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Coronelli, Vincenzo Maria

1. Dates
Born: Venice, 15 Aug. 1650 (DBI and Armao make it 16 August, if that matters)
Died: Venice, 9 Dec. 1718
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 68
2. Father
Occupation: Artisan
Maffio Coronelli was a taylor.
It is asserted that the family was of rather modest means. I take that to be a euphemism for poor. Vincenzio was apparently orphaned at ten and lived for five years with an elder brother in Ravenna. He was apprenticed to a joiner, and later he learned the trade of engraving. He entered a religious order at age fifteen as a means whereby a poor boy could obtain an education.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian, French
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Religous Order, D.D.
After Coronelli joined the Franciscans, they sent him to Rome to the College of S. Bonaventua in 1670. He received his doctorate in theology at Rome in 1674, only three years later. Here again is the problem of education within a religious order. I will list him as having the equivalent of a B.A. and with the advanced degree.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
He became a Minorite friar (i.e., a Franciscan) in 1655. Indeed he was later the Minister-general of the order.
Coronelli was later suspect because of supposedly unorthodox material in his encyclopedia (the Biblioteca universale). However, he had had a dispute with the Pope just before this, leading to his being dismissed as Minister-general. Armao considers the charges to have been trumped up, and they certainly appear so to me.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Geography, Cartography
Subordinate: Hydraulics
Coronelli's work includes more than 100 large and small globes that have survived, several hundred maps, printed separately and as parts of atlases, an incredible number of geographic and cartographic publications, and seven volumes of a projected forty-five volume encyclopedia (Biblioteca universale).
It is partly for his globes that Coronelli is remembered: their accuracy, the wealth of information displayed, and their artistic excellence distinquish their maker as one of the leading geographers and cartographers of the baroque period. In the early 80's he made two famous globes, one celestial and one terrestrial, for Louis XIV--four meters in diameter. He later made a globe three meters in diameter for Innocent XII, and for the Duke of Parma he made globes of about four feet in diameter. He made a host of smaller ones, down to one inch.
He also published on geography, with special attention to Venetian conquests (not then known to be temporary) from the Turks. His Atlante veneto, 1690f, included 1,200 maps. His maps incorporated the latest discoveries.
At the end of his life he published a work on hydrostatics, Effete naturali delle acque.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Government, Patronage, Church Life
After his degree in theology, Coronelli was an official in his order for three years, 1674-7, after which he devoted himself primarily to geography and cartography. However, he lived in a house of the order in Venice most of his life.
He built his first pair of globes for the duke of Parma, about 1674. (DBI makes this 1680; Armao says before 1680.)
Constructed globes for Louis XIV at Paris, 1681-1683. He remained in France until 1684, and later he returned a second time for a short period.
Upon his return from France, now famous, he was named Cosmographer of the Republic of Venice, 1685, with a pension of 400 florins. The Venetians founded a universita alle Procuratie on the basis of Coronelli's Accademia degli Argonauti. As nearly as I can make out, Coronelli, as professor of geography, (with a salary of 200 ducats) constituted this university. As an official of Venice, its cosmographer, Coronelli was sent on a mission through Germany to England in 1696-7; in 1699 Venice was planning to send him on a mission to Constantinople, but he managed to beg off.
In the convent dei Frari in Venice he set up a superbly equipped cartographic workshop and his own press. He had about ten engravers at work there.
1685, he was elected Provincial of the Province of Hungary for the Franciscans. He renounced the post in 1686, but was named perpetual definitor of the province.
Minister-general of the Minorite order, 1701-1704, when he was deposed by the Pope following a conflict which is, at least for me, ill-defined. He lived the rest of his life in the Minorite convent in Venice, 1705-1718.
Coronelli was called to Vienna by the Emperor in 1717 and named Commissioner of the Danube and the other rivers of the empire.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Government Official, Aristrocrat, Eccesiastic Official, City Magistrate
He built his first pair of globes for the Duke of Parma (in Parma) sometime before 1680.
His work impressed the French ambassador to the Holy See, and in 1681 he was invited to Paris to construct globes for Louis XIV. Coronelli received a gold necklace from Louis and a pension of 300 ecus. In 1686, Louis gave him a privilege of fifteen years for the publication of his works.
In 1687 he published Roma festeggiante, Rome's celebration of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, dedicated to the Marquis of Croissy, Secretary of State, a sort of repayment for the support and protection he had enjoyed in Paris.
Upon his return to Venice, Coronelli organized his Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti (1684) under the protection of the Doge, Marc'Antonio Giustiniani. G.B. Dona, a patrician, was later the protector of the academy. In 1688, after his second sojourn in France, Coronelli made replicas of the great Parisian globes, which he presented to another Doge, Morosini. The Venetian government then named him professor at the Procuratie, and Coronelli published a volume of homage on Morosini (1690) in return.
