The Kingdome of England: Speed 1632

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  • Title: The Kingdome of England
  • Author: John Speed
  • Date: 1632
  • Medium: Hand-colored copperplate engraving
  • Condition: Excellent
  • Inches: 20 x 15 [Image]
  • Centimeters: 50.8 x 38.1 [Image]
  • Product ID: 101492

Map of England including parts of Scotland, Ireland, Flanders, the North (German) Sea, the English Channel, and the Irish Sea. Insets depicting inhabitants of the Kingdom of various socioeconomic classes, as well as census data.

The premier cartographer of Early-Modern England, John Speed (c. 1552-1629) produced maps noted for their artistry, ornate borders, and decorative cartouches. Born in Cheshire as the son of a tailor, Speed spent his adult life in London, where he entered the family profession himself. His passion for history eventually led him to join the Society of Antiquaries, where his friendships with other antiquarians and the patronage of Sir Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, allowed him to branch out into publishing. He also garnered the attention of Queen Elizabeth, who in 1598 granted him a position at the Customs House in London, a post which gave him ample free time and income to pursue his scholarly interests. Speed, a contemporary of Shakespeare who would have moved in the same London intellectual circles, did not hold much affection for the Bard despite their shared patron, the Queen; Speed referred to him as a ‘papist,’ quite a derogatory remark in an England ruled by the staunchly-Protestant Queen Elizabeth.

Speed began his venture into cartography by printing historical maps depicting the Holy Land and historic military invasions of the British Isles. He published a History of Great Britaine in 1611, and his major work the Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine followed later in the same year. While Speed sourced the sixty-seven maps contained in the Theatre from other cartographers, he proved innovative by including the boundaries of county subdivisions, as well as insets showing plans of the cities and shire towns within the regions depicted. The Theatre proved enduringly popular, so much so that new editions of the work would be printed well into the eighteenth century. Late in his career in 1627, Speed produced Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World, the first world atlas compiled by an Englishman and published in England (though the plates were engraved by Jodocus Hondius in Amsterdam).