1574 Toletum / Vallisoletum
By: Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg
Date: 1574 (Published) Cologne
Dimensions: 13 x 18.6 inches (33 x 47.2 cm)
This Braun and Hogenberg engraving is from the second edition of their monumental oeuvre, Civitates Orbis Terrarum. On one sheet are depicted two principal cities of Spain at the time, Toledo and Vallisoletum.
Toledo is depicted here from the opposite banks of the Tajo River, emphasizing its striking location on the Meseta Plateau. Situated approximately 100 meters above the river, the city enjoys the natural protection provided by the river as it flows around a large area of the city. Of ancient origin, Toledo is described by Livy as ‘urbs parva, sed loco munita’ (a small city, but fortified by location). The city was conquered in 193, becoming an important Roman colony, and the capital of Carpentia. It was renowned and held in high esteem for the erudition of its scholars, for such institutions as its Escuela de Traductores. The city declined in importance following the naming of Madrid as Spain’s capital in 1560.
The remarkable Alcazar fortress pictured here was originally a Roman palace built in the third century A.D. Restorations and changes to the building were undertaken many times, with the current building having been completed in the 16th century under the auspices of King Carlos V. The city is rendered in great detail with churches, houses and municipal buildings all drawn as if from life at the time of the map’s publication. Marvelous stone bridges span the river on either side of the city. Influences of the various civilizations who have ruled the city are visible in the map, and are to be found to this day.
It is said that when Roderick, last king of the Visigoths, ruled in Toledo there was a palace whose entrances were sealed with locks. Against the wishes of the Spaniards, the king had the locks broken only to find instead of the great treasure he had hoped for, a cloth on which a prediction written in Latin stated that once the palace had been broken into Moors and Arabs in battle dress would descend upon and conquer the city. In the year 711 AD the city was attacked by Arabs and Saracens who killed the king and all Spanish nobility, gaining full control of the Visigoth kingdom in just eight days.
Vallisoletum is rendered from an elevated perspective which provides a good overview of it. Some architectural masterpieces such as the church of San Pablo are visible in the ancient city center, which is well-fortified and in which are to be seen a monastery, any number of churches, and residential buildings of various sizes. The buildings are rendered with great care, as if the illustrator had personal knowledge of each building in each quarter of the city. The surrounding countryside is completely rural in character, nonetheless Braun’s text reveals that King Philip II of Spain was born in the city in 1529.
Vallisoletum, or Valladolid city, capital of Valladolid provincia (province), is located in the comunidad autónoma (autonomous community) of Castile-León, in northwestern Spain. The city lies along the Pisuerga River at its confluence with the Esgueva. It is the second city of Spain featured in the engraving. Though not so large a city as Toledo, it is also ancient and has been under the rule of various governments throughout its long history. In ancient times the area was ruled by a Celtic tribe, the Vaccaei. Imperial Rome, did not ignore the area, and Roman ruins are to be found in and near the city proper. One of the oldest universities in Europe was founded in the city in 1241. A number of historical figures made the city home at one time or another including Cervantes and Colombus. The city was capital of Hapsburg Spain under Phillip III before the designation was returned to Madrid. This small city was also an important Renaissance center during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Descriptive text in Latin on the verso.
Condition: This old-color map is in B+ condition. Centerfold separation has been repaired with archival material on the verso.
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