Joan Blaeu


1571  Willem Janszoon Blaeu was born in Amsterdam
 (He died also in Amsterdam in 1638). He was the founder
 of the Blaeu Publishing House and established the great 
reputation of Blaeu cartography. Willem Blaeu can also be
 found as Willem Janszoon Blaeu, Willem Jansz Blaeu, 
Guilielmus Janssonius, Willems Jans Zoon, Guilielmus or G. Blaeu.
  Blaeu was a maker of globes and scientific instruments and 
purchased some  early map plates from Jodocus Hondius. Hondius 
was more of a  craftsman engraver than a cartographer and so
 Blaeu was buying the work of other- possibly English- map makers.
 Hondius was the Amsterdam engraver who had worked with Speed,
 and so Speed works could have been among those early purchases, 
and Speed copied much from Saxton, so a given map- say Blaeu’s 
Herefordshire- could have this complex provenance.  From this 
small beginning  the Blaeu house was to emerge one of the largest
 and most prolific map publishing businesses of the seventeenth
 century.  Willem’s great interest in mathematics and astronomy
 led him to travel to Denmark to meet Tycho Brahe where he learned 
globe-making. He  returned to the Netherlands,  set up a business
 in Amsterdam , produced globes and  added a printing press which
 was to be the embryo of the family company.

1581   The Dutch Revolution and consequent  rise of the Dutch Republic, 
from 1581, freeing the Provinces from French German and Spanish 
authority, had been one of the most remarkable events of modern 
European history. A small, low-lying region,smaller than Yorkshire,
  where the Rhine Amsel and Scheldt met the sea : essentially a 
group of estuaries lacking natural resources, developed an mercantile 
society based on shipping which came to dominate Northern Europe
 and out perform England as a naval power. The rise in commerce 
saw a flowering of art and science. It was tailored to a bourgeois 
clientele, not an aristocracy and not the Church.  It was in 
cartography that these three disciplines: commerce, science and
 art, were to unite. The Dutch had a strong history in map making,
 most notably through Mercator and Ortelius, but by the middle 
of the 17th Century, it was the atelier of Blaeu stood out. 
The Blaeu workshop produced the fine atlases.  A perfectionist,
 Willem Blaeu used the best engravers, printers, colourists 
and materials to achieve his goals.

1594  Death of Mercator. His birth name was  Geert De Kremer- 
a German born in Flanders. Blaeu re-established the reputation 
of “Mercator Projection”.

1596  Joan Blaeu was born  on the 23rd of September 1596 in 
Alkmaar.  Joan Blaeu can also be found called Johannes Blaeu; 
John Wiliamson Blaeu; Johannes Willemszoon. Alkmaar lies north
 west of Amsterdam and about 38 miles distant near  the coastal 
town of Egmond aan Zee The Zuider Zee lay due east but now that
 is the Markermeer.

1608  Willem is 37 years old and here in 1608 his first 
publications appear including sea charts in “Het Licht Der Zee-Vaert”
 “The Light”, in 1608 and a revised issue of Copernicus’
 De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium. (Concerning the Revolution
 of Heavenly Spheres). The atlas was based around the printing 
plates acquired from Jodocus Hondius Jr.’s stock, who had himself
 published the later edition of Mercator’s Atlas. The Engraver 
Hondius was also the chief engraver working with Speed. The atlas 
contained some sixty maps. This work was expanded in 1631 to 
contain 98 maps and bore the joint imprint of father and son 
with the title Appendix Theatri A.Ortelii Et Atlantis G. Mercatoris.  

1612  Death of  Jodocus Hondius, who was really called  Joost de Hondt.
 (1563 – 12 February 1612). He  was the Dutch or Flemish engraver
 and cartographer who had sold plates Blaeu and had thus kick
 started that Cartographic house.  a Low Countries’ engraver 
and cartographer. Hondius is best known for his early maps of
 the New World and Europe. He re-established the reputation of
 Gerard Mercator, and engraved for John Speed.
It is interesting that Mercator’s star had waned at all. 

