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Nicholas Visscher's Leo Belgicus, 1650. Maps C.9.d.1

Nicolaes Visscher’s ‘Leo Belgicus’ map of 1650 is one of a genre of Dutch printed maps in which the form of a lion is superimposed onto the 17 United Provinces of the Netherlands. The concept of the lion map was developed from the 1580s, and symbolised the emerging national consciousness of the Netherlands after its rebellion against Spanish rule and the creation of the United Provinces in 1581. It spoke of strength and pride, and echoed the presence of the lion in the heraldry of many Dutch towns. The genre foreshadows the serio-comic maps of the nineteenth-century, in which the European nations are shown as figures and animals which are reflective of their political actions.