The ambitious project, which was assembled mostly by Jewish cartographers

The project that would later become known as the Catalan Atlas (1375) combined the mapmaking expertise of the Muslim world and the nautical prowess of the Christian world. It was the most accurate and important map of the Middle Ages, it was also quite beautiful, with detailed illustrations of ancient rulers, Christian mythology and more woven into the landscape.

Created for Charles V of France as both a portolan and mappa mundi, its contours and points of reference were not only compiled from centuries of geographic knowledge, but also from knowledge spread around the world from the diasporic Jewish community to which the creators of the Atlas belonged. The map was most likely made by Abraham Cresques and his son Jahuda, members of the highly respected Majorcan Cartographic School, who worked under the patronage of the Portuguese. During this period (before massacres and forced conversions devastated the Jewish community of Majorca in 1391), Jewish doctors, scholars, and scribes bridged the Christian and Islamic worlds and formed networks that disseminated information through both.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *