Allegoric Europe – … in Forma Virginis

by Heinrich Bünting


Date of first edition:  1581

Date of this map: 1587

Dimensions (not including margins and text): 35,5 x 23,5 cm

Dimensions (including margins): 38,2 x 28 cm

Condition: Very good.

Condition rating: A+

Verso: blank

From: Itinerarium Sacrae Scripturae



Item number:
Recent Additions
Price (without VAT, possibly to be added): 3 000,00 (FYI +/- $3 660,00 / £2 580,00)
Unless otherwise specifically stated on this map page, we charge the following expedition costs in euro: 
– Benelux: 20 euro
– Rest of Europe: 30 euro
– Rest of the World: 50 euro

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Bünting: history of a myth

In 1537 the Tirolese cartographer Johann Putsch, celebrated the Hapsburg rule over Europe by presenting a placid “Europa Regina” wearing Charles V’s Spain as a crown and Ferdinand’s Austria as a medal at her waist, representing the triumph of the Hapsburgs. The queen’s crown (Spain), orb (Sicily), and heart (Bohemia), form a triangle that directs the viewer’s eye away from eastern Europe toward the West.  Later editions of Europe as a queen were issued by Sebastian Münster, Heinrich Bunting, and Matthias Quad.

Protestant theologian Heinrich Bunting’s map showing Europe as a queen is one of the most sought after anthropomorphic maps of the 16th Century. The depiction of Europe as a queen began in the 14th Century. Europe was named for princess Europa (Daughter of Phoenicia), who had been carried off and raped by Zeus. The earliest depiction of Europe as a woman is believed to be by the 14th Century Pavian Cleric Opicinus de Canistris for the papal court, then at Avignon. The woman represents the Mother Church, who is being seduced from the true path.

Heinrich Bünting, a Protestant theologian from Hanover (1545-1606), published in 1581 his book Itinerarium Sacrae Scripturae; it is a description of the biblical geography. This successful work had 60 editions. From 1587 he takes a Europe version Regina in his work.

The anthropomorphic maps of Europe Regina are visually more or less built according to the same model: the crowned head Portugal and Spain shows; France produces the chest; Germany the heart; Italy the right arm and the left arm of Denmark.  The British Isles are a shapeless blob perched near her shoulder. Her skirt is composed of the Baltics and Greece; Turkey and Russia are beneath her feet. The feet are represented by Constantinople and Prussia.

In comparison with the representation of Putsch, Bünting delete all coats of arms and the rivers (Dniepr, Don, Po, Rhône Sava and Weser).