William Faden's offers a fascinating glimpse into the geopolitical landscape of early 19th century Europe. Faden, then surveying as the Geographer to the King in London, was a preeminent cartographer of his time. His immaculately detailed maps are admired not only for their aesthetic appeal but also for their historical significance and precision.
The map depicts Swedish Pomerania, a Dominion under the Swedish Crown from 1630 to 1815. This area, comprising the contemporary Baltic coast of Germany and Poland, was crucial for Sweden, serving both as a trade route and a strategic buffer zone against Continental Europe. A harmonious blend of topographical accuracy and elegant design, the map features cities, towns, major roads, rivers, forests, and lakes, meticulously crafted down to the minutest details.
The geographical depiction is not merely a representation of the natural landscape. Each river, road, and city marked on the map underscores the interconnected network of trade, commerce, and military strategy that shaped the region's history during the Swedish era. One of the dominant features is an inset town plan of Stralsund, a significant Baltic Sea port town that was often the center of conflicts due to its strategic importance. The portrayal of Stralsund, complete with its town plan, showcases its fortified architecture, emphasizing its military significance during this period. The defensive walls, moats, and bastions are carefully delineated, hinting at the pivotal role it played during the Napoleonic Wars.
The map's origins lie in the work of F. W. C. Baron Schmettan, a Major General of the Swedish army. Born Friedrich Wilhelm Carl von Schmettau (1738-1806), he was a renowned military cartographer and topographer, known for his extraordinary precision and attention to detail. His military background and expertise in cartography make the map not just a geographical representation, but a strategic military document as well.
Swedish Pomerania's geopolitical history is rich and complex. Acquired by Sweden during the Thirty Years' War in the Peace of Westphalia, the region served as Sweden's foothold in Continental Europe. It was the stage for numerous conflicts, primarily between Sweden and various German states, as it was a critical juncture for the control of the Baltic Sea trade.
By the time this map was published in 1813, Swedish Pomerania had been occupied by Napoleon's France since 1807, as part of the wider Napoleonic Wars. The detailed map by Faden, drawing on Schmettau's original, thus encapsulates a volatile moment in Swedish Pomerania's history, a snapshot of a region in the throes of military and political change.
In essence, Faden's 1813 map is more than a mere geographical record. It is a finely drawn testament to the geopolitical significance of Swedish Pomerania, providing invaluable insights into its strategic importance in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. Moreover, it embodies the exceptional cartographic talents of both William Faden and F. W. C. Baron Schmettau, whose expertise lends the map an enduring historical value.
William Faden (1749-1836) was the most prominent London mapmaker and publisher of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. His father, William Mackfaden, was a printer who dropped the first part of his last name due to the Jacobite rising of 1745.
Apprenticed to an engraver in the Clothworkers' Company, he was made free of the Company in August of 1771. He entered into a partnership with the family of Thomas Jeffreys, a prolific and well-respected mapmaker who had recently died in 1771. This partnership lasted until 1776.
Also in 1776, Faden joined the Society of Civil Engineers, which later changed its name to the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers. The Smeatonians operated as an elite, yet practical, dining club and his membership led Faden to several engineering publications, including canal plans and plans of other new engineering projects.
Faden's star rose during the American Revolution, when he produced popular maps and atlases focused on the American colonies and the battles that raged within them. In 1783, just as the war ended, Faden inherited his father's estate, allowing him to fully control his business and expand it; in the same year he gained the title "Geographer in Ordinary to his Majesty."
Faden also commanded a large stock of British county maps, which made him attractive as a partner to the Ordnance Survey; he published the first Ordnance map in 1801, a map of Kent. The Admiralty also admired his work and acquired some of his plates which were re-issued as official naval charts.
Faden was renowned for his ingenuity as well as his business acumen. In 1796 he was awarded a gold medal by the Society of Arts. With his brother-in-law, the astronomer and painter John Russell, he created the first extant lunar globe.
After retiring in 1823 the lucrative business passed to James Wyld, a former apprentice. He died in Shepperton in 1826, leaving a large estate.