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Mercator, Gerardus (1512–1594)

  • By: Barney Warf
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Gerardus Mercator was a Flemish engraver and cartographer who lived during the so-called Age of Exploration, that is, the 16th century, when European capitalism and colonialism began their epochal period of global conquest, and his work both reflected and greatly enabled this expansion.

Born Gerhard Kremer, Mercator changed his name as a university student in Louvain, where he lived from 1530 to 1552. At an early age, he studied to be a priest at a monastic school in Hertogenbosch, where he learned calligraphy and Latin. In Louvain, he was trained in philosophy, surveying, scientific instruments, mathematics, astronomy, and geography, receiving his master's degree in 1532. He married in 1536 and eventually had six children. In 1544, he was jailed briefly under suspicion of heresy but released ...

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