Striking birdseye view of the French town and fortress of La Rochelle in Charente-Maritime. This work originally appeared in Merian's Neuwe Archontologica Cosmica . . ., an atlas containing numerous city plans and views published in 1638.
The plan shows the harbor, ships, detailed town plan, fortified walls, churches, bridges, and the neighboring region. The map includes a compass rose and a key naming 31 places.
La Rochelle is located on the Bay of Biscay, immediately facing the upscale Ile de Re. Originally a small port town, the town's economy grew when the Knights Templar established a base there in the 12th century. Later, closer to the time when this plan was made, the city acted as a Huguenot center in the French Wars of Religion.
Mathaus Merian (1593-1650) was the father of engraver Matthäus the Younger, and of the painter, engraver, and naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian. He was born in Basel, Switzerland and trained in engraving in Zurich. After a time in Nancy, Paris and Strasbourg, he settled in Frankfurt. While there, he worked for Johann Theodor de Bry, the publisher and son of the travel writer. In 1617, he married Maria Magdalena de Bry, Johann Theodor’s daughter. In 1623, Merian took over the de Bry publishing house upon the death of his father-in-law. Merian’s best known works are detailed town views which, due to their accuracy and artistry, form a valuable record of European urban life in the first half of the sixteenth century