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Hanspeter Fischer:

The map 'Carte de la Souabe' 1:100,000 (1818–1821)

Cartographica Helvetica 27 (2003) 3–12


The epoch of the French Revolution in 1789 and the resulting political uprising which lasted until 1815 was at the same time also an era of immense belligerent conflicts in Europe. During this time the military cartographers of the participating armies created maps covering extensive areas, amongst others also the 1:100,000 Carte topographique de l'ancienne Souabe et d'une portion des pays limitrophes.

This large map series covering the former Swabian area and the adjoining areas emerged during the French occupation of southwestern Germany and comprises 17 sheets as well as a general map. The work commenced in 1801 at the instigation of General Jean Victor Moreau (1763–1813), the commander of the Rhine Army. The Carte de la Souabe is limited in the north by the line Philippsburg am Rhein – Nördlingen, in the east by the river Lech, in the south by the line Füssen – Lake of Constance – Basel, and in the west by the Rhine. A small strip of Swiss territory along the Upper Rhine is depicted in the southern part of the map. Due to financial and political reasons, the printing of the Carte de la Souabe was delayed so that the sheets were not published until the years between 1818 and 1821.

The systematic approach to the Carte de la Souabe was exemplary: establishing a trigonometric network for the topographic survey; the choice of a mathematically sound projection; clear directives for choosing symbols; using hachures for hill shading. However, because many of the military maps were usually hand-drawn and not available to the public for reasons of secrecy, their influence in the general development of official and private cartography remained almost insignificant.

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