By: Adrien-Hubert Brue
Date: 1822 (Published) Paris
Dimensions: 15 x 20 inches (38 x 50.8 cm)
This splendid copper-engraved map by Brue depicts the Roman Empire as it was under Emperor Constantine the Great in the first quarter of the fourth century A.D. It was this ‘Eastern Roman Empire’ which came to be known as Byzantium which would continue to rule Constantine’s kingdom or parts of it until 1453, when Fatih Mehmet captured Constantinople. The empire, though decimated by the end, was one of the greatest and longest ruling of all empires in the West. This map shows the extent of the great empire and suggests the problems inherent in controlling such vast territories, which stretched from the British Isles all the way east to the Caspian Sea, north to Germany and what was then Sarmatia and south well into northern Africa. The map’s features are extremely detailed and carefully drawn, including texturing in mountains and bodies of water, labels for political divisions, settlements, ports, and topographical features, many islands, and regions labeled as parts of different empires extant in Constantine’s reign.
It is still a matter of debate as to when the Roman Empire officially ended and became Byzantium. It is generally agreed that this transition was a slow process, that late Roman history overlaps early history of the Byzantine Empire. Constantine I (the Great) is accepted by most serious historians and academicians as the founder of Byzantium. His creation of its capital city of Constantinople as a second Rome on the foundations of the ancient colony settled by Byzas and his Greek settlers was brilliant, for it was in a perfect location for controlling both the western remnants of Rome and its ever- expanding eastern borders. In addition to founding a new capital city and accepting Christianity as an official religion of the Empire, Constantine was responsible for many changes which would help create a Byzantine culture which was quite distinct from its Roman past, including the use of Greek as the official language rather than Latin. Constantine, in fact, is often referred to as the lawgiver.
As emperor, he instituted many administrative, financial, social and military reforms to help strengthen the government, which he restructured, separating civil and military authorities, organizing mobile field units and garrison soldiers who could counter both internal threats and invading armies. He conducted or ordered successful campaigns against the tribes on Roman frontiers including against the Franks, Alamanni, Goths and Sarmatians, and even resettled regions which his predecessors had abandoned during the turmoil of the previous century. He introduced new gold coinage, the solidus, to combat inflation, which would become the standard for Byzantine and other European currencies for more than a thousand years. Many of his reforms stood the test of time. He replaced the tetrarchy of Diocletian with the principle of dynastic succession, and his reputation flourished during the lifetime of his progeny and for centuries after his reign. The medieval church referred to Constantine I as a paragon of virtue and secular potentates invoked him as a prototype, a symbol of imperial legitimacy and identity.
This map depicts the Empire during his lifetime.
Adrien-Hubert Brue (1786 - 1832) was a French cartographer active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He held the office of Geographe du Roi and often signed his maps as such. In this position Brue contributed to thousands of maps and numerous atlases. Like most cartographers many of his maps were published posthumously and were common even several decades after his death. They are known for their beauty, their clarity and accuracy. Many of his maps were published posthumously by his partner, Charles Picquet's son and heir, Pierre-Jacques Picquet, and were still being updated and republished decades after his death. Brue’s work is distinguished by a remarkably high standard of engraving and the high quality paper which he used.
Condition: This map is in superb A condition. The engraving of this map is of exceptionally high quality. Lovely, original outline coloring and a color-coded key embellish the map.
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