Belgium as a Lion


In the 16th and 17th centuries, maps of the Low Countries frequently were drawn in the form of a lion, known by its Latin designation, Leo Belgicus. The “Belgian” lion usually included all of the 17 provinces variously referred to as the Netherlands or the Low Countries, even though the seven provinces of the north broke away in 1581 to form the Dutch Republic. Symbols of Dutch patriotism, these maps often appeared in 17th-century Dutch paintings, hanging on the walls of inns or private homes, as in Jan Vermeer’s The Painter and His Studio. The maker of this particular map was Jodocus Hondius (1563-1612), a Flemish cartographer and engraver who settled in Amsterdam in about 1593 and established a business that produced globes and the first large maps of the world. The map is oriented with west at the top. North is on the right side, placing the city of Brussels on the lion’s left shoulder and that of Amsterdam near the crest of his back, above his left foot.

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Title in Original Language

Leo Belgicus

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Physical Description

1 map ; 43 x 56 centimeters

Last updated: September 29, 2014