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The Wondrous East in the Renaissance Geographical Imagination: Marco Polo, Fra Mauro and Giovanni Battista Ramusio

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During the Renaissance, readers of accounts about the Far East faced the problem of assessing sources from a range of periods, often produced by writers who were not eyewitnesses. This article considers the responses of mapmakers and geographers to claims about the East by analysing expressions of belief, surprise, doubt and incredulity on maps and in geographical works. By considering examples from the late medieval period to the seventeenth century, it reveals important continuities to the ways in which the East, and Marco Polo, were perceived before and after sustained European contact with the Far East began. Particular attention is paid to Fra Mauro, maker of the most extensively annotated map before the age of oceanic travel to Asia; and to Giovanni Battista Ramusio, editor of the first multi-volume travel compendium.
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Keywords: Cartography; Fra Mauro; Giovanni Battista Ramusio; Marco Polo; Wonders

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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