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Latitudine senza latitudine. La carta nautica di Francesco Beccari (1403). Misurazioni astronomiche e carte per navigare nell'Europa tardo-medievale

Abstract : These pages deal with the knowledge and diffusion of latitude data during the Middle Ages. In literature and up until the Renaissance, these knowledge and data are usually limited to a cultural elite and struggle to find practical applications in cartography. This is why nautical cartography in the Middle Ages is usually presented as the surprising result of primarily practical knowledge based, above all, on the direct experience of navigators, and, secondarily, on the use of simple navigational instruments such as the compass and the hourglass. If on the one hand this premise explains the diffusion and uniformity of cartography during the XIVth and XVth centuries, on the other it causes a break with previous models (very few of which still exist) and with the renewed scientific studies that became more widespread starting from the XIth century. This break is partially recomposed with Francesco Beccari’s portolan chart, completed in February 1403 in Savona. A full century before the great planispheres of the XVIth century, this map shows a graduated scale of latitude and, when compared to earlier and contemporary cartography, also shows several notable corrections of distances and in the positioning of toponyms of the European Atlantic coastlines: the result of accurate measurements. We have therefore attempted to reconstruct the ample technical and cultural context that may justify this premature appearance. We begin with the influence of Tolomeo on a cartography based on a system of coordinates, and with the first, timid, accounts from the Middle ages regarding gridded maps. The text will then use evidence gathered from travel reports on astronomical measurements, indications from navigation manuals regarding the methods of recognition used for the position of places, the methods used in representing this information on a bidimensional figure and the use of nautical charts as an indispensable instrument for plotting a course and correcting any mistake on the route.
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Contributor : Marco Piccardi Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Sunday, September 25, 2022 - 4:38:35 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, October 1, 2022 - 3:44:35 AM


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Fortunato Lepore, Marco Piccardi, Enzo Pranzini. Latitudine senza latitudine. La carta nautica di Francesco Beccari (1403). Misurazioni astronomiche e carte per navigare nell'Europa tardo-medievale. Studi Costieri, 2017, pp.33-110. ⟨hal-03787553⟩



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