This sumptuous production is one of the iconic Polish maps of the 20th Century, being a grand retrospective of the former Polish Kingdom, depicting its evolution and transformation from the 9th Century until 1770 (on the eve of the First Partition of Poland). The map is well-known and highly coveted in Poland, even by those who are not normally connoisseurs of cartography. It was issued in Warsaw by Józef Michał Bazewicz, a respected bookseller and cartographer, in 1922, as both a
celebration of Poland’s historical glory and its reemergence as an independent state in the wake of World War I.
The map’s coverage extends from the Gulf of Riga, in the north, down to the shores of the Black Sea in the south; and from Magdeburg, Germany, in the west, over to Tula, Russia, in the east. The historical information is built upon the foundation of a modern topographical map, which correctly delineates rivers and shorelines and labels the locations of modern day cities, towns, roads and railways, with mountains expressed though shading.
The central parts of the map label traditional Polish historical voivodships and, to provide points of reference to the contemporary observer, feature colour to show the areas that were dominated by various foreign powers up until the end of World War I: areas in yellow were controlled by Russia; areas in pink were under Prussian rule; while the areas in the south, coloured in green, were governed by Austria-Hungary. Beyond this, the historical information concerns the period between the 9th Century and 1770.
The map shows that, at various times, the former Kingdom of Poland controlled all or part of eleven modern nations: Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Latvia and Lithuania, and at one time extended from the shores of the Baltic to the Black Sea. The map employs dotted lines to section various historical territories and labels the dates under which they were under Polish administration. On all sides, the map is adorned with the coats of arms of the traditional Polish voivodships and military institutions, while four cartographic inserts give further details as to Poland’s territorial evolution.
The map appeared around 1922, just as the new Polish Republic had, through a series of wars, ensured its independence, with ample national boundaries. This was an almost unbelievable source of pride for the Polish people, who had endured over a century of foreign occupation.
The present map has a much beloved, iconic place in Poland, as it reminded the Polish people that their nation was once great, and, upon its reemergence as an independent state, could be great again.
The mapmaker, Józef Michał Bazewicz (1867 – 1929) was a prominent Warsaw cartographer, writer and bookseller, and a leading figure on the cultural scene in the Polish capital during the first quarter of the 20th Century. While the present map is his most famous work, he issued many publications, including a historical atlas of Poland, Atlas historyczny Polski (Warsaw, 1916) and a popular patriotic tract, Prawdy historyczne, konieczności dziejowe i zadania Polski, z mapą Europy na przełomie wieków XIV i XV (Warsaw, 1921).
References: University of Wrocław Library, 10111-IV.C; OCLC: 867936346.