Abraham Ortelius, actually Ortels, Oertel was a Dutch geographer and cartographer.
(* 14th April 1527 at Antwerp; † 28th June 1598 at Antwerp)
At first he earned his living by colouring maps and selling them at trade fairs and markets. At the age of 20 he entered the Antwerp guild of St Luke as map seller.
As salesman he traveled extensively in Europe, among others with Gerard Mercator who was a close friend of him for many years.
In 1564 Ortelius produced his first map, a large world map on 8 leaves. Maps of Egypt (1565) and Asia (1567) were following.
Now Ortelius started to compile a book of maps, systematically ordered and in a uniform size, basing on the best maps of the time. He included the most recent information on cartography available at his time which he learned thanks to correspondence with several scientists.
After several years of preparation Ortelius published his famous Theatrum Orbis Terrarum in 1570, which is considered the first modern atlas in the world. Many of the maps were engraved by Franz Hogenberg (1535-1590), one of the most famous engravers of the time.
In his atlas Ortelius tried to state all authors after whose information the maps had been produced, for instance Gastaldi and Lazius.
Between 1570 and 1612 Theatrum went through 33 editions in 7 languages: Latin, Dutch, German, French, Spanish, English and Italian. The 70 maps of the first edition became gradually replaced or supplemented by new maps. Finally the atlas comprised more than 150 maps.
From 1579 on the work included the appendix Parergon, which included maps on the geography of the antiquity.
In 1578 Ortelius published Synonyma Georgraphica (later with the title Thesaurus Geographicus), an alphabetical index of geographical synonyms from books of ancient historians and geographers.
By his cartographic work Ortelius gained prosperity and honour. In 1473 Philip II of Spain appointed him Geographer of the King.
Abraham Ortelius strongly influenced the development of modern cartography.