This very rare and intriguing map depicts the historic Principality of Moldavia (outlined in blue); and the region of Bessarabia (outlined in green), which occupied the Black Sea coastal area between the Danube and Dnieper rivers. Since the late 15thCentury, Moldavia had been a self-governing vassal state of the Ottoman Empire, while Bessarabia was directly governed by the Sublime Porte. Today the regions are divided amongst the modern states of Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. Here the map sections both jurisdictions onto districts, and labels all cities and towns of significance, with the better-known places including ‘Jaschy’ (Iași), the capital of Moldavia; ‘Tchernoviz’ (Chernovits); ‘Sutschawa’ (Suceava); ‘Botischany’ (Botoșani); ‘Galatz’ (Galați); ‘Kishnion’ (Chișinău); ‘Bender’; and ‘Akirmann’ (Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi).
Moravia and Bessarabia had for time immemorial been centres of conflict, being strategically located along trade routes, their largely flat, fertile lands were coveted by various empires over the centuries. The present map was made by the boutique engraver Jakob Adam in Vienna in 1781, when Austria and Russia were actively challenging the Ottoman Empire’s authority in the region. In 1775, Austria annexed Bukovina, the north-western part of Moldavia, while Russia openly coveted Bessarabia. As such, during this era, maps, descriptions and news from the Moldavia and Bessarabia were of great public interest throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
The present map was first published in 1781, while examples were also included within the second volume (issued 1782) of Franz Joseph Sulzer’s Geschichte des transalpinischen Daciens das ist: der Walachey, Moldau und Bessarabiens(3 vols., Vienna: Mathias Andreas Schmidtfor Rudolf Gräffer, 1781-2), an important, yet very rare, work on the region written by an Austrian soldier and lawyer who had travelled extensively throughout Moldavia.
The present map is very rare, we can trace no sales records of the map appearing separately on the market during the last 25 years. Moreover, Sulzer’s book, containing the map, is a great rarity. We can locate institutional examples of the separate map at the Moravská zemská knihovna (Brno); Muzeum Brněnska (Brno); National Archives of Hungary; Hamburg, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg; and Universitätsbibliothek Eichstätt-Ingolstadt.
References: Johannes Dörflinger, Die Österreichische Kartographie im 18. und zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts(Vienna, 1984), vol. 1, pp. 79-80; OCLC: 630883846; Universitätsbibliothek Eichstätt-Ingolstadt: 197/399.1.