Abraham Ortelius (/ɔːrˈtiːliəs/; also Ortels, Orthellius, Wortels; 14 April 1527 – 28 June 1598) was a Brabantian cartographer and geographer, conventionally recognized as the creator of the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World). Ortelius is often considered one of the founders of the Netherlandish school of cartography and one of the most notable figures of the school in its golden age (approximately 1570s–1670s). The publication of his atlas in 1570 is often considered as the official beginning of the Golden Age of Netherlandish cartography. He is also believed to be the first person to imagine that the continents were joined together before drifting to their present positions.
Abraham Ortelius by Peter Paul Rubens, 1633
|Born||14 April 1527|
|Died||28 June 1598 (aged 71)|
Antwerp, Spanish Netherlands
|Known for||Creator of the first modern atlas; proposing the idea of Continental drift|
Ortelius was born in the city of Antwerp, which was then in the Habsburg Netherlands (modern-day Belgium). The Orthellius family were originally from Augsburg, a Free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1535, the family had fallen under suspicion of Protestantism. Following the death of Ortelius's father, his uncle Jacobus van Meteren returned from religious exile in England to take care of Ortelius. Abraham remained close to his cousin Emanuel van Meteren who would later move to London. In 1575 he was appointed geographer to the king of Spain, Philip II, on the recommendation of Arias Montanus, who vouched for his orthodoxy.
He traveled extensively in Europe, and is specifically known to have traveled throughout the Seventeen Provinces; in southern, western, northern, and eastern Germany (e.g., 1560, 1575–1576); France (1559–1560); England and Ireland (1576), and Italy (1578, and perhaps twice or thrice between 1550 and 1558).
Beginning as a map-engraver, in 1547 he entered the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke as an illuminator of maps. He supplemented his income trading in books, prints, and maps, and his journeys included yearly visits to the Frankfurt book and print fair where he met Gerardus Mercator in 1554. In 1560, however, when travelling with Mercator to Trier, Lorraine, and Poitiers, he seems to have been attracted, largely by Mercator's influence, towards the career of a scientific geographer.
He died in Antwerp.
In 1564 he published his first map, Typus Orbis Terrarum, an eight-leaved wall map of the world, on which he identified the Regio Patalis with Locach as a northward extension of the Terra Australis, reaching as far as New Guinea. This map subsequently appeared in reduced form in the Terrarum (the only extant copy is in now at Basel University Library). He also published a two-sheet map of Egypt in 1565, a plan of the Brittenburg castle on the coast of the Netherlands in 1568, an eight-sheet map of Asia in 1567, and a six-sheet map of Spain before the appearance of his atlas.
In England Ortelius's contacts included William Camden, Richard Hakluyt, Thomas Penny, puritan controversialist William Charke, and Humphrey Llwyd, who would contribute the map of England and Wales to Ortelius's 1573 edition of the Theatrum.
In 1578 he laid the basis of a critical treatment of ancient geography by his Synonymia geographica (issued by the Plantin press at Antwerp and republished in expanded form as Thesaurus geographicus in 1587 and again expanded in 1596. In this last edition, Ortelius considers the possibility of continental drift, a hypothesis proved correct only centuries later).
In 1596 he received a presentation from Antwerp city, similar to that afterwards bestowed on Rubens. His death on 28 June 1598, and his burial in the church of St. Michael's Abbey, Antwerp, were marked by public mourning. The inscription on his tombstone reads: Quietis cultor sine lite, uxore, prole ("served quietly, without accusation, wife, and offspring").
