Abraham Ortelius

Belgian , 1528 - 1598

Born in 1528 in Antwerp, Abraham Ortelius published the first world atlas. Ortelius was the Latin version of his real Dutch name, Ortel. He studied Greek, Latin and mathematics and established himself in Antwerp as a book and map dealer and cartographer. His successful world atlas, “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum” was probably the first collection of maps in book form twenty years before Mercator published his atlas. When the first edition of “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum” (engraved by Frans Hogenburg) was published in 1570, the word atlas was not yet in use.

Ortelius’s atlas was so successful that it had to be reprinted four times in its first year of publication. Eventually, it was published in 42 editions from 1570 to 1612 and in 7 languages including Latin, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, English and Italian. Later editions were published by Jan Baptiste Vrients, who had bought the rights from the heirs of Ortelius.
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