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Mexico and Cusco, by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg.


Mexico, Regia et Celebris Hispaniae Novae Civitas ... [on sheet with] Cusco, Regni Peru in Novo Orbe Caput, 1572-1624.

€1100  ($1188 / £957)
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Item Number:  22357
Category:  Antique maps > America > Central America

Old map with two bird's-eye views by Braun and Hogenberg: Mexico and Cusco.

MEXICO: Translation of cartouche text: Mexico, the royal and famous city of New Spain.

COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "Mexico, or Tenochtitlan, is a rich and important city in New Spain in the Mexican provinces, lying in a saltwater lake. There are many heathen temples here, which their priests live in; the most important amongst them is a temple whose quite incredible magnificence is described in detail by Hernan Cortés. They make their heathen images out of flour and human blood, and every day sacrifie a large number of human hearts to them, which they cut out of the living bodies. A magnificent palace belonging to the most powerful lord, Moctezuma, also stands here."

Tenochtitlan was founded around 1325 on an island in Lake Texcoco by wandering Aztec tribes. As the number of inhabitants grew to over 100,000 over the next 200 years, so the city spread across ever more of the lake's islets, which were linked by dams and bridges and drained by canals. The plate shows the magnificent central square with the palace of Moctezuma II and the Templo Mayor dedicated to the god Huitzilopochtli, where human sacrifice was performed. Reports of cannibalism and human sacrifice are a recurring theme of contemporary European accounts and were used to justify the Spanish conquest. Although the Aztecs were able to hold off Cortés and his troops in 1519, Tenochtitlan was taken by the Spanish in 1520 and the Aztec rulers put to death. The temple and the city were extensively damaged, and a church and a palace for the viceroy of New Spain were built on the central square.The new city was called Mexico City, one of the names for the Aztecs."

CUSCO (CUZCO): Cartouche: Cusco, capital of the Kingdom of Peru in the New Wold.

Commentary by Braun: "The capital of Peru in the south of the New world is Cusco, a city so large, powerful and beautiful that it can easily rank alongside the most important cities in Spain and France [...] The streets are generally very straight with numerous crossroads and a stream flows down most streets. The city is particularly embellished by a wonderful palace that lies on a steep hill and has no compare in Europe."

The engraving offers a steep bird's-eye view of Cusco. Its straight roads are clearly visible, although the blocks of houses are slightly too small and are drawn in distorted perspective. According to legend, Cusco was founded around 1200 by Manco Capac, the Quechua Indian who became the first Inca: the Quechua name for the city is Qusqu, meaning "navel of the world". On 15 November 1533 Cusco was conquered by the Spanish under the command of Francisco Pizarro, who tried to manipulate the Inca rulers to his own ends. These latter broke their alliance with the Spanish in 1536 and the ensuing Inca uprising lasted until 1572. (Taschen)

From about 1579, there is a crack in the copperplate which is visible in the engraving to the right of the title Mexico.

Date of the first edition: 1572
Date of this map: After 1593

Copper engraving
Size: 27 x 48cm (10.5 x 18.7 inches)
Verso text: Latin
Condition: Uncoloured, excellent.
Condition Rating: A
References: Van der Krogt 4, 2731; Taschen, Braun and Hogenberg, p.132.

From: Civitates Orbis Terrarum, ... Part 1. Köln, 1593-1624. (Van der Krogt 4, 41:1.1)