Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Princesses, Paupers, and Property Disputes?

There is something neat about maps that look like they have been ripped from the pages of a fairytale. They conjure up nice images – favorite stories heard in a cozy bed, faraway places, and visions of valiant princes and beautiful maidens.

At first I thought that this map was more of the same, but instead of illustrating a bedtime story, this Property Plan of Inclesmoor actually shows a 15th century quarrel between neighbors - the Duchy of Lancaster and Saint Mary’s Abbey.

It seems that in 1402, each claimed rights to this desirable 240 square-mile plot of pastureland and peat. The map, drawn around 1450, shows features described in an accompanying legal document, such as pastures (marked with the feathery plants) and towns (marked with red and brown squares).

For thousands of years, people have been marking their territory with maps. In fact, many of Europe’s earliest maps were the result of property disputes.

And here’s another fact: this original map will be in the Walters Art Museum exhibit Maps: Finding Our Place in the World.

Check out these links to see other cool antique maps:

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