On 20 May 1570, Gilles Coppens de Diest at Antwerp issued Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the "first modern atlas" (of 53 maps).[Note 1] Three Latin editions of this (besides a Dutch, a French and a German edition) appeared before the end of 1572; twenty-five editions came out before Ortelius's death in 1598; and several others were published subsequently, for the atlas continued to be in demand until about 1612. Most of the maps were admittedly reproductions (a list of 87 authors is given in the first Theatrum by Ortelius himself, growing to 183 names in the 1601 Latin edition), and many discrepancies of delineation or nomenclature occur. Errors, of course, abound, both in general conceptions and in detail; thus South America is initially very faulty in outline, but corrected in the 1587 French edition, and in Scotland the Grampians lie between the Forth and the Clyde; but, taken as a whole, this atlas with its accompanying text was a monument of rare erudition and industry. Its immediate precursor and prototype was a collection of thirty-eight maps of European lands, and of Asia, Africa, Tartary and Egypt, gathered together by the wealth and enterprise, and through the agents, of Ortelius's friend and patron, Gillis Hooftman (1521–1581), lord of Cleydael and Aertselaer: most of these were printed in Rome, eight or nine only in the Southern Netherlands.
In 1573, Ortelius published seventeen supplementary maps under the title Additamentum Theatri Orbis Terrarum. Four more Additamenta were to follow, the last one appearing in 1597. He also had a keen interest and formed a fine collection of coins, medals and antiques, and this resulted in the book (also in 1573, published by Philippe Galle of Antwerp) Deorum dearumque capita ... ex Museo Ortelii ("Heads of the gods and goddesses... from the Ortelius Museum"; reprinted in 1582, 1602, 1612, 1680, 1683 and finally in 1699 by Gronovius, Thesaurus Graecarum Antiquitatum ("Treasury of Greek Antiquities", vol. vii).
The Theatrum Orbis Terrarum inspired a six volume work entitled Civitates orbis terrarum edited by Georg Braun and illustrated by Frans Hogenberg with the assistance of Ortelius himself, who visited England to see his friend John Dee in Mortlake in 1577 and Braun tells of Ortelius putting pebbles in cracks in Temple Church, Bristol, being crushed by the vibration of the bells in the description on the back of 'Brightovve' Map 2, Third Edition 1581
In 1579 Ortelius brought out his Nomenclator Ptolemaicus and started his Parergon (a series of maps illustrating ancient history, sacred and secular). He also published Itinerarium per nonnullas Galliae Belgicae partes (at the Plantin press in 1584, and reprinted in 1630, 1661 in Hegenitius, Itin. Frisio-Hoil., in 1667 by Verbiest, and finally in 1757 in Leuven), a record of a journey in Belgium and the Rhineland made in 1575. In 1589 he published Maris Pacifici, the first dedicated map of the Pacific to be printed. Among his last works were an edition of Caesar (C. I. Caesaris omnia quae extant, Leiden, Raphelingen, 1593), and the Aurei saeculi imago, sive Germanorum veterum vita, mores, ritus et religio. (Philippe Galle, Antwerp, 1596). He also aided Welser in his edition of the Peutinger Table in 1598.
Contrary to popular belief, Abraham Ortelius, who had no children, never lived at the Mercator-Orteliushuis (Kloosterstraat 11–17, Antwerpen), but lived at his sister's house (Kloosterstraat 33–35, Antwerpen).
Originals of Ortelius's maps are popular collectors' items and often sell for tens of thousands of dollars. Facsimiles of his maps are also available from many retailers. A map he made of North and South America is also included in the world's largest commercially available jigsaw puzzle, which is of four world maps. This puzzle is made by Ravensburger, measures 6 feet (1.8 m) × 9 feet (2.7 m), and has over 18,000 pieces.
Ortelius was the first to underline the geometrical similarity between the coasts of America and Europe-Africa, and to propose continental drift as an explanation. Kious described Ortelius's thoughts in this way:
Abraham Ortelius in his work Thesaurus Geographicus … suggested that the Americas were "torn away from Europe and Africa … by earthquakes and floods" and went on to say: "The vestiges of the rupture reveal themselves, if someone brings forward a map of the world and considers carefully the coasts of the three [continents]."
