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GERHARDUS MERCATOR [1512 - 1594]
The name Mercator is taken from the 16th Century adventurer, Gerhardus Mercator (1512 - 1594) - a true Renaissance man. His tireless pursuit of knowledge and his ability to see the elegant patterns inherent in science and nature, led to an extraordinary, diverse and colourful life. He is most famous for the Mercator Projection, a mathematical tool for defining the lines of longitude and latitude on a map. Mercator also means merchant, in Latin.
Mercator was a Protestant, Flemish cartographer. He developed the concepts of longitude and latitude to help mariners navigate; these are known as Mercator's Projection. Not only was he a very good mathematician and cartographer, he was an astronomer, calligrapher, graphic designer, instrument maker and theologian - a true polymath.
In 1530 he went to the University of Louvain in Belgium where he studied Philosophy and Humanities. He graduated in 1532 and married in 1534. Whilst at Louvain he developed his first globes and maps. In 1540 he published a concise manual on his other main passion, italic lettering: The LITERARUM LATINARUM QUAS ITALICAS CURSORIASQUE VOCANT SCRIBENDE RATIO. In 1544 he was arrested and imprisoned for 7 months on a charge of heresy. This was on account of his rather radical terrestrial beliefs coupled with his mysterious voyages to gather information for his maps. He was released after protestations from the University.
Religious zeal being some what less consuming in Germany, Mercator moved to the Duchy of Cleve in 1552. Here, in 1554, he published his first map of Europe and, in 1569, his first collection of maps for which he coined the term ATLAS. The series was developed over the rest of his life, finally being published after his death in 1606.
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