Maps are great fun. And they tell us a lot about the cultures & people who created them.

Yesterday I talked about how studying #maps led me to eel history. Today I'm taking a close look at a different map: this representation of Britain by Matthew Paris, from about 1250. 1/15
Paris was a chronicler & artist at the Benedictine monastery of St. Albans, just north of London. He drew several maps of England, which he put in his chronicles. The map we're looking at, called the Claudius map, was the most detailed.

Here is Paris's self-portrait. 2/15
The Claudius map is hard to read, but I've created an interactive annotated version at the website below.

You can click on any of the labels & get the modern translation, a transcription, & picture of the location linked to its Wikipedia page. 3/15…
Probably the 1st things you notice about the map are it's badly distorted geography, & the road running from like a spine down the whole country.

Paris mapped the road as a straight line (it's not!) & built the map around it, not caring if this badly warped Britain's shape. 4/15
In some respects this looks like other maps that Paris drew. He penned several maps of the pilgrim road from London to Rome. These also show straight roads & little regard for geography.

They're likely to help readers imagine the journey, rather than actually make it. 5/15
The Claudius map has generally been thought of as a fleshed out version of the pilgrim itinerary maps.

But taking a closer look at the map, & think about it in it's historical context, shows that Paris was likely using the map to press English claims to rule all Britain. 6/15
Paris's king, Henry III, fought to conquer Wales & tried claim lordship over Scotland. Henry's son Edward (kinda) completed both goals.

Paris knew Henry, & worked personally w/ the king to connect his chronicles to the king's ambitions. And his maps did their part. 7/15
Paris labeled Scotland and Wales on his map. But he wasn't admitting to their independence. They're labeled exactly like other places like Cornwall, or Suffolk.

What's not labeled on the map? England.

The only point of comparison of Scotland & Wales are English holdings. 8/15
So let's take a look at Wales. It's not just that the label suggests that it's an English county. There's a lot going on in Wales that also argues for English possession.

I'm going to focus on 2 elements here:
1: the Brutus legend
2: the placement of episcopal centers

The map makes reference to the legend that England was settled by Trojans led by Aeneas's grandson, Brutus. Eventually these original Britons fled to the mountains of Wales & lost their claim to rule.

And here's Paris, reminding us that the Welsh descend from these losers. 10/15
In the story, popularized by Geoffrey of Monmouth, the Britons -- the Normans! -- who migrated to France are destined to return & rule the whole island.

Geoffrey's pseudo-history is a piece of Norman propaganda. And Paris is using it here to undermine Welsh sovereignty. 11/15
Episcopal centers are another tool Paris used to map Wales as an English possession. Traditionally, Wales had 4 bishops, each w/ their own see: Llandaff, St. David's, St. Asaph, & Bangor.

Only 3 of these are on the map: Bangor, St. David's, & Llandaff. 12/15
St. Asaph was the only bishopric under Welsh control when Paris drew his map. And it is absent. But Paris replaced it: he mapped the English cathedral city of Worcester over the River Severn, and inside Wales.

Wales got its 4 bishops. And they were all English. 13/15
There's more of this kind of thing, both in Wales & in Scotland, & with other map elements like the pilgrim road & Roman walls.

If we read Paris's map with intent, & in context, it begin to look less like a fancy pilgrim map, & more like potent political statement. 14/15
Maps are seldom innocuous, & they're always making claims about the world. Paying attention to what they show, & how, opens up doors of inquiry. Maps offer keys to understanding.

That's all for today. Tomorrow we'll look at a really different map, from a different time!


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More from @Tweetistorian

17 Oct
For the final thread of the week, let's go someplace warmer -- Hawai'i! -- & look at 3 different maps, made for 3 different purposes.

Each map is telling the United States a story about Hawai'i. But the stories are very different, even if the geography is (kinda) the same. 1/16 ImageImageImage
The first map, from 1876, was the product of a trigonometrical survey conduced by the Kingdom of Hawai'i.

