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Contemporary Map of the Siege of La Rochelle

Detailed map of the area around La Rochelle and the Isle of Oleron, published in Paris in 1627, illustrating both the Hugenot stronghold of La Rochelle and the Catholic stronghold of Brouage, which was completed in 1627.

The main map shows the area around La Rochelle and Hiers-Brouage, during the Siege of La Rochelle.

At the time of the creation of this map, the region was a stronghold of the Protestant Huguenots, which was then under siege by the French Catholic monarchy under the control of the infamous Cardinal Richelieu.

Under Henry IV, and under the regency of his son Louis XIII, La Rochelle enjoyed a certain freedom and prosperity. However, La Rochelle entered into conflict with the authority of the adult Louis, beginning with a 1622 revolt. A fleet from La Rochelle fought a royal fleet of 35 ships under Charles, Duke of Guise, in front of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, but was defeated in October 1622, leading to the signing of the Peace of Montpellier.

In 1625, a new Huguenot revolt led by Duke Henri de Rohan and his brother Soubise led to the Capture of Ré island by the forces of Louis XIII. Soubise conquered large parts of the Atlantic coast, but the supporting fleet of La Rochelle was finally defeated by Montmorency, as was Soubise with 3,000 when he led a counter-attack against the royal troops who had landed on the island of Ré.

In 1627, Louis XIII and his Chief Minister Cardinal Richelieu declared the suppression of the Huguenot revolt the first priority of the kingdom. The English came to the support of La Rochelle, starting an Anglo-French War, by sending a major expedition under the Duke of Buckingham. The expedition however ended in a fiasco for England with the Siege of Saint-Martin-de-Ré. Meanwhile, cannon shots were exchanged on September 10, 1627 between La Rochelle and Royal troops. This resulted in the Siege of La Rochelle in which Cardinal Richelieu blockaded the city for 14 months, until the city surrendered and lost its mayor and its privileges.

The exodus of Huguenots from the region included many refugees who resettled in America.


The map also shows the area around Brouage, which would come to be known for a time as Jacopolis on the outer harbor of the village of Hiers.  In 1555, Jacques de Pons,Seigneur d'Hiers, decided to create a place of commerce, "Jacopolis", built on the place where ships had for many years deposited their ballasts when entering the region.  The tidal flow in the area left hollows of salty water would evaporate with the sun, creating a natural salt works,  which has become a place of international trade. In the early 17th Century, Cardinal Richelieu authorized the construction of fortifications.

 In 1628, Louis XIII visited the port. Between 1630 and 1640 , Richelieu ordered the construction of a new enclosure built by Pierre de Conti, lord of the Motte d'Argencourt. The village of Hiers, on its side, had become the industrial backyard of Brouage: this was where all the building trades (carpenters, masons, etc.). of the armory and the navy were installed.  

In 1653, Mazarin became governor of Brouage. In 1659 he exiled his niece, Marie Mancini, to remove him from the young Louis XIV who was courting her but who was to marry for political reasons the Spanish Infanta Maria Theresa of Austria (1638-1683) . 

Over time, religious conflict and the silting over of the area resulted in the gradual decline of the region's commercial value and it was largely abandoned until 1989, when it became admitted as part of the "Réseau des grands sites de France." (Network of Great Sites of France).

Melchior Tavernier Biography

Melchior Tavernier was a member of a large family involved in the publishing trade in Paris in the early years of the seventeenth century. Early in his career, he apparently collaborated with Henricus Hondius, as at least one of his early maps references Tavernier as the seller of a map engraved in Amsterdam, by Hondius. He is probably best known for his publication of a map of the Post Roads of France, which was copied many times until the end of the century. He also issued an atlas under the same title as J. le Clerc's Theatre Geographique, using many of Le Clerc's maps, but incorporating others from different sources. He published composite atlases and also published works for other cartographers, including N. Sanson, N. Tassin, and P. Bertius. He is not to be confused with his nephew of the same name (1594-1665), who also engraved maps for Nicolas Sanson.