of Java in Diogo Homem's 1564 atlas, El Atlas Universal de Diogo Homem, Alfredo Pinheiro Marques and L. K. Kildiiuushevskaiia (eds.), Barcelona, M. Moleiro Editor, 2000: Palimban, Sunda calapa, Aguara, Capar, charambam. And in Joao de Barros, Da Asia, Decada Quarta, Lisboa, 1615 (1550s).

(33) Cortesao (ed.), 1944, v.II, p.166.

(34) Mercator's reliance on Pires is stated by Durand & Curtis, 2014, p.38: "On the Malay Peninsula and Borneo alone, Gerardus Mercator was able to indicate a dozen place names, presumably drawn from the Suma Oriental of Tome Pires".

(35) Terra hic esse certum est sed quatus quibusque limitibus finitas incertum.

(36) Horst, 2016, p.9.

(37) Grynaeus & Huttich, 1532, 351, Liber III, cap. xi, Deprovincia Boeach. Online at : 532&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Grynaeus%20%22Novus%20Orbis%20%22%201532&f=false

(38) Gerini, 1909, p.180; Pelliot, 1904, p.236.

(39) Wang 1339/1912, pp.32-33.

(40) Ha, 1983, pp.337-338.

(41) Barros, 1552/1628, Livro Nono, Cap.I, f.179v. Ayutthaya had merged with Lavopura/Lopburi in 1351.

(42) Nunn, 1927, pp.476-480, nb p.479. The Martellus map is undated, but there are clues it was created in 1491 as it quotes the Hortus Sanitatis, an illustrated encyclopaedia published in Mainz by Jacob Meydenbach in 1491; Van Duzer, 2015a.

(43) Post Ptolomaeum vero ultra 180 gradum versus orientem multae regiones repertae per quendam Marcum Polum Venetium, ac allios, sed nunc a Columbo Genuensi et Americo Vesputio solum loca littoralia ex Hispaniis per Oceanum occidentalem illuc applicantes, lustratae sunt, eam partem terrae insulam existimantes vocarunt Americam, quartam orbis partem. Modo vero per novissimas navigationes, factas anno post Christum 1519 per Magellanum ducem navium invictissimi Caesaris divi Caroli etc. versus Moluccas insulas, quas alii Moluquas vocant, in supremo oriente positas, eam terram invenerunt esse continentem superioris Indiae, quae pars est Asiae. Johannes Schoener, Opusculum Geographicum, Norimberga, [1533], Pars II, cap.xx' Online at:

(44) Image of Mercator's 1541 globe in the Harvard Map Collection at:

(45) "y adelante destas a ochenta leguas de Java al sueste esta otra isla que se llama Jocat a donde ay mucho oro en abundancia y muchos elefantes y ximios y muchos caracolitos del mar que se usan en muchas tierras por moneda; y segun lo que de Ofir se escrive de do hizo Salomon llevar el oro para el templo creese que esta es Ofir; porque en esta ay grande abundancia de oro y dellas otras cosas que le llevaron a Salomon; y a que es el mar baxo por donde las naos no podian navegar sina por ciertas canales. adelante desta isla de Jocat esta treynta leguas Java la menor que es acerca del Gatigara a do es la tierra a donde se crian los unicornios". Enciso, 1518/1530, fol.l.; Taylor, 1932, p.137.

(46) Ortelius, 1564. Online at Universitatsbibliothek Basel, Kartenslg AA 6-7: www.e-

(47) Mercator, Nova et Aucta Orbis Terrae Descriptio ad Usum Navigantium Emendata, 1569, inscription, De vero Gangis et Aureae Chersonesi situ.

(48) Beach provincia aurifera quam pauci ex alienis regionibus adeunt propter gentis inhumanitatem; Mercator, Nova et Aucta Orbis Terrae Descriptio ad Usum Navigantium Emendata, 1569. The copy of Mercator's 1569 map at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France is online at:

(49) Koeman, 1984 ; Lach, 2010, p.470.

(50) Insulam Sumatrum M. Paulo Veneto esse Jauam minorem, tum ex locorum distantia ac situ, tum ex aliis circumstantiis attento Lectori satis superque constat; Plancius, 1596.

(51) Exacta & accurata delinatio ... regionibus China, Cauchinchina, Camboja sive Champa, Syao, Malacca, Arracan & Pegu, in Linschoten, 1596.

(52) "Monthly Record: Early Dutch Maps preserved in Spain", Geographical Journal, 1915, 45(2):163-164 at 164..

(53) Gerritsz, 1612.

(54) Houtman to the Chamber Amsterdam, Jacatra, 7 October 1620, Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague, 982, 1620 II, fol147- 151, fol. 148r; quoted in Stapel, 1937, pp.11 & 28.

(55) t'Landtvan d'Eendracht (Chart of Eendracht Land), in Walbeeck & Decker, 1626, title page; reprod. in Heeres, 1899 and in Van Mourik, 2013, p. 119.

(56) Meyjes, 1919, p.xx.

