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América según la Cosmographia de Sebastian Münster (1550 y 1628)

Kramer, Johannes

Romanistik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (RomGG), Bd. 22 (2016), Iss. 2: S. 3–30

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Kramer, Johannes


Whatever laymen in the late XVIth century knew about America, didn’t have its source in the original writings of the explorers simply because they were written in Spanish, a language scarcely accessible to the avarage educated audience. Instead, the normal information came from general encyclopaedias like the Cosmographia compiled by Sebastian Münster (1488–1552), a universal scholar typical of the XVIth century. His Cosmographia (1550) was in its time a widespread book. Münster himself wrote a Latin version for a public with humanistic background (1550a) and a German version for a larger readership craving for sensations (1550b). In this article the focus will be mainly on Münster’s description of Hispaniola and on the differences between the Latin and the German versions. Another main stress will be put on the progress of knowledge detectable from the last edition of the Cosmographia (1628) procured by Münster’s successors.