was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...
. He is credited with naming America
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...
on the map of his friend Martin Waldseemüller
Martin Waldseemüller was a German cartographer...
Born in Eichhoffen
Eichhoffen is a commune, in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...
) in 1482 (although this date is questioned), he also used the name Philesius Vogesigena. He became a schoolmaster and is often described as a poet.
Some time around 1503 Ringmann visited Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...
, where he first learned about explorations of the recently discovered western lands later known as the New World and later named the Americas. He mistakenly came to believe that Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer. The Americas are generally believed to have derived their name from the feminized Latin version of his first name.-Expeditions:...
had discovered the New World.
Upon his return to Germany, Ringmann moved to Saint-Die
Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, commonly referred to as Saint-Dié, is a commune in the Vosges department in Lorraine in northeastern France.It is a sub-prefecture of the department.-Geography:...
The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....
with his friend Martin Waldseemüller
Martin Waldseemüller was a German cartographer...
, a cartographer with whom he was working on a new Latin edition of Ptolemy's treatise on geography. Waldseemüller drew the maps while Ringmann edited the translation and wrote a preface. Ringmann is also the best candidate for the author of the introduction to Waldseemüller's great map and globe of the world although many historians attribute the work to Waldseemüller himself. It seems probable that Walter Ludd, the head of the Gymnasium Vosagense paid Ringmann and Waldseemüller to do this work for publication at the Gymnasium's printing press at St. Dié.
Ringmann may have read the French edition of Vespucci's letters (Quatre Navigations d' Americ Vespuce
). Whether this book or conversations in Italy were the source of Ringmann's misunderstanding of the accepted discoverer of the New World, he wrote in his introduction:
"There is a fourth quarter of the world which Amerigo Vespucci has discovered and which for this reason we can call 'America' or the land of Americo. […] We do not see why the name of the man of genius, Amerigo, who has discovered them, should not be given to these lands, as Europe and Asia have adopted the names of women."
When the book was published as Cosmographiae Introductio
Cosmographiae Introductio was a book published in 1507 to accompany Martin Waldseemüller's printed globe and wall-map , which were the first appearance of the name 'America'...
on April 25, 1507 it was the first time that the word 'AMERICA' appeared in print. Waldseemüller corrected the error in a later edition and named South America "Terra Nova", but the name America was already established.
Ringmann corrected the texts of the Latin editions of Ptolemy's geography published previously at Rome and Ulm, using a Greek manuscript borrowed from Italy (Codex Vaticanum Graecorum 191
) while Waldseemüller edited the Ptolemaic maps and added twenty new ones. The result has been described as "the first modern atlas of the world".
In 1508 Ringmann made the first translation of Julius Caesar's Commentaries into German with supplemental lives by Suetonius, Plutarch, and others. One year later he published a card game Grammatica Figurata
to make the grammatical rules of Donatus' Ars Minor
more appealing to children. He died in 1511 in Schlettstadt.
The Grammatica Figurata
of Mathias Ringmann was first printed in 1509. This work was an attempt to enliven Donatus' Ars Minor by printing up illustrated card sets for each grammatical rule. Apparently the children would have a card set. The rules are not explained at length, but a few hints are scattered here and there in the work. The final section on "Exclamations" has a sentence on how to figure out which student has won. Each card represented a part of speech, a gender, a case, or a tense, etc. Depending upon the teacher's questions a student would play the appropriate card or cards. It is wacky and interesting even if it is of questionable pedagogical value.
- Plaque in Freiburg commemorating Ringmann and Waldseemüller
- Wieser, Franz, Ritter von (ed.). Grammatica figurata des Mathias Ringmann (Philesius Vogesigena) in Faksimiledruck, (Strassburg: Heitz, 1905)
- Mayer, Ken. Matthias Ringmann: Grammatica Figurata, Retrieved April 4, 2005
- Fischer, J. 'Martin Waldseemüller', Catholic Encyclopedia, (1912)
- Press release about a new edition of the Waldseemüller world map