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Number: 3978
Continent: Africa
Region: Central
Place Names: Zaire, Congo, Congo River
Year of Origin: 1883
Title: Carta Do CURSO DO RIO ZAIRE de Stanley - Pool ao Oceano / Coordenada por Capello e Ivens. / Commissao de Cartographia Junto do Ministerio da Marinha e Ultramar.
Language: Portuguese
Publish Origin: Lisbon
Height: 61.5
Width: 108.4
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Scale: 1 : 413,000
Color Type: No Color
Images of this map are not yet available.
Cartographer: Roberto Ivens
Hermenegildo Capello
Engraver: Antonia Augosto de Oliveira
Publisher: Erhard Fres Freres
Commissao de Cartographia.
Ministerio Da Marinha E Ultramar
Other Contributors: Edward Stanford
Northernmost Latitude: -4.0
Southernmost Latitude: -6.33
Westernmost Longitude: 12.0
Easternmost Longitude: 16.0
Measurement Notes: on map
Notes: Dasa Pahor and Alex Johnson source. Precise map from Capello and Ivan expedition of Zaire/Congo River. [distributed by Edward Stanford], Lithograph in 2 colours (black, blue), dissected into 10 sections and mounted upon contemporary linen, marbled endpapers bearing contemporary pastedown mapseller?s label of ?Edward Stanford / London? with a manuscript signature ( 66.5 x 117 cm (26 x 46 inches) A very rare, highly detailed and accurate large format map of the lower Congo River, made by the leading Portuguese cartographer-explorers Hermenegildo Capello and Roberto Ivens, created in response to the famed explorer Henry Morton Stanley efforts to found a commercial empire in the region on behalf of the Belgian King L?pold I, so encroaching upon a traditional region of Portuguese interest, one of the first maps created for the Commissao de Cartographia, Portugal's new overseas mapping agency. T he Congo River (usually called the Rio Zaire by the Portuguese) is the gateway into the heart of Africa, and its immense natural resources wealth. However, while navigable for about 160 km from the sea, passage further upstream is barred by a succession of astoundingly violent rapids and cataracts. While the Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the lower part of the river in 1482, for almost three centuries thereafter, outsiders refrained from attempting to venture above the rapids. While Portugal and the Netherlands maintained small trading posts along the lower stretch of the river, the Congo was for the longest time never a priority for any colonial power. All that radically changed in the context of the ?Scramble for Africa?, following the legendary Welsh-American explorer and tireless self-promoter Henry Morton Stanley?s epic expedition of 1876-7, during which he became the first Westerner to explore the upper reaches the Congo, proving that from ?Stanley Pool? (Pool Malebo, near Kinshasa-Brazzaville), the river was navigable for steamboats 1,600 kms further into the interior. This opened the possibility of the creation of a vast inland empire of limitless natural resources wealth. It also availed Christian missionaries with the possibility of ?saving? millions of souls in the heart of Africa, with the first of many missions established in the Congo in 1878. King Leopold I of Belgium seized upon the economic-political opportunity, and in 1881 hired Stanley to be his agent with the mandate of establishing the Congo Basin as an empire owned by his person, as opposed to the Belgian state (the kingdom?s parliamentary government rejected any involvement in the scheme). With remarkable skill and speed, over the next four years Stanley founded many trading posts along and near the Congo River, including L?poldville (Kinshasa), in 1881, ideally located at the base of the Congo?s vast inland navigation. The French, led by Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza (the founder of Brazzaville), were also setting up outposts in the right bank of the Congo. Meanwhile, Portugal was deeply unnerved by Morton?s mission on behalf of L?pold. While it had no intention of developing the Congo Basin itself, it was concerned that its adjacent long-established colony of Angola (first settled in 1575) was under threat. T he Portuguese had only settled the coastal regions of Angola, leaving its vast interior as a ?no man?s land?, as far as the Europeans were concerned. Belgian expansion from the Congo could end up swallowing the hinterland of Angola, leaving Portugal with an untenable rump colony. T he Portuguese had anticipated enhanced foreign interest in the Congo. In 1876, they deployed Lieutenant Roberto Ivens (1850-1898), a naval officer and native of the Azores, on a mission to the lower Congo River. Ivens, who had been exploring Angola since 1872, would prove himself as one of the most technically gifted cartographers of the great age of African exploration, with his hydrographic mapping of rivers described as ?amazingly perfect?. From