1598 Munster Bird's Eye View of Castello Sforzesco, Milan

Eigentliche Contrafactur des gewaltigen Schloß zu Meyland, mit etlicher desselbigen Wehren verzeichnung. - Main View

1598 Munster Bird's Eye View of Castello Sforzesco, Milan


Milan's Medieval Mercenary Manse.


Eigentliche Contrafactur des gewaltigen Schloß zu Meyland, mit etlicher desselbigen Wehren verzeichnung.
  1588 (undated)     12 x 14.5 in (30.48 x 36.83 cm)


This is a sixteenth century bird's eye view of the Castello Sforzesco (Sforza's Castle), the 15th century fortification in the old city of Milan, Italy. It was built by Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan; over time it was reinforced and by the 16th century it was one of the largest forts in Europe. It now houses several of Milan's museums and art collections, but at the time it was depicted here it was still an active fortress - its yards bristle with pikemen and cavalry, as well as rows of cannon. The castle is viewed from the southeast, oriented to the northwest. The form of the medieval castle, with its walls, guardhouse and moats, is recognizable. Sforza's arms - the eagle and the serpent - can be seen painted on the corner towers facing the center of the city.
The Condottiero Duke
The fortress was built by Francesco Sforza (1401-1466), who successfully parlayed a long career as a mercenary into becoming the Duke of Milan in 1450. In 1452 he hired sculptor and architect Filarete to redesign and rebuild the existing fortress into the structure recognizable now (although it was not completed until after his death.) As impregnable as it might have seemed, the castle did change hands a number of times over the centuries. By the time this cut was made, the Duchy of Milan was ruled by Habsburg Spain.
Publication History and Census
This woodcut was prepared by Sebastian Petri for his 1588 edition of Münster's Cosmographia. Thus, despite the great popularity of the work, this cut appears only in the last five editions of it. The separate woodcut is neglected in institutional collections, appearing in a single copy in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, although the full work is well represented in institutional collections and the woodcut appears on the market from time to time. The typography of this specific example is consistent with the 1598 German edition of Munster's work.


Sebastian Münster (January 20, 1488 - May 26, 1552), was a German cartographer, cosmographer, Hebrew scholar and humanist. He was born at Ingelheim near Mainz, the son of Andreas Munster. He completed his studies at the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen in 1518, after which he was appointed to the University of Basel in 1527. As Professor of Hebrew, he edited the Hebrew Bible, accompanied by a Latin translation. In 1540 he published a Latin edition of Ptolemy's Geographia, which presented the ancient cartographer's 2nd century geographical data supplemented systematically with maps of the modern world. This was followed by what can be considered his principal work, the Cosmographia. First issued in 1544, this was the earliest German description of the modern world. It would become the go-to book for any literate layperson who wished to know about anywhere that was further than a day's journey from home. In preparation for his work on Cosmographia, Münster reached out to humanists around Europe and especially within the Holy Roman Empire, enlisting colleagues to provide him with up-to-date maps and views of their countries and cities, with the result that the book contains a disproportionate number of maps providing the first modern depictions of the areas they depict. Münster, as a religious man, was not producing a travel guide. Just as his work in ancient languages was intended to provide his students with as direct a connection as possible to scriptural revelation, his object in producing Cosmographia was to provide the reader with a description of all of creation: a further means of gaining revelation. The book, unsurprisingly, proved popular and was reissued in numerous editions and languages including Latin, French, Italian, and Czech. The last German edition was published in 1628, long after Münster's death of the plague in 1552. Cosmographia was one of the most successful and popular books of the 16th century, passing through 24 editions between 1544 and 1628. This success was due in part to its fascinating woodcuts (some by Hans Holbein the Younger, Urs Graf, Hans Rudolph Manuel Deutsch, and David Kandel). Münster's work was highly influential in reviving classical geography in 16th century Europe, and providing the intellectual foundations for the production of later compilations of cartographic work, such as Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Münster's output includes a small format 1536 map of Europe; the 1532 Grynaeus map of the world is also attributed to him. His non-geographical output includes Dictionarium trilingue in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and his 1537 Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. Most of Munster's work was published by his stepson, Heinrich Petri (Henricus Petrus), and his son Sebastian Henric Petri. Learn More...

Heinrich Petri (1508 - 1579) and his son Sebastian Henric Petri (1545 – 1627) were printers based in Basel, Switzerland. Heinrich was the son of the printer Adam Petri and Anna Selber. After Adam died in 1527, Anna married the humanist and geographer Sebastian Münster - one of Adam's collaborators. Sebastian contracted his stepson, Henricus Petri (Petrus), to print editions of his wildly popular Cosmographia. Later Petri, brought his son, Sebastian Henric Petri, into the family business. Their firm was known as the Officina Henricpetrina. In addition to the Cosmographia, they also published a number of other seminal works including the 1566 second edition of Nicolaus Copernicus's De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium and Georg Joachim Rheticus's Narratio. Learn More...


Munster, S., Cosmographey, (Basel: Petri) 1598.    


Very good. Faint text showthrough; generous margins


OCLC 163165064.