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Other 16th-century conflicts

Contemporary maps of 10 sixteenth-century wars


Map of Mirandola, 1551-1552 (Mirandola, Emilia-Romagna, Italy) 44°53'12"N 11°03'58"E


Etching; printed on paper | 27.3 x 39.7 cm (image and platemark) | RCIN 721003

A low oblique view of Mirandola, commanded by Ludovico Pico and Piero Strozzi, besieged unsuccesfully between July 1551 and March 1552 by the Papal States, Holy Roman Empire and Spain, commanded by Generals Camillo Orsini, Alessandro Vitelleschi and Giovanni Battista del Monte. Italian War of 1551-9. Oriented with west to top (compass point letter: P [ponente]).

The French allegiance of the city of Mirandola is marked, on this view, by the fleur-de-lys which appears in three escutcheons drawn on the bastions projecting from the city walls. These represent the arms of Henry II (Valois-Angoulême; reigned 1547-1559) of France. A standard bearing the Valois fleur-de-lys flies from the left hand tower. Cannon, placed in between gabions, fire at the enemy from the city ramparts.

The view is not drawn to scale and the central focus of the event – the town of Mirandola – takes centre stage while the surrounding towns and cities, some many miles distant, are drawn around the periphery. The positions of these settlements are not accurate: Mantua (45°09'37"N 10°47'52"E), situated here on the Po river (annotated top right: ‘PA F’ i.e. Pa or Po Fiume), is shown west of Mirandola but is, in fact to the north west; Ferara (Ferrara 44°50ʹ36ʺN 11°36ʹ31ʺE) is shown to the north-west but is actually to the east; Finale (Finale Emilia 44°50ʹ04ʺN 11°17ʹ38ʺE) which is to the north-west of the town on the view lies east-south-east; Modena (44°38ʹ52ʺN 10°55ʹ31ʺE) appears to the north-east on the view but is south-south-west of Mirandola.

A woodcut image of this siege of Mirandola, identical in topographical detail to Schoel’s representation, was published in Lyons by Jean D’Ogerolles in 1564, on pp.142-143 of a volume by Antoine Du Pinet entitled Plantz, pourtraitz et descriptions de plusieurs villes et forteresses, tant de l’Europe, Asie, & Afrique, que des Indes, & terres neuues: leurs fondations, antiquitez, & manieres de viure: auec plusieurs cartes generales & particuliere … According to the entry for the map in the John Carter Brown Map Collection (E564 D934p/2-SIZE), the maps are based on the Premier livre des figures et pourtactz des villes by Guillaume Guéroult, published in Lyons in 1552.

The differences between the woodcut and Schoel’s etching relate only to the compass directions in the margins which, in the woodcut, are written in full in scrolls, thus: OCCIDENS, ORIENS, and, without scrolls: SEPTENTRIO and MERIDIES, and the slightly different rendering of the geographical features – a consequence of the different production techinques. In addition, the woodcut map is surrounded by an ornate woodcut margin which is printed from four blocks.

Another state of this woodcut map, seemingly printed from the same blocks but with the letterpress title and author text removed, was published in German in Sebastian Münster’s Cosmographey: das ist, Beschreibung aller Länder ... (Edition of 1598) on pp.298-299 (BL 569.h.1.). Entitled ‘Beschreibung der Herzlichen und weitberhümpten Statt Mirandula’, the map itself appears to be identical with the 1564 state described above. It would seem that this woodcut first appeared on pp.258-259 in the Latin edition of Münster’s Cosmographiae published by Henricus Petrus in 1572 (Shirley, 2004, T.MUN-1i; BL 10005.h.7).

It is possible, therefore, that Schoel’s map was copied from the woodcut maps at any time beween the 1557, when he is first recorded as being active, and his death in 1622.

There would appear to be some doubt about which siege of Mirandola is represented in van Schoel’s image. Although the George III heading and George III catalogue have given the date of the first siege of Mirandola, 1510-1511, Ghislaine Fabre, in her essay ‘Identification d’une vue gravée de Montpellier au XVIe siècle’, discusses Du Pinet’s (see above) 1564 woodcut view of Mirandola, describing it as representing the siege conducted under Pope Julian III from May 1551 to June 1552. This interpretation is consistent with the depiction of the four forts in the view: Sancto Martin, Santa Iustina, Santo Michele and Sancto Antonio These were apparently built during the second siege (Saltini).

The earlier siege of Mirandola took place between 19 December 1510 and 20 January 1511 and was part of the War of the League of Cambrai (also known as the War of the Holy League) 1508-1516. The siege was conducted by the Papal States, led by Pope Julius II in person whose troops, taking advantage of the frozen water in the moat, stormed the citadel and defeated the French general who held the city – Charles II d’Amboise. The view represented here shows the trees in full leaf, with no indication of the wintery conditions or deep snow cover that prevailed in the earlier siege.

Other examples can be found at BL Maps C.7.e.4.(40.); Franco Novacco Map Collection, Newberry Library Chicago (Novacco 4F 111 (PrCt)).

  • Hendrik van Schoel (d. 1622) (engraver and publisher) [bottom centre:] Henricus van Schoel formis.

  • Watermark: Anchor in circle, surmounted by a six-pointed star

    Condition: substantial discolouration which has come through from the verso; brown spotting. Verso: large cream coloured stain to right half which has migrated through to the recto; pronounced dark brown discolouration to the right, and along the length of the central fold line; brown spots. Unmounted; original sheet with platemarks and wide margins; no gilt edges. No impressions

  • 27.3 x 39.7 cm (image and platemark)

    36.3 x 47.9 cm (sheet)

  • Printed title

    LA MIRANDOLA [in banner above the fortified town of Mirandola]


    George III heading: Mirandola taken from the French by Pope Julius II. 1511.

    Other annotations: (Recto) none. (Verso) [top, left centre; red pencil] 1/1.

    George III catalogue entry

    Mirandola. View of Mirandola taken by Pope Julius the 2.d from the French in 1511: by H. van Schoel.

  • Subject(s)

    Mirandola, Emilia-Romagna, Italy (44°53'12"N 11°03'58"E)

  • Bibliographic reference(s)

    M. Creighton, A history of the Papacy during the period of the Reformation. Cambridge University Press (2011). Reprint of the original edition in five volumes published 1882-1894. pp.124-5

    F. Guicciardini, The History of Italy translated into English by the Chevalier Austin Parke Goddard. Vol.V. Second Edition. London: John Towers (1756), pp.150-154

    A. Saltini, L’assedio della Mirandola, Parma (2003)

    G Fabre, ‘Identification d’une vue gravée de Montpellier au XVIe siècle’, Arts et Culture: une vision méridionale, M. Barrucand (ed). Paris 2001 pp.72-3

    M. Pastoureau, ‘Les atlas imprimés en France avant 1700’, Imago Mundi 32, p.49\owaroot\archives\detail\lot_images\&fileLetter2Show=A 

    M. McDonald, The Print Collection of Cassiano dal Pozzo. Part II, Architecture, Topography and Military Maps, 3 vols, London 2019, cat. no. 2639

Page revisions

  • 25 May 2024