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Braun & Hogenberg: Londinum Feracissimi Angliae Regni Metropolis

Map: LDN5360
Cartographer: Braun & Hogenberg
Title: Londinum Feracissimi Angliae Regni Metropolis
Date: 1572
Published: Cologne
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 14 inches / 36 cm
Map ref: LDN5360
This map is taken from ‘Civitates Orbis Terrarum’, in emulation of Abraham Ortelius’s bestselling atlas, the ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’, that had been published in 1570. This plan view of London is the first in the entire series by Braun and Hogenberg, and was copied from an example of a fifteen-sheet wall map that Braun would have seen hanging in the home of Heinrich Suderman, his patron and head of the Hanseatic League. Hanseatic merchants in London may have commissioned the original map, of which only three copperplates and no original impressions have survived. In its present form, this is the most familiar map of Tudor London, providing a remarkably accurate picture of the city, Westminster, and Southwark in the 1550’s. An example of this is the visible spire of St Pauls which was actually destroyed in 1561. Hanseatic commissioning of this piece may explain some of the changing political subtext in the original and preceding engravings. Politically the Hanseatic League wanted to please Queen Mary into supporting them against their rival London merchants. On the original, emphasis on her royal barge is particularly noticeable as it lies prominently in the middle of the map. Also of note on the original is the text panel emphasising the importance of the Hanseatic League in English commerce. When Elizabeth became British monarch, Braun had to change this. Only two years later, the alteration of power had suppressed the merchant’s privileges. The map had to be altered in favour of London merchants in order to be successful. The edition was revised to include the Royal exchange, a symbol of England’s mercantile power. Also in the text, that flanks the costumed figures at the forefront, the mercantile activity in London is described. This lends emphasis to the title, which translates from Latin as ‘Capital of the most fruitful kingdom of England’. [Goss: Plate 31] [Barber: p114-115]