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Mapping the Medieval World

  • The aim of this section is to provide resources in order to make a cartography of the medieval world. It is not a presentation of mapping systems developed in the Middle Ages, which are presented in the "medieval cartography" of Ménestrel. Neither will we identify the historical maps already available online. Indeed, the Internet is full of very useful portals in this respect, and our readers will find them easily: we can quote for example the catalogue provided by the Perry-Castañeda Library at the University of Texas or, as a typical example of an online printed atlas, Gustav Droysens Allgemeiner historischer Handatlas.

    Instead, we want to provide data already processed by historians, concerning medieval space and directly importable into mapping software like GIS (Geographic Information System). These are essentially serial data, such as bishoprics, monasteries, palaces, libraries, etc. Compared to other websites with a similar purpose, the resources presented here have the following characteristics:
    - All will be presented in open source, since for each series, we will provide both a final result in image format, a shapefile for fast import into a GIS software and the scientific data which will allow the user to appropriate, customize and complete the results.
    - In addition, each data element will be dated as precisely as possible, so that you can choose whether you want to display the result in the year 800, in the year 1100, etc.
    - Finally, we assign the map data a very high degree of precision to make it easy to zoom from the world scale to that of a street. This goal, conceived to facilitate collaboration between historians and archaeologists, will make it possible to use a map at the same time, for example, to illustrate the development of Carolingian society as a whole or an article on the topography of one single city.

    On this basis, the software obeying international standards will quickly import our data, with the possibility to automatically adjust figurative motifs or appearance of the labels (e.g., the font used for the names of bishoprics). Thus, any historian with georeferenced base maps can obtain in a single click the resources needed to complete them with serial data. For those who do not have such a base map yet, this section will also show how to produce it easily. Finally, beyond the help that we hope to provide for creating maps, this collection can also be a path to scientific development and cooperation.

    Thomas LIENHARD, 17 December 2015 | 7 November 2012
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