This remarkably attractive map depicts the entire Paris-Île-de-France region and parts of adjacent provinces, with its coverage centred on the capital, and extending to Étampes, in the south; Chartres, in the southwest; Ivry-la-Bataille, in the west; Evreux, in the Northwest, Soissons, in the northeast; and La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, in the west. Frans Hogenberg masterfully engraved the map, and true to his style it shows cities in and towns pictographically, while rivers run across the countryside as vibrant flourishes of the burin. The map’s purpose is to depict the dramatic events leading up to the Siege of Paris (1590), when forces under the Duke of Parma moved to lift King Henri of Navarre’s (soon to be recognized as Henri IV of France) besiegement of the French capital.
The Siege of Paris (1590) was one of the great events on of France’s longstanding Wars of Religion (1562-98), an internecine between French Protestant and Catholic factions and their powerful foreign backers. In the late 1580s, the French throne became contested, with the Protestant King Henri of Navarre (1553 – 1610) emerging as the leading contender. By 1598, Henri’s armies had taken control over much of the country; however, forces of the French Catholic League, backed by Spain (which had large armies based in the Spanish Netherlands, modern day Belgium) opposed his bid for power.
At the beginning of 1590, Henri set Paris in his sights, which was still controlled by the Catholic League. Both sides knew that should Henri take the capital the war would be over. As shown on the far left side of the map, the Battle of Ivry (March 14, 1590), marked here as ‘Iurrÿ’, the forces of the ‘K. von Navarra’ (Henri) defeated the Catholic League army of the ‘Herzoc von Meine’ (Duc de Mayenne). This left Paris unprotected from besiegement. By June 1590, Henri’s armies had constructed siege works around the capital; however, to his dismay, the city’s commanders showed little desire to capitulate. Worse still, Henri’s lines were dangerously exposed to attack from the rear, a fact not lost on the Catholic commander, Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma (1545-92)
As shown on the map, at the end of July 1590, Catholic forces, under the command of the ‘H. von Parma’ moved in from Flanders to take ‘Ferte sous Jourre’ (La Ferté-sous-Jouarre), to the east of Paris. By August 23, 1590 they had advanced to besiege ‘Laignÿ’ (Lagny), which located immediately to the east of Paris, was the last line of defence protecting Henri’s army from being sandwiched between Parma’s forces and the walls of Paris. Over the next two weeks skirmishes occurred around Paris, further eroding Henri’s position. When Lagny fell on September 6, 1590, Henri knew the gig was up and withdrew the siege, leaving Paris in Catholic hands, ensuring that the war would continue.
In 1593, Henri converted to Catholicism in an effort to gain support from the majority of the French people. This allowed him to march into Paris and vanquish his opponents. While his pragmatic move angered his Protestant supporters, Henri famously explained his volte-face with the line “Paris is worth a Mass”. As Henri IV ‘Le Grand’, he would lead France to great prosperity, making him the most popular ruler in modern French history, until his assassination by a Catholic fanatic in 1610.
The present map was engraved by Frans Hogenerg (1535-90) shortly before his death. Hogenberg was the leading member of an esteemed family of Flemish engravers and was far and away the most famous topographic engraver of his time. He was most notably the illustrator of the early volumes of the Civitates Orbis Terrarum (6 vols., 1572-1618), the most celebrated early book of town views (with the text written by Georg Braun, such that the work is often known simply as ‘Braun & Hogenberg’). His work on that project was continued by his son Abraham Hogenberg.
The present map appears in two states, of which the present example is of the second state. The first state was separately issued in by Hogenberg in Cologne in 1590 and is identical to the second state except for the fact that the plate extends further downwards to include a bilingual title for the map: Warhaftige Description und Beschreibung der Stadt Paris, mit beiliggede Stetten, Schlosser und Dorffer / Descriptio [sic] de la ville de Paris, auccq les villes et citez et villages circonvoisins.
Hogenberg worked closely form many years with his friend Michaël Eytzinger (c. 1530 – 1598), an Austrian diplomat, historian and publicist. Eytzinger was well known for his ingenious ways of recording genealogy and representations of time. However, his magnum opus was his work De Leone Belgico (Cologne, 1583), a chronicle of the contemporary wars in Europe, richly illustrated by Hogenberg. In the first edition, Eytzinger and Hogenberg invented the ‘Leo Belgicus’, an ingenious map of the Netherlands that assumes the form of a lion. Much admired and copied, it became the most famous zoomorphic map in history.
After Hogenberg’s death, Eytzinger, with the help of Abraham Hogenberg, worked to produce an expanded edition of his chronicle under the title Novus De Leone Belgico eiusque topographica atque historica descriptione liber: quinque partibus gubernatorum Philippi regis Hispaniarum ordine, distinctus … / Francisci Hogenbergii; Bis centum & VIII figuris ornatus; rerumque in Belgio maxime gestarum, inde … 1559, vsque ad annum 1596 perpetua narratione continuatus Michaele Aitsingero (Cologne, 1596). The present second state of Frans Hogenberg’s map of the Siege of Paris was included within this work (between pages 459 and 460), although for reasons that remain unclear, the bottom of the copper plate was chopped, removing the title register and a tiny part of the image (note that the word ‘Merides’ has been grazed).
The present map is scarce and only very rarely appears separately on the market.
References: Hellwig, Hogenberg, no. 68 (re: first state of map).