Creative task: Medieval Geography

Module:“Love – an earthly fantasy or a paradisiacal privilege.

Hieronymus Bosch worked in the times before great geographical discoveries. Knowledge about geography was very limited and most of the people could not afford to travel. Medieval maps depicted the continents according to the religious doctrines, with Jerusalem as the world’s center. It was believed that earthly paradise is located somewhere in the East. The artists could gain knowledge on distant lands only from scarce relations from the travelers.

  • Take a look at medieval maps available online. How are they different from modern cartography? You may use Wikipedia, or start with the linked article on
    Tip for true old cartography geeks: One of the biggest maps collections, belonging to  Cartography Associates president David Rumsey is available online. It contains about 120 000 maps dated as old as the XVI century.
  • Renowned art historian Wilhelm Fraenger thought that while working on The Garden of Earthly Delights Hieronymus Bosch got inspired by medieval descriptions of India. People at the time believed that’s where earthly paradise might be located. Hear a fragment of the popular XV century book Historia Eusebii on the travels of Alexander the Great to India. Use your imagination and try to think like a medieval artist – prepare an image of the wonderful land according to the description. Use a painting or drawing technique of your choice.
    Historia Eusebii ENG

Fragment of medieval text Historia Eusebii from: Fraenger, W., 1999, Bosch, Arkady, Warsaw. Own translation from the Polish edition.
More information on Historia Eusebii can be found in this article posted on British Library website.