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Old antique bird's-eye view plan of London by Braun & Hogenberg.

Item number:25588
Category:Antique maps > europe > british isles
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Londinum Feracissimi Angliae Regni Metropolis. - Braun & Hogenberg, 1577.


Old map - bird's-eye view plan of London by Braun and Hogenberg.

TRANSLATION OF CAPTION: London, exceptionally fast growing English royal city.

CARTOUCHE LEFT: London, king of all the cities in England, situated on the River Thames. Caesar, so it is said, called it Trinobantum, it is famed amongst many peoples for its commerce, adorned with houses and churches, distinguished by fortifications, famed for men of all arts and sciences, lastly for its wealth in all things. Goods from all over the world are brought hither on her Thames, as it is navigable for 60,000 paces at high tide.

CARTOUCHE RIGHT: STILLIARDS or, in German, Hanse, a confederation of many cities and communities, established for safe trading on land and sea, lastly for tranquillity and peace in public affairs and for the honourable education of the young. Granted privileges and concessions most of all by the rulers of England, France, Denmark and Great Moscow, also of Flanders and Brabant. It has four markets, called counting houses by some, in which the merchants reside and conduct their business. One of these is salient here in London for domestic trade, namely the Teutonic Guildhall, commonly known as Stilliard.

COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "Although this city is already very large, it also still has beautiful suburbs and a magnificent castle, called the Tower. It is embellished to the best possible degree with splendid buildings and churches and possesses 120 parish churches. [...] The fame of all other cities is utterly exceeded by London [...]. It is a powerful city of commerce [...] furnished with abundance and wealth in all things. The Thames brings riches from all over the world, since even large vessels can sail right into the city on the tide. Here the kings are crowned and installed in office, here too the parliament is held by 24 citizens, called aldermen, according to old English custom."

The first volume of the Civitates opens with this magnificent plan view of London seen from a bird's-eye perspective and reproduces the city as it looked around 1550, as can be seen e.g. from the fact that St Paul's cathedral is depicted with a tall spire, which was destroyed in 1561. The royal barge can be seen on the Thames in the very centre of the picture. Establishing itself on the south bank of the river is the new district of Southwark, which would officially become part of London after 1550: visible near the centrefold are the theatres, or more specifically arenas, in which bull and bear fights were staged.
Shown on a magnified scale in the foreground are four people in contemporary dress standing on a fictive grassy hillock, as it were, enjoying an idealized view of the city. They embody the English fashion of the first half of the 16th century: the men and women, although they belong to different social classes, continue to wear high, closed ruffs, something that changed towards the end of the century.

The representation derives from a lost 15-part city plan, of which today only three plates survive. The original plan was probably commissioned by the Hanseatic League, which is indicated by the emphasis on describing the Hansa trading centre as "Steelyard" (Stilliard) and the praise meted out to the Hansa for its special status in worldwide trade. (Taschen)


Date of the first edition: 1572
Date of this map: 1577

Copper engraving
Size (not including margins): 33 x 48.5cm (12.9 x 18.9 inches)
Verso text: Latin
Condition: Original coloured, lower margin reinforced (outside the image).
Condition Rating: A
References: Van der Krogt 4, 2433, State 3; Darlington-Howgego, 2.2; Taschen, Braun and Hogenberg, p.50.

From: Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Liber Primus. Köln, Gottfried von Kempen, 1577. (Van der Krogt 4, 41:1.1)

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