The map shows the Kingdom's sovereignty & modernity in the face of growing US encroachment, & the Kingdom displayed it at the 1876 World's Fair in Philadelphia. 2/16 Image
The second map was made in 1893 for the Republic of Hawai'i while its leaders were in Washington DC, trying to convince the US Congress to add Hawai'i as a territory.

This quickly-made map was meant to show Hawaiians as barbaric, & the the islands as natural US possession. 3/16 Image
Read 16 tweets
15 Oct
Today's thread about eels & maps. But what do eels have to do with #maps?

Well...I didn't mean to study historical eels at all. But I fell into the study of historical eels by asking questions of a set of maps.

And in this thread I'm going to tell that story. 1/15 Image
I was looking at maps of #London from before & after the Great Fire in 1666. I was curious about how competing visions of the city played out.

One of the maps I was looking at was this city-view map, by John Norden, from 1600. And something on the map caught my eye. 2/15 Image
On the Thames, near Queenhythe, were a pair of ships labeled "The eell Schipes."

This is peculiar to me for 2 reasons:

1: Eels? Really?
2: With 1 other exception, everything on the map w/ a label is fixed & immovable; buildings & neighborhoods that can't sail away. 3/15 Image
Read 15 tweets
5 Oct
1/6 Continuing from the question of urban planning and how it enables or blocks mobility for most people living in the city. How do postcolonial cities deal with this heavy colonial legacy? Unfortunately, some make it even worse. Cf. what happens right now in Nairobi:
2/6 In accordance with a major restructuring plan for Nairobi, an expressway is being built in order to deal with constant jams in the city. Critics say it will exacerbate the still existing East-West divide, especially in terms of the greenery:
3/6 In many countries, urban expansion in the years after independence followed the existing masterplans. In the late 1960s, several ambitious plans were drawn up, for example by a French Urban Planning Mission to Kinshasa.
Read 6 tweets
5 Oct
1/12 In order to analyse the role public transport plays for urban life, we need to be aware of the limitations placed upon it by the built environment - road networks, urban layouts etc. In this regard, African cities have to contend with a heavy legacy: colonial urban planning.
2/12 The colonial period, especially in Africa, is associated with a massive process of urbanisation (though some precolonial cities actually shrank and even disappeared as trade networks changed and states were conquered in colonial wars). Freund, Bill: The African City. A History, New York 2007
3/12 Colonial cities were often planned as if they were built on a "tabula rasa" - although most actually incorporated preexisting towns and settlements. Colonial urban planners could more or less directly transpose their ideas of colonial society onto the urban layout.
Read 12 tweets
5 Oct
1/4 Hi everybody, I'm @rob_heinze. This week will be all about the history of public transport infrastructure. The point I'll be trying to make is that looking at cities from the perspective of mobility opens up important questions about what is often called "right to the city":
2/4 Who gets to move about a city and how? How are road networks built and for whom? What modes of transport (walking, bikes, cars, public transport) are possible in which parts of the city? Which mobility is required and which is enabled by the way the city is planned?
3/4 Another important set of questions is how public transport is (or, as we will see, isn't) regulated: is it organised as parastatal, public private partnership, as a competitive licensing system, or as informal transport, i.e. a lot of small, unlicensed operators?
Read 4 tweets
2 Oct
1/9 The centerpiece of Islamist thought is one idea: only God is sovereign. This implies that only divine law is legitimate. Failure to submit to this conception of God is unbelief. Without South Asian input, this idea wouldn’t have been so successful in the Middle East & beyond.
2/9 The crucial figure is Abul A'la #Maududi. A journalist & politician with early religious inclinations, his career transcended British India & Pakistan. None other than the Egyptian Muslim Brother Yusuf al-Qaradawi led his funeral prayers in Lahore’s Gaddafi stadium in 1979.
3/9 Maududi made the establishment of divine sovereignty (#hakimiyya) his signature demand. But he also envisioned a strong state to uphold it: he called this “the #caliphate of man”. This dialectics between divine & popular sovereignty was here to stay in Islamist thought.
Read 9 tweets

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