Leo Beligcus and the War for Liberation

Leo Belgicus, the allegorical representation of the Low Countries as a lion, was a popular image during the Eighty Years War for independence from the Spanish. Leo Belgicus first appeared in Michaël von Aitzing’s Novus de Leone Belgico, published in 1583. For the next century, Dutch mapmakers often either modified Aitzing’s representation for their own purposes, or featured the lion as a symbol in a map cartouche or atlas title page. Generally, the image of the lion was meant to instill a feeling of national pride in the Dutch viewer.