By: Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg
Date: 1574 (Published) Cologne
Dimensions: 12.8 x 18.75 (32.5 x 47.6 cm)
This lovely Braun and Hogenberg work is from the 1574 edition of their monumental oeuvre, Civitates Orbis Terrarum, and presents five bird’s eye views of North African cities and towns on one sheet, including Tangier, Safi, Ceuta, Arzilla and Sala. All came to be under Portuguese rule.
Commentary by Braun on Tangier: "Tingis, which the Portuguese call Tanigara, is a large and ancient city, situated not far from the western Mediterranean. At the time when the Goths ruled over Granada it was under the rule of the chief of the city of Septa [Ceuta], until Arzilla [Asilah] was brought under the rule of the Muslims; it has always been beautifully adorned, noble and very well built with many splendid works of architecture."
The first engraving depicts Tingis (modern-day Tangier), a fortified settlement in which only about half the available area has been built upon. The large building at the back of the settlement is probably the governor’s residence. Lovely frigates approaching port with sails furled edge toward the shore. In 1471 the Portuguese attacked Asilah, whose inhabitants fled to Tangier. But that same year Tangier, too, was conquered, and remained in Portuguese hands until 1580. Tangier today belongs to Morocco and has a population of 670,000.
Commentary by Braunon on Tzaffin: "Tzaffin is a small town in Africa that is surrounded by mountains and a wall. It possesses a castle fortified with numerous turrets, many handsome houses and an extremely tall tower. This town was taken from the Moors in 1508 by King Manuel's commander-in-chief."
The map on top right depicts the fortified settlement of Tzaffin as viewed from the sea. Magnificent walls enclose its territory on all sides except that which is situated above the cliffs, where nature herself provides natural fortification. The area was also taken under the dominion of Portugal in the early 16th century, by King Manuel I.
Commentary on Septa by Braun: "Ceuta, called Seupta by the Portuguese, was built by the Romans on the shores of the Sea of Hercules and was formerly the capital of Mauretania, which is why the Romans regarded it so highly. It was later taken by the Goths and a prince was installed, under whose rule it remained until the Muslims came to Mauretania and subjugated this city too."
The engraving shows that only a small promontory of the peninsula was inhabited. Ceuta, which measures 18 sq. km, lies on a peninsula on the coast of North Africa, near the Strait of Gibraltar. It was conquered by the Portuguese in 1415 firstly because it could potentially provide the Muslims with a stepping-stone to Europe. Secondly, Ceuta was an important trading port via which goods from Africa, in particular gold, were brought to Europe. Thirdly, the peninsula offered Portugal a gateway to the unknown continent of Africa. Part of Spain since 1668, the autonomous city of Ceuta is today home to 4,000 inhabitants.
Commentary on Arzilla by Braun: "The city was rebuilt at the time of Bishop Cardova, who then reigned over Mauretania; it grew in prosperity and became stronger. The inhabitants were rich, educated and well-armed people. The land around the city is fertile and all sorts of cereals and vegetables can be easily cultivated."
The lower left engraving shows a remarkably well-situated port and settlement whose geographical positioning serves as natural fortification, and the entry by Braun about Asilah contains accurate information concerning the city's history and clearly illustrates the difficult entrance to its harbour. Founded by the Romans under the name of Zilias, in the Middle Ages the town provided an important strategic base for the Portuguese, who wanted to penetrate deeper into the continent from here. They held the city between 1471 and 1541 and occupied it from 1577 to 1589.
Commentary by Braun on Sala: "Two towns are called Sala, one New Sala, the other Old Sala: they are separated by a river. They lie not far from the Sea of Hercules and Septa [Ceuta]. In 1514 Old Sala expanded substantially with many buildings and in trade. It has a large castle and tower of great height, called Summatesse [Hasan tower], which the Saracens built solely so that they could see across to Granada."
The final scene depicts two settlements on either side of a river overlooking the sea. There are strikingly few houses within either city wall and no harbour facilities. Higher up the hillside is the imposing Hasan tower. Salé in Morocco is separated from its twin city of Rabat by the Bou-Regreg River. The New Sala (Sala nova) mentioned in Braun's text refers to modern-day Salé, and the Old Sala (Sala vetus) to Rabat, the political capital of Morocco. Both sides are well fortified by nature and by magnificent walls with watch towers. The city today has a population of nearly a million.
Latin text on the verso provides supplemental information regarding each port.
Condition: This original color map is in A- condition with minor soiling primarily along the edges, and even toning. Short separation in the edge of the lower centerfold.
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