- Category : Science-Mathematics-Statistics
- Type : GE
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Eden 1
Flemish geographer, mapmaker and mathematician. He is associated with the Mercator projection, a type of map designed especially for use in navigation. Evidence does exist, however, indicating that the projection was in use in 1511, before Mercator was born. His work on the mathematical formulas for new map projections and in compiling geographic knowledge earned him a reputation as the outstanding geographer of the Renaissance.
Mercator’s father was a poor shoemaker; however, he, the last of seven children, was raised by an uncle who was an affluent ecclesiastic. His uncle, Gisbert Mercator, sent him to a religious school, probably in preparation to enter the priesthood. In 1530 he entered the University of Louvain in what is now Belgium, where his main studies were philosophy and theology. After graduating from the University of Louvain in 1532 with an M.A., Mercator studied mathematics and astronomy privately under Gemma Grisius and learned engraving. Concerned with the problem of reconciling the account of the origin of the universe given in the Bible with that given by Aristotle, he traveled to numerous places. Although doing little for his personal dilemma, his travels gave him a deep interest in geography. He became a maker of instruments for drawing maps and making field surveys. He produced his first map in 1537, and in 1541 he completed a terrestrial globe.
In 1544 he was accused of heresy and imprisoned several months before being released for lack of evidence. Mercator and his family moved to Duisburg, Duchy of Cleve (now Germany), in 1552 to escape religious persecution for their Protestant beliefs. He opened a cartographic workshop there and from 1559 to 1562 also taught mathematics at grammar school in Duisburg.
Mercator's famous map of the world, drawn on the projection that carries his name, was published in Duisburg in 1569 and was dedicated to William, Duke of Cleve. He received patronage from several other aristocrats, ecclesiastic officials and government officials during his lifetime. The Mercator projection, although severely distorting the size of the poles, is very useful to navigators because straight lines between any two points on such a map show a constant compass direction for the course of a ship. Mercator worked on maps of Europe and other parts of the world. In these maps he used new information to correct many inaccuracies in the maps of the previous standard of mapmakers, ancient Alexandrian geographer Ptolemy. Mercator’s break with Ptolemy for geography was as important as Copernicus’ break with Ptolemy for astronomy. He was the first to use the word "atlas" for a group of maps.
After having strokes in 1590 and 1593, he died on 12/02/1594 in Duisburg, Duchy of Cleve. Mercator’s great Atlas (begun in 1569) in which he attempted to describe the creation and history of the world, was printed in its unfinished state by his son in 1595.