Saturday, February 23, 2008

Retusari, circa 1720

Today's map is a bit different from the previous entries, but an entirely worthy addition nonetheless.

The contributor offers this description of the piece: Central on this half birds eye view map you see a little island referred to as Retusari (“C” on the map), now known as the Kotlin Island. This island lies in the head of the Gulf of Finland.

Peter the Great captured the island from the Swedes in 1703 and constructed a fort and docks—then called Kronslot (on this map Cron schantz)—to protect the approaches to St. Petersburg. It is also known as Kronshtady, Kronshtadt or Kronštadt (“D” on the map) .

In the same year he founded Saint Petersburg (point “A” on the map) after reconquering the Ingrian land from Sweden in the Great Northern War. He named the city after his patron saint, the apostle Saint Peter.

The fortifications on the island were constructed very quickly. The Gulf of Finland is not very deep, so during the winter it completely freezes through. The text on this map says that 4000 men worked on them. Workers used thousands of frames of oak logs filled with stones. These were carried by horses across the frozen sea, and placed in cuttings made in the ice. Thus, several new small islands were created, and forts were erected on them, closing all access to Saint-Petersburg by the sea. Only two narrow navigable channels remained, and the strongest forts guarded them.

The map is by Gabriel Bodenehr most likely from “Force d'Europe, oder die Merkwürdigsten und Führnensten meistenteils auch Ihrer Fortification wegen Berühmtesten Stätte, Vestungen, Seehäfen, Pässe, Campa de Bataille in Europa....” (Augsburg, Ca. 1720) or perhaps from his 'Curioses Staats und Kriegs Theatrum,' Augsburg about 1730/35.

Thanks to the contributor for this great map!

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