Gerardus Mercator was a 16th-century geographer, cosmographer and cartographer from the County of Flanders. He is most renowned for creating the 1569 world map based on a new projection which represented sailing courses of constant bearing as straight lines—an innovation that is still employed in nautical charts.
Mercator was one of the pioneers of cartography and is widely considered the most notable figure of Netherlandish school of cartography in its golden age. In his own day, he was a notable as maker of globes and scientific instruments. In addition, he had interests in theology, philosophy, history, mathematics and geomagnetism. He was also an accomplished engraver and calligrapher.
Unlike other great scholars of the age he travelled little and his knowledge of geography came from his library of over one thousand books and maps, from his visitors and from his vast correspondence with other scholars, statesmen, travellers, merchants and seamen. Mercator's early maps were in large formats suitable for wall mounting but in the second half of his life, he produced over 100 new regional maps in a smaller format suitable for binding into his Atlas of 1595.