Fine early birds-eye view of Bergen Op Zoom.
From Braun & Hogenberg's Civitatus Orbis Terrarum, the most important book of town plans and views published in the 16th century.
The verso translates as follows:
Bergen is a beautiful and very well-built town that lies on a small hill in the western part of Brabant, so close to the sea that it could also be called a coastal town. It still has a sizeable population but was much wealthier in earlier times, when the large annual fairs that brought it many benefits and freedoms were still held there.
Bergen op Zoom was formed in the Middle Ages from three small settlements on the Oosterschelde. The town was officially chartered in 1347 The town plan features three market squares, namely the main market, the fish market and the corn market. Also prominent in the circular historical center is the basilica of Sint-Lambert. With its harbour (left) and fairs, the former fishing village of Bergen op Zoom rivalled Antwerp, situated to the south, as an important center of trade up to the beginning of the 16th century. Not until flooding in the hinterland and the Eighty Years' War (1568-1648) did the town go into decline. In 1577, as part of the Dutch Revolt, Bergen op Zoom was taken by the Dutch and successfully defended multiple times against attempts to recapture it by Spanish troops.
Georg Braun (1541-1622) was born and died in Cologne. His primary vocation was as Catholic cleric; he spent thirty-seven years as canon and dean at the church St. Maria ad Gradus, in Cologne. Braun was the chief editor of the Civitates orbis terrarum, the greatest book of town views ever published. His job entailed hiring artists, acquiring source material for the maps and views, and writing the text. In this role, he was assisted by Abraham Ortelius. Braun lived into his 80s, and he was the only member of the original team to witness the publication of the sixth volume in 1617.
Frans Hogenberg (ca. 1540-ca. 1590) was a Flemish and German engraver and mapmaker who also painted. He was born in Mechelen, south of Antwerp, the son of wood engraver and etcher Nicolas Hogenberg. Together with his father, brother (Remigius), uncle, and cousins, Frans was one member of a prominent artistic family in the Netherlands.
During the 1550s, Frans worked in Antwerp with the famous mapmaker Abraham Ortelius. There, he engraved the maps for Ortelius’ groundbreaking first atlas, published in Antwerp in 1570, along with Johannes van Deotecum and Ambrosius and Ferdinand Arsenius. It is suspected he engraved the title page as well. Later, Ortelius supported Hogenberg with information for a different project, the Civitates orbis terrarium (edited by Georg Braun, engraved by Hogenberg, published in six volumes, Cologne, 1572-1617). Hogenberg engraved the majority of the work’s 546 prospects and views.
It is possible that Frans spent some time in England while fleeing from religious persecution, but he was living and working in Cologne by 1580. That is the city where he died around 1590. In addition to his maps, he is known for his historical allegories and portraits. His brother, Remigius, also went on to some fame as an engraver, and he died around the same time as his brother.