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Fine early view of Bern, Switerlands, on the Aare River, engraved by Joseph Plep for Matthaus Merian the elder.

The map shows a detailed treatment of the city, its main bridge and fortified walls at the west end of the town.

Decorative cartouche shows the coat of arms of the city.

The title celebrates the founding of the City of Bern in 1191 and its joinder with the Swiss Confederacy in 1353.

Bern was founded by Zähringer ruling family, which rose to power in Upper Burgundy in the 12th century. According to 14th century historiography (Cronica de Berno, 1309), Bern was founded in 1191 by Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen.

In 1353, Bern joined the Swiss Confederacy, becoming one of the eight cantons which joined between 1353 and 1481. Bern invaded and conquered Aargau in 1415 and Vaud in 1536, as well as other smaller territories. By the 18th Century it was the largest city-state north of the Alps.

Matthaus Merian Biography

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