The Cosmographia of Sebastian Münster: Describing the World in the Reformation

1st Edition

Matthew McLean

Routledge
Published September 28, 2007
Reference - 392 Pages
ISBN 9780754658436 - CAT# Y235827
Series: St Andrews Studies in Reformation History

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Summary

Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia was an immensely influential book that attempted to describe the entire world across all of human history and analyse its constituent elements of geography, history, ethnography, zoology and botany. First published in 1544 it went through thirty-five editions and was published in five languages, making it one of the most important books of the Reformation period. Beginning with a biographical study of Sebastian Münster, his life and the range of his scholarly work, this book then moves on to discuss the genre of cosmography. The bulk of the book, however, deals with the Cosmographia itself, offering a close reading of the 1550 Latin edition (the last and definitive edition worked upon by Münster). By analysing the contents of the Cosmographia it attempts to recreate how the world of the sixteenth century appeared to a scholar living in Basel, and understand what he saw and heard. Through this examination of Münster, his publications and scholarly networks, the conflicts and continuities between medieval scholarly traditions and the widening horizons of the sixteenth century are explored and revealed. Of interest to scholars of humanist culture, the Reformation and book history, this ambitious work throws into relief previously overlooked aspects of the intellectual and religious culture of the time.

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