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Mechelen, by Braun & Hogenberg. 1581-88

Braun G. & Hogenberg F. and the Civitates Orbis Terrarum.

The Civitates Orbis Terrarum, or the "Braun & Hogenberg", is a six-volume town atlas and the greatest book of town views and plans ever published: 363 engravings, sometimes beautifully coloured. It was one of the best-selling works in the last quarter of the 16th century. Georg Braun wrote the text accompanying the plans and views on the verso. A large number of the plates were engraved after the original drawings of Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1600), who was a professional artist. The first volume was published in Latin in 1572, and the sixth in 1617. Frans Hogenberg created the tables for volumes I through IV, and Simon van den Neuwel created those for volumes V and VI. Other contributors were cartographers Daniel Freese and Heinrich Rantzau. Works by Jacob van Deventer, Sebastian Münster, and Johannes Stumpf were also used. Translations appeared in German and French.

Following the original publication of Volume 1 of the Civitates in 1572, seven further editions of 1575, 1577, 1582, 1588, 1593, 1599 and 1612 can be identified. Vol.2, first issued in 1575, was followed by further editions in 1597 and in 1612. The next volumes appeared in 1581, 1588, 1593, 1599 and 1606. The German translation of the first volume appeared from 1574 on, and the French edition from 1575 on.

Several printers were involved: Theodor Graminaeus, Heinrich von Aich, Gottfried von Kempen, Johannis Sinniger, Bertram Buchholtz and Peter von Brachel, who all worked in Cologne.

Georg Braun (1541-1622)

Georg Braun was born in Cologne in 1541. After his studies in Cologne, he entered the Jesuit Order as a novice. In 1561 he obtained his bachelor's degree, and in 1562 his Magister Artium. Although he left the Jesuit Order, he studied theology, gaining a licentiate in theology.

Frans Hogenberg (1535-1590)

Frans Hogenberg was a Flemish and German painter, engraver, and mapmaker. He was born in Mechelen as the son of Nicolaas Hogenberg.

By the end of the 1560s, Frans Hogenberg was employed upon Abraham Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, published in 1570; he is named an engraver of numerous maps. In 1568 he was banned from Antwerp by the Duke of Alva and travelled to London, where he stayed a few years before emigrating to Cologne. He immediately embarked on his two most important works, the Civitates, published in 1572 and the Geschichtsblätter, which appeared in several series from 1569 until about 1587.

Thanks to large-scale projects like the Geschichtsblätter and the Civitates, Hogenberg's social circumstances improved with each passing year. He died as a wealthy man in Cologne in 1590.

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Mechelen - Nitidissimae Civitatis Mechlineensis in meditullio Brabantiae sitae, exactis: delineatio

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Item Number:  18002
Category:  Antique maps > Europe > Belgium - Cities
References: Van der Krogt 4 - 2664; Taschen (Br. Hog.) - p.220

Bird's-eye plan of Mechelen, costume figures at bottom right, engraved after a plan by Jacob van Deventer.

TRANSLATION OF CARTOUCHE TEXT: Faithful view of the illustrious town of Mechelen, in the middle of Brabant.

COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "In the year 1473 Charles the Bold moved the Supreme Court, also called the Royal Council or Assembly, to Mechelen: he himself is the supreme judge in the company of 34 other lords. Initially this council accompanied his Lordship at all times and followed him wherever he went; in the absence of the sovereign the Chancellor presided over all others in his place. One could appeal to it from almost all the courts in Belgium."

Franz Hogenberg's birthplace is illustrated twice. In the view presented in Volume I the cityscape is dominated by the massive tower belonging to the cathedral of Sint-Rombout, which measures almost 100 m in height. Behind the cathedral to the right lies the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe church built in the Brabantine late Gothic style. In the present plate Mechelen is seen in a bird's-eye view from the northwest. Clearly apparent is the almost circular shape of the inner city, which has already spread beyond the bounds of the canal ringing the old city wall. In the Middle Ages staple rights and the cloth trade brought Mechelen great prosperity. In 1336 the city passed to the Duchy of Brabant, later to Burgundy, and developed into a highly regarded centre of commerce. The collapse of the cloth industry prompted the development of new areas of manufacturing, such as cannon and bell founding. In 1477 Mechelen passed to the Habsburgs and from 1507 to 1530, under the regency of Margaret of Austria, was capital of the Habsburg Netherlands. In 1559 Mechelen became an archbishopric and over the course of the Wars of Religion grew into a centre of the Counter-Reformation. For some time it was also the seat of the highest tribunal of the Habsburg Netherlands. (Taschen)

Date of the first edition: 1581
Date of this map: 1581-88

Copper engraving
Size: 33.5 x 46cm (13.1 x 17.9 inches)
Verso text: Latin
Condition: Old coloured, excellent.
Condition Rating: A
References: Van der Krogt 4, 2664; Taschen, Braun and Hogenberg, p.220.

From: Civitates Orbis Terrarum. . Liber tertius. Köln, G. Kempen, 1581-88. (Koeman, B&H3)

Braun G. & Hogenberg F. and the Civitates Orbis Terrarum.

The Civitates Orbis Terrarum, or the "Braun & Hogenberg", is a six-volume town atlas and the greatest book of town views and plans ever published: 363 engravings, sometimes beautifully coloured. It was one of the best-selling works in the last quarter of the 16th century. Georg Braun wrote the text accompanying the plans and views on the verso. A large number of the plates were engraved after the original drawings of Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1600), who was a professional artist. The first volume was published in Latin in 1572, and the sixth in 1617. Frans Hogenberg created the tables for volumes I through IV, and Simon van den Neuwel created those for volumes V and VI. Other contributors were cartographers Daniel Freese and Heinrich Rantzau. Works by Jacob van Deventer, Sebastian Münster, and Johannes Stumpf were also used. Translations appeared in German and French.

Following the original publication of Volume 1 of the Civitates in 1572, seven further editions of 1575, 1577, 1582, 1588, 1593, 1599 and 1612 can be identified. Vol.2, first issued in 1575, was followed by further editions in 1597 and in 1612. The next volumes appeared in 1581, 1588, 1593, 1599 and 1606. The German translation of the first volume appeared from 1574 on, and the French edition from 1575 on.

Several printers were involved: Theodor Graminaeus, Heinrich von Aich, Gottfried von Kempen, Johannis Sinniger, Bertram Buchholtz and Peter von Brachel, who all worked in Cologne.

Georg Braun (1541-1622)

Georg Braun was born in Cologne in 1541. After his studies in Cologne, he entered the Jesuit Order as a novice. In 1561 he obtained his bachelor's degree, and in 1562 his Magister Artium. Although he left the Jesuit Order, he studied theology, gaining a licentiate in theology.

Frans Hogenberg (1535-1590)

Frans Hogenberg was a Flemish and German painter, engraver, and mapmaker. He was born in Mechelen as the son of Nicolaas Hogenberg.

By the end of the 1560s, Frans Hogenberg was employed upon Abraham Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, published in 1570; he is named an engraver of numerous maps. In 1568 he was banned from Antwerp by the Duke of Alva and travelled to London, where he stayed a few years before emigrating to Cologne. He immediately embarked on his two most important works, the Civitates, published in 1572 and the Geschichtsblätter, which appeared in several series from 1569 until about 1587.

Thanks to large-scale projects like the Geschichtsblätter and the Civitates, Hogenberg's social circumstances improved with each passing year. He died as a wealthy man in Cologne in 1590.

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