F. OPLL, H. KRAUSE, Ch. SONNLECHNER, Austria | April 10, 2017 | 10 am
New Book on Vienna as a fortress in the 16th century:
Drawings of fortresses by Natale, Nicolò and Paolo Angielini form the centre of this study. Five versions of so-called “Angielini” atlases from the 1560s to 1570s have been preserved in European collections – two in Vienna, two in Dresden and one in Karlsruhe. As well as maps of the Kingdom of Hungary, there are also 246 illustrations of 50 fortified towns and places, all of them part of the defensive system against the Ottomans, which covered parts of present-day Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Rumania and the Ukraine.
Three maps of Vienna, contained in the atlases, are of outstanding significance. Two of these maps even show the suburbs to the east of the fortified town and one map the suburb on the other side of the Viennese arm of the Danube. Urban historians of Vienna knew of the maps, particularly the one kept in Vienna. The versions contained in the atlases of Karlsruhe and Dresden on the other hand were less known. The analysis of these three maps formed the major part of the study. The maps seem likely to date to around 1570 or in the early 1570s.
The examination of the maps, the analysis of the plentiful archival material as well as the archaeological evidences excavated by the Stadtarchäologie Wien make it possible to trace Vienna’s transformation into a fortress city in a way that was not possible until now. It was the largest building project in older Viennese history. Its dimensions were only surpassed by the demolition of the old walls and the extension of the town in the second half of the 19th century.
Having fortunately held off the Ottoman attacks of 1529 the medieval town wall from around 1200 had to be rebuilt. The Viennese fortification was transformed into a very early example of the so-called system of bastions, which was originally developed in Italy. The most efficient fortification techniques available in the whole of Europe were implemented in Vienna. Local specialists were employed, but Italians were predominant. By the time Emperor Ferdinand I died, most of the fortification works were finished. Static problems, bad weather conditions and a constant lack of money delayed their completion along the line of the Danube, however. Improvements and transformations in this area had to be postponed.
The construction of the fortress is related to very early maps of Vienna such as the well-known maps by Augustin Hirschvogel and Bonifaz Wolmuet, which are both from 1547 and have been repeatedly analysed.
The study covers many different aspects: Apart from the biographies of the artists and a contextualisation of the work, there are chapters that scrutinize the three maps on Vienna. Environmental aspects and implications of the building play a role, too. Further on there are chapters on the early cartographic depictions of Hungary and Vienna and also an introduction to early modern fortress building in theory and practice. Additionally, there is an appendix analysing all maps and illustrations contained in the five atlases, a register of Italian master fortress builders in the 16th century, a list of 15th and 16th century treatises about fortress building and a register of maps relevant to this study depicting Vienna from the 15th to the 18th century.
Major results of the research on the fortress have been brought into the Wien Geschichte Wiki:
Important sources, among them one map of the Angielinis, are currently to be seen in the exhibition at the Wien Museum entitled “Bird’s eye – Vienna”.