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The English Armada Capturing Cadiz.

Scarce plan of the 1596 Siege of Cadiz ("Cales"), published in Rome near the end of the 16th century.

The Capture of Cadiz of 1596 saw the fall of Cadiz to English and Dutch United Provinces forces. One of the significant English successes of the Anglo-Spanish War, along with the sinking of the Spanish Armada and the 1587 victory at Cadiz, the 1596 capture was most notable for the vast economic losses inflicted on the Spanish.

The map shows the English fleet sailing against the city. In the lower left is "Il Grande Aumiraglio," the admiral's ship, flying the royal English coat of arms. The Count of Essex's ship and the Vice Admiral's ship are also shown. Along the narrow spit of land connecting Cadiz to the rest of Spain, a battle between the English and the Spanish is depicted, with the English troops eventually rowing ashore and taking the town.

This battle plan is signed "Franco Fecit," which almost certainly refers to Giacomo Franco, who started his career in the 1570s executing plates for other Lafreri School cartographers. Eventually he had his own shop, and was active until his death in 1620.

The Lafreri School

The Lafreri School is a commonly used name for a group of mapmakers, engravers, and publishers who worked in Rome and Venice from ca. 1544 to 1585. The makers, who were loosely connected via business partnerships and collaborations, created maps that were then bound into composite atlases; the maps would be chosen based on the buyer or compiler’s interests. As the maps were initially published as separate-sheets, the style and size of maps included under the umbrella of the “School” differed widely. These differences can also be seen in the surviving Lafreri atlases, which have maps bound in with varying formats including as folded maps, maps with wide, trimmed, or added margins, smaller maps, etc.

The most famous mapmakers of the School included Giacomo Gastaldi and Paolo Forlani, among others. The School’s namesake, Antonio Lafreri, was a map and printseller. His 1572 catalog of his stock, entitled Indice Delle Tavole Moderne Di Geografia Della Maggior Parte Del Mondo, has a similar title to many of the composite atlases and thus his name became associated with the entire output of the larger group.