Riding the wave


The "Grant [grand] routier"
the first French pilot book for the Mediterranean

The first French Mediterranean pilot book, complete with rudimentary coastal profiles is The grant routier, written in France in 1485 and then reproduced several times until 1643.

In 1590 the French edition appeared of the famous Spiegel der Zeevaerdt by the Dutch cartographer Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer (Leiden 1583-84), published in Antwerp "chez Jean Belle, à l'Aigle d'Or", named Du Miroir de la Navigation de la Mer Occidentale contenant toutes les cartes de France, Espaigne, et la principale partie partie de l'Angleterre, le tout compris en plusieurs diuerses Cartes Marines; ensenble l'usage d'icelles, presentement auecq fort grand travail & diligence pratiqué & assemblé, par Lucas fils de I. Chartier.

It is an album of about 26 cm x 40 in two parts, the first of which contains 22 maps of the coast from the North Sea to Portugal, while the second part, with 25 charts, represents the coast from the Channel to the Baltic Countries. Some tables bear the legend "Joannes a Doetecum F [ECIT]." The introduction contains nautical instructions, tide tables, descriptions of the seabed and a mobile wind-rose.

From Miroir de la navigation de la Mer Occidentale by L. Chartier: pl. XIV represents the coast of the Gulf of Biscay, which the legend in Dutch and Latin describes as being dangerous for seafarers. In its lack of geographical coordinates, the orientation is given by the wind-lines originating from a central rose to 32 winds. A number of sea monsters appear on the surface, still populating collective imagination. (The original, kept in Rome, at the Biblioteca Casanatense was reproduced in Coasts of the World in European cartography: 1500-1900 by Paola Presciuttini, Ivrea, Priuli & Verlucca, editori, 2000, 179 p., about 300 images.)