One of the distinctive features of Coronelli was his sedulous efforts to woo the favor of those who counted in Venice. His first major publication consisted of two folios celebrating the conquests from the Turks in the Morea-- dedicated to the Duke of Brunswick, then the leader of the Venetian forces. F. Morosini was at some point the Venetian general; Coronelli compiled maps to present to him and when Morosini was the Doge, dedicated Atlante veneto to Morosini. I will not even attempt to list all of his dedications (see Armao), but many of them are to Venetian patricians. Thus in 1697 a work, or really a sheet, dedicated to Sen. Giovanni Barbarigo, traced the family back to the year 800. There is evidence (Armao, p. 98) that he issued different title pages of the same work (in this case Isole e citta), apparently in order to dedicate individual copies to different men. He dedicated individual engravings. I find one (Armao, p. 199) engraved originally in 1672 to Brother Bernardo di Capridone, which Coronelli altered later (i.e., altered the plate) to dedicate it to Card. Decio Azzolini.
He also wooed high ecclesiastics. I mentioned the globe for Innocent XII. Innocent named him one of the fathers of the Cenoby of the Twelve Apostles in 1699, and then definitore generale of the order. He became Minister-general of the Franciscans. He published a series of works such as Cronologia universale (1707), which had lives and geneaologies of popes, kings, etc., dedicated to Card. Orsini. A Synoptic Table of Cardinals (1701) was dedicated to Card. Spinola. In 1707 a catalogue of religious orders dedicated to Card. Johann Philip of Lamberg; vol, 2, on the female orders, was dedicated to another cardinal, and a third volume, in 1715, was dedicated to the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta.
When William of Orange ascended the throne of England, an ally of Venice, Coronelli did a volume of his heroic achievements. Since William was popular in Germany, there was a German edition of the volume. Likewise, and with even hand, when Philip V (the first Bourbon) ascended the throne of Spain, Coronelli did a volume on the heroic achievements of Louis XIV.
Coronelli had a great clock that Leopold I had given him (I don't know for what reason); he deposited the clock in the Treasury of the Franciscans in Assisi while he was Minister- general.
It appears to me that after the fiasco with the Pope in 1704, Coronelli began to drop out of favor in Venice. Most of the volumes of his big collection, Teatro della guerra (the War of the Spanish Succession), do not carry dedications. The volumes were mostly pirated from earlier works, as though he now lacked monetary support. A work of 1709, with engravings of the villas along the Brenta (a work seemingly aimed at the Venetian carriage trade) was dedicated, not to a Venetian patrician, but to Prince Giacomo Sobieski, son of the King of Poland.
His enclycopedia, Biblioteca universale, offers insight. He intended it to reach forty-five volumes. Vol. 1 (1701) dedicated to Pope Clement XI; 2 (1702) to the Doge; 3 (1703) to the King of Spain; 4 (1703) to Joseph I, Emperor-to-be; 5 (1704) to the King of Bavaria; 6 (1706) to the Republic of Genoa (which responded with a gift of 100 scudi). By now this project was in trouble, reflecting his other troubles I think. Vol. 7 came out only in 1709, dedicated to the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, who was hardly in the same league with the earlier ones. There were no more volumes.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Cartography, Hydraulics, Military Engineering
He was known as a civil engineer in Venice, and was invited to Vienna and consulted by the emperor on flood control measures in 1717.
In 1699 Innocent XII called him to Rome to sound the harbor of Anzio.
He was the inventor of a number of military machines (canons, mortars, etc.)
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Founded the Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti in Venice in 1684. It was the first geographical society. The academy had an immense success, enrolling some 200 members from all of Europe by 1693. Its only function was to promote the works of Coronelli.
  1. E. Armao, Vincenzio Coronelli, (Firenze, 1944).
  2. Dizionario biografico degli italiani.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Roberto Almagia, "Vincenzo Coronelli", Der Globusfreund, 1, no. 1 (1952), pp.13-27.
  2. O.-G. Saarmann Muris, Der Globus im Wandel der Zeiten, (Berlin- Stuttgart, 1961), pp.167-173. Pietro Rigobon, "Biografia e studi del P. Vincenzo Coronelli," Archivio veneto, 3, no.1 (1872), pp.267-271.
  3. L. Cicchitto, "Il padre Vincenzio Coronelli," Miscellanea francescana di storia, lettere, ed arte, 14 (1915), 158-75.
  4. Miscellanea francescana, 51 (1951)--a volume dedicated to Coronelli.
  5. P. Amat di S. Filippo, Studi biografici e bibliografici sulla storia della geografia in Italia, 2 (Rome, 1882), 465-7.
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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