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John Speed: The Countie Pallatine of Lancaster Described and Divided into Hundreds

Map: LANCS503
Cartographer: John Speed
Title: The Countie Pallatine of Lancaster Described and Divided into Hundreds
Date: 1676
Published: London
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 15 inches / 39 cm
Map ref: LANCS503
Wonderfully ornate county map with borders showing the major figures of the Houses of York and Lancaster. An inset of Lancaster and numerous ships and sea monsters embellish this fine piece.

Due to the magnificent set of portraits of the royal houses of York and Lancaster present on the left and right, this is one of John Speed’s most famous maps. Unlike many other examples of his work, Lancashire bears a prominent date on the cartouche, which is duplicated on the lower right, next to the name of Jodocus Hondius, the engraver. The upper right corner illustrates the town of Lancaster with its enormous castle prominently central.

Geographically, this is one of the two maps that Speed is known to have sourced from William Smyth, another mapmaker and member of the College of Arms who had published a number of county maps in the early 17th century.

However, as mentioned above, the fame and importance of this map springs from its decoration. The left side of the map shows portraits of four monarchs of the House of Lancaster while the right side shows the same for the House of York. As befits the winners, Speed adds a title onto the portrait bar of the House of Lancaster: “Blessed are the Victors” although symbolically, one of the settling factors of the Wars of the Roses was the marriage of Henry VII of Lancaster and Elizabeth of York, whose portraits are closest to each other.

Despite the large portraits there is also room for a series of sea monsters and ships embellishing the sea as well as the coats of arms of two earlier famous Dukes of Lancaster, Edmund Crookback and John of Gaunt.

Due to all the elements mentioned above, this is one of the most famous of county maps by John Speed.

English text on verso. Image available on request. Coloured.