Prussia – Prussiae Vera Descriptio
Date of first edition: 1595
Date of this map: 1598
Dimensions (not including margins): 36,5 x 46,5 cm
Dimensions (including margins): 47,9 x 60,4 cm
Condition: very good. Copper engraving on strong paper. Old coloured. Centre fold as published. Very wide margins.
Condition rating: A+
Map reference: Van den Broecke 157; Jaeger, Prussia-Karten 1542-1810, pos.19; Koeman, Atlantes Neerlandici, 1969, Vol.III, Ort 21
From: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum
A forgotten Kingdom: Prussia
Its name stirs resentment. Its history reflects complexity. But its map remains intriguing….
Ortelius produced two maps of this Kingdom; this is the second version. The area shows East Prussia (with Königsberg; as local capital then and now (currently called Kaliningrad; an oblast, a Free Economic zone in Russia: also host of the World Cup 2018 game between Belgium and England)). In the 13th century the Teutonic Knights conquered this region. In 1525 it became a secular duchy under the Hohenzollern House, whose last rulers were the (disastrous)German emperors William I and William II. The name East Prussia was only introduced after Frederick the Great had acquired Pomerelia and Kulmerland (they currently sound like names out of a Harry Potter movie!) together West Prussia after Poland’s partition in 1772. At that moment, the entire region was divided up among Russia, Lithuania and Poland, with the then free State Danzig (1920-1939), now being part of Poland.
Theologian and cartographer Caspar Henneberger made first modern map of East Prussia. As an amateur he had been collecting several data in order to obtain a good overall picture of Prussia. The Prussia-map by Heinrich Zell published in Antwerp, “forced” Henneberger to produce an even better map. Morally and financially supported by the Prussian duke, Henneberger probably began with new surveying work around 1570. This resulted in a large woodcut of Prussia in 1576. His new edition, printed on the basis of nine wood blocks, appeared in 1595. In the meantime, Ortelius published an updated version of Henneberger’s map of 1576 in his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum in 1584 in his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. In 1595 the view was replaced by the new plate which can be seen here. Both editions (1584 and 1595) hardly differ from each other in terms of content. Only some minor details have been changed: title, description and cartouches (which are more prominent than in the first version).