(Martinus de Bohemia )
A German cartographer and navigator, b. at Nuremberg in 1459; d. at the German hospice of St. Bartholomew in Lisbon, Portugal, 29 July, 1507. Behaim came from a wealthy merchant family which settled in Nuremberg about 1300 and which is still in existence. He received the usual education but, according to his own statement, had among his teachers the celebrated mathematician and astronomer Regiomontanus. Behaim entered business life at an early age and became an agent at Antwerp. In 1481 or 1482 he went to Lisbon on business. Here his reputation as a pupil of Regiomontanus led to his appointment by King John (João) II as a member of a commission, the "junta dos mathematicos", which was to find some improved method for determining latitude. Behaim furnished them with the so-called Jacob's -staff, or cross-staff, and the astronomical tables necessary for ascertaining the declination of the sun. Having in this way become favourably known, Behaim was offered the opportunity of accompanying Diego Cam (Cão) on a voyage of discovery along the west coast of Africa. In the course of his explorations Cam discovered the mouth of the Congo and went as far as Walfisch Bay. After his return Behaim was made a Knight of the Portuguese Order of Christ in 1486, and married a daughter of Jobst von Hurter, hereditary governor of the islands of Fayal and Pico of the Azores group. In 1492, while he was a Nuremberg, Behaim made the well-known globe, probably with the scientific help of Hartmann Schedel, the Nuremberg humanist.
His influence on the great discoverers of his time was formerly much overestimated; at present it is questioned whether he had any such influence at all. It cannot be proved either that Columbus was stimulated by him or that Magellan (Magalhaes) in his search for a southern passage made use of a chart of the world drawn by Behaim, as was once believed. It has even been questioned of late years whether Behaim had any right to call himself a pupil of Regiomontanus or whether he had taken part in the discoveries of Cam. Nevertheless his "apple", the oldest of all existing globes, ensures his lasting fame. The globe is about twenty-one inches in diameter and has no network to mark longitudes and latitudes. It is provided merely with the equator, one meridian, the tropics and the constellations of the zodiac, and is a unique example of miniature painting. There is an unmistakable connection between Behaim's manner of representing the world and the geographical views of Toscanelli whose chart is usually reconstructed with the aid of Behaim's globe. Unfortunately the reproductions of Behaim's globe, so far made, are not satisfactory. The first copy was published by Doppelmayr in his "Historie von den Nurnberger Mathematicis" (1730) and was reproduced by Nordenskjöld in his "Facsimile Atlas to the Early History of Cartography" (1889). Another was drawn in 1847 for Jomard by Jean Muller who gave Dr. Ghillany a copy which the latter used in his biography of Behaim. This drawing is also to be found in Ruge, "Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen" (1881), in Gunther's biography of Behaim, and in Kretschmer, "Die Entdeckung Amerikas" (1892).
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online