Mercator, 1512-1594, contributed two important things to 
cartography: first was the word “Atlas” which he took from 
the mythical  King of Mauritania. This was a legendary King, 
cosmologer, geographer: he was not the same as the mythical 
Atlas and when designers show Atlas bearing the world of his
 shoulders as a symbol of a geographical atlas, they mistake
 this point. Secondly Mercator produced his famous projection 
which envisages the world, not as a sphere, but as a cylinder 
and thus the lines of longitude are equidistant but the lines 
of latitude expand to the north and south pole and in the high
 polar regions become nonsense. This projection allows a world
 map to be printed on paper continuously without  “sections of
 a sphere” projecting north and south like fronds. It has the 
 immediately apparent consequence of grossly exaggerating the 
northern realms. Greenland begins to dwarf Africa. Baffin Island
 is almost “continental” in size.
The apparent magic of a Mercator projection is that bearings
 remain true;  lines of bearings or Rhumb lines are constant
 and the map is of immense use to shipping.  His new projection
 was introduced in 1569 as the “ Nova et Aucta Orbis Terrae Descriptio
 ad Usum Navigantium Emendate Accommodata”  : "A New and Complete 
Description of the Terrestrial Sphere properly adapted for
 Navigational Use". Mercator is Latin for Kramer (his birth name),
 which means “merchant”.

1620  In 1620 Joan Blaeu became a doctor of law but he chose to
 join the workshop of his father, William, rather than practise law.
1630 Willem's two sons, Joan and Cornelius, both entered the
 family business and in 1630 the firm published its first world
 atlas, bound as a single volume. This first world atlas, 
Willem’s “The Atlantis Appendix” was published  in association
 with his eldest son, Joan Blaeu. 

1631  The early atlas was expanded in 1631 to contain
 98 maps and bore the joint imprint of father William
 and son Joan with the title “Appendix Theatri A.Ortelii
 Et Atlantis G. Mercatoris.”: a form of words which recalls 
the official title of Speed’s atlas.
1634 This is the year cited by some for the publication 
of the two volume  “ Theatrum orbis terrarum, sive, Atlas novus”. 

1635. The Blaeu World Atlas was increased to two volumes 
in this year. This Atlas Novus was properly titled “Theatrum
 orbis terrarum, sive, Atlas novus”. That word “Theatre” had 
also been used by Speed for his British Atlas.  This two-volume 
work was more extensive still and now had up to 208 maps.  This
 atlas was published in four separate editions in four different
 languages: ( Dutch¸ Latin, French and ???? perhaps English?) 
clear evidence of the Blaeu ambitions. The success of this atlas
 and plans for follow on publications meant a move of premises 
became necessary in this year.

1638   Joan and his brother Cornelius took over the studio 
after their father died in 1638.  In that year Joan was 40 
years old.   Willem had been the founder of the Blaeu publishing 
house and established the fine reputation of Blaeu maps. 
1640 The Blaeu World Atlas Was increased to three volumes. 
Joan became the official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company.

1644. Cornelius died in this years. Joan would have been 48
 and Cornelius was his younger brother but his birth date is 
not known: one must assume he was about 44 when he died.

1645  Here Joan is working by himself – both Willem and 
Cornelius are now deceased. In 1645 Joan Blaeu published 
a county Atlas of England and Wales as part of his Atlas 
Novus, with maps based mainly on the earlier research of 
Saxton and Speed. The atlas was regarded as a masterpiece
 with a balanced style and calligraphic quality that has 
never been surpassed. Each map epitomised the craftsmanship
 and artistry of the Blaeu workshop being beautifully ornate 
with fine cartouches, heraldic shields and engraved calligraphy. 

1648  Blaeu's world map,”Nova et Accuratissima Terrarum 
Orbis Tabula”, incorporating the discoveries of Abel Tasman,
(after whom Tasmania was later named) was published in 1648. 
 This map was revolutionary for  it depicted the solar system 
according to the heliocentric theories of Nicolaus Copernicus:
 that is with the earth revolving around the Sun. Although 
Copernicus's book: “De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium”:
 “On the Revolutions of the Spheres in the Heavens” had been
 first printed in 1543, just over a century earlier, Joan Blaeu was,
 surprisingly,  the first mapmaker to incorporate this now not
 so revolutionary heliocentric theory into a map of the world.

1649  Around 1649 Joan Blaeu published a collection of Dutch
 city maps called “Toonneel der Steeden”: or Views of Towns. 
In 1651 he was voted onto the Amsterdam Council. 

1654  In 1654 Joan published the first atlas of Scotland, 
a work devised by Timothy Pont.  Pont, it will be noted, 
was long dead by some 40 years. Timothy Pont, 1565–1614, 
was a Scottish cartographer and topographic surveyor. He 
is said to have been the first to draw a detailed map of 
the Kingdom of Scotland. Pontius or Pont' drew  maps which 
are among the earliest surviving to show any country in 
accurate and close detail, from an actual ground survey 
carried out for the purpose. He was also involved in the 
Plantation of Scots in Ulster and so might have mapped the
 North of Ireland too.

