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Charlois Fund - Acquisition, Culture

Map of the Duchy of Bourbonnais by Willem and Joan Blaeu

7 November 2019

The map of the “Borbonium, ducatus. Bourbonnois” is taken from the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum or Atlas novus by Willem and Joan Blaeu. This work of art, who has recently enriched the collections of the “Fonds Charlois pour l’Art et la Forêt”, helps us to understand the evolution of forests during centuries in central France.


From the year 1635, Willem Blaeu (1571-1638), dutch cartographer and editor, published its Theatrum Orbis Terrarum made of 600 maps hand-coloured after printing, which explained its cost. It has been translated into several languages as English and French.


His son, Joan Blaeu (1596-1673), became one of the most important Dutch cartographer of the 17th century. After the death of Willem in 1638, Joan and his brother Cornelius took over the workshop and Joan became the official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company. Joan Blaeu published in 1662 one of the most remarkable atlas of the cartography history known as Atlas maior (the French version has been published in 12 volumes etched).


The main forests of Bourbonnais are shown on the Borbonium ducatus map as the forest of “Melodie” (forest of Moladier, part of the Prieurés state forest, subdivided in five forests around Souvigny: Bagnolet, Boisplan, Grosbois, Messarges and Moladier), the forest of Meillant and the forest of Tronçais.

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