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The Marches of Calais

The Marches of Calais

Cartographer: Petit, Thomas

Medium: Ink and tempera on parchment

Date: 1550

Shelfmark: Cotton Augustus I.ii

Item number: f.71

Genre: Manuscript Map

This is a map of the Marches of Calais probably dating from 1550. The cartographer is probably Thomas Petit who was formally appointed as Surveyor of the works at Calais in February 1546. The map seems to be concerned with defence and drainage, detailing dykes and rivers and fortifications. Improvements to the defences of the town of Calais had been completed in the 1540’s, motivated by the signing of a peace treaty by Francis I of France, and Charles V Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. This union gave rise to the possibility that France and Spain may combine forces to invade England and English territory abroad. The enlargement of the fort at Rysbank was one of the main areas of work. Two towers were added, one round and one D-shaped. In this drawing these can be clearly seen, the new round tower faces the sea and the D shaped tower provides cover for the harbour and the Rysbank itself.
Ultimately Calais fell to the French, who correctly identified the medieval castle as the weak point in the defences.

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