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MARSEILLE: Terroir, Ville, Port et Rade de Marseille et ses Environs où sont distingués ses Limites et ses Bornes


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This detailed, separately published map of Marseille and its surroundings with a highly decorative original colour was made by a Marseille-based printed and publisher Jean-Antoine Bresson in 1773. It showcases the different types of roads, cities, towns and villages, royal offices (marked with fleur de lys), rivers etc. The lines in the area of the bay with its islands represent the reach of the artillery and the cannons. 

The composition was based on an older map, with an additional view on the bottom, signed by P. Chevallier de Soissons, which was made in the early 1690s for the royal official in Marseille, Jean Louis Habert (see a copy at the Bibliothèque Nationale here: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b53062315j).

P. Chevallier de Soissons can be identified as Louis Henri de Bourbon,  chevalier (also called bâtard, or bastard) de Soissons, Count of Noyers and of Dunois, Prince of Neuchâtel (1640 – 1703) illegitimate son of Louis de Bourbon-Condé, comte de Soissons, and Élisabeth des Hayes. The initial P. probably means Père (Father), as Louis Henri was a monk until 1694, after he exited the order and married.  The original draft by Louis Henri de Bourbon,  chevalier de Soissons, was commissioned by king Louis XIV in 1690s, but before 1694, when de Soissons left the monastic order, for official and governmental purposes.  

It has been suggested in the later controversial literature, influenced by The Da Vinci Code, that the de Soissons’s map was made by King Louis XIV for Habert to find the holy grail in the region of Marseille.

Our version from 1773 was a modernized version, dedicated to the mayor of Marseille. 

References: Fiona McLaren, Da Vinci’s Last Commission, 2013.

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