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Dunkerque, Gravelines and Bourbourg, by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg. 1597


Duynkercke [on sheet with] Grevelinge [and] Borborch.

€260  ($304.2 / £221)
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Item Number:  23977
Category:  Antique maps > Europe > France

Old map with three bird's-eye views by Braun and Hogenberg: Dunkerque, Gravelines and Bourbourg.


COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "The city was built and encompassed by a circular wall by the inhabitants in a few years. It was constructed because of the favourable harbour, for ships can land here very easily and many inhabitants are therefore engaged in trade."

The prospect over the harbour refers the viewer immediately to the town's beginning as a fishing village in the 7th century. The settlement developed from a chapel built by St Eligius on the dunes, hence its name. Because of its position, Dunkirk was often fought over. In 1558 it fell to the French, who, however, gave the city back to the Spanish in the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis in 1559. The unstable political conditions made Dunkirk a favourite port for pirates, who plundered ships in the North Sea. The belfry (right) stands out clearly, as does the 15th-century chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Dunes and the 16th-century church of Saint-Éloy, a five-nave hall church.


COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "Gravelines is a little town in a coastal hinterland, situated on the River Aa halfway between Calais and Dunkirk, and was once famous because of its big, spacious harbour. But it has lost its former beauty due to the tyranny of the Normans and repeated attacks by the French. The inhabitants have now proteced the town from enemies with a broad moat and strong walls."

The bird's-eye view shows the fortress of Gravelines, situated to the east of Calais. Founded around 1160, it experienced considerable growth in the 12/13th centuries, thanks to the diversion of the Aa. Due to the silting up of the river, this period of prosperity came to an end after 200 years. Owing to its geographical position as gateway to the Netherlands, it was several times the scene of armed conflicts. The residents of Gravelines were thus eyewitnesses of the famous battle in which the English fleet under Sir Francis Drake defeated the Spanish Armada (1588). The medieval tower on the market square is today preserved as a belfry. The castle in the upper left-hand corner is part of the fortifications begun by Charles V in 1528.


COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "Bourbourg is a little town, fortified with only one moat, a small earthern rampart and a wooden stockade. Nevertheless it caused the French much trouble for a long time, when it was in the possession of the English."

Bourbourg is shown here in cavalier perspective. The church of Saint Jean Baptiste stands out clearly. It houses the reliquary La Châsse de Notre-Dame de Bourbourg, which goes back to the 15th century. The town is first mentioned in a document in 987 as Broecborc, and is described as a marsh town. (Taschen)

Date of the first edition: 1575
Date of this map: 1597

Copper engraving
Size: 30 x 48.5cm (11.7 x 18.9 inches)
Verso text: Latin
Condition: Uncoloured, excellent.
Condition Rating: A
References: Van der Krogt 4, 1168; Taschen, Braun and Hogenberg, p.162.

From: Civitates Orbis Terrarum, ... Part 2: De Praecipuis, Totius Universi Urbibus, Liber Secundus. Köln, Bertram Buchholz, 1597. (Van der Krogt 4, 41:1.2)

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