This bird's eye view of the town and castle of Guines, France, is held in the Cotton Manuscripts collection. The annotations in French and Spanish attribute it 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 a place of great strategic importance. At the time England was under threat of invasion from French and Spanish forces, following the signing of a treaty between Francis I of France and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. Henry VIII began to divert large sums of money to Calais for work on fortifications. Works at Guines were carrid out between 1539 and 1541.
This view does not include the two trefoil shaped bulwarks that were proposed and built by Richard Lee, a mason 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.
- Full title:
- Plan of the town and castle of Guisnes (Pas-de-Calais)
- Parchment / Ink / Watercolour
- Anonymous Portuguese Engineer
- Usage terms
Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.
- Held by
- British Library
- Cotton MS Augustus I ii 23
- Article by:
- Kelly Presutti
- Transforming topography, Military and maritime, Town and city
Kelly Presutti explores how topography was deployed as an instrument of state formation in Louis Garneray's Vues des Côtes de France.
- Article by:
- Anthony Gerbino
- Military and maritime, Science and nature
The first important transformation of English medieval design practice occurred in a military context, during the reign of Henry VIII. Pioneering plans, surveys and designs by leading Tudor engineers are housed in the British Library, particularly within Sir Robert Cotton’s manuscript collection. Anthony Gerbino, Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Manchester, explores further.