Jaume Ferrer's ship from the Catalan Atlas

The Mallorcan School of Cartography. Background. I.
Detail from the Catalan Atlas
After the Catalan Conquest in 1229 and the influx of learned Jews and other nationalities, Mallorca’s strategic trading position, made it ideally situated to develop a flourishing cartographic school which produced lavish, vividly coloured illustrations of cities, geographical features, portraits of kings and other rulers, and a wealth of topographical detail both known from experience and imaginary. Prior to the production of the first map in Mallorca, Ramon Llull the Mallorcan scholar, included a sea chart among essential navigational tools, comparing its importance with that of the compass. In 1354, King Pere of Aragon decreed that all ships of his realm should carry two charts.

The earliest Mallorcan charts are preserved in the British Museum and they were followed by the chart by Angelino Dalorto (1327) and the portolan chart by Angelino Dolcert in 1339. All the typical features are to be seen -colours, place names, drawings of topographical details, personalities, etc. -with explanatory notes in Latin. This document also marks a departure from the strictly Mediterranean frame of reference of earlier portolans as it makes an attempt to represent northern Europe and includes more information on Africa.

Although not a cartographer, Jaume Ferrer was a Mallorcan sailor who left Mallorca on 10th August 1346 and sailed the coast of Africa to Senegal and perhaps to the mouth of the River Niger. This is shown in the Catalan Atlas.

2 3 4