Vol. 12 (2023): The Circulation of Cosmographical Knowledge in Early Modern Europe
Part One - Introduction

Cosmography, Knowledge in Transit: A Conspectus

Janet Clare
University of Bristol

Published 2023-03-19


  • Astronomy,
  • Cosmography,
  • Geography,
  • Knowledge,
  • Maps

How to Cite

Clare, J. (2023). Cosmography, Knowledge in Transit: A Conspectus. Journal of Early Modern Studies, 12. https://doi.org/10.36253/jems-2279-7149-14382


From a modern perspective, it could be argued that cosmography was a protoscience, or ancestral to geography. To systemize it according to its modern legacy, however, dilutes its early modern diversity. Cosmography has a place in both the history of science and in historical geography, without being confined to either discipline. The article explores how cosmography circulated across disciplines, national borders, and social classes. It materialized not only in books, but in a variety of forms, including maps, instruments, letters, and lectures. Knowledge evolved as new discoveries were made about the earth and the heavens, but ideas gain traction only with difficulty when they breach conceptual boundaries. The first parts of the article will address sites, modes, and materials of knowledge exchange. In the final part, I will focus on caution, resistance, and censorship in the transmission and subsequent transformation of knowledge, with particular reference to the Copernican revolution.