De Jode's map of Flanders
By JODE, Gerard de , 1578

Exactissima Flandriae Desciptio.

Europe Low Countries
  • Author: JODE, Gerard de
  • Publication place: [Antwerp
  • Publication date: 1578].
  • Physical description: Double page engraved map.
  • Dimensions: 365 by 490mm. (14.25 by 19.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 13051


De Jode’s map of Flanders is based on Gerard Mercator’s nine sheet wall map of the province, published 1539-40. The map is decorated with bears holding flags with the crests of the old feudal domains of Flanders – the arms of Flanders and the House of Orange are at the upper margin.

When de Jode made his map Flanders was in turmoil. The iconoclasm in 1566 had begun in the province and it was one of the rebel territories who declared the foundation of the United Provinces in opposition to Spanish rule. The major city, Antwerp, did not fall until seven years after the publication of the first edition of the ‘Speculum’.

Gerard de Jode (1509–1591), cartographer, engraver and publisher, lived and worked in Antwerp. In 1547 he was admitted to the Guild of St. Luke and began his work as a publisher and print seller. He often printed the works of other cartographers, including Giacomo Gastaldi’s map of the world in 1555, Jacob van Deventer’s map of Brabant in 1558, Abraham Ortelius’ eight-sheet map of the world in 1564, and maps by Bartholomeus Musinus and Fernando Alvares Seco.

De Jode’s atlas ‘Speculum Orbis Terrarum’ was first published in 1578 by Gerard de Jode (1509-1591) with text by Daniel Cellarius. It was designed to compete with Abraham Ortelius’ atlas, ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’, which had been published eight years earlier. Ortelius used his influence to disrupt de Jode’s application for a royal privilege. By the time this was finally granted, seven years after the publication of the ‘Theatrum’, Ortelius’ work had become so popular that de Jode’s atlas did not sell well, despite the accuracy and clarity of his maps.

Although sales of de Jode’s work were less than ideal, the atlas was evidently held in high regard, with several contemporaries citing its importance alongside the atlases of Mercator and Ortelius. Few examples of either edition of the ‘Speculum’ have survived, making the maps within a rarity.


  1. Van der Krogt 3200:32.1.