Nicolas Sanson

Nicolas Sanson d’Abbeville (1600-67) was perhaps the greatest cartographer of 17th century France — a period of France’s political ascendancy in Europe and also a period in which French cartographers displaced the Dutch as Europe’s leading map makers.

As a young man, he attracted the attention of Cardinal Richelieu and, in time, became Géographe Ordinaire du Roi for Louis XIII and Louis XIV, both of whom he personally instructed in geography. Under Louis XIII, Sanson became a minister of state. Sanson has become known as the “father of French cartography,” and his influence is such that the sinusoidal projection he employed has become known as the “Sanson-Flamsteed projection,” recognizing the impact of Sanson (Flamsteed was an English astronomer royal from 1675 to his death in 1719).

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