a1 Birkbeck, University of London
This article explores the impulse behind the outpouring of extraordinarily ornate maps representing the inhabitants of Brazil that emanated from Normandy in the mid-sixteenth century. It aims to understand the reasons behind the iconography of Brazil, a region of particular commercial interest for the French. Whereas maps produced elsewhere in this period emphasize the presence of fierce cannibals in Brazil, Norman examples highlight peaceful relations, particularly the dyewood trade. By analysing the maps in comparison with extant maps from other centres of production (particularly Portugal and the German lands), travel accounts, and wider visual culture, this article explores their relationship to possible sources and considers the extent to which their iconography had a basis in experience. By investigating the use of these maps as gifts to French kings, it suggests that the mapmakers’ selective use of trading imagery also played a persuasive role in the Norman maritime world's disputes with the Portuguese crown over the extent of Portugal's Atlantic empire.
* For helpful suggestions on this article, I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers. I am grateful for the support of the Leverhulme Trust. For comments on an earlier draft of this material, thanks are due to Charles Burnett, Tony Campbell, Jill Kraye and Elizabeth McGrath.