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Bohemiae Rosa Omnibus Saeculis cruenta in qua plura quam 80 magna pratia commissa sunt nunc primum hac form excusa

  • Author: VETTER, Christoph (artist) / BALBINUS, Bohuslav (author)
  • Engraver: Wolfgang Kilian
  • Date: 1677
  • Dimensions: sheet: 30 x 44 cms / map : 26.5 x 39 cms


Bohemiae Rosa: Jesuit Bohuslav Balbinus’ rare & striking late 17th Century map of Bohemia in the richly symbolic form of a Rose

About this piece:

Bohemiae Rosa Omnibus Saeculis cruenta in qua plura quam 80 magna pratia commissa sunt nunc primum hac form excusa

Imprints [lr]: Chr.Vetter inven. et delineavit / Wolffg. Kilian sculpsit Augustae.

Traces of original folds, now flattened. Margin newly extended at lower left where cropped to line of plate mark from when originally bound in to book. Fine modern hand colour.

Jesuit Bohuslav Balbinus [1611-1689] wrote widely on the subject of his native Bohemia and this rare & striking map appears in his early History, Epitome historica rerum Bohemicarum, first published in Prague in 1677.

It is a remarkable symbolic map of Bohemia depicted in the form of flourishing Rose in full bloom, engraved by Augsburg master-engraver, Wolfgang Kilian, after the 1668 designs of the Silesian artist, Christoph Vetter. The top of the map bears the motto of the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, Iustitia et Pietate (With Justice and Piety). The Rose plant itself grows up from a stem rooted in Vienna with the flower itself centred on Prague. The 18 administrative regions are listed in the lower part of the map and appear as the individual petals of the flower, arranged concentrically around Prague. This included 14 regions, Prague, and three territories which had legal privileges under the Habsburgs (Loket, Cheb and Hlad). The Latin text below paints a wonderful image of a graceful Rose growing in the woods. This is the Rose of Bohemia, protected by an armed lion (her coat of arms), but a creation of war, not love. Now at last she can now enjoy a Southerly breeze blowing through her gardens (a reference to Bohemia’s allegiance to Austria, as illustrated in the rooting of the Rose in Vienna, shown in the map inset lower centre) and enjoy a lasting peace after centuries of bloodshed, in which 80 battles have been fought on her territories.

The creation of Vetter’s Bohemian Rose has to be seen in the context of Bohemia’s recent past during the early 17th Century, in particular in reference to the Austrian Habsburg conquest of the region in 1620. As a result of this conquest, land and estates passed out of local (Protestant) Czech control into the hands of German-speaking Catholics who owed their power, status and authority exclusively to the Habsburgs. Centralisation and transfer of local Czech powers to Vienna followed, as did the introduction of Latin and German as the languages of business, law and administration. All books printed in Czech were placed on a prohibited list by the Austrian authorities. Prague’s Jesuit college was merged with the City’s University. With the Catholicization of the Czech people, it is hardly surprising then that Jesuit Balbinus, given his position, should have been such a ready apologist and included in his book on the history of Bohemia such a powerful, resonant & symbolic image, and one that so emphatically emphasized Bohemia’s war-torn past and contrasted it with a new time of blossoming prosperity & peace, a peace derived exclusively from the Rose’s newly grafted Habsburg & Viennese roots.

Examples of Balbinus book & Vetter’s map are increasingly rarely seen offered on the market.

Refs: Stephanie Hoppen: Cartographica Curiosa 2 #34; Barron’s Catalogue 2005/1, Cartographica Curiosa, Item 4; Laurent Baridon: Un Atlas Imaginaire, p.59 & ill.p.60; Ashley Baynton-Williams: The Curious Map Book, pp.56-57