Horsing around with scale bars

Apropos a previous post on the different measurement systems used in early modern cartography, I just came across this example that is unique (to me at least).

Carte d'une partie de Piemont

Carte d’une partie de Piemont

I’m not positive, but it looks like the top bar indicates the distance one can travel in an hour on horseback, i.e. 2 heur[es] de ch[eval]. Of course it’s annoying that they don’t left justify the two bars, so you can directly compare the 1 hour to the number of Piemont milles.

Other interpretations?

Notice how the French text beneath the bars also lets the reader know that four Piemont milles (“miles” or “thousands”) equal two French lieus (leagues), each of 2500 toises. It ain’t easy being an early modern.

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5 responses to “Horsing around with scale bars”

  1. jostwald says :

    Found another one (in the Low Countries) that spells it out: “deux heures du chemin.” An 18C map of the Rhine in the British Library has (according to the catalogue): “Lieus de France ou d’une heure de chemin.” Various 17C-18C books on Google Books illustrate its use as a generic measure, e.g. “deux heures de chemin de Constantinople.”

    So it looks like there must have been some convention afoot. Presumably not ahorse.

  2. Erik Lund says :

    I see “hours march” a great deal. I also see “marches,” which left me bewildered trying to follow the Schmettaus’ inside-the-Beltway military histories when they talked about 30 hour marches that had to be broken up into stages, or some such. Don’t the Puysegurs talk like this, too?

    • jostwald says :

      A quick Google Books search of Art de la guerre doesn’t show much use of heures combined with chemin, but it’s possible.

      I know very little about quondam mechanics.

  3. Erik Lund says :

    Oh, also, “feet of fall,” where a region is discussed in terms of the circuit of its waters, and you are told the feet that one river falls when it enters another. Sort of a quondam way of assessing elevations.

  4. Erik Lund says :

    Well, it’s pretty straightforward when you remember that you’re starting by using the wave equation to describe things. This gives you a system of equations, with solutions that are matrices. At this point, most of the apparently paradoxical results of quantum mechanics fall out of the well-known mathematical properties of matrix operators…

    Oh. I get it. It was a pun.

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