the Portuguese post of Boma, Ivens explored and charted the lower Congo up past Noqui, notably mapping the notoriously treacherous Fuma-Fuma eddies. Since Ivens?s mission, the Portuguese had sent numerous agents and spies to the Congo in order the gather intelligence on Stanley and Brazza?s operations. From 1877 to 1880, Ivens, and his friend and frequent collaborator, Captain Hermenegildo de Brito Capello (1841-1917), a naval officer with a generation of experience sailing African waters, made an epic expedition to the heart of Angola, to shore up Portugal?s claim to the interior of the country, blocking excessive Belgian expansion. In 1883, the Portuguese Ministry of the Navy and the Colonies created the Comissão de Cartografia, a special geographic bureau based in Lisbon whose mandate was to map the country?s overseas possessions and areas of interest to the highest scientific standards. One is the Comissão?s first acts was to charge Ivens and Capello with creating a definitive map of the lower Congo that could be used for high level political and diplomatic (and, if necessary, military) planning. The Map in Focus Capello and Ivens had access the best Portuguese, Dutch and British sources in making the present map, including some secret explorers? manuscripts, creating an incredibly detailed and accurate picture. In grand format, the map embraces all the Lower Congo River and its immediate tributaries, extending from Stanley Pool, in the northeast, down to the river?s mouth at the Atlantic, in southwest. The immense river, which its numerous islands, rapids, cataracts and eddies, is carefully detailed, accompanied by many notes on its qualities. Areas of elevation are shown by hachures, the domains of indigenous tribes are noted, while major travel routes are noted by dashed lines. T he map labels hundreds of native villages, and the many ?Estação de Stanley?, outposts made for King L?pold, that often occupied the most advantageous locations along the river. Of note is Stanley?s main base, ?N?Tamo?, or L?poldville (todays? Kinshasa), and ?M?Fua?, or Brazzaville, the French base, located across the river. Further down the system are various ?Feitorias portuguezas? (Portuguese trading post) and ?Feitorias hollandaizes? (Dutch trading posts), as well as ?missão? (Christian, usually Protestant, missions). Of note, Ivens?s 1876 route up the river from Boma is labelled and marked with a dashed line. While the map may had been incredibly useful to Portuguese administrators, it would not have provided comfort. It gives the impression that Stanley has successfully muscled out his competition (the Portuguese, Dutch and French), taking the lions? share of the Congo for his Belgian patron. Epilogue At the Berlin Conference (1884-5), whereby the European powers divided Africa between themselves, King L?pold was given control over the majority of the Congo Basin, creating a personal domain called the Congo Free State. Run on slavery, exploitation and terror, its environment inspired Joseph Conrad to write The Heart of Darkness (1899). At the same time, Portugal was given clear title to coastal Angola and Mozambique, while the fate of the interior regions was left up in the air, with both Lisbon and London coveting what would become Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi). By 1891, Portugal managed to gain ample inland territory for both Angola and Mozambique although it lost control over in the heartland of southern Africa to Britain. T he Belgian government assumed control over the Congo Free State in 1908, creating the Belgian Congo, which it would rule with a deplorable human rights record until 1960. A Note on Rarity T he Comissão de Cartografia, especially in its early days, issued maps in only very small print runs, intended mainly for high level official use. The present map is very rare. We can trace 7 institutional examples, held by the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal; Biblioth?ue nationale de France; British Library; Universiteit Antwerp; Biblioteca Nacional de Espa?; Arquivo Hist?ico Ultramarino (Lisbon); and the Portuguese Economic Ministry Library. Moreover, we cannot find any sales records for any other examples. Curiously, the present example of the map, bearing the mapseller?s label of ?Edward Stanford / London? shows that the map, surely due to its high quality, was of great interest well beyond Portugal. References: Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal: cc-340-1-2-a; Biblioth?ue nationale de France, d?artement Cartes et plans, GEC-362.; British Library: Cartographic Items Maps 65815.(6.); Universiteit Antwerp: c:lvd:799829; Biblioteca Nacional de Espa?: MR/33-41/3097; Arquivo Hist?ico Ultramarino (Lisbon): PT/AHU/CARTI/095/01252; Portuguese Economic Ministry Library: C 0214-9 C|BAHOP; OCLC: 1061960654, 494840549, 494196232.
Last updated: Feb 5, 2022