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Braun & Hogenberg: Londinum Feracissimi Angliae Regni Metropolis

Map: LDN6273
 
Cartographer: Braun & Hogenberg
Title: Londinum Feracissimi Angliae Regni Metropolis
Date: 1574
Published: Antwerp
Width: 19 inches / 49 cm
Height: 14 inches / 36 cm
Map ref: LDN6273
Description:
This superb map is the earliest printed map of London available to the collector. Published by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg in the atlas Civitates Orbis Terrarum, it is now the most celebrated plan of Tudor London in existence.

By the late 16th century, London was one of the largest and most populous trading centres in the world and as such was the first city to be depicted in the atlas. Entitled “Londinium Ferassimi Angliae Regni Metropolis” (London, Bountiful English Royal City), the map gives the viewer a vivid impression of its economy, status and wealth.

This magnificent plan delineates the streets, as well as houses, churches and fortifications. Dominating the city is the old St. Paul’s Cathedral whose great spire, once the tallest in Europe, proclaims its grandeur. By the time this map was published the spire had in fact been destroyed by fire after being struck by lightning in 1561.

The Strand is the sole thoroughfare, except for the river, linking the City to Westminster. The city is still shown principally enclosed within the original medieval walls. Also depicted are the great medieval palaces of Bridewell and Baynards Castle alongside the river either side of Blackfriars. These were shortly to disappear, one turned into a prison and the other destroyed in the Great Fire.

The “Stews of Southwark” with their reputation of depravity and riotous living, are shown south of London Bridge with their ale houses and bear and bull baiting pits, on the future site of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

The original map on which this plan is based was commissioned by the Hanseatic League and was designed to curry favour with Queen Mary in the hope of persuading her to restore the Hansa’s trading privileges.

The desire to please Queen Mary is reflected in the joint depiction of the Royal and City of London coats of arms and the emphasis placed on the Queen’s royal barge in the middle of the Thames while studiously ignoring the existence of the opulent halls of the English livery companies.

After the death of Mary and the ascension to the throne of Elizabeth I, Braun recognised the changed political and economic realities and revised the map to include the new Royal Exchange, a symbol of England’s increasingly confident mercantile power in direct competition with the foreign merchants of the Hanseatic League.

Splendid original hand-colour. Second state.

[Howgego "Printed Maps of London, c.1553-1850" no.2] [LDN6273]