The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg – Belgii Veteris Typus.; A. Ortelius – 1584

Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598).

Oudtijds gekleurde foliokaart van de Nederlanden in de Romeinse tijd. Uit ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’, de eerste uitgegeven wereldatlas.


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Ortelius toevoeging aan het Theatrum in 1584. Met vier decoratieve cartouches. Met titel en vermelding van Ortelius als carthograaf linksboven. Rechts het privilege en een wens voor de bevolking van Antwerpen. Linksonder een lofdicht. De Romeinse namen in hoofdletters en de ‘moderne’ naamgeving in platte tekst. Mooi exemplaar uit de eerste drukgang.

The map depicts the ancient Celtic regions of Ortelius’ homeland, divided according to tribal territories, and densely covered in forest, as well as the east coast of Britain, inhabited, according to Caesar, by Belgic tribes. Principle cities and towns are picked out in red. The names of many settlements also appear alongside pertinent references from the classical source tradition. Indeed all place-names that are featured on the map have had their names recorded according to their age and origin. The oldest names, of Celtic tribes and settlements, are recorded in Latin capitals, while younger Roman titles are given in lower case. Those names that are not featured in the classical sources are rendered in cursive, while relevant modern titles are given in a stylised Germanic cursive. The map is heavily annotated with points of cartographic and historic interest. Places of uncertain location are listed above the cartouche at the top right corner, while classical remains, many of which were explored by Ortelius himself, are depicted, including a ‘Barbarian’ altar, a bridge supposedly built by Julian the apostate, the camps of Cicero and the German legions, numerous temples, and a coastal beacon or lighthouse established by Charlemagne. Ortelius’ evidently took great pride in this map of his home country, as the four large decorative cartouches feature numerous laudatory remarks about the Low Countries, and Ortelius himself. In the bottom left corner, a strap-work box cartouche encloses four poetic lines penned by Ortelius friend Hugo Favolius, urging the Belgian race to reconnect with their antique past. In the top right, an oval cartouche dedicates the map to the Senate and People of Antwerp, and commenting on the sweet hold the native soil has on the cartographer himself.


  • Type: carthografische prent
  • Volledige titel: BELGII VETERIS | TYPVS | Ex conatibus geographicis Abrahami Ortelij…
  • Techniek: kopergravure met oudtijdse inkleuring
  • Carthograaf: Abraham Ortelius
  • Uitgever: Chrisoffel Plantijn
  • Auteur: Abraham Ortelius
  • Graveur: Frans Hogenberg, Joris Hoefnagel i.a.
  • Datum: 1584
  • 1584
  • boektitel: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Abrahami Ortelii Antverp. Geographi Regii.
  • Antwerpen
  •   37.5 x 49.0 cm. (14.6 x 19.3 inches)
  • 41,5 x 55 cm (16.3 x 21.7 inches)
  • Verso: Latijnse tekst
  • 2000 N
  • Bron: Van den Broecke  197 / Van der Krogt 3000H:31A.


Goed, gegeven de leeftijd. Scherpe afdruk op fris papier met een heldere oudtijdse inkleuring. Een scheurtje linksboven, een klein gaatje rechts en een split in de middenvouw zijn professioneel aan het verso gevezeld.


Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) was een Brabantse geograaf en uitgever uit Antwerpen. Ortelius is samen met Mercator de uitvinder van de wereldatlas. Zijn ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’ bracht hem grote roem. Belangrijke illustratoren en graveurs als Joris Hoefnagel en Frans Hogenberg waren werkzaam voor hem. In 1573 werd hij benoemd tot geograaf van Philips II. Na Ortelius dood werden de koperplaten gekocht door Jean Baptiste Vrients en de firma Platijn-Moretus.

Abraham Ortelius is perhaps the best known and most frequently collected of all sixteenth-century mapmakers. Ortelius started his career as a map engraver. In 1547 he entered the Antwerp guild of St Luke as afsetter van Karten. In 1560, while traveling with Gerard Mercator he seems to have been attracted towards a career as a scientific geographer. From that point forward, he devoted himself to the compilation his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World), which would become the first modern atlas.

In 1564 he completed his “mappemonde“, an eight-sheet map of the world. The only extant copy of this great map is in the library of the University of Basle. Ortelius also published a map of Egypt in 1565, a plan of Brittenburg Castle on the coast of the Netherlands, and a map of Asia, prior to 1570.

In 1570, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum first appeared in an edition of 53 maps. The Theatrum was the best available summary of 16th-century cartographic knowledge, covering much of the exploration of the world in the century following the discovery of America. Most of the maps in Ortelius Theatrum were drawn from the works of a number of other mapmakers from around the world; a list of 87 authors is given by Ortelius himself.

The broad appeal of the Theatrum saw demand from many consumers who preferred to read the atlas in their local language. Thus, in addition to Latin, the book was published with text in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and English.

By the time of his death in 1598, a total of 25 editions were published including editions in Latin, Italian, German, French, and Dutch. Later editions would also be issued in Spanish and English by Ortelius’ successors, Vrients and Plantin, the former adding a number of maps to the atlas, the final edition of which was issued in 1612. Most of the maps in Ortelius Theatrum were drawn from the works of a number of other mapmakers from around the world; a list of 87 authors is given by Ortelius himself

After Ortelius’s death in 1598, the copper plates for his atlas passed to his heirs. They, in turn, sold the collection to Jan Baptist Vrients (1522-1612) in 1601. Vrients added new maps and published the atlas until his death in 1612. Vrients’s widow then sold the plates to the Moretus brothers, who were the successors of Christoffel Plantin.

In 1573, Ortelius published seventeen supplementary maps under the title of Additamentum Theatri Orbis Terrarum. In 1575 he was appointed geographer to the king of Spain, Philip II, on the recommendation of Arias Montanus, who vouched for his orthodoxy (his family, as early as 1535, had fallen under suspicion of Protestantism). In 1578 he laid the basis of a critical treatment of ancient geography with his Synonymia geographica (issued by the Plantin press at Antwerp and republished as Thesaurus geographicus in 1596). In 1584 he issued his Nomenclator Ptolemaicus, a Parergon (a series of maps illustrating ancient history, sacred and secular.) Late in life, he also aided Welser in his edition of the Peutinger Table in 1598.