The Truce Map
By VISSCHER, Claes Jansz , 1611

Novissima et Accuratissima Leonis Belgici seu Septemdecim Regionum Descriptio. Auct: N.I. Visschero.

Europe Low Countries
  • Author: VISSCHER, Claes Jansz
  • Publication place: Amsterdam
  • Publisher: Claes Jansz Visscher
  • Publication date: 1611-1621 or later
  • Physical description: Hand-coloured engraved map, a few minor areas of loss skilfully repaired in facsimile.
  • Dimensions: 470 by 580mm. (18.5 by 22.75 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 2691


The signing of the Twelve Year Truce in 1609, by the Dutch Republic, the Southern Netherlands and Hapsburg Spain, proved a catalyst for another version of the Leo Belgicus.

In around 1611, Claes Janszoon Visscher published his ‘Bestandskaart’ or ‘Truce Map’ – “one of the peaks of seventeenth century cartography” (van der Heijden) – a lion at rest in a sitting position, his right paw on the hilt of a lowered sword. The map is replete with allusions to the fruits of peace: to the right of the lion, war – personified by a knight in a full suit of armour – is shown asleep, and to the left personifications of North and South are shown seated together with ‘d’Oude Twist’ (the old rancour) buried unde foot. A cherub pours the sweet nectar of the ‘Bestant van 12 jaer’ (the Twelve Year Truce) into the mouth of the lion; the clouds part to allow heavenly blessings (‘zeghen des hemels’) to rain down upon the country. These include the arts and sciences (‘Const en Wetenschap’); safety (‘Vailighe Tijdt’); knowledge and wealth (‘Kennisse en Rijkdom’); prosperous towns (‘Vergrooten der Steden’); the cultivation of the land (‘Vredich Lantbouwen’); and trade (‘Coophandel’). Yet even in these peaceful times, the frontier guard (‘Frontier Wacht’) remains alert.

Although the map celebrated the truce, it also implied – with the personification of north and south – the break-up of the Seventeen Provinces. This is further reenforced by the individual north and south medallions that can be seen suspended from the lion’s sword.


  1. H.A.M. van der Heijden, Leo Belgicus: An illustrated and annotated cartobibliography, 2nd ed., (Alphen aan den Rijn: Canaletto, 2006), 5.2.