Maps of Frederick Christian von Wrede as a source on the history of Silesia
In-depth and comprehensive studies of old maps are of considerable importance not only for the history of cartography. These maps are a major source of knowledge of many fields of historical science, often not much valued by some researchers. In the first place, it applies to broadly understood historical geography. It is hard to imagine making serious attempts at recreating the former geographical environment without their help, particularly without knowing the limits of forests, courses of rivers, existence of marshlands, and ponds, etc.
Usefulness of all cartographic documents in any research of geographical and historical nature has been mentioned by many historians or geographers.1 In Poland, the first histographer that appreciated a major role of old cartographic documents not only as a scientific tool, but also as providing important information for a historian was probably M. Kromer, a bishop of Warmia.2
The above remarks primarily concern multi-section handwritten maps collected and carefully stored in various Polish and foreign archives and libraries. Some of them have not been well researched yet and have not always been properly popularised among prospective researchers, either, and, often, those documents are very valuable, original, and have extremely rich and varied content.
Starting in the 18th century in a clear majority of European states matters relating to topographic maps almost entirely came under the responsibility of military authorities. In Silesia those were either Austrian or Prussian authorities.
1 Cf. I. Gieysztor, Études cartographiques de l’histoire de Pologne, (APH, vol. 2, 1959, pp. 70-99); A. Nyrek, O potrzebie zespołowych badań geograficzno-historycznych na Śląsku (AUWr, Historia XV, Wrocław 1969, pp. 65-77); B. Zaborski, Kaszuby na przełomie XVIII i XIX wieku w świetle mapy Schröttera-Engelhardta z lat 1796–1802 (Wiadomości Służby Geograficznej, 1936, No. 2, pp. 239-262).
2 Cf. R. Marchwiński, Kromer a Grodecki. Podstawy kartograficzne kromerowskiej Polonii (AUNC, Historia XVI, Toruń 1980, pp. 133–149).