MAPA GENERAL DE ESPAÑA, construido por D. Tomás López, Geógrafo de los Dominios de S.M. 1770.

AUTHOR Tomás Mauricio López de Vargas Machuca (1730-1802), known as Tomás López.
PUBLISHER Tomás López, who had founded a workshop to create and engrave his own maps after returning from France in 1760, also edits this map. He had been pensioned in Paris since 1752 together with other engravers sent by minister Marqués de la Ensenada1. When he returned, even though he still received 6000 reales (old Spanish coin) per year as official funding and an additional amount of 100 doubloons (3200 reales) at minister Marqués de Esquilache’s proposal2, he always published his maps at his own workshop3.
This is one of the first maps in which López included his honorary title of Geógrafo de los Dominios de su Majestad (his Majesty’s domains Geographer). He had just achieved it probably supported by Pedro Rodriguez de Campomanes, a rising politician and the director of the Real Academia de la Historia (Royal Academy of History) for which López worked since 1766 compiling cartography4. He also developed the postal routes map that Campomanes included in his Itinerario Real de Postas de dentro y fuera de España (Royal Postal Routes from inside and outside Spain)(1761).
SUPPORTING AUTHORS We don’t know the name of the other members of Tomás López workshop in this period. We only do between 1761 and 1763, when engraver Juan Antonio Salvador Carmona5, brother of the also engraver Manuel Salvador who was sent with López to Paris, worked there.
SCALE AND UNITS: Four graphic scales are included: “twenty walk-hour leagues per degree”, “26 ½ legal Castilian leagues per degree”, “19 common Portuguese leagues per degree” and “25 common French leagues per degree”. The numerical scale, based on the document size and the graphic scales, is around 1:2.430.000.
REPRESENTED AREA Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands, including parts of southern France and northern Africa.
SHEET DISTRIBUTION The whole map is one sheet.
The secondary cartouche shows that the author had been editing particular maps of each province in a larger scale to “complete an Atlas of this Kingdom”. He started with Cordoba one in 1761, and that year he already published those corresponding to Jaen and Granada6. Up to 1770 the list of published maps had been growing, but the project did not really boost until 1795, when minister Manuel Godoy officially assigned Lopez the development of the Atlas of Spain7. However, at the cartographer death in 1802, there were still unfinished maps. The full Atlas wasn’t published until 1804, by his sons Juan and Tomás Mauricio, with 98 maps of all provinces and other regions of Spain and Portugal8. That Atlas edition did not include this General Map of Spain but a similar one from 1792 in which Tomás López had already fixed the coastline with Tofiño’s Maritime Atlas, also included in this viewer.
ORIGINAL DOCUMENT TYPE Single ink paper chalcography. Some aquatint coloured boundaries. Bookbinding signs at the map midpoint. It’s one of the maps that the Real Academia de la Historia bookbinded in 1970 to form its Particular Atlas of Spain Kingdoms, Portugal and adjacent islands9. 76 maps from several authors were compiled by López in this unique Atlas to support the academic work on the unfinished Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Spain. The Atlas was restored in 199910.
ORIGINAL SIZE 51 x 62 cm.
CARTOGRAPHIC ELEMENTS AND SYMBOLOGY Small scale general map. It has the objective, as the cartouche reveals, of showing the province division at his time11. Dotted lines represent province boundaries of the Kingdom of Castile and the administrative peers of the Crown of Aragon – Aragon and Valencia kingdoms, and the principality of Catalonia –, as well as the Portuguese and French ones. All provinces are clearly labeled with their name in capital letters.
The kingdom limits are represented by broken lines as well as the Capitanías Generales (“Captaincy Generals”), greater divisions that grouped several provinces belonging to the Crown of Castile: Old Castile, New Castile, León or Andalusia. They are coloured except those which, due to the chaotic jurisdiction of the old regime, were too complex to follow in a so small scale map, like New Castile (Castilla la Nueva) and Basque Country (Vascongadas). These major divisions are only named in the secondary cartouche.
Towns are labeled according to their magnitude, using italic and roman letters for smaller and greater ones respectively. Bishopric, archbishopric sees and the main monasteries are distinguished by symbols, while other entities are not easily recognized without a key-legend, which the map lacks.
