Leo Belgicus: Art of the Lion

These aren’t your typical Rand McNally maps.  “Leo Belgicus” is Latin for “Dutch Maps;” unique characterizations of the Low Countries: Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.  Depicting Europe’s northwestern coastal regions as a lion was first introduced in 1583 by Michael Eitzinger (also Aitzinger or van Aitzing), a cartographer and historian in the services of Emperors Ferdinand II and Maximilian II.  Eitzinger is also known for his novel De Leone Belgico, a history of the Eighty Years’ War, when the Netherlands fought for independence from Spain.  He may have developed the Leo Belgicus concept from the lion figure that adorned many of the coats of arms of Dutch nobility.  How a lion came to represent the Low Countries is a mystery; considering the animals aren’t exactly indigenous to Europe.  I can only surmise it’s because of the power and regal nature that lions exude.  Regardless of Eitzinger’s intent, these are fascinating works of medieval art.

mario-neve07

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Comitatus Hollandiæ denuo forma Leonis

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