John Speed. The theatre of the empire of Great Britaine. London, 1627.

 John Speed. The theatre of the empire of Great Britaine. London, 1627.

This was the earliest English attempt at producing an atlas on a grand scale. Historian and cartographer John Speed (1551/2-1629) included not only the first detailed maps of the provinces of Ireland, the first set of county maps consistently attempting to show the boundaries of territorial divisions, and the first truly comprehensive set of English town plans, but also information about antiquarian remains, the sites of famous battles, and the arms of princes and nobles. Perhaps as many as fifty of the seventy-three towns included had not previously been mapped, and about fifty-one of the plans were probably Speed's own work. The maps in the Theatre became the basis for subsequent folio atlases until the mid-eighteenth century. The plates were engraved by Jodocus Hondius.

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