Cosmographer  Patrons  Artists  Draftsmen+Woodcutters  Printers home 

source map

Expansion of the Cosmographia (1550-1628) and competition with French printers

Münster's stepson Heinrich Petri (1508-1579) was the dedicated printer of the Cosmographia. After Münster’s death in 1552 Petri and his sons Sebastian (1546-1627) and Sixtus (1547-?) Heinricpetri continued to publish the book in ever expanding editions until 1628 (See map above). In these posthumous editions the Cosmographia's scope was expanded well beyond the German lands of the Habsburg Empire of the 1550 edition. The map shows that especially views of French and Italian cities were added. Most of these French city views were added in 1572 when Petri acquired the blocks of Antoine Du Pinet's Plantz, pourtraitz et descriptions de plusieurs villes (1564). Du Pinet himself had acquired many of these woodblocks from another French publisher, who in turn copied all but two of his views from Münster's Cosmographia. The story of these blocks, told in the maps below, tells of the remarkable success of the Cosmographia on the French market and the intense competition between Petri and French printers.

The city views in Petri's French editions of the Cosmographia proved so popular in France that a number French printers published imitations of the series. Initially, these books were not full-fledged cosmographies. Instead, they belonged to a new and profitable genre of city books, collections of city views accompanied with short descriptions. To cut costs, printers illustrated their books with numerous copies or they used old woodblocks acquired from other printers. The maps below show the expansion of city books published in France - in competition with the Cosmographia.

Guillaume Guéroult's Epitome de la Corographie d’Europe (1553)

Gueroult Legend
source map

Just three years after Petri Münster’s landmark Cosmographia the French author Guillaume Guéroult published his Epitome de la Corographie d’Europe (1553) with the printer Balthazar Arnoullet in Lyon. The book contains short descriptions of cities accompanied by splendid woodcuts attributed to Bernard Salomon. Most of the woodcuts are direct copies after the Cosmographia (indicated with green halos in the map.)

Antoine Du Pinet's Plantz, pourtraitz et descriptions de plusieurs villes (1564)

Du Pinet Legend
source map

Ten years later, another French cosmographer named Antoine Du Pinet published the same series of woodblocks, enlarged with some new copies after Münster, as well as some completely original views as Plantz, pourtraitz et descriptions de plusieurs villes (Lyon, 1564).

François de Belleforest's Cosmographie Universelle (1575)

Belleforest Legend
source map

The French adaptation of Münster's Cosmographia is complete in 1575 with the publication of François de Belleforest's French edition of Münster's Cosmograpie, a full-fledged cosmography that shifts the focus of the original Cosmographia to France. Belleforest's edition, printed by the Parisian printer Nicolas Chesneau, is much enlarged with numerous views of French cities as the map shows. Clearly, Belleforest's Cosmographie aims to depict the French nation, in competition with the German nation as depicted in Münster's Cosmographia.

The Culmination of the City Book: Braun and Hogenberg's Civitates orbis terrarum (1572-1617)

Civitates Legend
source map

The city book genre, pioneered by Guéroult and Du Pinet culminated in the best-known and most extensively illustrated exponent of the genre, the Civitates orbis terrarum (1572-1617). The Civitates was produced in Frankfurt in six consecutive volumes by the humanist Georg Braun and the engraver Franz Hogenberg. Hogenberg previously engraved many of the plates in Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum orbis terrarum, a collection of 53 maps that is considered the first atlas. The Civitates borrowed both its name and format (views with short descriptions on the verso) from Ortelius’ atlas. Yet the copies of six views from Du Pinet's Plantz indicate that Braun and Hogenberg were also well acquinted with Du Pinet's earlier city book. Aditionally, they copied extensively from Münster's Cosmographia and numerous other books containing city views. Without Münster's groundbreaking collection of views in the Cosmographia, the Civitates would not have been possible on the same scale.

In addition to various editions of the original city books cited above, I used the following sources to assemble the database:
Bachmann, Friedrich. Die alten Städtebilder: Ein Verzeichnis der graphischen Ortsansichten von Schedel bis Merian. Stuttgart: A. Hiersemann, 1965.
Boutier, Jean, Jean-Yves Sarazin, and Marine Sibille. Les plans de Paris: Des origines, 1493, à la fin du XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France, 2002.
Braun, Georg, Franz Hogenberg, and Max Schefold. Beschreibung und Contrafactur der Vornembster Stät der Welt. Plochingen: Müller und Schindler, 1965.
Breydenbach, Bernhard von d, and Isolde Mozer. Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam : Frühneuhochdeutscher Text und Übersetzung = Eine Pilgerrreise Ins Heilige Land. Berlin; New York: de Gruyter, 2010.
Marigliani, Clemente, and Stefano Bifolco. Le Piante Di Roma Delle Collezioni Private Dal XV Al Xx Secolo Roma, Palazzo Incontro, 22 Giugno-22 Luglio 2007. Roma: Provincia di Roma, 2007.
Rücker, Elisabeth. Die Schedelsche Weltchronik: Das Größte Buchunternehmen der Dürer-Zeit. Vol. 33, Bilder aus Deutscher Vergangenheit. Munich: Prestel, 1973.

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.