This excellent, large format map depicts the newly constituted Kingdom of Bavaria, with its expansive territory that extended from Franconia all the way down to the shores of the Lake Garda. This so-called ‘Greater Bavaria’ existed for a brief period, 1806 to 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars, a product of Bavaria’s alliance with France.
The quality of the engraving and design is impressive and the map is highly detailed, with all the political divisions outlined in bright and beautiful original colours. The ‘Erklärung der Ziechen’, or legend, in the lower left explains the symbols that identify cities and towns of various sizes; forts; post offices; abbeys; castles; noble seats; as well as roads of different levels of importance.
The map was composed by Conrad (sometimes: Konrad) Mannert (1756 - 1834), a historian and geographer, who by this time was a professor at Ludwig Maximilian University. Mannert was given access to the very best geographical and political sources from the Bavarian government while devising the map. The present 1808 edition represents the first issue of the map, which was published by the venerable firm of Homann Heirs of Nuremberg (founded by Johann Baptist Homann in 1701). Subsequent editions, depicting Bavaria’s continually revised boundaries, were issued by Homann Heirs in 1811 and 1813; with further editions issued by Christoph Fembo, that firm’s successor, in 1816, 1817, 1819 and 1824. While Mannert’s map sequence of Bavaria was held in high regard and appears to have been commercially successful, the survival rate of such wall maps is low, and examples of all of the issues are today quite scale.
Historical Context: The Brief Existence of ‘Greater Bavaria’.
Prior to the Napoleonic Wars, Bavaria was a duchy and electorate of the Holy Roman Empire. While its territory was extensive, it was much smaller than the today’s state of Bavaria. Indeed, many places that are now key parts of Bavaria, such as Nuremberg, Augsburg, Würzburg and Regensburg were then separate entities.
During the early period of the Napoleonic Wars, when French armies were romping across parts of Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, many of the still-free German states had a big decision to make. Siding against Napoleon would place them at odds with Prussia and Austria, let alone their powerful foreign allies, namely Britain. Yet, supporting France seemed like the safest short-term option, even though Napoleon had a habit of swallowing up his ‘allies’.
In 1803, under the influence of Bavaria’s Francophile Chief Minister, Maximilian Josef Garnerin, Count von Montgelas, Bavaria threw its lot in with France. There was a precedent for this, as Bavaria had often, in past conflicts, been allied with France against its ancient nemesis Austria.
Napoleon immediately awarded Bavaria for its support, granting it possession of the bishoprics of Würzburg, Bamberg, Augsburg and Freising.
Following a series of French victories in Central Europe, the Treaty of Pressburg (December 26, 1805) and the treaties creating the Confederation of the Rhine (July 12, 1806), hailed momentous changes for Bavaria and the entire region. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved and Bavaria was elevated to becoming a kingdom, with its Price-Elector Maximilian IV Joseph becoming King Maximilian I. Moreover, while Bavaria was required to cede Würzburg and the Duchy of Berg to France; she gained the great city of Nuremberg, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Lindau and other lesser areas, giving her the massive territory represented on the present map.
However, in 1810, the wake of the Treaty of Schönbrunn (1809), Bavaria was compelled to cede Southern Tyrol, plus some districts to Württemberg, but in compensation received the Innviertel, Hausruck, Bayreuth and Regensburg.
By 1813, following Napoleon’s crushing defeat at the Battle of the Nations, near Leipzig, the Bavarian government cleverly decided to change sides. At the Congress of Vienna (1814-5), which ended the Napoleonic Wars, Bavaria had to cede the traditional Hapsburg lands under its control to Austria, being the Innviertal, Vorarlberg and Tirol; however, it was permitted keep all of its wartime gains within Germany, plus Würzburg. This gave Bavaria borders very similar to those of today’s state and, in this way, the Congress gave birth to modern Bavaria.
The present 1808 first edition of Mannert’s map of Bavaria is rare. We can locate institutional examples only at the Bibliothèque nationale de France and at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich). Moreover, we have not been able to trace any sales records for this edition from the last generation.
References: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek: Mapp. XI,49; Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans, GE C-10960.