Ortelius's observations of continental juxtaposition and his proposal of rupture and separation were repeated by Alfred Wegener who published his hypothesis of continental drift in 1912 and in following years. Because his publications were widely available in German and English, and because he adduced geological support for the idea, Wegener is credited by most geologists as the first to recognize the possibility of continental drift. During the 1960s geophysical and geological evidence for seafloor spreading at mid-oceanic ridges became increasingly compelling to geologists (e.g. Hess, 1960) and finally established continental drift as an ongoing global mechanism. After more than three centuries, Ortelius's supposition of continental drift was proven correct.
Atlant was the first atlas of the world in the Slovene language. It was published three centuries after the publication of the first Slovene book (1550), Catechismus, by Primož Trubar, and the publication of the first atlas ever, Theatre of the World (1570), by Abraham Ortelius. It was a means of placing Slovenes and the Slovene language on a world map. It consisted of six sets of three sheets, published in 1869, 1871, 1872, 1874, 1875, and 1877, altogether 18 maps. The geographical names were prepared by the lawyer Matej Cigale (1819-1889). A number of foreign names were translated into the Slovene language or Slovenised for the first time.Continental drift
Continental drift is the theory that the Earth's continents have moved over geologic time relative to each other, thus appearing to have "drifted" across the ocean bed. The speculation that continents might have 'drifted' was first put forward by Abraham Ortelius in 1596. The concept was independently and more fully developed by Alfred Wegener in 1912, but his theory was rejected by many for lack of any motive mechanism. Arthur Holmes later proposed mantle convection for that mechanism. The idea of continental drift has since been subsumed by the theory of plate tectonics, which explains that the continents move by riding on plates of the Earth's lithosphere.Filippo Pigafetta
Filippo Pigafetta (1533–1604) was an Italian mathematician and explorer.
Pigafetta's Relatione del reame del Congo (1591) was translated into English, Latin (as Regnum Congo), French, Dutch and German. In 1608 he published an Italian version of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of Abraham Ortelius.Frank Bursley Taylor
Frank Bursley Taylor (1860 – 1938) was an American geologist, the son of a lawyer in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was a Harvard dropout who studied privately financed in large part by his wealthy father. He became a specialist in the glacial geology of the Great Lakes, and proposed to the Geological Society of America on December 29, 1908 that the continents moved on the Earth's surface, that a shallow region in the Atlantic marks where Africa and South America were once joined, and that the collisions of continents could uplift mountains. His ideas were based on his studies on mountain ranges as the Andes, Rockies, Alps and Himalayas, concluding that these mountains could have been formed only as a result of titanic lateral pressures that thrust the earth's surface upward.
His theory was either ignored or opposed by other scientists of his time. He wrote a total ten papers on the subject of continental drift Taylor's ideas about continental drift were independently discovered by Alfred Wegener in Germany three years later, in January 1912, and the theory of continental drift is historically often referred to as the "Taylor-Wegener hypothesis," although Taylor himself disapproved of the hyphenated name. But even with Wegener's extensive extra research the idea did not achieve acceptance until the 1960s when a vast weight of evidence had accrued via Harry Hess, Fred Vine and Drummond Matthews.
