A selection of illustrations from Michael Servetus's (1511?-1553) second edition of Ptolemy's work on geography. This guide to geography, originally written in the 2nd century A.D., became the standard work until the 16th century, and was still having an influence in the 18th century, in spite of its inaccuracies. To some degree later editors augmented and corrected their versions of his text. For example in this edition Servetus makes use of the same maps produced by Laurentius Fries for his edition of Ptolemy in 1522, and one of these, a map of the world, incorporates the newly discovered continent of America, and was the first map on which the name America appeared.
Servetus himself was a Spanish theologian, and later physician, operating in France and Switzerland, whose unconventional views managed to upset Protestants and Catholics, both of whom proclaimed him a heretic. He has the distinction of having been burnt twice for heresy, once as an effigy, when he escaped from a trial in Lyons, and then actually in person after reappearing in Geneva. The reformer Calvin played a prominent role in enforcing this punishment, but drew heavy criticism for this, and initiated a lot of controversy about the use of the death penalty for heresy.
The first image below shows Britain and Ireland, the second shows a detail from a map of Africa, with the mythical Christian King of Ethiopia, Prester John, and the source of the Nile, and the third shows a detail from a map of South America, inhabited by cannibals and a strange four-legged animal.
Given by Domenico Ferrari.