Copper engraving with later hand colouring. Overall sheet size: 52.7cms x 40.2cms; image size: 510mm x 383mm. The Countye of Monmouth with the sittuation of the Shire-towe Described Ann 1610. Decorative cartouche containing county name with royal coat of arms atop . Plan of Monmouth at top left. The’Scale of Pases’ is believed to indicate that this plan was done by John Speed himself. There is a medallion portrait of Henry the Great (V)below :’triumpher over France’, he was also known as Henry of Monmouth. The Prince of Wales feathers in the bottom right indicate the English/Welsh nature of Monmouth which was the last of the English shires to be created , being formed in 1536 by joining Gwent with the district of of Gwynllwg beyond the river Usk. In the River Severn,’Sabrinae Estuarium’ is the arms of the First Duke of Monmouth , the illegitimate son of Charles II. Considered one of Britain’s finest soldiers he commanded a brigade of 6000 English and Scotch troops in the Anglo Dutch War. By 1674 Charles II gave him effective command of Britain’s army. This map 1676 saw him at the high point of his fame so it is not surprising that his arms were included on this map. However in 1685 he was executed (a botched beheading) on Tower Hill for treason (attempting to take the throne from his uncle James II and VII). English text to verso. Scale of distance at bottom right. Centre fold as published. Slight crack at top of centrefold visible only when held up to the light; one small hole in top border of town plan, not obtrusive; some grey streaking to right blank and the blank of the cartouch; odd fox spot else a highly decorative map in good condition.
Until his late thirties, John Speed was a tailor by trade but his passion for history and map-making led him to gain a patron in Sir Fulke Greville, the poet and statesman, who found him a post in the customs and helped subsidize his map-making, giving him “full liberty to express the inclination of my mind”. He became aquainted with the publisher William Camden, whose descriptive text was used by Speed for most of the maps in his atlas “The Theatre of Empire of Great Britain” published most probably in 1612 although it bears the date 1611 on the main title page. The maps were engraved in Amsterdam by Jodocus Hondius, one of the foremost engravers of his time. Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early apppearance. Their artistry has guaranteed the collectability of these maps in the centuries that have followed.
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