This extremely rare and attractive map is one of the rarest large-format maps of the Balkans printed during its era. It coverage embraces all of the middle and lower course of the Danube River and Basin, as well as all of the Balkan Peninsula from Thrace and Macedonia northwards. It scope extends from Tyrol, in the northwest; to Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara, in the southeast; from Corsica and Italy, in the southwest; up to Kiev and the Dnieper Valley in the northeast.
This map, usually printed on two sheets, has been here enlarged with an additional sheet, covering the area of Tyrol, Italy and Corsica.
The style of engraving is uncommonly attractive, and all major cities, towns and political jurisdictions are carefully labelled, while all of the region’s numerous rivers are delineated, with mountain ranges expressed through stylized lines of hills. The composition is elegantly finished by two Baroque style cartouches.
This excellent map appeared shortly before the Great Turkish War (1683 – 1699), which marked a turning point in the history of Central and Southeastern Europe. Up to the 1680s, the European Christian powers of Habsburg Austria, Russia, Poland-Lithuania and the Republic of Venice, had separately fought the Ottoman Empire in numerous wars over the last century only to arrive at a stalemate. The Turks had largely kept the great gains they had made during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (ruled 1520-66), in spite of innumerable attempts by the Christian powers to dislodge them. The Line of Control, shown on the present map as a bold dotted line, ran through Croatia, Hungary northern Romania, and then over to what is today Moldova, with the Ottoman lands being to the south of the line.
In 1683, a massive Ottoman army broke out of Hungary to besiege Vienna, the Habsburg capital. This sent a shockwave throughout Europe, and only the intervention of Poland’s King Jan Sobieski saved the city. In 1684, the region’s main Christian powers formed the Holy League, marking the first time that they all joined forces to fight the Ottomans. This quickly turned the tables, as the Allies inflicted a series of severe defeats on the Turks. The Second Battle of Mohács (1687) restored all of Hungary to the Habsburgs. The decisive showdown of the war was the Battle of Zenta (1697) in Serbia, whereby an Allied force under Prince Eugene of Savoy crushed the main army of the Ottoman Sultan Mustafa II.
The Ottomans sued for peace and the war was concluded at the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699). By the treaty, Austria won all of Hungary, areas in the Balkans and Transylvania; Poland-Lithuania regained Podolia; Russia acquired the key Black Sea port of Azov and Venice acquired Morea and inner Dalmatia. The war was highly consequential in the long run in that it signalled the beginning of a progressive decline in the size and influence of the Ottoman Empire.
The present map was issued by Johannes Hoffman (1629 – 1698), a talented cartographer and map publisher in Nuremberg, a city that since the time of the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) had been one of the Europe’s greatest printing centres. Hoffman was a ‘boutique publisher’ who printed separately-issued maps of fine quality, but in only small print runs. As a result, all of his maps are today very scarce, with the present map being especially rare. While much of his biography remains an enigma, Hoffmann seems to have established his own print shop in Nuremberg by around 1663. Some of his notable works include his map of Hungary, Neue und richtige Abbildung dess gantzen Königreichs Ungarn (1664); a World map, Mappe-Monde Geo-Hydrographique, ou Description Generale du Globe (1675); a map of the Bishopric of Würtzburg, Das Bisthum Wurzburg in Fraken (circa 1676); and a map of the Ukraine, Typus Generalis Vkrainae (c. 1690), amongst others.
Hoffmann closely derived the present work from a map issued by the French royal cartographer, Guillaume Sanson, Le Royaume de Hongrie et les Estats qui en ont esté sujets et qui font présentement la partie septentrionale de la Turquie en Europe… (Paris: Alexis-Hubert Jaillot, 1673).
Hoffmann’s map of the Balkans is extremely rare – we cannot find any sales records going back 30 years and we have been able to locate only 4 institutional examples.
Because of its size this map usually survives to this date in a bad condition.