Georg Braun

A Catholic priest and learned theologian from Cologne, Georg Braun served as the editor of the Civitates orbis terrarum, both compiling its images and penning its textual contents. Like Hogenberg, Braun also hailed from a family of artists, his father likely being the Netherlandish glass-maker, Tilmann Bruin, who emigrated to Cologne. Dissimilar to Hogenberg’s Lutheranism, however, Braun enjoyed his status in the nominally Catholic Cologne as a priest, going on to publish theological treatises, hold ecclesiastical appointments in Catholic academe, and garner the trust and commission of the Pope and Archbishop of Cologne. [1]

Braun’s scholarly humanism motivated both his collaboration with Hogenberg on the Civitates and his approach to its creation. At the heart of the humanist impulse of the Civitates, as Braun described it in his introduction to the third book, was its readers’ acquisition of “the full and total knowledge of the world.”[2] It was in this Erasmian humanist spirit that Braun embraced “religious tolerance and…put[] aside political, cultural, and theological differences for the quest of knowledge.”[3] The Catholic priest collaborated with his Lutheran counterpart, Hogenberg, in all six volumes of the Civitates and drew upon a wide network of “scholars, artists, geographers, publishers, merchants, and statesmen” to enrich the Civitates with a wide and richly informed vision of the world’s cities.[4] The Civitates thus sees Braun speaking to the “humanist quest for universal knowledge” in the text accompanying Hogenberg’s engravings which describe the atlas’ and each city view’s cultural significance.[5]



[1] 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), 61.

[2] Robey, 58.

[3] Robey, 61.

[4] Robey, 25.

[5] Robey, 74.

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