Abraham Cresques (Catalan pronunciation: [əβɾəˈam ˈkɾeskəs], 1325–1387), whose real name was Cresques (son of) Abraham, was a 14th-century cartographer from Palma, Majorca (then part of the Crown of Aragon). In collaboration with his son, Jehuda Cresques, Cresques is credited with the authorship of the celebrated Catalan Atlas of 1375.

Catalan Atlas Europe_Mediterranean 1375.jpg

Catalan Atlas section showing Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, and North Africa, handmade in 1375.

Personal life

A Majorcan Jew, Cresques was a master map-maker and builder of clocks, compasses, and other nautical instruments. He was a leading member of the Majorcan cartographic school.

The Catalan Atlas

In 1375, Cresques and his son Jehuda received an assignment from Prince John of Aragon (the future John I of Aragon) to make a set of nautical charts which would go beyond the normal geographic range of contemporary portolan charts to cover the "East and the West, and everything that, from the Strait [of Gibraltar] leads to the West". For this job, Cresques and Jehuda would be paid 150 Aragonese golden florins, and 60 Mallorcan pounds, respectively, as it is stated in 14th-century documents from the Prince himself and his father Peter IV of Aragon. Prince John intended to present the chart to his cousin Charles (later to be Charles VI, King of France) as a gift. In that year 1375 Cresques and Jehuda drew the six charts that composed the Catalan Atlas at their house in the Jewish quarter of Palma.


Here is a link to our U.S. Library of Congress, which has a modern reproduction of the Original Complete Catalan Atlas, from the French National Library listed just below in the "External Links". Each section is a separate image that can be viewed with awesome details by using the Zoom Tool at the website. However, Image 2, which is shown here with Mali Emperor Mansa Musa, is presented upside down! Don't ask me why our esteemed Library of Congress did this... :-)


External links]

Images of the whole Catalan Atlas Bibliothèque Nationale de France, accessed 2008-03-14 --Translation in English of the works of Riera i Sans and Gabriel Llompart on the Jewish Majorcan mapmakers of the Late Middle Ages. They include very complete biographies of Cresques Abraham and his son Jafudà Cresques.