The Ottoman Empire
By SPEED, John , 1631

The Turkish Empire

Asia Europe Turkey
  • Author: SPEED, John
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Are to be sold in pops head alley by G. Humble
  • Publication date: 1631
  • Physical description: Engraved map, slight foxing.
  • Dimensions: 410 by 520mm. (16.25 by 20.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 11412


A map of the Ottoman Empire covering Turkey and parts of the Middle East. The decorative border contains views of major cities and people in native costumes, although, surprisingly, none of them are labelled as Turkish. The elaborate dragon title cartouche carries a shield with fanciful Ottoman arms. After a long period of supremacy in eastern Europe, a symbolic defeat at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 had damaged the Ottoman Empire’s image. When this map was drawn, prolonged warfare with Habsburg Austria had placed further strain on the state, although it continued to rule successfully over thirty million people. European thought often dismissed the Ottoman Empire as nothing more than strength in numbers, as shown by the inscription in the margins reading:”The Turk is admired for nothing more than his sudden advancement to so great an empire”.

John Speed (1552-1629) was the outstanding cartographer of his age. His ‘Theatre of Great Britain’, first published in 1611 or 1612, was the first atlas of Great Britain: Speed prepared the maps himself about two years before they were published. This map is from the ‘Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World’, produced in collaboration with Speed to accompany the ‘Theatre’ and published in a joint edition by George Humble in 1631. Many of the maps were anglicized versions of works by Dutch makers, who introduced the carte-à-figure style, with borders of figures in local costume and city views.


  1. Chubb XXV.