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BRITANNIAE INSULAE QUAE NUNC ANGLIAE ET SCOTIAE REGNA CONTINENT CUM HIBERNIA ADIACENTE NOVA DESCRIPTIO

BRITANNIAE INSULAE QUAE NUNC ANGLIAE ET SCOTIAE REGNA CONTINENT CUM HIBERNIA ADIACENTE NOVA DESCRIPTIO

Cartographer: Lily, George

Medium: Engraving

Date: 1546

Shelfmark: K.Top.V

Item number: 2

Length: 396

Width: 539

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Map

This map of the British Isles is by George Lily. It was published in Rome in 1558. This map is a close copy of the first separately-printed map of the whole of the British Isles produced 12 years earlier. It is orientated so that the Ireland is at the top of the map.
The outline of England and Wales is based on a map of 1540 by Sebastian Munster. The Bay of Cardigan is not represented, appearing on printed maps only after 1550. Many more place names and distinct topographical features are included. Ireland is still largely shapeless but Scotland is depicted remarkably accurately. It is possible that Lily was able to consult a map of Scotland drawn by John Elden and presented to Henry VIII in 1538. Elden is known to have been in Rome in 1538. It is also possible that Lily had access to Hector Boece's Scotorium Historiae and a map thought to have been made by Alexander Lindsay while accompanying James V of Scotland of a tour of the kingdom.
A remarkable feature of this map is that it uses distinctive and conventional signs to show county capitals and towns and the status of archepiscopal and episcopal sees. Oddly neither Oxford, Gloucester or Peterborough are marked as episcopal see even though they were made so between 1541 and 1542. This omission could suggest that a pre 1541 map was used as a source, but could also betray the authors reluctance to acknowledge the newly created sees in light of the recent conflict between Rome and the Crown.
Lily's map was hugely influential, containing more information and a more detailed outline of the British Isles than had previous examples. It was copied widely, giving rise to many derivatives.

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