4. Franz Ludwig Güssefeld: a map of Brandenburg published in Nuremberg

Although the Prussian civil and military cartography had considerably improved in many ways under the reign of Frederic II, during the War of Seven Years (1756-1763) the Gundling map still was printed and sold as the only cartographic image of Brandenburg which was approved by the king. Even when in 1766 Andreas August Rhode, the cartographer of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, asked for the royal permission to publish a more modern and reliable map of Brandenburg, Frederic II harshly stopped these efforts: a publication like this would quite certainly bring harm to this country, however, advantages to the enemies of Prussia. Due to this order before the death of Frederic II in 1786 no reliable autochthonous map of Brandenburg was published in Prussia.

Nevertheless, in 1773 a modern map of Brandenburg - drawn by a nameless cartographer - was published by Homann Heirs in Nuremberg. This surprising event was caused by Franz Ludwig Güssefeld (1744-1808) who from 1768 lived and worked at Weimar as a grand ducal chamber clerk, later on as a forest councillor.
The background of this map publication originated in the cartographic leanings of Güssefeld in his early youth which he had spent as the son of a liitle town's mayor in Western Brandenburg. From his beloved music and painting - strictly rejected by the narrow minded family - he turned towards maps, first of all studying an atlas of his father's collection, later on a series of geographic calendars which contained little maps.

In the age of about 13 Güssefeld watched a topographic survey near Osterburg, his home town, and rather consequently he completed a perspective view as well as a manuscript map of his home area having used very simple survey instruments. In the age of 17 Güssefeld moved about 200 miles to the eastern part of Brandenburg to get a professional training as a surveyor and cartographer under the supervision of a well known expert in this field. Two years later - in 1763 - the War of Seven Years came to an end, and a lot of royal activities started in eastern Brandenburg to drain the lowlands of the main rivers Warthe and Netze. These activities were based on large scale topographic surveys in which Güssefeld took part. Although his cartographic work was esteemed by official authorities as well as private estate owners he did not reach a professional position in the Prussian monarchy. By chance, one of Güssefeld's relatives, a chamber clerk at the grand ducal court of Weimar, was ordered by king Frederic II to return to Prussia to take on official duties in Osterburg; Güssefeld applied for this job and succeeded.

The map of Brandenburg which he published in 1773 was entitled "Carte de l'Electorat de Brandebourg …" and devoted to the crown prince of Prussia. As main sources of this map Guessefeld had used partly printed maps published in 1724 by Gundling and about 1764 by the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences and partly manuscript maps which he had collected during his survey activities in Brandenburg before he moved to Weimar.

If one compares the distortion grids of the Svart map (1630/31), the Gundling map (1724) and the map published by Güssefeld, at first glance the differences between the older maps and the new map are obviously: the Güssefeld map generally presents a much more accurate geometric image. Distance errors in the maps of Svart and Gundling of about 30 kilometers and more have been reduced by Güssefeld to about 5 kilometers. Within the Güssefeld grid the courses of several distortion lines, however, reveal different geometric accuracy and reliability due to different cartographic sources which Güssefeld had used to construct his map. The geographic coordinates which are marked in the frame of this map do not reflect any measurements or surveys and, moreover, do not coincide with the contemporary coordinates of Berlin and Frankfurt - the only data astronomically determined at that time. Unlike to this result, the distribution of settlements and the spellings of their names give no evidence of different cartographic sources.

Similar to the Gundling map of 1724 as if we did not get a distinct answer to the question for "autochthonous map" or "heteronomous map", with regard to the map of Güssefeld the result is obviously conflicting. Gundling used a heteronomous cartographic base to publish his map in an autochthonous camouflage and in contrast to Gundling Güssefeld took autochthonous cartographic documents to publish them - formally - heteronomously. Due to these conflicting or ambiguous situation both maps can be considered as elements of a stage of cartographic transition.

Back to the IMCoS '97
Jump to the Homepage of Department of Cartography and Geoinformatics, Eötvös University, Budapest