Ceuta: A Travelogue of Chorographic Views

The collection of Ceuta chorographies transitions over time from more traditional, almost travelogue chorographies, in the 16th and early 17th century to works more focused on aerial views by the late 17th and early 18th century. A Braun and Hogenberg view from 1572 of “Septa”' begins this narrative. The view remains constant for multiple iterations of the chorography through 1640 (colored versions, reprints, etc). A northern, elevated view, it focuses mostly on Ceuta itself as well as some of the surrounding area. This view’s influence can also be seen in the early 17th century chorography by Willem Jansz Blaeu, which copies the B&H view almost exactly. However, it includes some updated ships sailing around the city, and titles the city “Ceuta'' instead of “Septa.” A noticeable shift occurs in the collection when the maps begin to depict Moorish sieges of the city in the late 17th century. The focus of the collection, a 1695 chorography by Clemens Paelio, functions as the liminal work. Following the Braun and Hogenberg chorographies and the Willem Jansz Blaeu Braun and Hogenberg-inspired piece, Paelio’s chorography looks on Ceuta from an elevated northern position. However, it includes many changes. Paelio angles the view more downward to expose the city center and zooms in on Ceuta to reveal specific buildings as well as siege structures. In this sense, the chorography’s focus, the siege, prompts a change in style from the more travelogue-type Braun and Hogenberg works. A view by Thomas Bowles II in 1721 produced in London completes the shift from the Braun and Hogenberg chorographies. The map again focuses on depicting the siege, but looks at the city from the west. Moreover, it stylistically changes from the Paelio chorography by depicting both the city buildings and the Moorish and Spanish forces in more detail compared to Paelio’s stick-like figures. The creator of the map claims to have drawn it from “an original brought from thence,” so there is reason to believe that this view’s origin exists closer in time frame to the Paelio work as well.By the 1740s, the chorographies transition into more aerial views, from which the influence of the Braun and Hogenberg and Paelio maps have vanished. For example, the circa 1740 map from the British Library King’s Topographical Collection views Ceuta on a north-south axis, but from a completely top-down view. It also elevates the viewpoint compared to the previous views, but still labels and details Moorish positions. Similarly, a plan from 1779 by Sr. Longchamps utilizes a top-down city plan to depict Ceuta even in the absence of Moorish besiegers. This set of maps completes the transition from the travelogue Braun and Hogenberg maps to the siege and city plans of the 18th century, with the Paelio map acting as the liminal link between the two.

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