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Henry de Leth: Carte de la Petite Tartarie

Map: RUS2569
Cartographer: Henry de Leth
Title: Carte de la Petite Tartarie
Date: c. 1775
Published: Amsterdam
Width: 18 inches / 46 cm
Height: 16 inches / 41 cm
Map ref: RUS2569
Extraordinarily coloured example of a rare map chronicling the triumph of the Russian forces in modern Ukraine and Crimea during the Russo-Turkish War of 1735-39.

This was one of several conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and Russia during the 18th century. The conflict was provoked by the continued raids of the Crimean Tartars against both Russia and the Ukraine as well as the Ottoman conflict with Persia, a Russian ally. This ensured the mustering of a Russian army under a German officer fighting for Russia, Field Marshall Christoph von Munnich. The situation was further complicated by a conflict in the Polish Succession, with Ottoman ally France supporting one candidate against a preferred Russian candidate. Finally, Russia also had an alliance with Austria, an ancient enemy of the Ottomans whose conflicts went back centuries.

The aim of the war was to stop the raids, ease pressure on Persia and most importantly, gain access to the northern shores of the Black Sea by seizing the Crimean Peninsula and the enormous and strategic fortress of Azov. Von Munnich achieved stunning success, gaining all of his objectives. So much so, that it encouraged the Austrians to enter the war on the Russian side in 1737. Unfortunately, logistics for the Russians proved to be their undoing, further worsened by the outbreak of plague in 1737-8. Ultimately, this, with bad defeats for their Austrian allies in the Balkans, forced the Russians to retreat to the Ukraine and ultimately sign the Treaty of Nis, which ended the war, with neither side gaining advantage.

This map is based on one of five maps commissioned by the Russian Empress from the Russian Academy of Sciences and chronicles the Russian campaign on the Crimea and the northern shore of the Black Sea in modern Ukraine. The campaign was against the Crimean Tartars and their Khans, who were nominally independent tribes and clans but in reality were very much under the influence and command of the Ottoman Empire. The map shows the Russian defensive lines in the north of the region together with Russian manoeuvres against the enemy. The Crimea is shown in a different colour to signify its independence from both groups.

The cartouche on the upper right states that the map was commissioned by the Empress, at this time, Anna of Russia. The whole map has been beautifully illuminated with great skill in full original hand colour. [RUS2569]