The Civitates Orbis Terrarum was the first atlas of world cities and one of the most important books published in the late 16th century. Edited by Georg Braun and largely engraved by Franz Hogenberg, the work eventually contained 546 prospects, bird-eye views and map views of cities from all over the world. The first volume of the Civitates Orbis Terrarum was published in Cologne in 1572. The sixth and the final volume appeared in 1617. Although led by Braun and Hogenberg, the books were created by a large team of writers, engravers, and artists. R.V. Tooley writes:

"The Civitates is one of the great books of the World... it was the first serious attempt to give graphic representations of the main cities of the World, with a wealth of factual detail. In the main, the buildings in each view are shown in elevation, and while the ordinary buildings are stylized, the principal buildings are reproduced from actual drawings on the spot, and these, and the main streets, can be recognized today.

Further, the editors gave additional factual information as a deliberately planned policy, such as the heraldic arms of the city, and the nature of the surrounding countryside, whether wooded or arable, grazing land, vineyards, or gardens. The importance of waterways is stressed by the careful delineation of stone bridges, wooden pontoons, flat-bottomed ferries, moles, wharves and jetties; the ports with ocean-going craft, the inland waters with river traffic. Varieties of land travel are depicted, pedestrians, horsemen, wagons, coaches, and palanquins.

Small vignettes illustrate the trade, occupations and habits of the locality, agriculture, paper-making and textiles. The law is represented by various forms of punishment, gibbets, wheels, floggings etc. A distinctive feature of the plates is the insertion of large figures in the foreground to illustrate local costume. Those figures are out of proportion necessarily. The general multiplication of detail slightly offends certain commentators who fail to appreciate the purpose of the editors.

Their primary aim was not to produce well-balanced landscapes, but to give as much information as possible in a pleasing visual form, in reality a kind of super guide book. This was done so magnificently that the result was an art as decorative as it was informative. The whole forms a wonderful compendium of life in Europe in the sixteenth century. And as city growth in early times, with a few obvious exceptions, was more or less static, even further it gives a visual printed record of mediaeval Europe, and is one of the most valuable sources remaining to the student and historian of these periods." (Tooley)

Braun, a cleric of Cologne, was the principal editor of the work, and was greatly assisted in his project by the close, and continued interest of Abraham Ortelius, whose Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of 1570 was, as a systematic and comprehensive collection of maps of uniform style, the first true atlas. The Civitates, indeed, was intended as a companion for the Theatrum, as indicated by the similarity in the titles and by contemporary references regarding the complementary nature of two works.

Nevertheless, the Civitates was designs to be more popular in approach, no doubt because the novelty of a collection of city plans and views represented a more hazardous commercial undertaking than a world atlas, for which there had been a number of successful precedents. Franz Hogenberg (1535-1590) was the son of a Munich engraves who settled in Malines. He engraved most of the plates for Ortelius's Theatrum and the majority of those in the Civitates, and may have been responsible for originating the project.

Over a hundred of different artists and cartographers, the most significant of whom was Antwerp artist Georg (Joris) Hoefnagel (1542-1600), engraved the cooper-plates of the Civitates from drawings. He not only contributed most of the original material for the Spanish and Italian towns but also reworked and modified those of other contributors. After Hoefnagel's death his son Jakob continued the work for the Civitates.

A large number of Jacob van Deventer (1505-1575), also known as Jacob Roelofszof, unpublished works, plans of towns of the Netherlands were copied, as were Stumpf's woodcuts from the Schweizer Chronik of 1548, and Munster's German views from the 1550 and 1572 editions of his Cosmographia. Another important source for maps was the Danish cartographer Heinrich van Rantzau (1526-1599), better known under his Latin name Rantzovius, who provided maps of Northern Europe, specially of Danish cities. The Civitates provided a uniquely comprehensive view of urban life at the turn of the sixteenth century. Other sources were the maps of Sebastian Munster from around 1550 and and of.

Braun added to the maps figures in local dress. This feature was anticipated in Hans Lautensack's etched view of Nuremberg, 1552, those groups of citizens in the rural foreground add further authenticity to the highly accurate topographical details of what was effectively Germany's cultural capital at that time. Braun's motives for adding figures to the views, however, went further: as stated in his introduction to book 1, he believed, perhaps optimistically, that his plans would not in consequence be scrutinized for military secrets by the Turks, as their religion forbade them from looking on representations of the human form.

The plans, each accompanies by Braun's printed account of the town's history, situation and commerce, form an armchair traveler's compendium, which the scholar Robert Burton in The Anatomy of Melancholy of 1621 asserted would not only provide instructions but would uplift the spirit as well.