In a later paper he proposed that this occurred by their being dragged towards the equator by tidal forces during the hypothesized capture of the moon, resulting in "general crustal creep" toward the equator. The initial key to his proposal, the complementary shapes of the continental masses, had been observed as early as the 16th century by Abraham Ortelius, but had lacked a credible driving force. His own proposition was that the moon was captured by the Earth's gravity during the Cretaceous period 100 million years ago, and came so close to the earth that its tidal pull dragged the continents toward the Equator. This lacked evidence, thus undermining the credibility of the continental drift observation. He had proposed that the continents ploughed through the ocean floors towards the equator, wrinkling their Equator-facing fronts to produce the Himalayas and Alps. Although his proposed mechanism was wrong, he was the first to come to the insight that one of the effects of continental motion would be the formation of mountains due to the collision of continental plates.Gemma Frisius
Gemma Frisius (; born Jemme Reinerszoon; December 9, 1508 – May 25, 1555), was a Dutch physician, mathematician, cartographer, philosopher, and instrument maker. He created important globes, improved the mathematical instruments of his day and applied mathematics in new ways to surveying and navigation. Gemma's rings are named after him. Along with Gerardus Mercator and Abraham Ortelius, Frisius is often considered one of the founders of the Netherlandish school of cartography and significantly helped lay the foundations for the school's golden age (approximately 1570s–1670s).Giacomo Gastaldi
Giacomo Gastaldi (c. 1500 in Villafranca Piemonte – October 1566 in Venice) was an Italian cartographer, astronomer and engineer of the 16th century. Gastaldi (sometimes referred to as Jacopo or Iacobo) began his career as an engineer, serving the Venetian Republic in that capacity until the fourth decade of the sixteenth century. From about 1544 he turned his attention entirely to mapmaking, and his work represents several important turning points in cartographic development.According to the author Philip Burden, Gastaldi’s 1548 edition of Ptolemy's Geography , "was the most comprehensive atlas produced between Martin Waldseemüller's Geographia of 1513, and the Abraham Ortelius Theatrum of 1570,” because it included regional maps of the Americas. Yet Gastaldi’s detailed attention to the new world was not his only contribution to the development of map production. The Ptolemy edition of 1548 was also an innovation in that Gastaldi and his publisher reduced the size of the volume, thereby making the first ‘pocket’ atlas. Finally, Gastaldi’s work also indicated a shift in cartographical technique via its use of the copper engraving. Prior to this period, most maps had been printed from woodcuts; by using a copper plate rather than a woodblock to print, the engraver could render a much higher level of finesse and detail.Gastaldi was described by one contemporary as the ‘most excellent Piedmontese cosmographer.' As a cartographer, Gastaldi worked for various publishers, such as Nicolo Bascarini and Giovanbattista Pedrezano. But he also occasionally accepted private commissions, for example that from Venice’s Council of Ten, who invited him to fresco maps of Asia and Africa on the walls of a room in the Doge's PalaceAmong his other works is the Asiae Nova Descriptio, engraved in copper in 1574.Guðbrandur Þorláksson
Guðbrandur Þorláksson (or Gudbrandur Thorlaksson) (1541 – July 20, 1627) was an Icelandic mathematician, cartographer and clergyman.
He studied at the cathedral school in Hólar and then at the University of Copenhagen. He and was successively rector of the school at Skálholt and minister at historic Breiðabólstaður in Vesturhóp. The first laws of Iceland had been written at Breiðabólstaður. The bar association of Iceland has erected a memorial by the site.Guðbrandur Þorláksson was Bishop of Hólar from 1571 until his death on July 20, 1627. During his time as bishop, Guðbrandur edited and published at least 80 books, including the Bible in Icelandic and the Icelandic Lawbook or legal code. He is also noted for having drawn the first good map of Iceland, published in Abraham Ortelius' Theatrum orbis terrarum in 1590. He had at least one child, a daughter named Steinunn, born in 1571 to Guðrún Gísladóttir.Guðbrandur Þorláksson is pictured on the now obsolete Icelandic 50 króna banknote.Historical atlas
A historical atlas is an atlas that includes historical maps and charts depicting the evolving geopolitical landscape. They are helpful in understanding historical context, the scope and scale of historical events and historical subjects (such as the expansion of the Roman Empire), and macro-history. Some historical atlases try to present the entire history of the world, such as the Historical Atlas of the World, while others are more specialised, for only one time period or location, such as the Historical Atlas of the American West or The Historical Atlas of China. They may also include historical photographs and explanatory text or essays.
The first known historical atlas was the Parergon by Abraham Ortelius in 1579, which was a supplement to the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. William R. Shepherd produced a well-known Historical Atlas in 1911.Psychiatrist Colin McEvedy was one of the first to produce historical atlases using the same base map throughout many time periods, in his Penguin atlas of history series, which has become common in modern atlases. Recently, historical atlases have been made available online.Jakob Monau
Jakob Monau (4 February 1546; Breslau – 6 October 1603; Breslau), also known as Jacobus Monavius or Iacobus Monaw, was a polymath (lawyer, linguist and poet) and leader of the Reformed Protestant faction after Johannes Crato von Krafftheim's death.