1655  Blaeu's map was copied as the map of the world set 
into the pavement 
of the Groote Burger-Zaal of the new Amsterdam Town Hall,
 (he was on 
the Amsterdam Council) designed by the Dutch architect Jacob van Campen 
in 1655. This building is now the Royal Palace.

1659  Blaeu's “Hollandia Nova” or “New Holland”, by which is meant Au
stralia, was also depicted in his Archipelagus Orientalis sive
 Asiaticus published in 1659 in the Kurfürsten Atlas (called also
 the Atlas of the Great Elector). 

1662  In 1662 he reissued his Atlas Novus, also known as Atlas Maior,
 now in 11 volumes, and one for oceans. The English  maps reappeared 
in Volume V. of his Atlas Maior, perhaps, say some, the finest cartographic 
work ever produced. Joan Blaeu’s objective was the fullest possible 
description of Heaven, Earth and Seas and continually expanded the
 Novus Atlas in this limitless quest.  The work grew from one to two,
 to four, to nine, to eleven, to twelve folio volumes by 1662. 
 Generally regarded as the pinnacle of 17th century atlas- making; 
the Atlas Maior in its final state comprised 655 maps. 

1663  As "Jean Blaeu", he also published the 12 volume "Le Grand
 Atlas, ou Cosmographie blaviane, en laquelle est exactement descritte
 la terre, la mer, et le ciel": “ The Great Atlas or Blaeu’s Cosmology,
 in which is exactly described the Earth, the Sea and the Heavens”. 
One edition is dated 1663. That was folio sized (which is 540 x 340 mm), 
1664  Hollandia Nova was used by Melchisédech Thévenot to produce 
his map, Hollandia Nova: or Terre Australe  in1664. So perhaps
 “Australia” was first coined in French not English.

1672  Fire destroyed the atelier completely in the year 1672. 
Though his map production still continued in Amsterdam it never fully
 recovered from the catastrophe  of 1672. The events ended Blaeu's
 hegemony over the Amsterdam map trade. The loss of his life’s work 
(plates and equipment) probably contributed to the great man's death
 in the following year. It does however, mean that unlike Saxton or 
Speed: there cannot have been a great number of pirated plates and 
pulls following his death and this fact may have enhanced his reputation. 
In its day the Blaeu publishing house was one of the largest in the world.
1673  Joan Blaeu died in Amsterdam, Holland on the 21st of December 
in 1673. He was 77 years old when he died.

