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Mapping Early Modern Worlds
City and Road Maps

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City and Road Maps

What could be more agreeable than in one’s own home free from danger, to gaze in these books. . . adorned with the splendour of cities. . .and, by looking at the pictures and reading the texts accompanying them, to acquire knowledge which could scarcely be had but by long and difficult journeys?

Thus Georg Braun addressed the audience for his Civitates Orbis Terrarum (1572–1618), the first atlas providing a collection of plans and views of cities from around the world. The six volumes were comprised of over five hundred maps with descriptive texts so that the arm-chair traveler would never run out of places to "visit."


John Ogilby, "King’s Cosmographer and Geographic Printer," on the other hand, departed from representation of the city as integral unit, and depicted instead the relationship between settlements along a linear road. His Britannia (1675), issued first in a large folio edition and later in pocket-book size, was the ancestor of the modern road map, designed for those travelers eager to leave the comfort of their homes and brave the dangers of the road.




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London, from Civitates Orbis Terrarum. Hand-colored engraving, 1574.

John Ogilby. Britannia Depicta. London, 1720.

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