Lorenz Fries

(c1490–1532)

Lorenz, known as Laurent, Fries.

Born in Mulhouse, Alsace in about 1490, Fries studied medicine at the universities of Pavia, Piacenza, Montpellier. He established himself as a physician in the Alsace region and Switzerland, before eventually settling in Strasbourg, in about 1519. There he met the printer and publisher Johann Grüninger, who worked with the Saint-Dié group of scholars, which included Walter Lud, Martin Ringmann, and Martin Waldseemüller. Grüninger printed several maps prepared by Waldseemüller, and supervised the cutting of the woodblocks for his 1513 edition of Ptolemy’s geography. 

Fries’s first venture into mapmaking was in 1520, when he executed a reduction of Martin Waldseemüller’s wall map of the world, first published in 1507, possibly as a response to Waldseemuller’s recent death. While it would appear that Fries was the editor of the map, credit is actually given in the title to Peter Apian. The map, Tipus Orbis Universalis Iuxta Ptolomei Cosmographi Traditionem Et Americ Vespucii Aliorque Lustrationes A Petro Apiano Leysnico Elucubrat. An.o Dni MDXX’, was issued in Caius Julius Solinus’s Enarrationes’, edited by Camers, and published in Vienna in 1520.

Next, in 1522, Fries and Grüninger worked together on Fries’s own edition of Ptolemy’s geography, in which nearly all the maps were after those in Waldseemüller’s atlas. However, they added three new maps, of the world, of China and Japan, and Southeast Asia; although the geography is based on information first expressed in Waldseemuller’s maps of 1513. Grüninger reissued the geography in 1525.

In 1525, Fries left Strasbourg, moving to Trier, Basel and then Metz.