Volumes:

  • [1] Civitates orbis terrarum, first edition 1572.
  • [2] De praecipuis, totius universi urbibus, liber secundus, first edition 1575.
  • [3] Urbium praecipuarum totius mundi, liber tertius, first edition 1581.
  • [4] Urbium praecipuarum totius mundi, liber quartus, first edition 1588.
  • [5] Urbium praecipuarum mundi theatrum quintum, first edition 1596.
  • [6] Theatri praecipuarum totius mundi urbium liber sextus, first edition 1617.

"Privilegium Caesareae maiestatis, which occurs in each volume generally on the reverse of the title page, refers to Francis Hogenberg as the author's collaborator."--Phillips. Colophon of v. 1: Coloniae Agrippinae, apud Petrum Brachel, sumptibus auctorum. Colophon of v. 6: Coloniae Agrippinae, Antonius Hierat & Abrahamus Hoghenberg. Collaborators and artists whose works these maps were based on include George and Jacob Hoefnagel, Simon Novellanus, Jacob van Deventer, Heinrich Rantzau, etc.

Includes indexes. Descriptive text on verso of plates.

1 atlas (6 v. in 3) : hand col. ill., hand col. maps (some folded) ; 43 cm.

Library of Congress Call Number/Physical Location: G1028 .B7 1612.

References:

Ronald VereTooley, Tooley's Dictionary of Mapmakers, 1979,N.Y

R.V. Tooley, preface to the reproduction edition of Civitates Orbis Terrarum, World Publishing, 1966

Koeman B&H 1-6; van der Krogt 41:1.1 (1640). This is van der Krogt's XVIII edition, c. 1640, the last edition of six volumes. Van der Krogt dates the individual volumes as 1 (c. 1640, 11th ed.), 2 (c. 1640, 9th ed.), 3 (c. 1623, 7th ed.), 4 (c. 1635, 7th ed.), 5 (c. 1640, 5th ed.), 6 (c. 1635, 3rd ed.). All six volumes are printed by Peter von Brachel between 1823 and 1640, with the texts reset by him and the plates used generally from first or second editions. We date the volumes, texts and plates separately, using Van der Krogt's listings. There are 546 plans/views of cities on 363 plates. The title for the series of six volumes is taken from the first volume which is general practice. The other five volumes are titled individually. The original publication dates are vol I, 1572; vol II, 1575; vol III, 1581; vol IV, c.1588; vol V, c.1598; vol VI, 1617.

Publisher: [Coloniae Agrippinae : apud Petrum à Brachel, sumptibus auctorum, 1575-1618]

Language(s):

Latin

ISBN-10: N/A

Date Added: 2019-08-06

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Maps

Map Name
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Nordovicum Angliae Civitas (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Brightstowe (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Cestria Vvglo Chester Anglia Civitas (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Edenbvrg (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Le Brixa et Settenil (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Avrelia Franciae Civitas (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Rhotomagvs Vulgo Rouen (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Chartres et Chateavdvnvm Vulgo Dunoys (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Gratianopolis Grenoble et Romans Delfinatus (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Avgvstodvnvm Vulgo Authun et Noviodvnvm (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Loeven (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Mechelen et Mechlineensis (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Tienen (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Berga Or Bergen Op Zoom (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Maestricht (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Luxembovrg (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Arnhem Gelre Venlo et Rvermonde (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Nymmegen (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Lille Insvla (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Dovay (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Slvys (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Arras (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Nobilis Hannoniae Comitatvs Descriptio (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Mons (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Valenchiennes (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Charlemont Landrechies Avesnes et Beavmont (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Phillippeviile Mariebovrg Chimay et Vallecvria (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Dordrecht (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Delphvm Or Delft (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Enchuysen (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Rotterdam et Govde (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Namvr (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Deventer (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Campen (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Swol Swolla (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Leevwaerden et Franicker (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Soest Warborch (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Francenbvrgvm (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Eschwege et Fritzlar (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Werden et Essend (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Halberstadivm et Qvedelinbvrga (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Winmaria Or Weinmar (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Konigsbbergt et Riga (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Zurych (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Landshvt 1578 (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Passaw 1576 (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Saltzburgr (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Caietae (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Vilna Litaniae Metropolis (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Forvm Vvlcani (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Lacvs Agnianvs (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Baiis 1580 (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Vetvstiss Ad Mare Thyrrhenvcm Terracinae Oppidvm (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Velitrae Vvlgo Blitri (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Tibvrtvm Vulgo Tivoli (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Orvieto et Lavretvm (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Pisavrum or Pezaro (1581)
Civitates Orbis Terrarum Vol. 3 - Verona (1581)

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