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Patrons Legend
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Sebastian Münster’s Patrons: City Councils and Princes

The map above depicts the patronage network by which Sebastian Münster’s acquired his city views. Münster’s patrons were city councils and princes who paid local artists to draw their cities. City councils (white) and princes (black) submitted strikingly different types of views (Click on the cities for details). City councils made what I call 'civic views,' in which the emphasis is on civic boundaries such as city walls. All important buildings in civic views are depicted on the same scale and with little diffences in emphasis on particular buildings. Princes on the contrary placed emphasis on their ancestral castle at the expense of all other buildings. Princely overlords were much less interested in depicting territorial boundaries. I call these images ancestral views, as they depict the prince's strong ancestral ties to the land. Civic and ancestral views are ideal types. In both types of city views territory and genealogy (expressed through castles as the expression of a continuous lineage) are in perpetual tension, as is shown in the examples below.

The City Council of Wissembourg's civic View



The city council of the Imperial city of Wissembourg submitted a thoroughly civic view. Besides the city itself, the cartographer of this image also depicted the city's lager territory: the so-called Mundat forest. This communal forest was the pride of the citizenry who were allowed to hunt and fish in these lands. The forest takes the focus away from the former abbey church at the center of the image. The abbey was the former overlord of the city and once owned the forests. Hence the emphasis on territory makes a powerful political statement of the city's independence of its once powerful overlord.



Outlines of the Mundat based on the map “Carte de l’immunité et de la circonscription judiciaire de Wissembourg, dessinée par C. Sittig” in Tyc, Teodor. L’Immunité de L’Abbaye de Wissembourg. Vol. 1, Collection D’études Sur L’histoire du Droit et des Institutions de L’alsace. 1927.
Download the measurements of the Mundat Forest Area and the area of city within the walls in Google Earth

The Prince-Bishop of Würzburg's Combined View

The Prince-Bishop of Würzburg Melchior Zobel von Giebelstadt (r. 1544-58) submitted a view that cleverly combines the ancestral and civic mode. The prince-bishop’s castle, depicted in profile, completely dominates the view from its position at the top center of the image in a straight axis with the cathedral at the center of the city (depicted in bird's-eye view). Placement and mode of representation both denote Zobel’s spiritual and secular rulership over this territory below. To create this symbolic axis Zobel’s cartographers had to cleverly manipulate Würzburg’s topography. The comparison with the satellite image shows that the castle is in actuality positioned asymmetrically with respect to the city and had to be depicted some 332 meters to the north of its actual position. The great symbolic importance of the castle, as a symbol of rulership and of ancient ties to lands, dominates territory and trumps concerns of topographic veracity.

click on maps to download source file

download measurement of the castle's displacement to Google Earth

Wuerzburg-Satellite Wuerzburg

Artworks are in the public domain. Most images of city views used with permission from the site historic cities. All other content of this page, including maps and original illustrations, is Copyright © Jasper van Putten, 2014, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.