French Cartography

It lasted to 1732 before a more accurate map of Korea was made. France was the next country where the cartography started to bloom. The new century brought great political changes and under the absolutist rule of Louis XIII and XIV map makers were granted a degree of royal support and patronage unknown elsewhere. By the last years of the century Dutch maritime power was in decline and France became the center of geographical science, her cartographers producing the most advanced and beautiful maps of the time.

Whilst the members of the Cassini family were concentrating on the mapping of France, other French cartographers maintained and, indeed, surpassed the standards of excellence set by Sanson and his successors in the previous century. Prominent among the new generation of scientific cartographers were Guillaume Delisle, whose maps of Africa and America were especially influential, Jean-Baptiste Bourguinon d'Anville (1697-1782) with notable maps of Africa and the Far East, Didier Robert de Vaugondy (1723 - 1786) (Atlas Universel, 1757) and Jacques Nicolas Bellin (1703 -1772), famous for his sea charts. At the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, the explorers Comte de la Pérouse (1785-88), Louis de Freycinet (around 1812) and others added to charts of the Pacific and the Australian coastline and Dumont d'Urville completed three voyages (1822-40) to New Zealand, and later issued a series of new improved charts of that country.

bellin1746.jpg (460430 bytes)Jacques Nicolas Bellin Cartes Isles du Japon et la presque isle de Coree, avec les costes de la Chine depuis Pekin jusqu'a Canton. From Antoine-Francois Prevost, Histoire General des Voyages, Bd. 2 Paris 1746. (this one comes from a Dutch edition) Bellin added this map to Prevost itinary which have been published in French, Dutch, German, Italian and Danish. The maps were also published in separate atlases, which have been colored later. Bellin actually had three completely three different maps of Korea, published even in the same atlas. We will call these the Bellin type.

d'Anville and his Korean source.

Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville (1697-1782) engraved his first map at the age of fifteen and produced many maps of high quality throughout his career. He became the finest cartographer of his time and carried on the French school of cartography developed by the Sanson and the de L'Isle families. Although he apparently never left the city of Paris, he had access to the reports and maps of French explorers, traders, and missionaries. During his long career he accumulated a large collection of cartographic materials that has been preserved. He was particularly interested in Asia and produced the first reasonably accurate map of China in 1735. He became Royal Geographer and Cartographer to the King of France in the middle of the eighteenth century, at a time when French cartography was still considered to be the best in the world. He was the successor to Guillaume Delisle as the chief proponent of scientific cartography, and his influence on his contemporaries was profound. D'Anville was the finest cartographer of his time, "his attention to detail was exemplary, his maps having a great delicacy of engraving" (Tooley).

In his Tartariae Sinensis which was first printed in 1732, d'Anville showed Korea fairly accurate, though it becomes clear that he had used Korean sources for the first time.

Korean developments.

In Korea, administrative geography has a long tradition. It followed in main, the Chinese models. Both countries had a central government, which directly administrated the nation down to a local level. Since the local government tinkered with the system constantly, due to various fiscal and political systems, there were frequently changes to record. A district which at one time may have had a local magistrate, might be subordinate to another and had a name change in the process as well. Districts were ranked according to their political and military importance. The earliest surviving treatise on Korean geography is found in the Samguk sagi (history of the Three Kingdoms), compiled in 1145 by Kim Pusik.

The Choson dynasty made many changes in local administration after it came to power in 1392, when King Sejong ordered a survey of the nation's provinces and districts. Of key importance for cartography were the precise data on distances from district to district, collected in a way that a mapmaker could have the data needed with a high degree of redundancy and verification. These surveys have been repeated, and were, particularly the military data, for government use only, but it would have been available for the various cartographic projects that went on. The Sungnam comprehensive geographical reference work was published and became known in a final version in 1531.

The geomantic approach to land in life coexisted with the bureaucratic concern for the more practical approaches to geography. It was a more intuitive way of seeing the land, combining various emotional and religious elements in landscape perception with an often insightful and shrewd analyses of the physical features of the earth.  The feature that draws the most criticism from Korean scholars is the general outline of the country, which, roughly spoken well defined, suffered from a flattening and radical shortening of the northern border area. The northern border was more or less established during king Sejong's reign by 1441. It was not till the 17th and early 18th century that these parts were permanently settled and organized. The frontier from the craterlake and summit of Mount Peaktu to the headwaters of the Tumen, was fixed by formal agreement with the Qing dynasty in 1712, the final step in Korea's present day borders. The Japanese invasions of the 1590's and a long-term series of Manchu suppressions and two invasions created an atmosphere where the Koreans were afraid to be too detailed on their maps, since this information might be used against them.

