The reach of the Roman Empire
By SPEED, John , 1631

A New Mappe of the Romane Empire newly described by Iohn Speede

Continent of Europe Europe
  • Author: SPEED, John
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: And are to be sold in Pops head alley by George Humble
  • Publication date: 1631
  • Physical description: Engraved map with hand colouring.
  • Dimensions: 405 by 515mm. (16 by 20.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 11408


A map showing the historical extent of the Roman Empire. The decorative border contains figures in native costume from former imperial countries, and city views. Venice is included although it was not founded until the tenth century BCE, and played very little part in the Empire. A cartouche at the lower edge provides a brief history of the expansion of Roman power over Europe and Africa. In the two top corners are a fanciful portrait of Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome and a head of Roma, the female personification of the city.

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.