Striking image showing 24 electorates of the Holy Roman Empire, engraved by Gerard de Jode (as is indicated on the first state of this plate).
This and a companion plate appeared in the 1593 edition of the Speculum Orbis Terrae, and were later acquired by Vrients, who included them in the Theatrum from 1603 onwards. The engraving illustrates the nobles who selected the German Emperors, a process started in order to end the turmoil and quarrelling that occurred after the death of Charles the Great, by Otto IV and the Pope. This plate shows the officials ranking fourth to sixth level with respect to the German Emperor. Rank four shows 4 earls and 4 barons, rank five 4 free knights and 4 city representatives, rank six 4 village representatives and 4 yeomen.
Gerard De Jode (1509-1591) was a pre-eminent mapmaker in the late seventeenth century, a time when the Dutch dominated the map trade. He was known for his many maps, some of which featured in Speculum Orbis Terrae (first edition Antwerp: 1578). Although never as successful as Ortelius’ Theatrum, the Speculum did get republished in a second edition in 1593, two years after De Jode’s death, by Arnold Coninx, and included this map. After his death, Gerard’s son, Cornelis (1568-1600), and his wife, Paschina, ran the shop. Unfortunately, Cornelis died young in 1600, aged only 32, and the stock and plates were sold to the publisher Joan Baptista Vrients.