I saw this at Versailles. This beautiful terrestrial globe from 1705 is also a map of the night sky if you look closely at the inner surface of the upper half of the globe. It is the creation of Guillaume de L’Isle, mathematician Jean Pignon, engraver Rene Delure and sculptor Bercy. It was originally made for the duc de Chatres. The title of duc de Chartres was given by Louis XIV of France to his nephew, Philippe II d’Orléans, at his birth in 1674. Philippe II was the younger son and heir of the king’s brother, Philippe de France, Duke of Orléans.
A program of how best to educate a prince was drawn up exclusively for him by Guillaume Dubois, his preceptor. Each course of study taught the duc de Chartres the “principles” or “elements” of a subject. Some of the best historians, genealogists, scientists and artists in the kingdom participated in this educational experiment, which started around 1689. The globe is from his study of geography and astronomy by Guillaume de L’Isle. Pretty cool to have the best cartographer in France build you a fabulous globe to teach you the basics.
The de L’Isle family was one of the most influential Geographers of the early 18th century in France. Claude de L’Isle, born 1644, had four sons, of which Guillaume was the most notable. Guillaume was born 1675 and became member of the “Académie Royale des Sciences” in 1702 at the age of twenty-seven, and was honoured later with the title “Premier Géographe du Roi” in 1718. His first works were “The Map of the World” and “The Map of the Continents”, both published in 1700. These and the terrestrial maps produced subsequently, which surpassed all similar publications, established the son’s fame.
His 1718 map, Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississippi, was the first detailed map of the interior of what is now the United States. Notice the depiction of English possessions on the east coast, Spanish control of California and French control around Montreal. The vast middle of America is being explored in bits and pieces by each of these powers.
While searching for a passage between the Gulf of Mexico and Asia, Álvarez de Pineda claimed what is now Texas for Spain in 1519, although the area was essentially ignored for the next 160 years. Its initial settlement by Europeans occurred by accident. In April 1682, French nobleman René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle had claimed the entire Mississippi River Valley for France. The following year, he convinced King Louis XIV to establish a colony near the Mississippi, essentially splitting Spanish Florida from New Spain. La Salle got lost and ended up in Texas, at Fort Saint Louis, which he colonized in 1685. Unfortunately the Carancahua Indians destroyed the fort in 1589. It is listed on the map above.
Guillaume de L’Isle is important as the first “scientific” cartographer who incorporated the most current information on exploration and topography into his maps. His maps of America contain many innovations: discarding the fallacy of California as an island, first naming of Texas, first correct delineation of the Mississippi Valley, and first correct longitudes of America. Lloyd Brown states that de L’Isle “undertook a complete reform of a system of geography that had been in force since the second century, and by the time he was twenty five he had very nearly accomplished his purpose.” The map shown above is from 1720 in the Library of Congress and shows nautical exploration routes and reliefs pictorially. His maps were reissued at his death in 1726 by Philippe Bauche, his nephew, who is well regarded as a very prolific theoretical cartographer in his own right.
Here is another view of this beautiful globe shown above. On the inside portion of the globe is what appears to be ocean depths. This must have been from soundings along the coast, it simply shows the extent that he went to create a scientifically accurate globe. If my interpretation is correct, it assumes that he had some suppositions concerning the mountainous terrain under the ocean. I wonder if this is the first depiction of the continental shelf? The globe to the right from Guillaume de L’Isle, done in 1700, was sold at Christies auction house in 2009 for 55 thousand dollars. It was dedicated to “A Son Altesse Royale Monseigneur le Duc de Chartres.
The globe shown above by Guillaume de L’Isle is in the Musée des Arts et Métiers from about 1700. It appears to have a mechanical sun that can be adjusted for the seasons.
This is the first map, Carta Geographical della Florida nell America Settentrionale, to use the word Texas from 1750 in the Weaver Map Collection, Marshall University. In 1763, Spain traded Florida to the Kingdom of Great Britain for control of Havana, Cuba, which had been captured by the British during the Seven Years’ War. Here it is shown as belonging to Spain. It appears that the middle of the continent has been carved up by Spain in green, France in yellow and England in pink. In 1762, France finally relinquished their claim to Texas by ceding all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to Spain as part of the treaty to end the Seven Years War. In 1799, Spain gave Louisiana back to France in exchange for the promise of a throne in central Italy. In 1803 Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States. Here we see the Mississippi river as the dividing line between France and Spain and the area if St Louis in Texas is in yellow or French territory.
The lovely globe shown above is from the Minnesota Historical Society Museum by Guillaume de L’Isle, 1765.
Here is a detail view of North America showing the hoped-for northwest passage, California, New Mexico, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi and Rio Grande rivers.
The top of this globe reveals astronomical information on the edge of the frame, although not quite as detailed as the Versailles globe.
Well, that is all for Guillaume de L’Isle, famous French cartographer. Sorry about the lack of closeups of the globe. It was in an awkward position for North America.