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Europe in the Form of a Queen -- Rare Copperplate Edition with Coat of Arms

Rare copperplate edition of Heinrich Bunting's map of Europe personified as a queen.

The first copperplate (rather than woodcut) version of the map was published in Prague in 1592. This edition, with the title integral to the plate itself, was issued in Brunswick in 1646.

Protestant theologian Heinrich Bunting's map showing Europe as a queen is one of the most sought after anthropomorphic maps of the 16th Century. The depiction of Europe as a queen began in the 14th Century. Europe was named for princess Europa (Daughter of Phoenicia), who had been carried off and raped by Zeus. The earliest depiction of Europe as a woman is believed to be by the 14th Century Pavian Cleric Opicinus de Canistris for the papal court, then at Avignon. The woman represents the Mother Church, who is being seduced from the true path.

In 1537 the Tirolese cartographer Johann Putsch celebrated the Hapsburg rule over Europe by presenting a placid "Europa Regina" wearing Charles V's Spain as a crown and Ferdinand's Austria as a medal at her waist, representing the triumph of the Hapsburgs. The queen's crown (Spain), orb (Sicily), and heart (Bohemia), form a triangle that directs the viewer's eye away from eastern Europe toward the West. The British Isles are a shapeless blob perched near her shoulder. Her skirt is composed of the Baltics and Greece; Turkey and Russia are beneath her feet. Later editions of Europe as a queen were issued by Sebastian Münster, Heinrich Bunting, and Matthias Quad.

Plates and Editions

Bunting published this map in his Itinerarium, an important religious treatise on biblical geography. The book was illustrated with maps from its first edition in 1581, published in Helmsdadt, but the present map made its first appearance in the 1587 Wittenberg edition.

While the woodblock edition of the map continued to be published in different formats throughout the 16th, 17th, and even 18th centuries, a few rare editions of the book used a copperplate engraving to illustrate the map. These include the 1592 Prague edition and the 1646 Brunswick editions.

Both copperplate editions can be easily recognized from the lack of the wave pattern present on the woodblock edition.

  • The Czech edition can be recognized from the Czech-language text on the verso (instead of Latin or German), as well as the presence of a winged and feathered coat of arms in the lower right of the map. The seas are also stippled in this edition. 
  • The Brunswick leaves the ocean blank and includes a coat of arms in the lower left that is encircled with a wreath.
Condition Description
Restoration and minor facsimile in the lower left and lower right corner and a bit near the right hand of the queen. Presents as VG+.
Heinrich Bunting Biography

Henrich Bunting was a Protestant theologian and teacher born in Hanover, in what is now Germany. He attended the University of Wittenberg and graduated in 1569. He then began work as a preacher but caused some controversy with his teachings; he was dismissed from appointments in both Lemgo and Goslar.

He is best known today for his book, Itinerarium Sacrae Scripturae (Travel book through Holy Scripture), a travel collection and commentary of the geography of the Bible. The book provided the most complete summary of biblical geography then available and described the Holy Land by following the travels of various notable people from the Old and New Testaments. First published in Madgeburg in 1581, Itinerarium Sacrae Scripturae was a very popular book for the time. Over 60 editions were published between 1581 and 1757.  

A particularly notable feature of the book were its many woodcut maps, many of them showing unique depictions of geographic features and continents. In addition to the conventional maps, the book also contained three figurative maps; the world depicted using a cloverleaf design (thought to possibly represent the Trinity with Jerusalem in the center), Europe in the form of a crowned and robed woman, and Asia as the winged horse Pegasus.