He was a student at St. Elizabeth and Mary Magdalene Gymnasium in Breslau. Thanks to patrons who supported him financially, he matriculated at the University of Leipzig in the summer of 1562. Like his early mentors Joachim Camerarius and Victorinus Strigel, Monau initially identified with the Philippist Lutheran faction although, like many Philippists, in time he moved toward a Reformed Protestant theological position. After 1569 he moved to Frankfurt (Oder), Wittenberg, Heidelberg, Tübingen and then again to Wittenberg. In winter 1573, he was to have enrolled at the University of Jena and appears to have enrolled at the University of Padua later that year. In 1574 he was in Geneva and in 1575 again in Heidelberg.
Despite his great learning, he was not favored in Breslau because of his inclination toward the Reformed faith. In 1590 he was Councilor of Duke Frederick of Legnica and Brzeg, while he continued to reside in Breslau. He was a friend of Johannes Crato von Krafftheim and a member of Breslau intellectual circles. By his second marriage, he was related to the families Vogt, Pucher, Holzbecher und Heugel. He had three sons, including Frederick Monau with whom the family line died out. His brother was the noted imperial physician Peter Monau.
Together with his friend Wacker von Wackenfels he convinced Abraham Ortelius to create a map of Utopia. Ortelius dedicated his map of historic Germany to him.Luiz Jorge de Barbuda
Luiz Jorge de Barbuda (1564 (?)-1613 (?)) was a Portuguese cartographer. It is believed that he was the person known under the Latinized name Ludovicus Georgius, the creator of the influential map of China, published by Abraham Ortelius in 1584 in his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.During his life the cartographer was known under the Portuguese name Luiz Jorge, or its Hispanicized version Luis Jorge. Later Spanish writers would "disambiguate" his name using the place of his origin, calling him Luis Jorge de la Barbuda.Even if Szcześniak's identification of Ludovicus Georgius as Luiz Jorge de Barbuda is correct, the birth date given by Szcześniak may not be in agreement with the biographical points given in Maroto & Piñeiro 2006. According to Maroto and Piñeiro, Luis Jorge was hired by Philip II of Spain in 1582 as the "master of making navigation charts and world maps" (maestro de hacer cartas de marear y cosmographias).Marcel van den Broecke
Marcel Peter René van den Broecke (born 25 May 1942) is a Dutch specialist in phonetics and cartography, and more particularly the historical maps of Abraham Ortelius.Marcus Jordanus
Marcus Jordanus (* ca. 1531 in Krempe; † 1595 in Krempe) was a Danish cartographer and mathematician.
Jordanus studied at the University of Copenhagen, where in 1550 he was appointed Professor of Mathematics. Among other things, he gave lectures on geodesy and dealt with the geography of Ptolemy. In 1552, he published a map with the printer Hans Vingaard in Copenhagen. This was one of the first printed maps of the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, and Abraham Ortelius referred to it in his Catalogus Cartographorum. The map is now lost, and no copies survive.Maris Pacifici
Maris Pacifici is more accurately named the Descriptio Maris Pacifici, Description of the Pacific Ocean. It was the first dedicated map of the Pacific to be printed and is considered an important advancement in cartography.
This map was drawn by Abraham Ortelius in 1589, based upon a map of America from the same year that was drawn by Frans Hogenberg. Some details of the map may have been influenced by a 1568 description of Japan in a manuscript by Vaz Dourado, rather than a map, hence its peculiar shape.
The land mass illustrated to the south of all of the Pacific and South America is a representation of Terra Australis.Meridian of Antwerp
The meridian of Antwerp is one of several prime meridians that have been used for geographic referencing. It runs through the city of Antwerp, in Flanders, Belgium, and formed the 0° longitude upon which some Belgian maps were based.
