View Full Version : Need Help Identifying Time of Old Map

01-16-2011, 12:45 PM
This may not be the right site/forum for this question; if you know of another forum I might post this question, please let me know.

Not being a cartographer, and not being educated in the study of ancient maps, I'm trying to identify the time that this map of Normandy was created:


(Or you can take a look at he map on my server:
http://havilands.org/1792map-300dpi.jpg )

The map image is courtesy co-researcher Robert P. Haviland.

On the lower right it appears to say "an.1792" which would indicate the year 1792. But a counter-argument is that it says an A 792, wherein the third A is capitalized and faded, and the year of the map is 792. I don't know enough about ancient maps and cartographic legends to understand the validity of these ideas.

I have a second question about this map, which is the basis for asking the question about the map's date. At the top, in the area that used to be Neustria before the Norman invasion, in the Cotentin Peninsula, there is what appears to be a double-shoreline and the symbol of a triple-turreted fortress:


I think it reads "Pt. Abilant." This is significant because the Haviland (de Havilland) family is said to originate in Neustria, on the Cotentin, from a fortress called Abilant, "three flights of an arrow" from the mouth of the river Saire, which is pretty much where this label indicates. Also, the Haviland / de Havilland coats of arms feature a tower triple-towered almost exactly like the symbol on this map (which is a charge shared with the kingdom of Castille and a few others, but with different colors).

But the area indicated on this map appears to be out in what is now the ocean. We have studied more modern maps of Point de Saire, and the shoreline has certainly moved inland since the first century. So the question is: is the old map trying to indicate an older shoreline, or a shoreline at low tide?

The castle was sacked by the Vikings in 888 or thereabouts, so it was standing in 792 but it was gone by 1792. The family would settle as "de Haveilland" on Guernsey by the 1400's, and at that time I don't believe there was any longer a castle Abilant standing on the Cotentin.

Any thoughts, including further expert insight on this old map, would be appreciated!

01-16-2011, 01:06 PM
Disclaimer: I'm not an expert either; what follows is my inexpert opinion just from staring at so many maps of all types all the time.

Well, looking at the fonts, I'd say that if it were a capital A792 it would be slanted more, so I think it is indeed a.n.1792 .... there appears to be that double shoreline around the entire map, which is fascinating. It looks to me like a low tide coastline ... maybe the ruins of the castle were still there in 1792? It might be important to have that on the map, as it'd be a ship hazard at high tide.

01-16-2011, 01:15 PM
I suggest you ask your question on the MapHist maling list http://www.maphist.nl/. There a many specialists on historic maps.

01-16-2011, 05:14 PM
Thanks very much guys!

01-16-2011, 05:35 PM
I"m also not an expert, but the fonts definitely look typeset, a technology that wasn't in Europe until the mid 1400's. Stylistically I would say late 18th century copperplate, which matches nicely with the 1792 date.

01-17-2011, 10:25 AM
I've blown up the date in Photoshop and it looks like it says: an.179? A question mark because it may be a 2 or a 0 or a 3 (not sure which). To me the fonts look hand drawn, not typeset. There are too many inconsistencies between the same letter type. The font used in this map is very similar to one I have at home, which was made in circa 1730 which is certainly hand drawn as I have the original.

The interesting thing is that although the map says an.179? I'm not sure if it means whether the map was created in 179? or whether it is of a map of a place as it was in 179? or both. My guess is that the map was made in 179? but it is of an earlier time since the title reads: Tabula Topgraphyca antiqua. Tabula can mean map (1). So my translation would be 'Antique Topographical Map'

This is followed by the text: Agi? Abrincatuorum et Venelloru (the last is cut off, but I think it is Venellorum). But the Romans used to write the letter U like a V.

Good old Google found this for me: Jacques-François Lefranc's Tabula topographyca antiqua pagi Abrincatuorum et Unellorum; Link Here (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ad.1079/abstract)