(57) Langren, untitled fragment of Nova etAccurata Totius Orbis Terrarum Geographica et Hydrographica Tabula (A New and Accurate Geographic and Hydrographic Map of the Whole World), Amsterdam, c. 1525; Van der Krogt, 1993, p.40; Dewez, 1997, pp.147-153; Clough, 2007, p.11.

(58) Franchoijs Jacobsen Visscher, "Beschryvinge noopende het entdecken van't Zuijtlant" [Memoir touching on the discovery of the South-land], 22 January 1642; printed in Leupe, 1856, pp.123-140, p.139; and in Heeres, 1965, pp.137, 141-2.

(59) Zandvliet, in Eisler & Smith, 1988, pp.67-84, p.80. Image of Joan Blaeu's world map of 1648, Nova etAccuratissima Terrarum Orbis Tabula, held by the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery map online at:

(60) Baudrand, 1694, p.34.

(61) Horst, 2016, p.35.


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Robert J. King [1]

[1] Robert J. King is an independent scholar in Canberra. Contact:

Caption: Figure 1. QVINTA haec, et quidem amplissimapars.... nuper orbi nostro accessit. Image of Mercator's 1541 globe (Harvard Map Collection

Caption: Figure 2. Jaua maior to the north of Beach prouincia aurifera and Maletur regnum, on Mercator's 1541 globe. (Reproduced in Smet, 1968. National Library of Australia, YY ef 2014-514

Caption: Figure 3. terre de Lucac (land of Locach) on Terre Ostrale (Terra Australis), separated from La Iave grande (Java Major/Madura) and Iave (Java) by a channel or strait. Guillaume Brouscon, world map, 1543. (Huntington Library, HM 46.

Caption: Figure 4. IAVE LA GRANDE separated from IAVE (Java proper) by the R grande. Harleian map, mid-1540s. (British Library, Add. MS 5413.

Caption: Figure 5. REGIO PATALIS, Oronce Fine, Nova et Integra Universi Orbis Descriptio, 1531. (National Library of Australia, Map RM 2932.

Caption: Figure 6. Patalie regia (Regio Patalis), Antoine de La Salle, La Salade, 1444; repr. Philippe Le Noir, Paris, 1527, opp. p.27v. (Bibliotheque nationale de France.

Caption: Figure 7. Regio Patalis (unnamed) on the southern continent inscribed Terra hic esse certum est sed qudtus quibusque limitibusfinitas incertum ("It is certain that there is a land here, but its size and the limits of its boundaries are uncertain") on Mercator's 1538 world map. On this map, unbroken black line mark coastlines definitely known to have been discovered while hatching marks surmised coastlines, such as those of the southern continent shown here. (Walters Art Gallery Trustees & Baltimore Museum of Art, 1952, p1.xi.

Caption: Figure 8. Locat (Locach/Beach) on Mercator's 1538 world map. (Walters Art Gallery Trustees & Baltimore Museum of Art, 1952, p1.xi.

Caption: Figure 9. De meridianae continentis ad Javam majorem accessu; Beach, Lucach, Maletur and Taua minor. on Mercator's 1569 world map Nova etAucta Orbis Terrae Descriptio ad Usum Navigantium Emendata. (Bibliotheque Nationale de France;

Caption: Figure 10. Beach Provincia aurifera; Lucach regnum; Maletur regnum scatens aromatibus (the kingdom of Maletur overflowing with spices); De Iaua minori: Insulam Sumatrum M. Paulo Veneto esse Javam minorem, cum ex locorum distantia ac situ, tum ex aliis circunstantiis attento Lectori satis superque constat (Regarding Java Minor: That the island of Sumatra, from its location, distance from other places, and from other circumstances, is the Java Minor of the Venetian Marco Polo, will be more than sufficiently clear to the attentive Reader). Joannes Baptista Vrients, Orbis Terrae Compendiosa Descriptio, Antwerp, 1596. (Brown University, John Carter Brown Library Map Collection, F596 L759i.

Caption: Figure 11. Beach (unnamed) as part of Terra Australis incognita from world map in Gerritsz, Descriptio ac delineatio geographica detectionis Freti ..., Amsterdam, 1612. (http://gallica.bnffr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5772247b/f18.image)

Caption: Figure 12. t'Land Eendracht shown on the title-page map in Walbeeck & Decker, Iournael vande Nassausche Vloot Amsterdam, 1626. (

Caption: Figure 13. Eendracht Land, unnamed but outlined with a definite line, as part of Beach, unnamed but outlined with a hatched line indicating uncertainty, Jacob Le Maire, Spieghel der Australische Navigatie, 1622 (repr. Engelbrecht & Herwerden, 1945).

Caption: Figure 14. Beach, Lucach regnum and t'Landt van Eendracht, in Hendrik van Langren, Nova et Accurata Totius Orbis Terrarum Geographica et Hydrographica Tabula, c.1625 (Courtesy Jock Clough. The entire fragment is repr. in McCarthy & Northey, 2007, p.11)
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Author:King, Robert J.
Publication:The Globe
Article Type:Critical essay
Date:Mar 1, 2017
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