Bird’s-eye view of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: Manuscript cartography sources of the 16th–19th century
The object of this research to focus on the manuscript maps and plans of former territories of the Great Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) of the 16th–early 19th century. In the first part of the publication a separate introductory study is dedicated to the inquiry into the maps and plans of local territories and private landholdings of the GDL. Two objectives are tackled in this part, namely cartographic documents are introduced as historical sources emphasizing their utilization in the research of the GDL history; and the evolution of symbols and signs of cartographic sources used to represent space in the 16th–19th century is discussed. Their analysis partially enables us to speak about the cognitive-mental perception of maps, characteristic of people representing different periods of history. The second part of the study comprises publications of 16th–19th century maps and plans representing private land possessions and settlements as well as administrative units of the GDL and its former territories which became part of the Russian Empire following the dissolution of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795. The publication includes a hundred cartographic sources selected from the depository of the Manuscript Department of Vilnius University Library. These documents indicate that in the period of the GDL most of them were drawn up in the second half of the 18th century. Quite a few were produced in the early 19th century under the rule of the Russian tsars. Some maps of the early 19th century contain redrawn information from cartographic documents referring to earlier centuries and reflect the little changed territorial structure of the GDL. This publication of cartographic sources is aimed at the introduction of little-known and maximum diverse sources of knowledge and heritage of the GDL history into the scientific circulation.