A fine early view of Riga, first published by Braun and Hogenberg in 1581. This is one of the earliest obtainable views of the city and was heavily based on Munster's slightly earlier map of the city. This map appeared in Braun and Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum.
The city is pictured from the southwest, from across the Duna (now known as the Daugava). The city pictured in detail, and its spires and landmarks are still recognizable today. Three churches are named: those of St. Peter, St. Jacobm, and "Der Thum," most likely Riga Cathedral (Dum means "cathedral" in modern German, and the positioning is approximately correct). In addition, the town hall and the castle are all labeled. Some of these buildings were partially destroyed during later wars ranging from the Great Northern War to World War II. The rest of the old town is shown with its many attractive buildings. Ships sale through the river and phantom hills surround the city.
Riga was an important Baltic city since Medieval times. At the time this map was created, Riga and greater Old Livonia were being fought over by the many powers of northern Europe. Russia invaded the region in 1558, attempting to take over, but was repelled by a variety of forces. At the end of the war, the Free Imperial City of Riga was transferred to the Commonwealth of Lithuania and Poland.
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.