What is the Cantino Planisphere?

What is the Cantino Planisphere?
Cantino planisphere (1502), Biblioteca Estense, Modena, Italy

We all know that during the middle ages, the Portuguese were well known for their expeditions and explorations.

One of the most profound artifacts of this is the Cantino Planisphere. Still don’t know what that is?

It is a detailed map of Portuguese explorations betweenl 1501 and 1502. The map was created  by a Portuguese cartographer in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1502 but was named after the agent who stole it from Portugal and brought it to Italy, Alberto Cantino.

VINDT GÉRARD - Le planisphère d'Alberto Cantino, Lisbonne 1502
VINDT GÉRARD – Le planisphère d’Alberto Cantino, Lisbonne 1502

At the time he was an agent for the Duke of Ferrara and was a very astute and efficient spy because he even became one of the private secretaries of King Manuel I.

The most demonstrative facts  are the two letters he wrote to Duke d’Este, then Duke of Ferrara, describing all the details of the return trip made by Gaspar Corte Real to Newfoundland in 1501.

On these two letters dated from Lisbon on October, 17th and 18th of 1501, it is Cantino himself that states that he heard everything  because he “was in the King’s presence”, when  Gaspar Corte Real made his presentation to the Portuguese monarch.

Major wind rose of the Cantino planisphere
Major wind rose of the Cantino planisphere

Today, the Cantino Planisphere is the oldest surviving map that documents Portuguese geographical discoveries.

Some of the discoveries included the Brazilian coast, US East Coast, Cuba, Hispaniola, and other Caribbean Islands.

The Cantino Planisphere is preserved in the Estense Library, in the City of Modena, located north of Bologna, in Italy.

Check out: Wikipedia