The Galileo Project
site map

Markgraf [Marcgraf], Georg

1. Dates
Born: Liebstadt, Saxony, 20 Sept. 1610
Died: Dutch settlement in Luanda, Africa, 1644
Dateinfo: Death Uncertain
Lifespan: 34
2. Father
Occupation: A Schoolmaster
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Liebstadt, Saxony, Germany
Career: Dutch settlement in South America
Death: Dutch settlement in Luanda, Africa
4. Education
Schooling: Leiden
Educated at home by his father, headmaster of Liebstadt school.
1627, he began to travel and study throughout Germany, visiting about ten different universities.
1636, matriculated at the Univ. of Leiden. Worked there at astronomy for two years. No mention of a degree.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Calvinist
In fact his religion is unknown, but Calvinist is likely enough that I assume it.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Astronomy, Botany, Zoology
Subordinate: Cartography
7. Means of Support
Primary: Patronage (From Maurice Of Nassau)
1638, sailed with military and exploratory expedition to Dutch settlements in Brazil under Maurice. He had been recommended to Maurice by Jan de Laet, a director of the West Indies Company.
1644, left South America for Dutch settlements in East Africa, where he died of yellow fever.
8. Patronage
Types: Merchant, Court
The expedition was under the leadership of Maurice of Nassau (of the Dutch ruling family), who appears to have assembled an intellectual court of sorts. Markgraf was recruited, initially by de Laet, as an astronomer to accompany the expedition. Maurice established an observatory for him at Recife, from which came the first serious study of the southern sky. He composed a manuscript treatise. He also mapped the region and carried out a study of its natural history. When Markgraf died, he had already given all his collections and notes over to Maurice, who had taken them back to the Netherlands.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Military Engineering, Cartography
The expedition founded the town of Mauritzstad and built the castle of Vrijburg (in the tower of which Markgraf had an observatory) on Antonio Vaz island (Recife). Markgraf drew up the plan of the city and its fortifications, and mapped the region from Rio Sao Francisco to Ceara and Maranhao.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. R. von Ihering, "George Marcgrave" [in Portuguese] Revista do Museu Paulista, 9 (1914), 307-15. [Q33.S2]
  2. J. Moreira, "Marcgrave e Piso" [in Portuguese] Revista de Museu Paulista, 14 (1926), 649-73. [Q33.S2]
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. E.W. Gudger, an article on Markgraf in Popular Science Monthly, 9 (1912).
  2. P.J.P. Whitehead, "Georg Markgraf and Brazilian Zoology," in E.
  3. van den Boogaart, ed. Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, 1604- 1679: A Humanist Prince in Europe and Brazil, (The Hague: Johan Maurits van Nassau Stichting, 1979), pp. 424-71. D.J. Struik, "Mauricio de Nassau, Scientific Maecenas in Brasil," Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Historia de Ciencia, 2 (1985), 21-6.
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
Last updated
Home | Galileo | Biography | Chronology | Family | Portraits |
Science | Christianity | Library | About | Site Map | Search

Please note: We will not answer copyright requests.
See the copyright page for more information.