From vast empires to small battlefields, we're putting history on the map.
We're proud that our maps encompass world history – from palaeolithic times to the present day. But we're also struck by the multiplicity of scales that have been deployed – from vast empires that span continents to the minute details of battlefield engagements. Our latest uploads illustrate this range...
The Expansion of France and Prussia 1797
Our newest upload is a minutely detailed examination of central Europe at the time of the collapse of the First Coalition in 1797. The French Republic, under attack from Austria and Prussia, had responded aggressively and, under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte, invaded northern Italy. Under the Treaty of Campo Formio (1797) substantial territory in Italy and the Austrian Netherlands was ceded to the resurgent French Empire, and only Britain was left to confront the French threat. Meanwhile Prussia, Russia and Austria completed the Third Partition of Poland, resulting in its complete dissolution.
We're fascinated by the cartographers that have gone before us, and this map depicts the world view of Eratosthenes, a renowned polymath who was born in Cyrene (present-day Libya) under Ptolemaic rule in c. 276 BCE. His habitable world (oikoumene) is tripartite, divided into three continents: Libya, Europe and Asia. The oikoumene is bounded by a vast ocean, and the habitable temperate zone is flanked by frigid and torrid zones, inimical to life.
Our map of the Battle of Langside 13 May 1568 depicts the disorderly rout that ensued when Mary, Queen of Scots, supported by the Scottish nobility, confronted the Earl of Moray, her son James's regent. William Kircaldy's mounted musketeers launched a successful ambush and the Queen's left flank was overrun. When Lord Chelmsford marched into Zulu territory in on 22 January 1879, he set camp at Isandlwana. The full Zulu 'bulls' horns' charge of some 20,000 warriors overwhelmed the British, who were annihilated in hand-to-hand combat.
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The Norman Conquest of England 1066
The death of the English king, Edward the Confessor, in January 1066 set off a momentous chain of events that culminated in the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest. The victory of Duke William of Normandy over King Harold at Hastings meant that William could seize the English throne, but his victory was not a fait accompli and he was forced to subdue rebellions in the north of England. The Normans went on to have a major impact on England, from the way it was governed, to language, law, customs and architecture.