Anyway I did a google on Lefranc and found This (http://www.cartographersguild.com/%27s%20a%20historical%20map%20of%20Normandy%20publ ished%20in%201792%20by%20Abbe%20Jacques-Fran%C3%83%C2%A7ois%20Lefranc,%20the%20director%20 of%20the%20seminary%20at%20Coutances;%20I%20don%27 t%20what%20he%20based%20his%20information%20on.%20 %20http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=c...ed=0CDsQ6AEwBQ%20%20%28It%20may%20in% 20fact%20have%20been%20a%20posthumous%20publicatio n,%20because%20he%20refused%20to%20take%20the%20oa th%20for%20the%20civil%20constitution%20of%20the%2 0clergy,%20was%20deposed%20from%20his%20post,%20an d%20was%20massacred%20along%20with%20180%20other%2 0priests%20in%20Paris%20in%20September%20of%20that %20year,%20such%20was%20the%20fraternal%20spirit%2 0of%20those%20happy%20days:%20%20Le%2016%20mars%20 1789,%20Fran%C3%83%C2%A7ois%20Lefranc,%20sup%C3%83 %C2%A9rieur%20du%20S%C3%83%C2%A9minaire,%20accueil lait%20dans%20sa%20chapelle%20ses%20confr%C3%83%C2 %A8res%20de%20l%27ordre%20du%20Clerg%C3%83%C2%A9,% 20soit%20425%20eccl%C3%83%C2%A9siastiques.%20Ce%20 m%C3%83%C2%AAme%20Fran%C3%83%C2%A7ois%20Lefranc%20 ayant%20refus%C3%83%C2%A9%20de%20pr%C3%83%C2%AAter %20serment,%20il%20fut%20contraint%20de%20remettre %20les%20cl%C3%83%C2%A9s%20du%20S%C3%83%C2%A9minai re%20%C3%83%C2%A0%20l%27%20%C3%83%C2%A9v%C3%83%C2% AAque%20constitutionnel%20B%C3%83%C2%A9cherel%20le %2017avril%201791.%20Tous%20les%20Eudistes%20furen t%20expuls%C3%83%C2%A9s.%20Fran%C3%83%C2%A7ois%20L efranc%20se%20rendit%20%C3%83%C2%A0%20Paris.%20Arr %C3%83%C2%AAt%C3%83%C2%A9%20et%20enferm%C3%83%C2%A 9%20au%20Couvent%20des%20Carmes,%20il%20fut%20mass acr%C3%83%C2%A9%20avec%20180%20autres%20pr%C3%83%C 2%AAtres%20le%202%20septembre%201792.%20L%27%C3%83 %C2%A9glise%20l%27a%20b%C3%83%C2%A9atifi%C3%83%C2% A9.%29%20Last%20edited%20by%20Linschoten;%20Yester day%20at%2002:16%20PM.) which is another forum where you posted the same question and in which someone gave you the answer yesterday!

So it looks like the Map was published in 1792 (if the information from the historical forums is correct) but it is of a part of France in an earlier time.

It's a historical map of Normandy published in 1792 by Abbe Jacques-François Lefranc, the director of the seminary at Coutances; I don't what he based his information on.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=c...ed=0CDsQ6AEwBQ (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=cKwQAAAAIAAJ&q=abrincatuorum+1792&dq=abrincatuorum+1792&hl=en&ei=uT0zTc6MLouDhQfu76jgCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDsQ6AEwBQ)

(It may in fact have been a posthumous publication, because he refused to take the oath for the civil constitution of the clergy, was deposed from his post, and was massacred along with 180 other priests in Paris in September of that year, such was the fraternal spirit of those happy days:

Le 16 mars 1789, François Lefranc, supérieur du Séminaire, accueillait dans sa chapelle ses confrères de l'ordre du Clergé, soit 425 ecclésiastiques. Ce même François Lefranc ayant refusé de prêter serment, il fut contraint de remettre les clés du Séminaire à l' évêque constitutionnel Bécherel le 17avril 1791. Tous les Eudistes furent expulsés. François Lefranc se rendit à Paris. Arrêté et enfermé au Couvent des Carmes, il fut massacré avec 180 autres prêtres le 2 septembre 1792. L'église l'a béatifié.)

The interesting question is when? And that, my good friend. I do not know! I would guess it might be of Roman times, since the word Tabula was used to describe another Roman map, the Tabula Peutingeriana. The fact that the title is written in Latin doesn't really tell us much as many people wrote in latin in the 1700s, particularly the clergy. Another clue is in the name of the town Alauna. Wiki gives this: The town (Valognes) was built not far from the Roman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Rome) town of Alauna or Alaunia, from where the town derives its name. It was a fortified stronghold under the Norman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_people) dukes and French monarchs.

The Tabula Peutingeriana (Peutinger table) is an itinerarium showing the road network in the Roman Empire. The original map (only copies have survived) dates from the 4th century. It covers Europe, parts of Asia (India) and North-Africa. The map is named after Konrad Peutinger, a German 15-16th century humanist.

01-17-2011, 01:55 PM
I'm not sure what I was thinking about the typeset thing. Copperplate engraving is, by definition, hand drawn. The style of the font strikes me as 18th century.