Maps of the Dieppe school, commissioned for wealthy households rather than for use in navigation, often presented explorers’ latest discoveries alongside fantastical creatures and allusions to myth. In 1550 cartographer Pierre Desceliers presented to France’s King Henry II one such map, a work of extraordinary beauty and value showing the world as it was known at the time. This map, one of the most important of the Dieppe school, includes descriptions of French attempts to colonize Canada and the conquest of Peru by the Spanish in addition to descriptions of the legendary king Prester John in Ethiopia and a race of Amazons in Russia.

The World for a King reproduces this beautiful map at real size in forty-two sections, each accompanied by detailed explanatory notes. Chet Van Duzer’s fascinating text situates the map in context among Desceliers’s other surviving works; analyses the map’s many illustrations of people, animals and cities; discusses its curious hypothetical southern continent; and includes translations of all the long descriptive texts on the map. A removable large-scale reproduction of the entire map is included as an insert in the back of the book.