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Braun & Hogenberg: Londinum Feracissimi Angliae Regni Metropolis

Map: LDN5335
 
Cartographer: Braun & Hogenberg
Title: Londinum Feracissimi Angliae Regni Metropolis
Date: c. 1574
Published: Cologne
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 14 inches / 36 cm
Map ref: LDN5335
Description:
This remarkable view of Elizabethan London is the earliest available map of the capital. The original 15 sheet map on which this was based map was commissioned by the Hanseatic League to curry favour with Queen Mary Tudor in the hope that it would help them regain their historical trading rights in London. The ascension of Elizabeth I to the throne in 1558 and her protectionist policies towards English merchants rendered the original purpose of this map redundant. It now only exists in the form of three surviving copper-plates of the 15 and no original impressions. Georg Braun, the publisher, would have seen this plan hanging in the home of Heinrich Suderman, his patron and head of the Hanseatic League. He included a reduced version of this map as the first map in the “Civitates Orbis Terrarum”, the first ever atlas of town and city views. The bird's-eye plan depicts London still mainly contained within its medieval walls with a single road, the Strand, leading along the Thames to the Palace of Westminster. The only bridge, London Bridge, links the City to Southwark with its prominent bull and bear-baiting pits. Also on the South Bank, a number of boats are moored up alongside the notorious Paris pleasure gardens. The Thames itself is filled with river craft, conspicuous among which is the royal barge being towed up-stream. The old St. Paul's Cathedral is still shown with its towering spire, once the largest in Europe, despite it having been destroyed by lightening in 1561. In the foreground are four charming figures in Elizabethan dress. The eye-catching use of figures throughout the atlas, as explained in the text, is because the Islamic prohibition of the depiction of the human form would stop the Ottomans from using these maps to besiege European cities. This wonderful map presents a vivid portrait of Shakespeare’s London. [LDN5335]