This city is also where Abraham Ortelius published the first modern atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, first printed in 1570.
The meridian of Antwerp is listed in the Prutenic Tables, primarily as a reference for calculating and recording eclipses from 1554 to 1576.Ortelius oval projection
The Ortelius oval projection is a map projection used for world maps largely in the late 16th and early 17th century. It is neither conformal nor equal-area but instead offers a compromise presentation. It is similar in structure to a pseudocylindrical projection but does not qualify as one because the meridians are not equally spaced along the parallels. The projection's first known use was by Battista Agnese (flourished 1535–1564) around 1540, although whether the construction method was truly identical to Ortelius's or not is unclear because of crude drafting and printing. The front hemisphere is identical to Petrus Apianus's 1524 globular projection.The projection reached a wide audience via the surpassingly popular Typus Orbis Terrarum of Abraham Ortelius beginning in 1570. The projection (and indeed Ortelius's maps) were widely copied by other mapmakers such as Giovanni Pietro Maffei, Fernando de Solis, and Matteo Ricci.Qalhat
The ancient city of Qalhat, or Galhat (Arabic: قلهات) (in the map of Abraham Ortelius, it named as Calha), is located just over 20 km north of Sur, in the Ash Sharqiyah Region of northeastern Oman.Theatrum Orbis Terrarum
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Latin: [tʰɛˈaːtrʊm ˈɔrbɪs tɛˈrːaːrʊm], "Theatre of the World") is considered to be the first true modern atlas. Written by Abraham Ortelius, strongly encouraged by Gillis Hooftman and originally printed on May 20, 1570, in Antwerp, it consisted of a collection of uniform map sheets and sustaining text bound to form a book for which copper printing plates were specifically engraved. The Ortelius atlas is sometimes referred to as the summary of sixteenth-century cartography. The publication of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570) is often considered as the official beginning of the Golden Age of Netherlandish cartography (approximately 1570s–1670s).Thomas Seget
Thomas Seget (Seton?, 1569 – Amsterdam, 1627) was a Scottish poet who wrote in Latin.Seget is first recorded as a convert from Calvinism to Catholicism, attending the Scots College at Louvain in 1596, but did not stay long. Carrying a letter of recommendation from Justus Lipsius, the Flemish humanist, he travelled to Italy where he met Galileo in 1599. He travelled further through Europe, making the acquaintances among others of Kepler in Prague. He also corresponded with the Polish poet Szymon Szymonowic, and other Polish connections included his stay at the University of Altdorf 1614–1616 at the same time as the Socinian activity there around Samuel Przypkowski.His album amicorum, held at the Vatican Library, contains inscriptions by several distinguished literary men and scientists: among them, Justus Lipsius, Abraham Ortelius, Gian Vincenzo Pinelli, Erycius Puteanus, Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paolo Sarpi and, most notably, Galileo.Tortuga Bay
Tortuga Bay is located on the Santa Cruz Island, about a 20-minute water-taxi ride from the main water taxi dock in Puerto Ayora. Theres is also a walking path, which is 1.55 miles (2,490 m) and is open from six in the morning to six in the evening. Visitors must sign in and out at the start of the path with the Galapagos Park Service office. Tortuga Bay has a gigantic, perfectly preserved beach that is forbidden to swimmers and is preserved for the wildlife where many marine iguanas, galapagos crabs and birds are seen dotted along the volcanic rocks. There is a separate cove where you can swim where it is common to view white tip reef sharks swimming in groups & on occasion tiger sharks There are always a large variety of small fish, birds, including the brown pelican and gigantic galápagos tortoise. The Galápagos Islands were discovered in 1535, but first appeared on the maps, of Gerardus Mercator and Abraham Ortelius, in about 1570. The islands were named "Insulae de los Galopegos" (Islands of the Tortoises) in reference to the giant tortoises found there.