Frans Hogenberg

A South Netherlandish engraver by trade specializing in map engravings, Frans Hogenberg served as both the visionary of and the principal engraver for the Civitates orbis terrarum.[1] He was born in Mechelen in present-day Belgium, and went on to follow in the footsteps of his father, also an engraver, having likely learned the skill from his stepfather.[2] Hogenberg’s career saw him voyage to England, where he produced portraits of members of the Elizabethan court,[3] including one of Queen Elizabeth I herself (c. 1568), as well as prints of the London Exchange.



By 1570, Hogenberg found himself in Cologne, a Catholic city in the Reformation-era Holy Roman Empire which tolerated the presence of discreet Protestants like Hogenberg fleeing religious persecution from the Low Countries.[4] It was in Cologne where he remained until his death in 1590, having established a prosperous engraving workshop in the city and peacefully coexisting as a Lutheran with his Catholic and more radical Protestant neighbors.[5]

Before working on the Civitates orbis terrarum, Hogenberg gained experience engraving the maps of Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum orbis terrarum (1570), which has been seen as the “first real atlas” and whose 53 chorographic depictions garnered much acclaim.[6] It was likely owing to his successful engravings in the Theatrum that Hogenberg launched into a project of similar scope and purpose as the Civitates, whose global city views he considered a supplement to the Theatrum’s illustrations of countries around the world. Hogenberg’s further engraving efforts saw him produce maps and images for Michael von Aitsinger’s De Leone Belgico (1583) and depict Reformation-era political and religious conflict in a series of engravings known as Scenes of the Religious and Civil Wars from the History of the Netherlands, France and England from 1559.[7]


[1] Jef Schaeps, s.v. “Hogenberg, Frans,” in The Oxford Companion to the Book (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010):

[2] Jessica Chiswick Robey, “From the City Witnessed to the Community Dreamed: The Civitates Orbis Terrarum and the Circle of Abraham Ortelius and Joris Hoefnagel” (PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2006), 59,

[3] Schaeps, “Hogenberg, Frans.”

[4] Robey, “City Witnessed,” 59.

[5] R. Voges, “Power, Faith, and Pictures: Frans Hogenberg’s Account of the Beeldenstorm,” BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review 131, no. 1 (2006),

[6] Johannes Keuning, “The ‘Civitates’ of Braun and Hogenberg,” Imago Mundi 17 (1963): 41,

[7] Robey, “City Witnessed,” 60.

No items found.