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John Speed: Hantshire described and devided

Map: HANTS702
Cartographer: John Speed
Title: Hantshire described and devided
Date: 1627
Published: London
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 15 inches / 39 cm
Map ref: HANTS702
Splendid county map of Hampshire with an inset town plan of Winchester. From the 1627 edition of John Speed's "The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine", the first complete atlas of English counties. The map is decorated by a large royal coat of arms belonging to King James I, the sovereign at the time of publication. The arms of local nobles are also displayed along the sides of the map.

Geographically, the map was loosely based on Saxton although the Hampshire coast was of great strategic importance to the country, with Portsmouth being one of the most significant naval towns. Geographical surveys of the region, particularly the coastline, were frequently conducted. The accuracy of the coastline of this map is notably better then in many other maps by Speed. The inset of Winchester was the first topographical printed view of the city and based on first hand information by John Speed.

Just below the map of Winchester there is a fascinating illustration and text panel describing the 12th-century civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda, two of Britain's lesser-known rulers. The vignette shows Matilda escaping from Stephen's army by hiding in a coffin and pretending to be dead. The ploy worked and Matilda escaped to safety. Matilda ultimately recognized Stephen's right to rule, but only after her son, Henry II, was named heir to the throne. This period is known as "the Anarchy" and is regarded as one of the lowest points in Britain's governing history.

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