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Blaeu, Willem Janszoon

1. Dates
Born: near Alkmaar, 1571
Died: Amsterdam, 21 October 1638
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 67
2. Father
Occupation: Fishmonger, Listed As Mer
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Holland
Career: Holland
Death: Holland
4. Education
Schooling: He did not attend a university
5. Religion
Affiliation: undoubtedly Calvinist
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Cartography, Geography, Navigation
Subordinate: Astronomy
Main works: Nova universi terrarum orbis mappa (Amsterdam,1605). Het Licht der Zeevaert (Amsterdam, 1608). Novus atlas (Amsterdam, 1634), once-famous world atlas.
He made observations of an eclipse and he discovered a new star. He prepared celestial globes.
He also carried out a measurement of a degree (as Snel did).
7. Means of Support
Primary: Merchant, Publishing
Secondary: Government
He was a carpenter and a clerk in the Amsterdam mercantile office of his cousin Hooft before 1595.
In 1595-1596, worked with Tycho at the latter's observatory on the island of Hveen, Denmark.
In 1596 or 1597, he returned to Amsterdam where he soon established himself as a merchant of maps and globes, and as a printer.
In 1633, the States General of Amsterdam appointed Blaeu map maker of the Republic, and later he became the official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company.
8. Patronage
Types: Merchant, Court Official, Government Official
The States General rewarded him with money several times for his publications beginning in 1605. He dedicated at least one of his globes to the States General.
He dedicated at least one of his globes to Prince Maurice.
He dedicated a work on navigation to both Prince Maurice and the States General, another to the Directors of the East India Company, and another to Reael, a Director of the East India Company.
The appointment by the Dutch East India Company certainly
needs mention.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Navigation, Instruments, Cartography, Mechanical Devices
He made terrestrial and celestial globes, a Planetarium, and a tellurium. He also made an extraordinary and beautiful quadrant.
He undertook the measurement of a degree on the surface of the earth.
The presses of his design became almost general throughout the low contries and were introduced to England. (I have hesitated with this item. It does not appear to be a technological application of science. However, it is a technological endeavor by a scientist, and I leave it in.)
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Connection with Tycho.
  1. Nieuw nederlandsch biografisch woordenboek, 10, 74-8.
  2. E.L.Stevenson, Willem Janszoon Blaeu, (New York, 1914). GA923.6 B6S8 P.J.H.Baudet, Leven en Werken van Willem Jansz. Blaeu, (Utrecht, 1871).
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

1995 Al Van Helden
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