André Thévet

La Cosmographie Universelle



Andre Thevet was educated in the Franciscan monastery of Angouleme, and then attended university in both Poitiers and Paris. He served as a chaplain to Catherine de Medici, the Royal Cosmographer to three French Kings, and was keeper of the Royal Cabinet of Curiosities at Fontainebleau in addition to amassing his own array of maps and curiosities. He is perhaps best known for La Cosmographie Universelle, which was published in Paris in 1575 with over two-hundred wood-cuts and thirty-five maps.

La Cosmographie Universelle, a description of the World and the Heavens, was criticised by many Renaissance Humanists for its heavily embellished fantasy, and lack of direction as a publication. Thevet’s work was born from experience, and his knowledge came from his travels unlike the writings of his critics,. He deliberately distanced himself from the academic geographers and writers of the period, and instead associated with the great explorers and chart makers of the time. This was further cause of consternation amongst his Humanist peers who believed that Thevet had renounced the collected wisdom of the ages and more importantly God, and he would narrowly escape a charge of heresy for his work on La Cosmographie

Below are a few examples from this collection. Please click on an image to see it in high-resolution with details of the work itself. For the other unusual early material, please do contact us.