A Description of a Joan Blaeu Plate: taken from “Herefordshire”:
The map is on a double page sheet 22 3/4 inches by 20 inches.
The verso is printed in Latin Text describing counties.
The Map defaults to Latin for most of its major working but
 English for the local toponyms: Hundreds, villages and towns.
The points of the compass are in Latin as is the title in a 
scrolled decorative cartouche at top right.
The Surrounding county names are in a Latin form and the phrase 
“Latin name  “in English” English Name” is  varied  thus:
 RADNORIA Commitatis Anglice Radnorshire; SALOPAE COMITATUS Vulgo 
Shropshire; WIGORNIA COMITATUS Vulgo Worcestershre;  BRECHINIAW  
Vernacular Breknocke Shire; MONUMETHENSIS Vulgo Monmouthshire;
 ANGLOCENTRIST Anglice Gloucestershire.
A few pieces of English are suspect even for the date and probably
 a copy error and proof that Blaeu was not an English Speaker: 
Archenfeeilde (the double e is Dutch); Mounmouth Shire, Gilden Vale
 (Golden Vale). Bullingbrok (Bolingbroke). Munmow Flu (Monnow), 
 perhaps: Arro (Arrow), Lidbury (which is Ledbury in the verso text).
The  parks of gentlemen are circular fenced enclosures – sometimes 
named, sometimes not. Towns or boroughs have a red spot:  Kyneton,
 Hereford, Rosse (sic).  Hundred are names in Roman Capitals thus “
 HVNLINGTON HVND.” and are separated from each other by a dotted line. 
No reference to Wales is made and Blaeu counts this in the Kingdom of England.
Dettacjed parts or Islands of Herefordshire are seen in Brecknockshire
  about “The Forkoke”; Radnorshire (about Lytton); in Shropshire 
(about Rocheford);  and Part of Monmouthshire is on the western
 bank of the Wye between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire 
 containing Welsh Bicknor.
The  county border has a dotted engraved line and is highlighted 
in umber watercolour. This colour is also used  in lateral lines 
to give a landscape look to  certain districts- about the engraved
 hills, about the woodland, and in the parks.  The hills are
 engraved like quite realistic mountain ranges- not in the manner
 of the “mole-hills- of Saxton or Speed. They are uniformly lit
 by a sun in the south west and shaded to the north east.
The rivers are blue coloured in wash and line engraved in the 
intaglio. They are named  in English with the Latin  “Flu” behind
 thus: Wye Flu, Arro Flu, Lug Flu,  Bradfold Flu, Liddon Flu, Frome Flu, 
Teme Flu.
The Armorial Bearings are in a line down the right hand margin and
 on the bottom margin right, but those bottom ones are empty escutcheons. 
The shields shown William Fitz Osborn, a shield , field gules with
 a bend and bar. argent
; Robert Bossu E. with a Cinque-foil argent on or. Miles, Constable
 of England, gules with two bends argent . Henry Bohum, Lions azure
  on field or and lions or on a field azure, divided by a bend 
argent bordered gules.  Henry  Bullingbrok Duke: Royal arms of 
England and France with a bend argent. Stafford Field or, chevron 
gules.  Up in the top left is the escutcheon of the English Arms:
 gules three leopards- here uncoloured. 
The border is lines – a wide double, a thin double and a broad 
single line on the outer edge- Then the plate mark which is visible
 on all sides. This is quite near the outer engraved edging line and 
has hand chamfered rounded corners.
The paper is thick and tram lined in both directions in the watermark. 
The decorative cartouche about the title shows ears of grain, apples
 and pears with oak leaves. The grain looks like barley. So this 
festoon is designed to  represent the products of the county.
The allegorical figures at bottom left show  two putti holding the 
scale which is Milliaria Anglica quoru quatuor unum constituunt Germanicum: 
“ English Miles of which four constitute and German mile”. On the right 
of this group is an orb  with bands on which are fixed the  planets. 
This is a  symbol showing that Blaeu is fully supportive of the system 
as described by Copernicus.  On the left is a strange figure. He looks 
like a Norwegian in an almost Sami like costume – a smock top , blue 
breeches and boots and a tall red cap. In his cloth belt are instruments,
 set squares etch. Leaning to the left against the map border are his 
cross staffs and in his hand are dividers. I wonder who this figure is:
 Mercator perhaps whom the Blaeu Company did do much to advocate: maybe
 an English cartographer- Saxton or Rudd. He has a very long full beard
 in the Eastern European manner so I guess this is Copernicus.
The Hundreds of the county were those regions of Saxon times 
(here in the Kingdom of the Mercians) which were required to raise 
100 fighting men for the Fyrd when called upon to do so. Here they are :
 of Herefordshire sure south east from Hay seems not to have a name,
 nor does the very small region  about Llantony and Trewin which 
might have been a district of  “Breknoke” and thus not required to 
raise troops for the Hereford Fyrd- being without the Kingdom.
Monmouth was a Marcher  Lordship and had an ambiguous status at 
the time of this map, though the Lordship had long been taken back 
by the English Crown from the  Baderon Breton lords. It only became
 officially Wales in 1972.
It is not apparent that Blaeu or his source had any good understanding 
of the  geography of hills: The Malvern Hills are shown in the east 
of this map and they are in fact a straight north south volcanic 
range but are here the same scattered 
 hill-symbols seen throughout the map.
The script is clear and uses the medial “s” in the form of an
 “f”: thus: Brinfop, Rofemaund, Kingefland. This causes some 
ambiguity when the medial letter might be an “f”:  Derefold Forest,
 Clyfford Castle.
The script tends towards “y” not “i”: Fowemynd, Mychaelchurch. Byllyngham.
 In vernacular toponyms the “V”is a “U”, and in the Latin 
toponyms the “U” is a “V”: MONVMENTHENSIS.
There are  language errors on the plate such as “Part of Moumouth Shire”.

The page was never bound into Blaeu’s atlas. It was on a tab 
which was in turn bound in.
The verso script is Latin and described Radnor on the Left and 
Herefordshire on the right. There are two columns to a page with
 margin notes throughout. The pages here were 291-292 of the 
ordinal Blaeu Atlas. The text is set type not engraved but the
 italic script may have been  on  complete relief blocks for 
each phrase for they do not look separable  into letter blocks.
 Some words are in a Saxon Uncial Scrips and Anglo Saxon language 
and are then translated into Latin. Ledbury is so called in the 
text which suggests that “Lidbury” on the map is a script error.