Relief is displayed in a very simple way, by unlabelled side views of mountains serial drawing. However, the hydrographic network is better represented: the main rivers are thicker, some of them are labeled, and several lakes are included too.
Besides hydronyms, towns and province names, we can see toponyms like main capes, coastal features and some relevant divisions below the province rank like Asturias, la Montaña (Santander) and renowned regions like La Liébana, Sierra Morena, Montes de Toledo, los Pedroches or La Alpujarra.
DATA COLLECTION PERIOD From 1700 to 1770, approximately. See the “positioning methods and sources of information” section.
ORIGINAL PROJECTION SYSTEM Due to the straight representation and specific structure of meridians and parallels we can infer they follow a polyhedric projection that doesn’t take earth curvature into account. It could be a trapezoidal projection, commonly used on regional scale maps between the XV and XVII centuries12. This latter projection was applied by Tomás López mentor in Paris, Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697-1782), on some of his Atlas of China maps13.
DATUM/SHAPE OF THE EARTH The polyhedric projection converts the earth surface directly into a plane ignoring its curvature and without any kind of spherical shape for the planet.
GRATICULE AND GRID FRAME. PRIME MERIDIAN One degree meridians and parallels grid. Ten minutes subdivisions frame. Latitude and longitude of origin at the Equator and the Meridiano de la Isla de Hierro (Ferro Meridian) respectively. This latter was situated in the western end of the known world at classic ages and was widely used since then, in part due to pre-modern French cartographers who traditionally placed this meridian at 20º west of Paris14. This fact and Ferro well known relative position to Greenwich explains why this meridian is included, at 17º40’4,26’’ west of the second, in regular cartographic software.
The lower side of the map frame is referenced to Meridiano del Pico de Tenerife (Tenerife Meridian), located at 1º1’9,76’’ east of Ferro one15.
POSITIONING METHODS AND SOURCES OF INFORMATION Tomas Lopez developed his cartography by gathering information16 without any survey or geodetic support, or, as he himself wrote in the cartouche, ”made with the best printings or manuscripts and with local people memories”. He also declared his work to be “subject to astronomic observations”, which he didn’t make nor verify. His information sources, dated from all along the XVIII century, were diverse in scale and origin. As pensioner of the Crown and thanks to his Royal Academy of History compilation work he had access to a lot of maps and literature; he sent letters and questionnaires17 to parish priests and other local authorities, asking them for written descriptions of their territories with distance and direction estimations which he interpreted in order to make the maps. These inexact mapping methods were commonly used in traditional cartographic workshops, and were those that Lopez learnt from his engraving mentor Bourguignon d’Anville18. Had he been sent to Paris to receive geodetic or cartographic training instead, he could have become familiar with geometric techniques and rigorous triangulation methods, already used by French surveyors. These allowed them to make accurate high scale maps, like the 1:86.400 scale Map of France created by prestigious cartographer Cesar-Françoise Cassini19, the first map of a whole nation made with that scale range.
DOCUMENT ORIGIN Real Academia de la Historia. Biblioteca Digital. (Royal Academy of History. Digital Library).
Downloaded from
DIGITALIZATION Real Academia de la Historia. Biblioteca Digital. (Royal Academy of History. Digital Library)
Format: JPEG.
Digitalization/download date: 2010, downloaded at 18/02/2015.
Resolution: 150 dpi.
Color mode: RGB.
CARTOGRAPHIC DIGITAL EDITION Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Cartographic Service
    -File adjustment from its polyhedric and non-restorable original projection into a similar one which, considering earth curvature, could be used as georeferencing system in current cartographic software. Taking the meridian and parallel grid as a reference, the file is reshaped into a Craster parabolic projection, also known as “Putnins P4”. Even though this projection has parabolic meridians, at this latitude they are almost straight lines like the original map ones, resulting in minimal deformation:
  • Scale reduction in north-south direction down to 95.6% in order to decrease parallels separation.
  • Horizontal size distortion on map lower side, shifting its corners -1.4º down to 1991.5 px length from the starting 2000 px.

