The Brussels Map Circle


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Brussels, Belgium
Organisation: The Brussels Map Circle in joint collaboration with the KBR (Royal Library of Belgium)
This lecture is the result of an interdisciplinary, historical-geographical doctoral research about the origin of the city of Ghent by Frank Gelaude, geologist. As there is hardly any information to be found in the archives, historical maps such as Deventer (1560), Braun & Hogenberg (1575), Brismalle (1780), as well as the famous painting of the Panoramic View of Ghent (1534) were used, in combination with geological, topographical and hydrographical maps.
View of the Braamgatenstuw (a weir), with urban watermill on the river Scheldt. Print by Wynantz, anno 1820-23, Stadsarchief Gent.

The evolution of the landscape of Ghent appeared to be more complicated than was generally accepted. The town of Gent originated in a riverlandscape, near the confluence of the rivers Leie and Schelde and close to a Tertiary outlier the ‘Blandijnberg’. The oldest portus of Ghent was built in a coversand area, the ‘Zandberg’, formed by wind.
In the 12th and 13th centuries a complex and multifunctional system was constructed: hydraulic engineering works which enabled the citizens of Ghent to control the natural watercourses and the waterlevel in a radical way.
However, a masterpiece of hydraulic engineering and a perfect illustration of Ghent’s economic power and prosperity was the building of the canal the ‘Lieve’. Linking Gent to the North Sea, it was built between 1251 to 1269 and was 46.5 km long, all the way to Damme.
In recent years waterways in urban planning and heritage have regained appreciation. This study can be an inspiration for preserving, restoring and rehabilitating the waterways as well as their embankments.
Venue: Map Room (level -2), KBR (Royal Library of Belgium), Mont des Arts / Kunstberg, 1000 Brussels
Language: English
Time schedule: 17.30
Entry fee: Free entrance.

Venice, Italy
Organisation: The Brussels Map Circle
During the past months, the Management and Members of the Brussels Map Circle and the Italian old map collectors association Roberto Almagià have received with much interest and enthusiasm the proposal of our Member Alex Smit to organise again a joint meeting. Many of our Members still remember the excellent joint meeting organised by Wouter Bracke in Rome in May 2016 (see Maps in History No 56). This idea came up first when Alex Smit accompanied a small Italian delegation to our 20th anniversary meeting in Antwerp in December 2018 (Maps in History No 63).
After several meetings to evaluate various options, the city of Venice was selected as the venue for a conference to be held in October 2020. Venice is the city of many famous cartographers, such as Fra Mauro, Forlani, Bertelli, Gastaldi and Coronelli. The libraries such as Marciana, Correr, Querini, or the Universities and State archives have very interesting map collections. The conference would focus on the interaction between cartographers of Italy and the Netherlands during the period 1550 to 1750, regarding exchanges, copying and pirating, which took place extensively (and without shame). The idea is to combine lectures and visits to famous libraries.
For the organisation a small team has been composed of the president of Roberto Almagià, Emilio Moreschi, Prof. Vladimiro Valerio and Alex Smit. Emilio Moreschi lives part of the year in Venice and is very well introduced in different associations there. Many thanks to Prof. Vladimiro Valerio, who has volunteered to take care of the scientific aspects of the conference. Until recently he lectured at Venice University and is internationally recognised as a leading expert in Italian history of cartography. He is very well known in academic circles in Venice and lives there since many years.
Participants in the Mapping Africa conference in December 2019 will recall that, when presenting the Venice project, Alex Smit hoped that it could be hosted in the beautiful conference facility with rooms of the CINI Foundation on the Isola San Giorgio. Unfortunately this will not be possible. The Circle is investigating other potential conference facilities in the centre of Venice. The recent frequent flooding of Venice, which created widespread damage, is making things more difficult.
The Circle will make recommendations to organise the participants’ lodging in the vicinity. This will be announced on our website, by e-mail and in the next issue of Maps in History.