Nice example of this decorative double-page engraved county map of Leicester by John Speed. Very attractively designed, the map shows the region in great detail, delimiting Hundreds and county lines, as well as walled hunting reserves and many other features.
The map includes a number of coats of arms, including those of Robert Dudley and John of Gaunt, important members of the royal family. The map includes an inset of Leicester in the lower left, showing the town and nearby streams. A key lists thirty-four places of interest and the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom is shown.
Particularly interesting is the depiction in the lower right of the 1485 battle between the houses of York and Lancaster, part of the War of the Roses. This Battle of Bosworth Field was the last major battle of the war and culminated in the death of the tyrant Richard III. As with Shakespeare, depiction of this battle in a manner favorable to the current ruling family would have helped Speed's political connections.
The map includes insets of Leicester, eight coats of arms, plus a large English coat of arms, battle scenes, etc.
John Speed (1551 or '52 - 28 July 1629) was the best known English mapmaker of the Stuart period. Speed came to mapmaking late in life, producing his first maps in the 1590s and entering the trade in earnest when he was almost 60 years old.
John Speed's fame, which continues to this day, lies with two atlases, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine (first published 1612), and the Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World (1627). While The Theatre ... started as solely a county atlas, it grew into an impressive world atlas with the inclusion of the Prospect in 1627. The plates for the atlas passed through many hands in the 17th century, and the book finally reached its apotheosis in 1676 when it was published by Thomas Bassett and Richard Chiswell, with a number of important maps added for the first time.