Three important developments helped transform Korean culture and nurtured new trends in cartography. The first was the bitter anti Manchu hostility which developed after two invasions and the overthrow of the Ming dynasty by the Manchus. Indirectly this encouraged however a more independent Korean self-consciousness and a burst of cultural creativity. Second, new trends in scholarship encouraged a fresh interest in science and pragmatic research. Geography was one of the disciplines which became fashionable among many scholars. Last but not least, early Sino-Jesuit cartography continued to find its way to Korea.

King Sejong ordered an interesting polar altitude project, but no further information on geodetic measurement is available until western survey methods were introduced in 1713, when a Manchu envoy arrived and sent a Jesuit-trained Chinese surveyor to the center of Seoul. The rise of the Manchus resulted at first in favorable development for Korea. Around 1600, the Jurchens (who only started to call themselves Manchus in 1636) abandoned the Peaktu-Tumen region to join the campaigns of their leader Nurhaci. To meet the growing Russian expansion the Manchus reorganized the defenses of the Manchurian homelands in the 1650s and 1660s. A Manchu survey inspected the region of the Changbaishan, the Chinese name for Paektusan, in the summer of 1677. In 1679 the Manchus had made or acquired maps of the whole of the Korean side of the border from one side of the peninsula to the other and they visited a Korean commander in the north and requested information on "present installations, maps and 'floating iron' [compass] bearings in the area of Changbaishan." They allowed him to copy their own map. The Qing prompted for stricter controls on Korean frontier dwellers. In 1699 Korean envoys were ordered by the Manchu authorities to execute a map of Korea's eight provinces with route and distance data.

The Manchu's emperor Kangxi made a project to map his empire and it took on new energy when the Jesuits joined the effort in 1709. Before the year was over they had mapped Manchuria and the borders of Korea. By 1716, they and their Chinese and Manchu assistants had mapped the entire Chinese empire plus Tibet and Korea. These maps were printed in Chinese versions in 1717 and 1719, and in a definitive version in 1721.

An explanation of the Jesuit map of Korea by father Jean-Baptiste Regis (1664-1738), who with Fathers Pierre Jartoux (1669-1720) and Erhernberg Xavier Fridelli (1643-1743) had done the Manchurian and Korean regions in 1709 and 1710, is given by Jean Baptiste du Halde's (1674 - 1743). Since the Jesuits were not allowed in Korea the "Tartar lord" (Mukedeng a troubleshooter and trusted assistant for the Kangxi emperor) was accompanied by the previously mentioned Chinese surveyor who was trained by the Jesuits. They made measurements and made observations. While in Korea the team was under constant surveillance, but the Tartar lord was given a map, which was kept at the royal palace. Regis produced a map that came out in the Kangxi atlas was used and edited by d'Anville and published in 1735 in du Halde (description de la Chine) and as "Royaume de Coree" (atlas de la Chine 1737). Du Halde was a French Jesuit, and geographer of Paris.

arville.jpg (116025 bytes)Despite the broadening of the southern part of the peninsula, this map was in the main accurate and was widely copied in the next 150 years (McCune 1977). We will call this shape AND the mentioning of Quelpaert AND Fung-ma as two separate islands the Anville type.


We can see on this detail that French transcriptions of Chinese names were used and that Quelpaert Island and Fong-ma are both used for Cheju-do and that they are depicted as two separate islands. Obviously the connection was not made yet.

Aut_0907.jpg (25686 bytes)The title of the same map which shows erroneously that the initial date on which this was printed in French was in 1732 (should be 1737), the second edition in German was in 1749.

The history of the maps becomes too complicated after that period to describe it here in detail. Suffice to say that till the disclosure of Korea we find no major changes in the topography of Korea, only details are filled in and contours are better defined.

To part 7: Jean-François de Galoup.

Back to index