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Extremely Rare Plan of The Siege of Calais in 1558

Rare early map / view of Calais, showing its capture by the French in 1558.

The map is very similar to the map of Bertelli, but no engraver or publisher is given.

Siege of Calais

The Siege of Calais was fought in early 1558 during the Italian War of 1551–1559. The Pale of Calais had been ruled by England since 1347, during the Hundred Years' War. By the 1550s, England was ruled by Mary I of England and her husband Philip II of Spain.

When the Kingdom of England supported a Spanish invasion of France, Henry II of France sent Francis, Duke of Guise, against English-held Calais, defended by Thomas Wentworth, 2nd Baron Wentworth. Following failure in mid-1557, a renewed attack captured the outlying forts of Nieullay and Rysbank and Calais was besieged.

The English control of Calais depended on fortifications maintained and built up at some expense. Near Calais, the Franco-Burgundian forces were frequently pitted against the English garrison forces and against the Duchy of Burgundy. Relieved by the long confrontation between Burgundy and France, English rule over Calais lasted for 150 years. The French and the Burgundians each coveted the city, but preferred to see it under the English rather than their rival.

In January 1, 1558, the French attacked Sangatte and Fréthun Nielles.  The Army Corps took Fort Risban the next day. On January 3, the artillery moved into Fort Nieulay at Risban. Overwhelmed by a lightning attack, the English surrendered the city to the French on January 7, 1558. 

Henry II of France arrived at Calais on January 23,1558. France had reconquered the last territory it had lost in the Hundred Years' War and put an end to two centuries of fighting between England and France. 

In England there was shock and disbelief at the loss of this final Continental territory. The story goes that a few months later Queen Mary, on her death bed, told her family: "When I am dead and cut open, they will find Philip and Calais inscribed on my heart."

States and Rarity

Two states of the plan are known, each in a single example.

  • State 1:  Address under the title (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich)
  • State 2:  Address removed (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich)


Condition Description
Minor toning. Trimmed just into image and mounted on thin card stock.
Bifolco/Ronca #406.