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A Medieval Atlas

Find the map you need or explore some fascinating pieces of the past.

By

A Medieval Atlas
Melissa Snell

Nothing helps bring the past into focus quite like a well-executed map. Here at the Medieval History site, I've provided some maps depicting parts of the world as it was during the Middle Ages. There are also many more maps available on the web. Our atlas is designed to help you find the map you need in the manner you find most convenient, and to offer you some intriguing documents of the past to explore.

The time frame for the Medieval Atlas is from the late fifth century to the year 1700. For earlier maps, consult the Ancient Atlas by N. S. Gill at the Ancient/Classical History site. For later maps, visit Jen Rosenberg's index at the 20th Century History site.

For everything you could possibly want to know about geography and maps in general, don't miss Matt Rosenberg's super Geography site here at About.com.


Types of Map

There are several different types of medieval map available on the Internet. A historical map is a modern depiction of a place in times past; this describes most of the medieval maps on the web. A period or antique map is one that was drawn during the middle ages of the world as it was at that time. Period maps offer fascinating glimpses into the medieval mindset, and can also be stunning works of art.

Many of the maps you'll encounter are old historical maps -- maps depicting the Middle Ages that were drawn centuries later, but are nearly a century old now themselves. Printed atlases, like any printed book, can lose their copyright after enough time has passed, so these public-domain maps can be scanned and posted on the web for anyone to use. There is valuable information contained in old historical maps, although they are frequently rather ornate and can be difficult to read compared to the simpler style of more modern works.

In addition to maps that depict political boundaries, some topic maps are available. These maps illustrate subjects like the spread of the plague, trade routes, battlefields, and similar topics. You can find maps that illustrate a particular subject, when available, in the appropriate category of our directory; or you can consult our Maps by Topic index.


Finding Maps

To help you find the right historical or period map, I've devised several different indices:

    Maps by Region
    If you know the general area you want, but aren't certain of the place names, try this graphical index. Just point to the region that interests you on the image map and click for an index of maps and map sites for that region. Our Maps by Region index is multilayered to help you find maps of smaller and smaller geographical regions, where available.

    Maps by Place Name
    Use this alphabetical index to find maps according to the name of the city, country or continent they represent.

    Maps by Century
    This index is particularly useful for maps of the changing face of medieval Europe. Choose the century that interests you for a chronological index of maps by year and a selection of general maps for that century.

    City and Town Maps
    The few city maps available here and on the web are listed in alphabetical order in this index. City maps are also accessible through the index for the region in which they're located.

    Maps by Topic
    Our topic index helps you find maps according to the particular subject they depict, such as trade routes and migrations. You will also discover these maps in the appropriate subject index of our directory.

    Period Maps
    Look here for images of maps created during the Middle Ages. You will also find period maps in the other indices.


A Work in Progress

Our Medieval Atlas will be constantly evolving as new maps are added. If you know of a map on the net you think should be added to this directory, please send me the URL. If you are unable to find the map you're looking for, either through our directory or with the help of our search feature, try posting a question on our bulletin board.

A Medieval Atlas is copyright © 2000-2009 Melissa Snell.

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