Exceptional old color example of Blaeu's striking Plan of Moscow.
This impressive plan of Moscow (Moskva) appeared in Blaeu's atlas for the first time in 1662. The map is believed to be derived from a Russian survey prepared at the orders of Boris Fyodorovich Godunov (c. 1551-1605), Tsar of Muscovy from 1598 onward, and was probably prepared prior to 1630. The original Russian plan has apparantly not survived, and Blaeu may have used a copy made in 1610 for King Sigismund III of Poland.
The plan as published by Blaeu, shows the old city which surrounds the Kremlin and the Kitai Gorod or Fortified City. The name Kremlin first appeared as Kreml' (or High Town) in an account of the fire in the town in 1331. It was founded in 1147 at the junction of two rivers, the Moskva and the Neglinnaya. As Moscow grew, the Kremlin became the royal, religious and secular heart of the city. Until Tsar Peter I transferred his seat of government to his new city of St Petersburg in 1713, it was the capital city. beyond the walls of Kitai Gorod, another section grew up, called Belgorod or White City, which was in 1584 after the death of Tsar Ivan the Terrible with a wall which spanned 6 miles and included 28 tower.
"A note to the reader chiefly describes the fortifications of the city: 'Gentle reader, here you see the sections of the walls of the city of Moscow divided into four, or rather the four fortifications of the walls, of which the innermost is called Kitaygorod and is also a city itself. Closest to this is the castle, or rather the palace, surrounded by walls, and called Kremlenagrad which is encircled by two walls of stone, to which a few other materials have been added. The city, which continues to the east, north and west, is called Tsargorod, the city of the tsar: surrounded by walls of white stone but with earth added. The surrounding area outside is called Skorodum, with walls of wood but no earth; the part of it situated on the other side of the Moskva River, however, is called Strelzka Slaboda, and soldiers live in the houses there, and the guard of the great lord the tsar and the grand duke, and other children of Mars.' The walls of Kitaygorod were built between 1534 and 1538. The nine-kilometer wall with 28 towers that surrounds Tsargrad, or Belgorod (white city), were built between 1583 and 1593. The outermost earthworks with a wooden wall was constructed in 1591. This part of the city was called Zemlyanoigorod (earthen city). In these earthen walls were 12 gates."
The best plan of Moscow from the mid-17th Century to appear in a commercial atlas.
Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638) was a prominent Dutch geographer and publisher. Born the son of a herring merchant, Blaeu chose not fish but mathematics and astronomy for his focus. He studied with the famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, with whom he honed his instrument and globe making skills. Blaeu set up shop in Amsterdam, where he sold instruments and globes, published maps, and edited the works of intellectuals like Descartes and Hugo Grotius. In 1635, he released his atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, sive, Atlas novus.
Willem died in 1638. He had two sons, Cornelis (1610-1648) and Joan (1596-1673). Joan trained as a lawyer, but joined his father’s business rather than practice. After his father’s death, the brothers took over their father’s shop and Joan took on his work as hydrographer to the Dutch East India Company. Later in life, Joan would modify and greatly expand his father’s Atlas novus, eventually releasing his masterpiece, the Atlas maior, between 1662 and 1672.