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Ortelius (1527–1598)

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

Abraham Ortel (although always referred to using the Latin form, Ortelius) was born in Antwerp. He was a prominent citizen of that great trading city, and he conducted his scholarly and publishing activities from there until his death. He was one of many scholars involved in drawing and publishing maps in what was then the Spanish Netherlands (he became cosmographer to King Philip II of Spain), but his distinctive contribution was that he was the first to produce an atlas of the world, titled Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, in 1570 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 World map from the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum
Source: Library of Congress.

While there had been many collections of maps made before Ortelius, they were either updates of Ptolemy or random collections of ...

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