Sanson, Nicolas

, a celebrated French geographer, was born at Abbeville in Picardy, Dec. 20, 1600, Afte* he had finished his juvenile studies at the Jesuits’ college of Amiens, he betook himself to merchandise; but, sustaining considerable losses, quitted that calling, and applied himself to geography, a turn for which he had acquired under his father, who had published several maps. When only eighteen or nineteen, he drew a map of Ancient Gaul on four sheets, but did not publish it till 1627, lest, as we are told, it should, on account of his youth, be thought his father’s; or, which is rather more probable, lest it should not be sufficiently correct for publication. This, however, was so favourably received, as to encourage him to proceed with confidence and vigour, and in the course of his life he executed nearly three hundred large maps, ancient and modern, and caused an hundred methodical tables to be engraven concerning the divisions of the dominions of Christian princes. He also wrote several works to explain and illustrate his maps as> “Remarks upon the Ancient Gauls;” “Treatises of the four parts of the World;” “Two Tables of the Cities and Places, which occur in the maps of the Rhine and Italy;” “A Description of the Roman Empire, of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the British Isles, together with the ancient Itineraries:” all which are very necessary illustrations of the maps, which they are intended to accompany. He wrote also an account of the “Antiquities of Abbeville,” which engaged him in a contest with several learned men; with father Labbe, the Jesuit, in particular. He made also a “Sacred Geography,” divided into two tables; and a “Geographical Index of the Holy Land.” He was preparing other works, and had collected materials for an atlas of his own maps; but his incessant labours brought on an illness, of which, after languishing for near two years, he died at Paris, July 7, 1667, in the sixty-eighth year of his life, leaving two sons, William and Adrian, who were likewise geographers of considerable merit. Their father had received particular marks of esteem and kindness from the cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin; and was geographer and engineer to the king. His atlas was at last published at Paris, in 1693, 2 vols. folio. 1


Moreri. —Niceron, vol. XII.