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A map of the world, for the father of the modern state system

Carte Universelle.
DE CAUS, Jean Salomon
par Caus Ingenieur et Architecte du Roy,
Publication place
Publication date
508 by 810mm. (20 by 32 inches).


Original manuscript world map on an oval projection, pen and ink and colour wash on vellum.


A magnificent manuscript map of the world, probably made for Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), the "father of the modern state system" (Kissinger), given the author and content. The map was drawn in 1624, the year in which Richelieu was made principal minister to Louis XIII of France, and de facto ruler of the country. He occupied this position until his death.

Richelieu was keen to expand the power of the French navy, realising that it was essential to establishing France as a global power. He came from a maritime family, and wrote in a memorandum, "It has been till now a great shame that the king who is the eldest son of the Church is inferior in his maritime powers to the smallest prince in Christendom" (Knecht). His efforts began in the year this map was made, with the foundation of a Conseil de Marine to bring naval proposals before the king's council. At the time, there was no permanent fleet in the Atlantic and a handful of galleys in the Mediterranean; a decade later, there were three squadrons of round ships in the Atlantic, and one in the Mediterranean. Richelieu was spurred on in his efforts by the Protestant privateers blocking Catholic towns on the Atlantic coast during the Wars of Religion and the Huguenot Rebellions, and the subsequent loss of much of the Atlantic trade to the English and Dutch (James).

In line with France's new outward-looking foreign policy, the map shows the global reach and ambitions of the French empire. It concentrates in particular on New France in the Americas, which in 1624 included the shores of the St. Lawrence River, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia (Arcadia), shown on the map as 'Canada' and 'Estotiland'. 'Virginne' (Virginia) and 'Floride' (Florida), also appear. Amongst the vignettes in the margin is an early image of an 'habitation en Virginie et floride' and an Indian village in Virginia, drawn after Theodor de Bry (who published some of de Caus' works). Another vignette, 'Quebec habitation de francois en Canada', is drawn after the travel account of Samuel de Champlain.

Generally speaking, the cartography is based on that of Jean le Clerc's second separately issued world map, engraved by Jodocus Hondius, and published in Paris in 1602. However, de Caus' map includes some important updates, including in Le Maire's Strait and in northern Canada, where the results of Champlain's expedition ten years earlier are shown.

Richelieu had a particular interest in the French territory of Canada. In 1627, he authorized an association of merchants, the Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France, popularly known as the Compagnie des Cent-Associes, or The One Hundred Associates, to take all steps it might think expedient for the protection of the colony and the expansion of trade and commerce, including a complete monopoly on the fur trade. Both Richelieu and Champlain were members. Richelieu was nominal governor of New France, but Champlain was appointed acting governor. Apart from a brief interruption when the English blockaded the Saint Lawrence River and captured Quebec between 1629 and 1633, the Compagnie remained proprietor of New France until 1663.

In all, 17 settlements are shown on the map: Rome, 'Mecha' (Mecca), Mosco(w), Constantinople, Quebec, Quinsay (Hangchow), Beijing, Jerusalem, 'La Babylone', 'Mexique' (Mexico City), Leon, Lima, Cusco, 'Arica Potosi', 'ville de la plate', 'Fernanborg' (in Brazil), and 'Cambalu' (in Cathay). Regional names and tribal names appear in red and gold.

Those locations of most interest to the French are depicted in eight roundels, each a small masterpiece, in the margin of the map: a map of the port of Havana, with tall ships in the harbor, 'Havane port en lisle de Cube'; the fortified citadel of 'Quebec - habitation de francois en Canada'; maps of 'La Goulette surla coste de barbarie pres de tunis', 'Isle St. Thomas', Rodes', 'Penon de Velez'; an important and early view of an Indian village in Virginia, 'habitation en Virginie et floride'; and of 'Cusco ville metropolitaire du Peru'.

Jean Salomon de Caus (1576-1626) was an architect, engineer, mathematician and author. He is known not only for his works, but also for his extensive writings on how he achieved them, including 'Hortus Palatinus' (1620) on his Heidelberg garden designs, and 'Les raisons des forces mouvantes' (1615) on the principles of hydraulics behind the automata and fountains in his gardens.

De Caus' influence was widespread in the courts of the Southern and Northern Netherlands, Germany, and England, where his younger brother Isaac de Caus (1590-1648) worked, long before he became 'Ingenieur et Architecte du Roy' for Louis XIII. James I brought him to the English court as drawing-master to his children, Elizabeth and Henry Frederick. At the palace of Richmond, he created amusing fountains and other novel waterworks for the ailing Henry Frederick. On his death, in 1612, de Caus left England. It was for Elizabeth, when she married Elector Friedrich V, that de Caus created the design of the Hortus Palatinus in Heidelberg, begun in about 1614 and left unfinished in 1619.

De Caus arrived in France in 1620, at first in Rouen and then in Paris. He first worked for Louis XIII as an hydraulic engineer, responsible for sanitation and water supply.
Towards the end of his life, de Caus also worked as a cartographer. There are records of a plan of Paris from 1622; a world map, first mentioned by J. Desnoyers in 1870; and another map, also bearing his signature, rediscovered in 1980, and dedicated to Richelieu. This map was probably also made for Cardinal Richelieu; de Caus also dedicated to Richelieu a treatise published in the same year, 'La pratique et demonstration des horloges solaires'. On a more personal level, in this map, de Caus betrays his interest in human engineering and architecture by including several of the wonders of the world on his map: the Great Wall of China, Babylon; and also Bohemia, where he had spent much of his adult life (Morgan).


1. From the collection of Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl Stanhope (1714-1786), bound in an example of 'Atlas sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricata firuga', (Amsterdam: Gerard Mercator and Jodocus Hondius, 1619), with a presentation inscription dated 9 February 1771 to, and with the bookplate of, Stanhope.
2. With Christie's, 24 May 1995, lot 78 (as part of the above atlas).
3. Separately, as part of a private collection.


Jean-Vincent Blanchard, Éminence: Cardinal Richelieu and the Rise of France, (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011); Alan James, The Navy and Government in Early Modern France 1572-1661 (Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer, 2004); Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994); Robert J. Knecht, Richelieu, (Routledge, 2014); Richard Lodge, The Life of Cardinal Richelieu, (New York: A.L. Burt, 1903); Luke Morgan, Nature as Model: Salomon de Caus and Early Seventeenth-Century Landscape Design, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006).