A Tale of Two Mappae Mundi: The Map Psalter and its Mixed-Media Maps

La Porte, Melissa
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University of Guelph

This thesis investigates small-scale mappae mundi, world maps, created in the thirteenth-century, which record the historical, mythical, social, and religious reality of the world for wealthy English patrons. My research focuses on two maps found in a Psalm book (British Library Add. MS 28681, f. 9 and f. 9v) on either side of a single page. One depicts the world in typical mappae mundi fashion, with Jerusalem at the centre of a network of cities, topographic features and monstrous creatures while the other lists place names and geographic descriptions. The maps depict the world in very different manners, one textually and the other visually, but their placement on the same leaf emphasizes their connection. This work explores the iconography, socio-historic context and literary precedence of mappae mundi in order to comprehend the distinct need for mixed-media to represent and understand a complex worldly existence in thirteenth-century England.

Antipodes, Map Psalter, mappae mundi, medieval education, medieval identity formation, monstrous races, monstrous races, book arts, world maps, illustrated psalter, imaginary travel