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The First Leo Belgicus Map

Decorative example of the first map to illustrate the Low Countries as a Lion, engraved by Franz Hogenberg, from the 1588 edition of Michael Aitzinger's important early history of the Low Countries.

The Seventeen Provinces mapped as a lion was first illustrated by the Austrian nobleman Baron Michael Aitzinger. This image of 'Leo Belgicus' proved very popular, with a number of other maps of the Low Countries in the shape of a lion (Leo Belgicus and Leo Hollandicus) published over the next 50 years.

Michael Aitzinger was an Austrian nobleman, diplomat, historian, and publicist, who wrote and published several works, including a renowned volume that states the principles of a genealogical numbering system. His most famous cartograph work was Novus de Leone Belgico, first published in 1583 that included the first cartographic representation of the Low Countries as Leo Belgicus. The lion motif was inspired by the heraldic figures that appear in the coats of arms of several Dutch constituencies, as well as in the arms of William of Orange. The map was published during the period when the Netherlands was fighting the Eighty Years' War for independence from Spain.

This is the second state, with the extra coat of arms (Anna), not present on the first state of the map issued in 1583.


Condition Description
Heightened in Gold leaf. A bit of miscreasing.
MCC 7, #1, pl.2; Van der Heijden, H.A.M. (Leo Belgicus) 1.2; Schilder, G. (Monumenta) VII, p.412.