Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Folger Exhibitions
• Past Exhibitions
Mapping Early Modern Worlds
Mapping a Nation

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

Mapping a Nation

The project to map a nation completely was first fully realized in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. While the impetus came originally from the crown—Queen Elizabeth backed Christopher Saxton’s great atlas of 1579—the project soon took on a life of its own in which the land and its parts, rather than the monarch, took center stage. The men who produced the county maps, Camden, Speed, Norden, Drayton, and others, often worked at their own expense, hoping for some remuneration from a patron.


The monarch’s gradual displacement in favor of the land is symbolized by the progression of images on title pages, from Elizabeth enthroned in Saxton’s atlas to the allegorical figure of Britain in Drayton’s Polyolbion. The royal coat-of-arms is increasingly placed on the margins of maps that foreground the chorography of the land itself with its hills, forests, cities, towns, monuments, battles, flora, fauna, and inhabitants, giving rise to the Nation as an entity independent of the Monarch.



Next »

Christopher Saxton. Atlas of the counties of England and Wales. London, 1590?

Bookmark and Share   
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623