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A Coloured Plan of "the towne and castle of Guynes"

A Coloured Plan of

Cartographer: Unknown

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1541

Shelfmark: Cotton Augustus I.ii

Item number: f.23

Length: 43

Width: 55.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript Map

This is a bird's eye view of the town and castle of Guines, France. Due to a mixture of French and Spanish in the annotations it may be attributed to a Portuguese engineer who made an independent report of the fortifications in April 1541. Guines was the main outpost of English authority in the Marches of Calais and as such was a place of strategic importance. The period in which this view was drawn is characterised by the threat of a an invasion from the combined forces of France and Spain. In 1538 Francis I of France, and Charles V Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain signed a peace treaty. This union gave rise to the possibility that France and Spain may combine forces to invade England. France was England’s historical enemy and Henry VIII’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon, Charles V’s aunt, had offended the militantly catholic King of Spain. These circumstances naturally rendered English outposts vulnerable and Henry VIII began to divert large sums of money to the area of Calais for work on the fortifications. Extensive works were carried out at Guines between 1539 and 1541.
This view does not include the two trefoil shaped bulwarks that were proposed and built by Richard Lee, a mason by trade and surveyor in charge of the works. This omission is probably because the Portuguese engineer was sceptical about the value of adding bulwarks according to Lee’s scheme, annotations to the view support this. This opinion lead Henry to refer to the Portuguese as an ass who did not know his business.

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