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Atlas Topographique et Militaire

· Maps,History,Geography,Topography,Europe

Glenda and I lived in Annapolis, Maryland from 1997 to 2002. There was a great used and rare bookstore right downtown named Briarwood Books. It was a regular stop for me and over those years I bought some great books there. And other things!

I walked into the shop in October 1997, and as usual I checked out the items in the glass counter at the front of the store. This is where the good stuff was kept. Very common. I saw a pile of linen and said, “what’s that?”. A short time later, I walked out of the shop with a set of 19 French military field maps, all numbered, from the Seven Years War. Only three of the maps were dated: 1758 (2) and 1760. Each map consisted of multiple paper sections, each pasted on its own piece of linen. Every individual piece measures 245mm X 150mm. The maps cover Germany and a swath of Central Europe. Most of the maps do not state the area covered, so I would try and find a large city and then I could figure things out. I found Hamburg, Prague, etc. As it happens quite frequently, son Gregory and daughter-in-law Maria, came to the rescue. He has lived in Germany and the Czech Republic and Maria who is Austrian also lived in the Czech Republic (a wonderful coincidence!) and both are well travelled in Europe. So, we sat down one day and we went through all 19 maps and they were able to place them all.

Map #4, is of Moravia, part of what is now the Czech Republic, and includes Ostrava where Gregory and Maria lived. Looking at the photo of the map you can see the kind of detail provided in the maps. Lots of places, mountains, rivers but no highways! I would think that the battlefield commanders relied heavily on the maps and on the navigators who could advise on how to get from point A to point B. Those maps would fit into a saddlebag quite easily.

This map has the significant cartouche in the series. (a “cartouche” is the frame used to highlight and emphasize pieces of text on a map. The text might be the map's title, its place and date of publication, the maker's name, a dedication, or some explanation of the map's features.) From this we see the publisher of the maps is “par le St. Julien, Paris”. We see that the maps are dedicated to Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina (German: Maria Theresia; 13 May 1717 – 29 November 1780) was the ruler of the Habsburg dominions from 1740 until her death in 1780, and the only female to hold the position.

A smaller cartouche is found on map #1, and it expressly notes that this map covers the theatre of war in Westphalia, in the Western part of Germany.

Map #17 is of Saxony, that is in the eastern part of Germany and its major city is Dresden. The interesting feature of this map is the “Explication” or legend. This is still a feature of maps today, although you might not see “Village avec un Chateau”.

I love this map! Not because it is Bohemia but because even 263 years ago, in the midst of what truly was a world war, during the reign of Louis XV, before the French Revolution, we have St. Julien marketing its services! Ah, eighteenth century capitalism – gotta love it!

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