The 'Christian Knight' world map, c.1596

The title of this map suggests that the map is an allegory (or symbolic tale) of a real battle: ‘map...in which the struggle of the Christian Knight on Earth...is graphically depicted.’ So what does the symbolism mean, and why is the map covered in frightening creatures?

From the 1560s to 1648 Holland was engaged in a war of independence with Catholic Spain. Jodocus Hondius, who made this map, was a Dutch Protestant. The human figures on the map illustrate the battle between Catholics and Protestants. The armoured ‘Christian’ knight represents King Henry IV of France, a Protestant ally. The figures fighting him symbolize Catholicism: (left to right) Worldly Vanity, Sin, Carnal Weakness, the Devil, and Death.

Taken from: Typus totius Orbis Terrarum...
Author / Creator: Jodocus Hondius
Date: 1596
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: Maps 188.k.1.(5)