Old hand-color example of this early plan of Luxembourg, from Braun & Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum, the first major atlas of City Plans and Views, based upon the work of Jacob Van Deventer.
The cartouche translates as follows:
Luxembourg, old capital of the duchy of the same name, [...] it was once noteworthy on account of a fortress, a Benedictine monastery and a funerary chapel of the dukes.
The text on the verso translates as follows:
Although in Luxembourg a large part of the population is German, court proceedings are conducted partly in German and partly in French, according to whether the towns or villages use one language more than the other. For since Luxembourg borders on France and Germany, people use the customs and language of whichever country is nearest. The houses of the townspeople are well kept, but those that were destroyed in the course of numerous military conflicts have not always been rebuilt and remain partly deserted and empty. Luxembourg is fortified, but it lies in a hilly landscape, partly on top of the mountains, partly in relatively deep valleys, and hence has a very irregular appearance."
The bird's-eye view from the south illustrates the city's solid ramparts and its location on the River Alzette with its loop around the Bock rock. Lucilinburhuc castle was acquired in AD 963 by Count Sigefroi. In 987 the archbishop of Trier consecrated the castle chapel, which stood on the site today occupied by the church of Saint-Michel. In 1354 Luxembourg was elevated from a county to a duchy. It was captured by Burgundy in 1443 under Philip the Good. Under Louis XIV the city was annexed to France (1684-1697) and transformed into one of the most formidable fortresses in Europe by the architect Sébastien Le Prestre Marquis de Vauban.
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.