Rare Map of the Duchy of Le Mans
Rare old color example of Gerard De Jode's map of Caenomaniae (Duchy of Le Mans or Maine Province), from his Speculum Orbis Terrarum, which along with Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum are the earliest modern atlases of the World.
The map is a bit of a mystery, as it was engraved at about the same time as Maurice Bouguereau's map of the same title. As Bouguereau was working in Tours, the natural assumption is that De Jode copied Bouguereau's work, but the evidence is inconclusive.
The map covers the Le Mans region of Western France, centered on the Sarthe River. Major towns shown include Le Mans, Laval, La Fleche, Chateau Gontier, La Ferte Bernard, Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, Mamers, Renee, Chateau du Louis, Saint Calais, Pre-en-Pail, Sainte-Suzanne, Loue, Craon, and Ecommoy.
The region is depicted approximately 100 years after it had briefly been controlled by the English. After the Battle of Verneuil in 1424, the English occupied Maine, and John of Lancaster took the title of Duke. The English held Le Mans until 1448 and Fresnay until 1449. In 1481, Charles IV, Duke of Anjou bequeathed his lands to Louis IX of France, thus returning the county to the crown.
As noted by Burden:
In 1578 Gerard de Jode published his Speculum Orbis Terrarum, an atlas aimed at competing with the Theatrum of Ortelius. However, the latter had first been issued in 1570 and had already built a commanding market presence, and so despite de Jode's longer standing reputation the atlas did not sell very well. Only a dozen or so examples have survived. Undeterred, he made plans for another expanded edition, and upon his death in 1591 it was taken on by his son Cornelis. The Speculum Orbis Terrae of 1593 likewise did not sell well and was never reissued. Although more examples than the first edition have survived, it too is very scarce. Many of de Jode's maps are judged to be superior to those of Ortelius, both in detail and style.
Gerard De Jode (1509-1591) was a pre-eminent mapmaker in the late seventeenth century, a time when the Dutch dominated the map trade. He was known for his many maps, some of which featured in Speculum Orbis Terrae (first edition Antwerp: 1578). Although never as successful as Ortelius’ Theatrum, the Speculum did get republished in a second edition in 1593, two years after De Jode’s death, by Arnold Coninx, and included this map. After his death, Gerard’s son, Cornelis (1568-1600), and his wife, Paschina, ran the shop. Unfortunately, Cornelis died young in 1600, aged only 32, and the stock and plates were sold to the publisher Joan Baptista Vrients.