(1482-1511) was a German cartographer and humanist poet.
Matthias Ringmann (19th century
credited with naming America
on the map of
his friend Martin
Eichhoffen (Alsace) in 1482
(although this date is questioned), he also used the name Philesius Vogesigena.
a schoolmaster and is often described as a poet.
around 1503 Ringmann visited Italy, where he
first learned about explorations of the recently discovered western
lands later known as the New World and later named the
He mistakenly came to believe that Amerigo Vespucci
had discovered the New
return to Germany, Ringmann moved to Saint-Die in Lorraine with
his friend Martin
Waldseemüller, a cartographer with whom he was working on a new
Latin edition of Ptolemy's treatise on geography.
Waldseemüller drew the maps while Ringmann edited the translation
and wrote a preface. Ringmann is also the best candidate for the
author of the introduction to Waldseemüller's great map and globe
of the world although many historians attribute the work to
Waldseemüller himself. It seems probable that Walter Ludd
, the head of the Gymnasium Vosagense
paid Ringmann and
Waldseemüller to do this work for publication at the Gymnasium's
printing press at St. Dié.
Ringmann may have read the French edition of Vespucci's letters
(Quatre Navigations d' Americ Vespuce
). Whether this book
or conversations in Italy were the source of Ringmann's
misunderstanding of the accepted discoverer of the New World, he
wrote in his introduction:
"There is a fourth quarter of the world which Amerigo
Vespucci has discovered and which for this reason we can call
'America' or the land of Americo. […] We do not see why the name of
the man of genius, Amerigo, who has discovered them, should not be
given to these lands, as Europe and Asia have adopted the names of
When the book was published as Cosmographiae Introductio
the first time that the word 'AMERICA' appeared in print.
Waldseemüller corrected the error in a later edition and named
South America "Terra Nova", but the name America was already
Ringmann corrected the texts of the Latin editions of Ptolemy's
geography published previously at Rome and Ulm, using a Greek
manuscript borrowed from Italy (Codex Vaticanum Graecorum
) while Waldseemüller edited the Ptolemaic maps and added
twenty new ones. The result has been described as "the first modern
atlas of the world".
Grammatica Figurata (1509).
In 1508 Ringmann made the first translation of Julius Caesar's
Commentaries into German with supplemental lives by Suetonius,
Plutarch, and others. One year later he published a card game
to make the grammatical rules of
Donatus' Ars Minor
more appealing to children.
He died in
1511 in Schlettstadt.
The Grammatica Figurata
of Mathias Ringmann was first
printed in 1509. This work was an attempt to enliven Donatus' Ars
Minor by printing up illustrated card sets for each grammatical
rule. Apparently the children would have a card set. The rules are
not explained at length, but a few hints are scattered here and
there in the work. The final section on "Exclamations" has a
sentence on how to figure out which student has won. Each card
represented a part of speech, a gender, a case, or a tense, etc.
Depending upon the teacher's questions a student would play the
appropriate card or cards. It is wacky and interesting even if it
is of questionable pedagogical value.
Long believed to be lost, one copy of Grammatica figurata
was found and reprinted in 1905. It was scanned and put on the
internet by Ken Mayer (see: http://trionfi.com/0/c/09/index.php
Of particular interest are Ringmann's digressions on assorted
subjects, from the prevalence of gambling among the German
priesthood to the reasons behind his refusal to illustrate
- Waldseemüller, Martin, & Matthias Ringmann.
Cosmographiae Introductio, (St. Die: 1507)
- Caesar, Julius. Ringmann Matthias (tr.) Julius der erst
römisch Keiser von seinem Leben und Krieg, erstmals uss dem Latein
in Tütsch gebracht vnd mit andrer Ordnung der Capittel und uil
zusetz nüw getruckt. (Strassburg: Durch Joannem Grüninger,
- Ringmann, Matthias. Grammatica Figurata, (St. Die:
- Waldseemüller, Martin, & Matthias Ringmann (ed.).
Clavdii Ptolemei Viri Alexandrini ... Geographie Opus
Novissima Traductione E Grecorum Archetypis Castigatissime
Pressum. (Strassburg: Johann Schott, 1520)