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CESTRIAE Comitatus

CESTRIAE Comitatus

Cartographer: Saxton, Christopher

Medium: Engraving, coloured

Date: 1577

Shelfmark: Royal MS. 18. D.III f.84v

Length: 41

Width: 54

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Map

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This map of Cheshire is by Christopher Saxton dating from 1577. It forms part of an atlas that belonged to William Cecil Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s Secretary of State. Burghley used this atlas to illustrate domestic matters. This map is actually a proof copy of one which forms part of Christopher Saxton’s Atlas of England and Wales.
This atlas was first published as a whole in 1579. It consists of 35 coloured maps depicting the counties of England and Wales. The atlas is of great significance to British cartography as it set a standard of cartographic representation in Britain and the maps remained the basis for English county mapping, with few exceptions, until after 1750.
During the reign of Elizabeth I, map use became more common, with many government matters referring to increasingly accurate maps with consistent scales and symbols, made possible by advances in surveying techniques. Illustrating the increasing use of maps in government matters, Lord Burghley, who had been determined to have England and Wales mapped in detail from the 1550s, selected the cartographer Christopher Saxton to produce a detailed and consistent survey of the country. The financier of the project was Thomas Seckford Master of Requests at the Court of Elizabeth I, whose arms appear, along with the royal crest, on each map. Here Burghley's annotations can be seen in the addition of place names, most densely around Liverpool Haven. Due to the coastal nature of the area it is possible that more information has been added as Burghley was concerned about the possibility of enemy landings in the area. This consideration must be seen in the context of the invasion threat from Spain which culminated in the events of the Spanish Armada in 1588. The map was engraved by Franciscus Scatterus, one of a team of English and Flemish engravers who worked on the atlas.

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