Speed's map of Britain during the Heptarchy
By SPEED, John , 1627

Britain as it was devided in the time of the Englishe Saxons especially during their Heptarchy.

British Isles Great Britain
  • Author: SPEED, John
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Performed by Iohn Speede & are to be sold by John Sudbury & George Humble in Popes head alley at London
  • Publication date: 1627
  • Physical description: Engraved map with hand colouring.
  • Dimensions: 380 by 505mm. (15 by 20 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 11810


A map of Great Britain during the Heptarchy, the name given to the period when it was popularly supposed that the island was divided into seven kingdoms: East Anglia, Sussex, Wessex, Northumbria, Mercia, Kent, and Essex. The borders are filled with scenes from the lives of famous British rulers. On the right, Peada of Mercia is stabbed through the connivance of his own wife at Easter after converting to Christianity to marry her; at the upper left, the semi-mythical Hengist appears, who betrayed Vortigern, King of the Britons, and led the Anglo-Saxon invasion; at the upper right, Ethelbert of Kent listens to the preaching of St Augustine, who eventually converted him to Christianity.

John Speed (1552-1629) was the outstanding cartographer of his age. His ‘Theatre of Great Britain’ was the first atlas of the British Isles: Speed prepared the maps himself about two years before they were published. His maps and books dominated the seventeenth-century English market. The present map is taken from the 1627 English edition published by George Humble.


  1. Chubb XXV.