MERIAN, Matthaeus (1593-1650) and Martin ZEILER (1589-1661). Topographia Palatinatus Rheni et vicinarum regionum : das ist Beschreibung und eigentliche Abbildung der vornemsten Stätte und Plätz der Untern Pfalz am Rhein. Frankfurt: Matthias Merian, 1645 [but 1660].
Folio (12 2/8 x 8 inches). Engraved title-page (laid down), sectional title-page. 3 double-page engraved maps of Palatinatus Rheni, Lothingaria, and Savoye, 37 fine double-page engraved plates of views and plans, 24 full-page plates of views and plans. Modern vellum backed 16th-century red and black letterpress paper boards, vellum corners.
Second edition. A comprehensive and beautifully illustrated description of the Rhenish Palatinate from Merian and Zeiller's "Topographiae Germaniae" series (16 volumes 1641-1654). Frederick V (1610-23), the husband of the British Princess Elizabeth (daughter of James I), "was a man of boundless self- confidence and ambition, and when he took the crown of Bohemia, offered him by the unsurgents, the Thirty Years' War broke out. The battle at Weissen Berg, near Prague (1620), cost Frederick not only the "Winter Kingdom" but also his electoral Palatinate, which together with the electoral dignity and the Upper Palatinate was transferred in 1623 to Maximilian of Bavaria. The entire burden of the war rested for decades upon the Palatinate; the famous library of Heidelberg was presented to the pope by Tilly, who had captured the city in 1622. At the Peace of Westphalia Frederick's son, Charles Frederick (1648-80), received back the Rhenish Palatinate undiminished, but had to give up the Upper Palatinate and be content with a newly-created electoral vote. In spite of his diminished resources, he raised the country materially and intellectually to a highly-flourishing condition. In contrast with his predecessors he permitted the three great creeds of Germany to exist side by side, and received colonists from all lands without questioning them as to their religion. Church and schools found in him a zealous patron: the University of Heidelberg, deserted since 1630, was again opened by him in 1652, and renowned scholars such as Pufendorf were appointed to the professorships. In the wars between Germany and France he remained loyal to the emperor; as a consequence his lands suffered severely from the devastation of the French soldiers in the Wars for Reunion. With his incompetent son, Charles Louis (1680-88), the Palatinate-Simmern line became extinct" (Catholic Encyclopedia online)..
Born in Basel, Switzerland and a pupil of Jacob van der Heyden, Merian joined the Frankfurt publishing house of Johann Theodor de Bry in 1616 and, the following year, married de Bry's daughter Maria Magdalena. He became one of the most prominent members of the publishing family, known throughout Europe for his engravings of cityscapes and landscapes, his scientific books, and achieved his greatest acclaim as head of the family publishing house following the death of his father-in-law in 1623. He rapidly and almost single-handedly built up the house to become one of the most important in Europe, etching most of the plates himself until about 1645, when he increasingly relied upon the help of a growing staff of assistants and pupils among them Wenceslaus Hollar, Rudolf and Conrad Meyer of Zurich, and his sons-in-law Christoph Le Blon and Melchior Kusel. After his death in 1650, Mathaeus' sons, Mathaeus and Caspar continued his monumental "Topographia" series of Europe. Brunet 1529; Graesse VII 509; Wüthrich IV, 26. Catalogued by Kate Hunter