    -Craster parabolic projection georeferencing: Using WGS84 major auxiliary sphere as earth shape (a modern one, since earth curvature is irrelevant to the original map), and Ferro meridian as latitude of origin; 8 control points were placed at well distributed meridian and parallel intersections, followed by a second order polynomial transformation. The resulting RMS error (551,498 m) is good enough for such a low scale map.

    -The georeferenced file is adjusted by triangulation to a numerically generated theoretical meridian and parallel grid that match the one from the map.

    -Transformation into ETRS89 / UTM zone 30N reference system.

    -Final image compression to ECW format.

Terrain resolution:
416,550634 m.
Color adjustments:
Levels: 5 – 1 – 255
Unsharp mask: 200% amount– 2,8 px radius – 8 level threshold over a file with terrain resolution increased up to 100 m.

Preliminary comment and evaluation

The obsolete maps from Tomás López ruled the Spanish cartographic scene during a large period between late XVIII and early XIX centuries. During that time, Cesar-Françoise Cassini was making the Map of France with accurate geodetic procedures and geometric surveys, which Spanish navy officers and other scientific-based cartographers applied too. On the other hand, Tomás López produced traditional workshop cartography from former maps and historical documents as well as from written descriptions compiled from local people, without any fieldwork, geodetic support or accurate considerations about earth curvature.

Tomás López was much better an engraver and cartography publisher than a map maker. Throughout most of the XVIII century, the art of engraving in Spain was far behind other European countries. In 1746 Antonio de Ulloa, working on the findings from the Meridional America journey he had undertaken (with Jorge Juan) to measure the terrestrial meridian, regretted the lack of reliable engravers that could produce the plates and expressed his preference for taking his work to France. In the end, these engravings were created in Madrid by Juan Bernabé Palomino, who was the King’s chamber engraver, requiring more time and money, just as Ulloa had feared. In 1756, following Enlightenment thought, Marqués de la Ensenada founded the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Several engraving teachers guided by Palomino himself were enrolled. At the same time, four pensioned were sent to Paris in order to be instructed in engraving techniques: Manuel Salvador Carmona for “History and portrait engraving”; Alfonso Cruzado for “seals on fine stone”, and Juan de la Cruz and Tomás López, for “architecture, ornaments and geographic maps”. They learnt map engraving from ""Geographe du Roi" Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697-1782), cartographer specialized in map production from literary and historical information, and traveler’s stories. When López returned to Madrid in 1760, he founded the first engraving and editing map workshop in Spain and became the main cartographic reference thanks to his large production and the absence of competition.

Years later, in 1789, the current Secretary of State “Count of Floridablanca”, in his introduction on the first Gazetteer of Spanish towns, despised the already huge López work, referring to Lopez inaccurate way of working: “Nothing is more needed than a brand new general geographic map from the inner Peninsula (not based on particular descriptions or unlinked individual province maps) made by well instructed people, who, after visiting, watching and studying the field, will later use this information following the Cosmography, Geography and Chorography canons.” On the other hand, Floridablanca wrote two full pages praising the “so exact hydrographic Atlas” that Vicente Tofiño developed for the coastline using geometrical and geodetic procedures from new cartography.

In this maritime Atlas elaboration, supported by the government between 1783 and 1789, Lopez was not involved in chart engraving tasks, performed by his former Paris colleagues Juan de la Cruz and Manuel Salvador Carmona. It is not known if it was because of López’s refusal, maybe too immerse in his own work, or due to navy officers’ little enthusiasm about the non scientific methods of this cartographer. When Floridablanca was dismissed and the far less enlightened Manuel Godoy replaced him, Tomás López recovered the official favour and, in 1795, is requested to create a Geographic Office for the Secretary of State, and to elaborate the Atlas of Spain that he already started by his own at 1761.

On one hand, López General Map represents the old cartography; the one to be replaced by the new cartographic methods, whose evolution can be appreciated in the later maps included in this viewer. On the other hand, it shows the province division of the old regime, which will change as the new liberal state dismantles the absolutist regime, and can also be followed throughout the cartography shown here.

Carlos Almonacid Ramiro.
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