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Cartographica Helvetica


Peter H. Meurer and Günter Schilder:

The wall map of the Turkish campaign in 1529 by Johann Haselberg and Christoph Zell

Cartographica Helvetica 39 (2009) 27–42


In May 1529 Sultan Suleiman I. launched a campaign towards the northern Balkans. His main objective was to establish the Ottoman control over Hungary which was claimed by the Austrian House of Habsburg after the death of king Louis II in 1526. The Ottoman army marched from Constantinople over Belgrade to southern Hungary. Buda was captured on 8 September 1529. The campaign ended with an unsuccessful siege of Vienna from 23 September to 14 October 1529.

This was the background for the hitherto unknown wall map (woodcut and letterpress, 6 sheets, 98.5 x 62 cm), which was issued in 1530 in Nuremberg. The only known copy was recently discovered in a multi-volume composite atlas in the library of Holkham Hall in Norfolk, England. The main subject is a pictorial depiction of the Theater of War along the Danube between Constantinople and Vienna. The map also includes the historically involved area from Russia towards the eastern Mediterranean with Jerusalem. The events of 1529 and contemporary ideas towards a new Christian crusade are explained in an accompanying booklet entitled Des Türckischen Kaysers Heerzug.

Author of the map was Johann Haselberg (fl. 1514–1537) from the island of Reichenau in the Lake of Constance. He was active as a humanist writer and itinerant publisher in several towns in Germany and in Antwerp. Haselberg's partner for this first edition was the Nuremberg merchant Christoph Zell (†1544), who is known to have published at least four later maps.

The topographic image shows many errors and grave distortions, but also some very interesting details. It is designed through the compilation of various contemporary map sources, some of which are lost today. A second edition of the booklet appeared in 1531 in Erfurt. A second issue of the map is dubious. According to Abraham Ortelius' Catalogus auctorum, a further edition of this map was published around 1540 by Hans Liefrinck at Antwerp. A copy of this edition, however, has yet to be found.

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